Fantasy baseball sleepers and busts: Two-start pitchers

by Tim Heaney on April 3, 2009 @ 12:00:00 PDT


In any given week, most major league teams have one or two starting pitchers in line for two starts. Fantasy baseball players know not to sit their staff aces like the New York Mets' Johan Santana and the Arizona Diamondbacks' Brandon Webb. examines the rest of the two-start pitchers with the best and worst matchups this week. Who should you start? Who should you sit? Find out in this week's Strong Plays, Weak Plays: Two-Start Pitchers.

NOTE: Recommendations are based on probable starters, which are subject to change because of managerial decisions, weather conditions and injuries.

Strong Plays

Mark Buehrle, Chicago White Sox

vs. Kansas City Royals, vs. Minnesota Twins

  • Buehrle logged a 2.65 ERA in 115 1/3 home frames last year
  • Minnesota was vulnerable against lefties last season (.729 OPS ranked 21st in the bigs)
  • 3.98 ERA, 1.20 WHIP against KC in 2008
  • The Twins are missing catcher Joe Mauer (back), a key component of their offensive heart

Beware: MLB runs scored rankings vs. LHP: No. 3 KC (256), No. 4 MIN (252)

Ryan Dempster, Chicago Cubs

at Houston Astros, at Milwaukee Brewers

  • 2008 performance: 2.40 ERA vs. Brewers and 3.12 ERA vs. Astros
  • More 2008 splits: 2.57 ERA, 1.07 WHIP at Minute Maid Park; 1.50 ERA, 0.92 WHIP at Miller Park
  • Brewers (.738 OPS, 18th in MLB) and Astros (.732, 20th) struggled against righties last season

Beware: Milwaukee hit the sixth most dingers against righties (139) in the majors last year.

Derek Lowe, Atlanta Braves

at Philadelphia Phillies, vs. Washington Nationals

  • Lowe put on a clinic versus the Nats last year (1.13 ERA, 0.56 WHIP in 16 frames). The Nats offense hovered near the basement in almost every major category last year.
  • Citizens Bank Park usually screams "Bench me!" for a pitcher, but Lowe's elite sinkerball works in his favor to minimize flyballs. He allowed a serviceable three runs in seven innings in his last start there (2007).
  • Lowe had a solid postseason against the Phils last year (3.48 ERA in 10 1/3 frames) as a member of the Los Angeles Dodgers

Beware: That rather large fellow who just arrived in Washington: Adam Dunn. Lowe was 0-3 with an 8.44 ERA in three Opening Day starts for the Dodgers.

Weak Plays

Brett Myers, Philadelphia Phillies

vs. Atlanta Braves, at Colorado Rockies

  • The erratic righty posted a 5.11 ERA in his first six outings last year and has had a rough start to each of the last two campaigns
  • The Braves ransacked Myers during his up-and-down 2008: 10.38 ERA in 8 2/3 frames (two starts) along with a .463 opponents' average
  • Atlanta ranked ninth against right-handers with a .771 OPS
  • Despite a 3.67 career ERA in five career Coors Field starts, he was lit up in his solitary outing there last year (six runs, 11 hits in seven frames)

Beware: Coors Field lifetime ERA, and he excelled at home in 2008 (3.01 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, .232 opponents' clip)

Ubaldo Jimenez and Aaron Cook, Colorado Rockies

at Arizona Diamondbacks, vs. Philadelphia Phillies

  • The Phillies weren't dependent on their home ballpark last season. On the road: 105 homers (second in MLB), .753 OPS (seventh) and 387 runs scored (seventh).
  • Arizona loves hitting inside the comfy confines of Chase Field (.791 OPS ranked ninth in the bigs in 2008)
  • Jimenez is the "Bizarro" Coors Field pitcher: He struggles on the road (4.72 ERA last year)
  • Cook was tagged by the Diamondbacks last season (5.19 ERA in 17 1/3 frames) and had a 6.55 ERA in two Chase Field appearances

Beware: Jimenez may post a strong K total against the young, undisciplined D-backs; he had a 2.77 ERA against them last year, including a 10-strikeout performance at Chase Field.

Sneaky start

Gil Meche, Kansas City Royals

at Chicago White Sox, vs. New York Yankees

  • The Bronx Bombers truly bombed at the home run-suppressing Kauffman Stadium last year (.257 average), and Meche had a sparking one-run, six-inning outing against the Pinstripes last year at Yankee Stadium

Potential bust

Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

vs. Pittsburgh Pirates, vs. Houston Astros

  • Even without outfielders Jason Bay and Xavier Nady (and as outfielder Nate McLouth tanked offensively), the Bucs tagged Wainwright at home Sept. 13 last year (six runs in four innings). They did the same before the offensive exodus at St. Louis June 2 (five runs in eight frames).
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About Tim Heaney

Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum, who competes in the prestigious LABR and Tout Wars, has won numerous industry leagues in both baseball and football.

He appears frequently, including every Sunday, on Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, as well as every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore.

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