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James McDonald, Kyle McClellan, Josh Johnson: NL Starting Pitchers

In today’s version of NL Starting Pitchers, I tell you about a pitcher I like, a pitcher I don’t, and a pitcher I’m skeptical of.

James McDonald, Pirates
McDonald was a stud muffin while pitching for the Pirates late last season, but he still went largely unnoticed in standard leagues due to the team’s lack of popularity and notoriety. Many of you probably scooped him up towards the end of drafts because you’re super smart people, but McDonald made you pay for it in April. During baseball’s first month, McDonald walked more batters then he struck out, posting a FIP above six and an ERA above seven. Fortunately for fantasy owners, the Pirates stuck with the young righty and it has paid off big time. During May, McDonald has more strikeouts then innings pitched, and he’s sporting a K/BB ratio dangerously close to 4.00. His May FIP is sitting in the mid-3s thanks to his extreme fly ball tendencies. It appears that McDonald decided to rely on his four-seamer more often, and it’s been a dominant pitch for him over his last five starts (coming into Tuesday). If you’re willing to sacrifice some wins, McDonald is a great guy to have in your stable of starters.

Kyle McClellan, Cardinals
Dave Duncan’s latest little project hasn’t been a flop, but he hasn’t been impressive, either. Some of his value comes from fitting into your RP slot, but otherwise he’s not much to look at. His strikeout rate is pretty pitiful, and his K/BB ratio is below the magic 2.00 mark. Frankly, I’m not sure why anyone would own McClellan, but he is currently on rosters in over 50% of Yahoo! leagues. Insane. The market appears to be reacting to McClellan’s win total, as he has six wins in eight decisions. Just don’t be one of those guys; find someone with higher upside and strikeout totals if you can.

Josh Johnson, Marlins
When Johnson was put on the DL with shoulder problems, it sounded like the Marlins were just being cautious. Now, Johnson isn’t going to be back when he’s eligible to come off the DL, so it’s more than just a precautionary stint. Johnson’s velocity is down a little bit this year, so maybe an extended DL stay will clear up any problems and get him back to normal. I doubt it will, but it very well could. If you own JJ, I wouldn’t be putting all your hopes and dreams on him coming back and dominating for the rest of the season.