I’m surprised not only that Luebke is owned in fewer than 50 percent of leagues, but also that his rate of ownership is dropping. I expressed some concerns previous about how fatigue would affect Luebke, who certainly shut me up by cruising through his next three outings, allowing just six runs and striking out 26 over 18.2 innings. All three games were away from the ample spaces of PetCo Park, so his success isn’t a park-induced mirage. Apparently owners were expecting more from the lefty?
Luebke gets the Padres’ last Sunday start of the season, at home no less, against the Dodgers. It’s a less than ideal match up, as the Dodgers have started to click offensively this month, boasting the NL’s fifth highest OPS, third highest number of runs scored, and fourth fewest strikeouts. To complicate matters further, Luebke’s mound opponent on Sunday is serious Cy Young contender Clayton Kershaw, who will be looking to pad his resume with one more strong start. Even if Luebke pitches well for his fourth consecutive start, he’ll need help from the Padres’ sputtering offense to snag a win. Tim Lincecum was able to shut the Dodgers’ offense down pretty well on Tuesday and was still saddled with the loss as his teammates couldn’t solve Kershaw.
It’s just not a great matchup for Luebke, but I still expect him to pitch well. If you need help in ERA, WHIP, or Ks, he’s likely to be as good an option as is still on the wire, but if you’re hunting for wins, it’s probably better to gamble elsewhere.
From a good pitcher with a bad match up to lesser pitchers who have a much easier road ahead of them.
White’s transition to the National League has been, in a word, rocky. He’s struggling with the long ball, having given up at least one home run in every start since coming over to Colorado in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade. It’s hard to be overly critical of a young pitcher who is struggling to figure out how to pitch in Coors Field, and I firmly believe that White will figure it out sooner or later, but the issue is what to do with him at this moment.
As noted above, the best thing White has going for him this week is his match up. The Astros have the second lowest OPS this month at .622, better only than the Twins’ rather wretched .597. Not only does White get the benefit of facing the team with just one more home run this month than Ian Kinsler has hit on his own, he also gets the benefit of escaping Coors Field. While he hasn’t exactly been great on the road, he’s given up seven fewer home runs on the road in one less start.
Teammates Drew Pomeranz, Esmil Rogers, and Kevin Millwood round out the starters in the four game series. Pomeranz has been better than White, but with no major league track record to speak of, he’s a bigger question mark as well. Rogers has the best K-rate of those that will face the Houston, but he’s given up fewer than four runs just once in his last seven outings. Millwood has been alternating between good and bad starts, though the good starts aren’t great and the bad starts aren’t disastrous. He’s the human middle path.
If you’re determined to take advantage of the Astros’ light-hitting ways, I’d roll the dice with Pomeranz, followed by Millwood, White, and Rogers. If you’re dying for strikeouts, Rogers is still the safest bet, but you’d better feel comfortable with your lead in most of the rate categories.
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