Starting pitcher notes from around the MLBiverse…
Jeff Francis | Rockies
For the first time over than 20 months, Francis took to a big league mound yesterday, limiting the Nationals to just one run over seven innings at home. Finesse lefties aren’t prime fantasy pieces, and at his best Francis was a low-4.00’s ERA guy with mediocre WHIP’s and strikeout numbers. Coming back from major shoulder surgery makes him an even riskier proposition. Regardless, he’s is owned in just 5% of Yahoo! leagues, and has some value as a 5th or 6th starter in an NL-only or deep mixed league. If you’re willing to roll the dice, just make sure you watch the matchups until he proves effective.
Javier Vazquez | Yankees
Even though he pitched well against the Tigers last week (two runs and seven strikeouts in seven innings), the Yanks are again skipping Vazquez’s turn through the rotation. Part of that has to do with keeping him away from the Red Sox, but it also has to do with creating better matchups for the rest of the starting staff. Barring weather and/or injury, Vazquez’s next five starts will come against the Mets, Indians, Orioles, Orioles again, and the Astros. That’s a nice little stretch.
ZiPS rest of the season projection calls for a 3.89 ERA with close to a strikeout per inning, but even if you’re pessimistic, an ERA in the low-4.00’s is within reach from here on out. Vazquez is still owned in 74% of Yahoo! leagues, but you’ve still got a chance to go out and try to buy low in a trade.
Tyson Ross | Athletics
Justin Duchscherer‘s return from the disabled list has been derailed, possibly costing him the rest of the season, so long man Tyson Ross could get an opportunity to stay in the rotation. His spot start against the Angels over the weekend wasn’t pretty (three runs in 3.2 IP), but he gets a mulligan because his 62 pitches were a season high (by 12) and he’s still just getting back into starting shape. His minor league career features a good number of strikeouts (7.5 K/9) and an absurd ground ball rate (57.5% according to minorleaguesplits.com), and those skills have approximately translated in his tiny big league sampling (22.2 IP, 6.75 K/9, 55.4 GB%). A low-4.00’s ERA is possible the rest of the way with a little help of Oakland’s park.
If Ross is bumped back into the bullpen, Vin Mazzaro is the obvious candidate to assume the vacated rotation spot. Both are available in basically every league.
We’re going to have to give the Mets their own section here. A day after announcing that Oliver Perez had been demoted to the bullpen, Jonathon Niese left his start with a hamstring injury. Long reliever Hisanori Takahashi was a candidate to take Perez’s rotation spot, but he had to come in relief of Niese, so he’s no longer an option. They have R.A. Dickey pitching well in Triple-A (~3.00 FIP) and he lines up perfectly to take Ollie’s place on Wednesday, and then Takahashi comes back into play for Niese’s Friday start. Either way, I just wasted about 100 words to tell you that the Mets’ rotation is a mess and other than Johan Santana and maybe Mike Pelfrey, none of them are rosterable.
Zach already touched on Max Scherzer‘s demotion, and for now he’ll be replaced by Armando Galarraga. His flukiness has been well documented, so don’t fall into the trap of thinking he can repeat his flashy 2008 ERA. The best way he can help your fantasy team is if someone else takes the bait.