StrategySeptember 19, 2009

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Double Dipper: NL West Spot Starts

By Michael Marinakis

Welcome to the next installment in the Double Dipper series, where we check out the upcoming week’s two-start pitchers and give weekly-league owners some strategic pickups to give you a leg up over your opponents. My picks last week did decent, netting one win and a hand full of strikeouts to go with decent ratios. Jason Hammel struggled a little against the Giants but still struck out five (6 IP, 7 hits, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 Ks) and Jon Garland pitched well enough to get a win against the Pirates (6 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 Ks). Hammel will finish off the week against the Diamondbacks today while Garland will get the Giants who have surprisingly been scoring some runs this week.

Now on to next week, we’ll take a look at the two-start pitchers that are available in 50-95% of Yahoo leagues. Then, I’ll analyze the best options on this list and give you my thoughts on who is worth a spot start next week. If you like streaming in your weekly-lineup league or you’ve simply have an extra roster spot to burn, check out our suggestions below.

PitcherStart 1Start 2% Owned
Nick Blackburn@CWS@KC18%
Tim Wakefield@KC@NYY39%
Barry Zito*@ARZvs CHC38%
Doug Davis*vs SFvs SD15%
Hiroki Kuroda@WAS@PIT29%
Joe Blanton@FLA@MIL44%

Mixed League Pick
Barry Zito
If you haven’t been paying attention, you may have not have noticed that Barry Zito is quietly putting together quite the second half. Since the break, Zito has thrown 72.1 innings of 2.36 ERA ball with a 1.19 WHIP. He has also regained the strikeout with a 7.6 K/9 in that span, culminating in a nine-strikeout performance in his last outing. As a Giants fan, I have watched quite a few of his starts and have been quite impressed with him recently. He seems to have regained some velocity on his fastball and his control has improved mightily as well. I’d feel confident getting him a start against almost any opponent at this point.
That said, Zito’s opposition this week isn’t exactly strong as he faces the Diamondbacks in Arizona and the Cubs in San Francisco. Both teams have struggled against lefties this season posting a .726 OPS and .720 OPS against southpaws, respectively. With the Giants only 2.5 games behind the Rockies for the Wild Card, each game is of extreme importance and I expect Zito to step up and continue the second half dominance he has shown.
Second Options
Hiroki Kuroda
Despite some injuries this season, Kuroda has pitched very well for the Dodgers. Over his 107.1 innings pitched he has a solid 3.86 ERA (3.31 FIP) to go with a very good 1.10 WHIP. He has also managed to rack up some strikeouts at a decent pace at 6.54 K/9. Kuroda has been brilliant over his last two starts where he has thrown 14 innings and given up only nine hits and three earned runs with a 13/0 K/BB. This week the matchups look to be in Kuroda’s favor as he’ll face the Nationals in Washington and the Pirates (who he just owned) at home. There doesn’t seem to be much of a downside to starting Kuroda this week as he’s likely to post some solid ratios, grab a handful of strikeouts and give the Dodgers offense plenty of opportunity to get a couple of wins against the two worst teams in the National League.
Doug Davis
Though there aren’t many spot starting options this week, the one’s available are quite favorable. While Davis probably isn’t as good as his 4.01 ERA suggests, he has been a serviceable starter all year. What makes Davis a good option this week is his two starts against terrible offenses who are even worse against lefties. Davis will start against the Padres and Giants this week and while he won’t get to take advantage of either teams stadiums, he’s looking like a pretty good option for anyone looking to pad their stats during the playoffs. The two teams are the two worst in baseball at hitting lefties with the Giants posting a .675 OPS against them and the Padres posting a .671 OPS. Despite the Diamondbacks offensive woes, Davis should give his team a couple of chances to get him a win.

Michael Marinakis is a 23-year-old unemployed fantasy addict. You can find him roaming the Cafe all day where he posts GiantsFan14 and waits for Bruce Bochy to be fired for incompetency.
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