Of all the random success stories that pop up every season in Major League Baseball, perhaps none shock the fantasy faithful more than the tale of Kyle Lohse. A decent 2008 season, which was his first in St. Louis, gave way to a mediocre and a horrendous 2010. How bad were his numbers last year? Lohse surrendered 129 hits in 92 innings, which led to a disgusting 1.78 WHIP, and his ERA during the 18-start campaign closed at 6.55. That’s not just bad; that’s retirement bad.
But a funny thing happened on the way to Opening Day 2011 — Lohse turned in lights-out performances all through spring training, ending the exhibition season with a 1.88 ERA in 24 innings while striking out 15 and not walking a batter. This from the same guy who sported a 54:35 K:BB ratio last year. That’s a number you expect from a batter, not a starting pitcher that made 18 starts. The question was obviously, “Would the strong spring carry over to the regular season?”
The answer: And how.
After giving up four runs in a seven-inning loss to open the season, Lohse has rattled off four straight wins, giving up one run in eight innings against the Giants, two runs in 7.1 innings against the Dodgers, no runs in a complete game against the Nationals and no runs in seven innings against the Astros. He’s allowed less runs in his last four starts than he gave up in his first start of the season. The figures aren’t deceptive in the least, as Lohse is also the proud owner of a 24:5 K:BB ratio in 38.1 innings.
Will Lohse keep up his insane pace? Although he through seven shutout innings in Houston in his last start, the righty struck out just two in the game, by far his least dominant performance of the season. Lohse is getting incredibly lucky on batted balls, but xFIP still sits at 3.25, a fine mark for a starter. I’d keep running him out there for now, especially in a two-start week like the one he has coming next week. Of course, I’d also be attempting to sell extremely high while his 2011 ERA is still lower than his 2010 WHIP.
Two-start pitchers are below, with our picks following. Analysis will be up Saturday evening.
Josh Beckett, BOS (vs LAA, vs MIN)
Jorge de la Rosa, COL (@ARI, @ SF)
Tommy Hanson, ATL (vs MIL, @ PHI)
Aaron Harang, SD (vs PIT, vs ARI)
Dan Haren, LAA (@ BOS, vs CLE)
Jair Jurrjens, ATL (vs MIL, @ PHI)
Clayton Kershaw, LAD (vs CHC, @ NYM)
Jon Lester, BOS (vs LAA, vs MIN)
Kyle Lohse, STL (vs FLA, vs MIL)
Alexi Ogando, TEX (@ SEA, vs NYY)
CC Sabathia, NYY (@ DET, @ TEX)
Josh Tomlin, CLE (@ OAK, @ LAA)
Justin Verlander, DET (vs NYY, @ TOR)
Other Double Dippers
|Pitcher||Start 1||Start 2||% Y! Owned|
|Yovani Gallardo (MIL)||@ ATL||@ STL||96%|
|Madison Bumgarner (SF)||@ WAS||vs COL||53%|
|Kyle McClellan (STL)||vs FLA||vs MIL||44%|
|Anibal Sanchez (FLA)||@ STL||vs WAS||38%|
|Derek Holland (TEX)||@ OAK||vs NYY||32%|
|Jeremy Guthrie (BAL)||@ CWS||vs TB||32%|
|Wade Davis (TB)||vs TOR||@ BAL||20%|
|Bartolo Colon (NYY)||@ DET||@ TEX||19%|
|R.A. Dickey (NYM)||vs SF||vs LAD||19%|
|Brandon McCarthy (OAK)||vs TEX||@ KC||17%|
|Mark Buehrle (CWS)||vs BAL||@ SEA||14%|
|J.A. Happ (HOU)||@ CIN||@ PIT||10%|
|Mike Leake (CIN)||vs HOU||@ CHC||9%|
|Erik Bedard (SEA)||vs TEX||vs CWS||7%|
|Livan Hernandez (WAS)||@ PHI||@ FLA||7%|
|Jeff Francis (KC)||vs BAL||vs OAK||5%|
|James McDonald (PIT)||@ SD||vs HOU||4%|
|Brad Penny (DET)||vs NYY||@ TOR||3%|
|Ryan Vogelsong (SF)||@ NYM||vs COL||2%|
|Marco Estrada (MIL)||@ ATL||@ STL||1%|
|Tom Gorzelanny (WAS)||vs SF||@ FLA||1%|
|Tyler Chatwood (LAA)||@ BOS||vs CLE||1%|
|Chris Volstad (FLA)||@ STL||vs WAS||1%|
|Tyson Ross (OAK)||vs CLE||@ KC||1%|
|Joe Saunders (ARI)||vs COL||@ SD||1%|
|James Russell (CHC)||@ LAD||vs CIN||0%|
|Jo-Jo Reyes (TOR)||@ TB||vs DET||0%|
|Brad Bergesen (BAL)||@ KC||vs TB||0%|
Mixed League Pick
Josh Tomlin (CLE)
Tomlin came into this season with a 1.25 WHIP to his credit from 2010, but most fantasy owners considered him just an afterthought, definitely a pitcher that belonged on the free agency left. All he did in April was post five straight quality starts (four wins), and while he’s predictably not posting elite strikeout totals, he’s a must-start Double Dipper while batted balls aren’t falling for hits. He gets to face the A’s in Oakland in his first start, one that should push his consecutive start total to six. Next up will be the Angels, and while I think Tomlin’s WHIP and ERA are destined to rise in that matchup, he should still do much more good than harm to your fantasy line.
Bartolo Colon (NYY)
Who are you and what have you done with Bartolo Colon? The veteran has been revitalized as part of the Yankee rotation, currently striking out a batter per inning for the first time since 2000. Initially a long reliever for the Yankees, Colon has dominated in his first two starts of the season, both wins. The punchouts are up, the walks are down, and Colon is mysteriously looking like a fantasy ace again. He’s worth a go even in tough matchups in Detroit and Texas.
Deep League Pick
Erik Bedard (SEA)
Unlike Colon, Bedard has struggled in his attempt to return to dominance, but it looks as if he may be heading in the right direction. He got through seven innings in his last start without walking a single batter, allowing one run and picking up his first win in the process. He’ll hold plenty of value when pitching at home if he can continue to work out the kinks. Lucky for us he’s pitching in Seattle twice this week, first against the Rangers, then against the White Sox. Gamble on the Safeco Effect keeping his ratios low over those two starts.
Ryan Vogelsong (SF)
Not having pitched in the majors since the 2006 season with the Pirates, Vogelsong was called up by the Giants in mid-April. After two relief appearances, he made his first start since 2004, taking on his old team. With four hits, two walks and eight strikeouts through 5.2 innings, I’d say the results were pretty favorable. Vogelsong is nothing more than a deep sleeper right now, but his first start gives reason to sit up and take notice. He’ll pitch in Citi Field in his first start before facing the Rockies at home.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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