[Each Sunday Hippeaux provides suggestions for spot starters for the coming week. The suggestions are based on players available for 2 Legit 2 Not Acquit, in a 10-team, H2H 5 X 5 mixed league hosted by ESPN. If these players are available there, there's a decent chance they're available in your league as well. Keep in mind that the strategy of "streaming," introducing a waiver wire starter every day of the week, is designed to help you in categories like Wins and Strikeouts, but can be disastrous for your ERA and WHIP. It is best used in H2H leagues, where a few bad choices won't haunt you all year long, and should be abandoned in weeks when your top starters make enough appearances to carry the counting categories.]
MON: Joe Blanton (PHI) @ San Diego Padres (Kevin Correia)
Blanton is coming of his finest outing of the season, an eleven strikeout, seven shutout inning performance at home against the Marlins. He'll get another struggling, strikeout-prone offense, this time on the road, but in a ballpark that minimizes Blanton's most glaring weakness, his propensity for giving up the long ball.
TUE: Manny Parra (MIL) @ Florida Marlins (Burke Badenhop)
I'm tempted to recommend Randy Wolf again, since he hasn't failed me yet, but he's facing off with Dan Haren, so his likelihood of earning a W decreases significantly, even if he pitches well. Much the same may be said for Zack Duke, who's facing Johan Santana. Which leads me to Manny Parra. His overall numbers (3-6, 5.57 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 46 K, 53 IP) are skewed by a particularly bad outing (3 IP, 8 ER) against an extraordinarily hot Minnesota lineup. Discounting that start, his May numbers are quite solid (3-1, 3.23 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 30 K, 31 IP). That includes a solid 6 IP, 3 ER, 8 K win over the Marlins on May 12. Milwaukee's offense gives Parra a chance to win, even it he's not perfect.
WED: Randy Johnson (SFG) @ Washington Nationals (Jordan Zimmerman)
There is the added sentimental bonus of perhaps having the Big Unit on your roster for his 300th victory, but Johnson has pitched legitimately well in his last two outings, striking out twelve in twelve innings of work and allowing only two runs. The Nationals are, believe it or not, the third most productive offense in the NL right now (trailing on Los Angeles and Philadelphia). However, their pitching staff still gives up more than the lineup produces and their team OPS is 30 points lower at home. (Special Note: Adam Dunn v. Big Unit, 1-for-12 with 0 XBH)
THU: Gil Meche (KCR) @ Tampa Bay Rays (James Shields)
Not a lot to choose from on Thursday, but if you need somebody, you might take a gamble on Meche. Tampa has a potent offense, but last year Meche managed a 1.46 ERA in two starts against primarily the same players. Shields has been struggling, so he may have a chance to win even if he can't maintain that pace.
FRI: Doug Davis (ARI) @ San Diego Padres (Josh Geer)
I wouldn't fault you for going with Paul Maholm (@ Houston), Nick Blackburn (@ Seattle), or Barry Zito (@ Florida). But, you should beware of Maholm's history at Minute Maid. Blackburn gets a tough matchup against King Felix. And Zito, though he continues to pitch well, has been the victim of terrible run support. Davis has also. He has quietly pitched well (3.65 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 51 K, 69 IP). Like Blanton, his main weakness is the home run, so PETCO Park suits him well. He is 3-1 with a 3.51 ERA there in his career.
SAT: Anthony Swarzak (MIN) @ Seattle Mariners (Garrett Olson)
Swarzak may be the newest addition to the long line of middle-tier pitching prospect turned quality starters by the Twins organization. He's only 23, but went 8-4 with a 2.03 ERA in 90 IP at AAA. He's not overpowering (only 58 K at AAA), but he's looked solid in his first two major league outings (13 IP, 3 ER) and he gets a mediocre offense at a pitcher's park against an opponent, Garrett Olson, who's pretty much proven he has no business pitching in the majors (6.53 ERA in 185 IP). Mauer, Morneau, and Cuddyer are all red hot. It's a good time to be pitching for the Twins.
SUN: Zack Duke (PIT) @ Houston Astros (Felipe Paulino)
Duke has been downright golden so far this season (5-4, 2.75 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 42 K, 72 IP). The only reason he isn't owned across the board is that his team stinks. Thankfully so do the Astros, including their rookie pitcher, Felipe Paulino (1-4, 6.75 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, 26 K, 36 IP). This makes Duke slightly more favorable than Randy Wolf (v. Phillies), Rich Hill (@ Athletics), and Manny Parra (@ Braves).
Swimming Upstream [How did I do last week?]
MON: Brett Anderson (W, 6 IP, 1.50/1.33, 4 K)
TUE: Kevin Correia (L, 5 2/3 IP, 9.53/1.76, 5 K)
WED: Kensin Kawakami (L, 5 2/3 IP, 4.76/2.29, 2 K)
THU: Randy Wolf (W, 7 IP, 1.29/1.00, 7 K)
FRI: Dontrelle Willis (L, 5 IP, 12.60/2.40, 1 K)
SAT: Barry Zito (L, 6 2/3 IP, 4.02/1.80, 6 K)
SUN: Jorge De La Rosa (L, 5 IP, 7.20/1.80, 5 K)
Week 8 Totals: 2-5, 39 IP, 5.77 ERA, 1.80 WHIP, 30 K
Season Totals: 8-8, 120 IP, 4.05 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 96 K
Not a lot to hang my hat on from last week, except perhaps Brett Anderson's unheralded performance on Monday. Hopefully many of you, like me, didn't have to take chance on D-Train and De La Rosa over the weekend. This is a good time to point out that, despite an atrocious record, Baltimore sports a pretty potent offense and should probably be avoided against spot starters. I had hoped that Dontrelle would follow up on a couple of stellar outing. It was not to be.