[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: Josh Outman (OAK) v. Minnesota Twins (Anthony Swarzak)
There are a couple interesting possibilities on this limited schedule start to the new week. Kensin Kawakami (v. PIT) and Randy Johnson (@ FLA) both have fairly favorable matchups, as do both of the young pitchers in this game in Oakland. The Twins definitely sport the stronger lineup, but I'm still going to go with the A's Josh Outman, if for no other reason than he is having one of the most under-appreciated performances of the year. Through nine starts, Outman is 3-0 with a 3.02 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 42 K in 54 IP. He doesn't get much run support, but pitching at home in the spacious McAffee Stadium he's unlikely to get your week off to a bad start.
TUE: Brad Bergeson (BAL) v. Seattle Mariners (Jason Vargas)
I'm going with another matchup of youngsters. Vargas has actually be pitching better for longer than Bergeson, but Brad has back-to-back strong starts, including seven solid innings against the Mariners in Seattle for his last start. The Orioles feature the much stronger lineup, so I'm going to hope that 23-year-old Bergesen is starting to come into his own. He has a solid minor-league track record, but don't expect a lot of strikeouts. (Note: If you need K's, I'd recommend Jeff Niemann, coming off a shutout with 9 K against Kansas City, but facing tougher competition at home against Jered Weaver and the Angels.)
WED: Gil Meche (KCR) @ Cleveland Indians (Carl Pavano)
The Royals are no good, but Gil Meche is, although he's struggled a bit with his control thusfar in '09, he still has a 4.08 ERA and 2.95 ERA in his last four starts. As bad as the Royals lineup is, the Indians is even worse now that Grady Sizemore, Asdrubel Cabrera, and Travis Hafner are all on the D.L.
THU: Koji Uehara (BAL) v. Seattle Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith)
In the battle of two pitchers fresh off the disabled list, I'm going to promote Uehara, who was really hitting his stride before being stalled by a minor injury. Again, I like the match-up. The Mariners are dead last in the majors in scoring and the underrated Orioles are 5th in the majors in scoring at home, a number which could go up as Matt Wieters and Nolan Reimold have replaced Gregg Zaun (602 OPS) and Felix Pie (595 OPS).
FRI: Kelvim Escobar (LAA) v. San Diego Padres (Kevin Correia)
I'm going to stick with the theme (largely because there is a lack of quality options) and recommend Escobar's return to the hill in Anaheim. He gets a weak offense in his first start back in over a year. Escobar didn't do great in his last rehab start at AAA, but overall he managed a 2.30 ERA with 13 K and only 3 BB in sixteen innings of minor-league work. The strikeout rate is especially encouraging and he could be a must-add in all leagues by the end of the week.
SAT: Josh Outman (OAK) @ San Francisco Giants (Randy Johson)
I'm going to drive home my point about how good Outman's been by picking him for the second time. Again, he's got a favorable matchup against a weak offense in a pitcher's park, although his opponent, the Big Unit, is likely to make quick work of the A's lefty-lade lineup as well.
SUN: Jeremy Bonderman (DET) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Ross Ohlendorf)
There's not many favorable pairings for Sunday (although that may change in the next six days). As the schedule is currently set, the day is full of Aces: Santana, Carpenter, Peavy, Zambrano, Beckett, Burnett, Billingsley, Buehrle, Lowe, Cain, Johnson, and Cliff Lee. As a result, it is tough to recommend guys like Brian Tallet, J.A. Happ, and Brett Anderson. Brian Bannister, after getting off to a hot start, has had two straight outing allowing seven earned runs or more. Young Jordan Zimmerman has also scuffled and he faces the best offense in baseball, the Tampa Bay Rays. Jason Vargas has been superb this season, but I tend to be reluctant to take a guy making his first trip to Coors Field. So...I'm sticking with my them, taking another reclamation project. In Bonderman's case, he will make his first start of the season earlier in the week, so you can ignore this recommendation if things go horribly wrong against the White Sox on Tuesday. But Pittsburgh features a pitcher's park and a mediocre lineup, robbed of its top hitter after last week's trade, so I'll roll the dice.
Swimming Upstream (How did I do last week?)
MON: Joe Blanton (7 IP, W, 3.86/1.00, 7 K)
TUE: Manny Parra (4 IP, L, 22.50/3.25, 5 K)
WED: Randy Johnson (6 IP, W, 0.00/0.67, 2 K)
THU: Gil Meche (6 IP, W, 1.50/1.83, 2 K)
FRI: Doug Davis (6 IP, W, 0.00/1.17, 5 K)
SAT: Anthony Swarzak (DNP)
SUN: Zack Duke (DNP)
Week 9 Totals: 3-1, 29 IP, 4.34 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 21 K
Four out of five ain't bad. Unfortunately, rainouts and rearranging meant I didn't get a chance to make up for Manny Parra's implosion with a couple more quality starts over the weekend, but still ended up with some respectable totals, especially in the wins department. I'll shy away from Parra for awhile, although I still think he has high-end talent. It was nice to see the Unit wrap up #300 without delay, and against his former team (kind of).