Just as I did for much of last season, each Sunday I will provide a look ahead at favorable pitching matchups for fantasy owners who utilize the "streaming" method (pulling mediocre starters off the waiver wire in an effort to win counting categories in H2H leagues). If the preceding parenthetical makes no sense to you, you should probably move on another post. I use the player pool from a 12-team 5X5 mixed league at ESPN. Since all the players in the league have previously won ESPN leagues (a qualification for entry), the competition is at least fairly stiff and the owners fairly active. However, just because a player is available in that league, doesn't necessarily mean he'll be available in your league. Remember, the idea of "streaming" is to win strikeouts and wins, while remaining as competitive as possible in ERA and WHIP.
Monday, April 12: Doug Davis (Brewers) @ Chicago Cubs (Ryan Dempster)
Davis was pretty mediocre his first outing as a Brewer, getting touched for four runs in four innings by a very good lineup (Rockies) largely because he had trouble staying in the strike zone. I recommend him for Monday, however, because he'll face a struggling lineup in Chicago. Davis has a history of success against the Cubs (9-6, 3.20 ERA), especially at Wrigley Field (3-2, 1.93 ERA).
Back-Up Plan: Kevin Correia (Padres) v. Atlanta Braves (Jair Jurrjens)
Tuesday, April 13: Dontrelle Willis (Tigers) v. Kansas City Royals (Brian Bannister)
There's a limited slate of games on Tuesday, and thus a limited set of streaming options. I'm not convinced that D-Train is back on track merely because he beat K.C. in his first start, but the Royals are a free-swinging club, which is a good thing, considering Dontrelle's propensity for wildness. My main man-crush, Ian Kennedy, has a tough matchup in the Dodgers, but he had only one bad inning in his first start (5 IP, 3 ER, 8 K), so if you don't trust Willis, he's not a bad alternative.
Back-Up Plan: Ian Kennedy (D-Backs) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw)
Wednesday, April 14: Gio Gonzalez (Atletics) @ Seattle Mariners (Jason Vargas)
At the very least, he should pile up some strikeouts. Gonzalez did a very good job against the Angels in his first start, fanning six and walking only one. The Mariners are a far less dangerous lineup, and far less patient lineup, so that bodes well. It's also nice that his opponent, Vargas, is quite hittable, even for the A's.
Back-Up Plan: Aaron Cook (Rockies) v. New York Mets (Jonathan Niese)
Thursday, April 15: Colby Lewis (Rangers) @ Clevland Indians (David Huff)
Both Huff and Lewis pitched well their first time out, as did Freddy Garcia, who was my second choice. I opted for Lewis mainly because Garcia has had a rough time at the Skydome on his career and Indians lineup is probably weaker than the Rangers. That said, all three pitchers have nice "sleeper" potential.
Back-Up Plan: Freddy Garcia (White Sox) @ Toronto Blue Jays (Dana Eveland)
Friday, April 16: Jaime Garcia (Cardinals) v. New York Mets (Oliver Perez)
The Mets lineup is much-improved, with Reyes back, Bay in the fold, and Wright off to a hot start, but the pickin's are slim on Friday and Garcia shut down an even better lineup (Brewers) in his first start, going six innings and allowing only one earned run. His chances of winning are dramatically improved by the fact he matches up against Perez, who the Cardinals own (2-5, 4.84 ERA in 13 career starts).
Back-Up Plan: Jeremy Bonderman (Tigers) @ Seattle Mariners (Felix Hernandez)
Saturday, April 17: Nick Blackburn (Twins) v. Kansas City Royas (Gil Meche)
Coming off of two tough road matchups, against the Angels and White Sox (1 W, 1 L), Blackburn gets a more favorable pairing at home.
Back-Up Plan: Kevin Correia (Padres) v. Arizona Diamondbacks (Kris Benson?)
Sunday, April 18: Ian Kennedy (D-Backs) @ San Diego Padres (Chris Young?)
Scott Hairston had a great at-bat which ended in a three-run homer, costing Kennedy a chance at winning his first start of the year, also against the Padres, but he clearly gave them fits, evidenced by his eight strikeouts in five innings of work. His leash should be a little longer this time around, plus the spacious confines of Petco Park help to keep guys like Hairston and Will Venable in the ballpark.
Back-Up Plan: Ryan Rowland-Smith (Mariners) v. Detroit Tigers (Max Scherzer)
Week One Results:
Derek Lowe (v. Cubs): W, 6 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K
Dallas Braden (v. Mariners): ND, 7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
Ian Kennedy (v. Padres): ND, 5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 8 K
Anibal Sanchez (@ Mets): DNP
Justin Masterson (@ White Sox): ND, 5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Colby Lewis (v. Mariners): W, 7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
David Hernandez (v. Blue Jays): L, 6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K
Joe Saunders (v. Athletics): L, 6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
Week One Totals: 2-2, 3.64 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 35 K, 42 IP
I had some hard luck in terms of decisions, but racked up a tone of strikeouts, a very good WHIP, and a respectable ERA, combined with a good performance from my bullpen, I nabbed four pitching categories. I'll re-up with Kennedy and Lewis this week, thanks to favorable matchups, and I'll be following Masterson, Hernandez, and Braden closely through their coming starts. In deeper leagues, it may behoove you to add these guys to your staff permanently