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 to another post. I use the player pool from a 12-team 5X5 mixed league at ESPN. Since all the owners in the league have previously won ESPN leagues (a qualification for entry), the competition is at least fairly stiff and the teams 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.
For the first time in 2010, every team is playing seven games this week, so we can look forward to a lot of baseball, as well as lots of interesting matchups, as interleague play begins Friday...
Monday, 5/17: Gio Gonzalez (Athletics) v. Seattle Mariners (Ryan Rowland-Smith)
Gonzo got roughed up a little last week in Texas, ending a streak of three consecutive quality starts, but I expect him to get back on the horse Monday at home against a Mariners club that's in turmoil. Not only are the the worst hitting team in baseball, they could still be playing without Milton Bradley, Franklin Gutierrez, and Jack Wilson, all of whom are among their most productive players thusfar. Look for Gio to pile up the Ks.
Back-Up Plan: Edwin Jackson (D-Backs) @ Florida Marlins (Chris Volstad)
Tuesday, 5/18: Mat Latos (Padres) v. San Francisco Giants (Jonathan Sanchez)
Latos was a very popular preseason sleeper, but a rough first month (1-2, 6.20 ERA) got him dropped in most leagues. May has been much more kind, as Latos has posted three quality starts and currently has a streak of eighteen straight scoreless innings. In his last start he went to San Francisco and one-hit the Giants, now they're coming to his house.
Back-Up Plan: Jhoulys Chacin (Rockies) @ Chicago Cubs (Carlos Silva)
Wednesday, 5/19: Justin Masterson (Indians) v. Kansas City Royals (Gil Meche)
There are several very interesting possibilities on humpday. Randy Wolf, coming off a shelling against Philadelphia, takes on the lowly Pirates. Brett Cecil, following up his first bad start of the year (against the Rangers), gets a much friendlier matchup against the Mariners. And Joe Saunders, following on a complete game shutout against the Athletics, heads to Chicago. I'm intrigued by all of these, but when in doubt, I always like the guy playing Kansas City. Masterson had a rough outing against the Orioles last week (5 1/3 IP, 6 ER, 5 BB), but I like his chances against the free-swinging Royals.
Back-Up Plan: Brett Cecil (Blue Jays) @ Seattle Mariners (Doug Fister)
Thursday, 5/20: Ervin Santana (Angels) @ Chicago White Sox (Jake Peavy)
Owners are understandably frightened by Angels pitchers, as the L.A. rotation, as a whole, has been among the worst in baseball so far. Santana, however, has not been the problem. Although he hasn't been able to duplicate the performance of his All-Star season in 2008, he has made strides since last season, raising his strikeout rate (7.8 K/9) and lowering his walk rate (2.9 BB/9), while averaging nearly seven innings per start. If we throw out his first two starts, against the Yankees and Twins, which were a little rough, he has a 3.48 ERA and a winning record (2-1). I'd certainly hesitate to start Ervin against the A.L.'s top lineups, but the strikeout-prone Whit Sox should make for a favorable match-up.
Back-Up Plan: Dontrelle Willis (Tigers) @ Oakland Athletics (Justin Duchscherer)
Friday, 5/21: Trevor Cahill (Athletics) v. San Francisco Giants (Barry Zito)
Oakland has been limiting Cahill's pitchcount, so he hadn't pitched past the sixth until his last start. The results, however, with the exception of his first time out (5 IP, 6 ER @ Toronto) have been pretty darn good (1.69 ERA, 0.79 WHIP). Cahill induces groundballs like crazy, thirty of them in his last two starts (compared to eight flyballs), so he profiles well in most ballparks and against most teams, but it doesn't hurt to be at home facing the lead-footed Giants.
Back-Up Plan: Bronson Arroyo (Reds) @ Cleveland Indians (Jake Westbrook)
Saturday, 5/22: Edwin Jackson (D-Backs) v. Toronto Blue Jays (Dana Eveland)
Saturday features several solid options. I would have no problem sticking with Gio Gonzalez for another turn, as he get the Giants at home. The rehabbed Jeff Francis against K.C. is also tempting, as are both sides of the Clayton Richard v. Ryan Rowland-Smith battle in Seattle. In the end, however, I'm sticking with my love for E-Jax, who I've been watching all year and I remain convinced is well better than his numbers indicate. The Jays lineup is nothing to be trifled with, but it will be shortened by losing the DH, and E-Jax should have some confidence against them. He's made half a dozen starts against Toronto in the last two years and has a 3.44 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP.
Back-Up Plan: Gio Gonzalez (Athletics) v. San Francisco Giants (Matt Cain)
Sunday, 5/23: Mat Latos (Padres) @ Seattle Mariners (Felix Hernandez)
Since there aren't many favorable pairings on Sunday, I'll ride the hot hand, even though Latos will have stiff competition, as King Felix goes for the Mariners. Felix has, at least, been mired in a bit of a slump, so I will hope that extends for one more week. Even if Latos gets beat, he should pile up some strikeouts and be able to avoid the big inning against the Mariners paltry lineup.
Back-Up Plan: Kris Medlen (Braves) @ Pittsburgh Pirates (Zach Duke)
Week Six Results:
Bronson Arroyo (@ Pirates): W, 7 IP, 5 H, ER, BB, 2 K
Scott Olsen (@ Mets): ND, 5 1/3 IP, 9 H, 2 ER, BB, 2 K
Fausto Carmona (@ Royals): W, 5 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 2 K
C. J. Wilson (v. Athletics): ND, 7 IP, 4 H, ER, 3 BB, 5 K
Justin Masterson (@ Orioles): L, 5 1/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 4 K
Ian Kennedy (@ Braves): ND, 6 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K
Brett Myers (@ Giants): L, 8 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
Week Six Totals: 2-2, 3.48 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 27 K, 44 IP (43 H, 17 ER, 17 BB)
Not a bad week, more or less right in line with my season averages, although the strikeout came in a little low. A rain delay on Wednesday shortened Carmona's outing.
2010 Totals: 14-11, 3.46 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 192 K, 260 IP (236 H, 100 ER, 99 BB)