While we constantly talk about small sample size and patience with players who haven’t hit their stride yet, we do have two-plus weeks of games and some assessments are in order.
So far in 2011, I have two very solid mantras for my pitching staffs:
1. Pitch virtually any starter against the Seattle Mariners
That is one very poor offense and most days won’t beat any kind of good pitching,
However the corollary is you shouldn’t rush to add or keep starters who have a great game against the Mariners (Sean O’Sullivan that means you).
2. Pitch all starters in PETCO Park whether they are Padres or visiting teams
In addition to the huge pitchers park, some guy named Adrian is gone and that offense is also very poor (again on marginal starters, pitch & ditch should be the plan)
Now let’s talk about some pitchers that were really on the low end of draft lists (unless you drafted after opening day). Some of these hurlers were very close for me on a skills basis but we don’t always see good spring training habits/pitching approaches carried into the season…..to wit:
- Matt Harrison, LHP, Texas Rangers – I really like Harrison and know he has the pitches to be successful for the Rangers and for fantasy teams…..IF he keeps the ball down that is. And so far he has done that very well and also has progressed in attitude as young pitchers don’t always do in getting right back on the mound with his game plan in mind after some adversity. I actually drafted Harrison in an AL only league and despite those great first two starts, benched him this week because of the trip to New York. But Harrison pitched very well and as long as he stays on track will stay in my lineup.
- Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers – let’s stay with this team as they have three somewhat surprising starters that everyone wants to decide correctly on. While Holland has even better movement on all his pitches than Harrison and I think has a better long term grade, he also shows to date less command than Harrison. Saturday’s outing against the Yankees would have been a plus if the Rangers (read Wash and Maddux) hadn’t left him in to pitch the eighth which I can find no reason for.
- Alexi Ogando, RHP, Texas Rangers – perhaps the most surprising of the three young Ranger starters, Ogando has a great arm. He is still new to pitching (a converted outfielder) but I like what I see. Location and command will be the key as his third pitches are not as strong as his fastball and slider.
- Justin Masterson, RHP, Cleveland Indians – Masterson as some of you may have observed last September (and April IIRC) has pitched very well. He has also pitched very poorly and trashed some fantasy ERAs. I saw him several times in spring training in this year and despite some good pitches and innings, I still thought he was too inconsistent. BUT it appears he brought all the good from spring training and got more focused as he has done very well so far. I still worry long term about his delivery and his inability to pitch to left handed batters, but riding the hot hand is always a good idea – just be ready to jump if he goes off the tracks.