Print and Go Back ESPN.com: 2007 [Print without images]

Thursday, June 28, 2007
Updated: June 29, 11:56 AM ET
Sixty Feet, Six Inches: Rotation roundup

By Sean Allen
Special to ESPN.com

In some aspects of life, and in fantasy baseball, it's advantageous to know a little bit about a lot of things, as opposed to knowing a lot about very few things. With that in mind, here is your monthly update with a sentence or two about every starting pitcher.

National League

Arizona Diamondbacks

Brandon Webb -- No question that he has been the ace everyone drafted. I still don't think fantasy players respect him enough, and he may be the cheapest of the elite pitchers to target in trade.

Randy Johnson -- Will be as good as his back lets him be. Trade him for a more reliable arm if you need to climb the standings.

Livan Hernandez -- A .364 opponent batting average indicates that he may not even be useful to safely eat innings anymore.

Doug Davis -- Not getting enough K's to be worthy of mixed leagues, but could get hot in the second half as he is much closer to a strikeout-per-inning average after the All-Star break the past three years.

Micah Owings -- Will continue to be inconsistent whenever the strikeouts aren't there. The future looks bright, but he is for deep leagues and NL-only for now.

Edgar Gonzalez -- He'll be back in the 'pen with Johnson off the disabled list. Gonzalez offered no glimmer of hope in his most recent outing either.

Atlanta Braves

John Smoltz -- The shoulder has to be a concern, but since he is putting up ace numbers for a No. 2 or 3 price, holding is the wise thing to do.

Tim Hudson -- His wicked start seems to be lost in some recent iffy outings. If the opportunity is there to nab him, he is medium risk/medium reward in mixed leagues.

Chuck James -- The potential for a real good run of starts is still there for James. He is a decent gamble for teams looking for better-than-average stats from the waiver wire.

Kyle Davies -- Still a name I can't stop paying attention to based on his decent repertoire of pitchers. Davies hasn't put it together yet, and his 0.4 percent ESPN-league ownership rate is representative of that.

Buddy Carlyle -- His good starts have been against the strikeout-prone Marlins and the fledgling Nationals. Nothing to see here.

Chicago Cubs

Carlos Zambrano -- He is back, big time! Now may be the time to offer a player just slightly under Zambrano's draft-day value to see if you can pry him away from an owner that still remembers April and May's struggles.

Ted Lilly -- A hard-luck pitcher, Lilly is doing all the peripheral things right. He could have a much better second half if the chips fall his way.

Jason Marquis -- Marquis uses way too many pitches to get guys out and often has trouble getting deep into games. That means his earned runs and hits do more damage than his limited strikeouts are worth.

Rich Hill -- His numbers get even better when you take out the starts against the Padres. He's a strong No. 2 starter on any fantasy team; as long as you bench him against San Diego.

Sean Marshall -- I still say that too many guys get on base against Marshall to allow him to maintain his numbers. He doesn't have the strikeout ability to get out of jams and should be sold high if anyone in your league likes him to keep this up.

Cincinnati Reds

Aaron Harang -- Bad Harang outings are becoming sparser as the year rolls along. Considering that seven of his 17 starts resulted in his surrendering at least five earned runs, his 3.08 ERA is stellar.

Bronson Arroyo -- He is not getting the strikeouts he needs to be effective. Arroyo is not really helpful in any format.

Kyle Lohse -- His ERA has been rising faster than the temperature. The occasional gem isn't worth the bad games.

Matt Belisle -- Someone to watch in the future. He would be useful if not for the fact that when he has a bad game, he has a really bad game.

Homer Bailey -- Teams continue to take advantage of Bailey when he is working from the stretch. Any team with speed on the bases is going to give him serious trouble.

Colorado Rockies

Aaron Cook -- He is doing what he is supposed to do for the Rockies, unfortunately, inducing a lot of ground balls probably doesn't help your fantasy team.

Josh Fogg -- Opponents are hitting Fogg to the tune of .350. He has earned every point of his 1.53 WHIP.

Jeff Francis -- Here's a guy that deserves more respect. Francis had the 12th best ERA in the National League in May and has the 14th best ERA in June, yet he is still only owned in 7 percent of ESPN leagues.

Rodrigo Lopez -- The correction to Lopez' ERA came Tuesday, and now his stats are in check with his skills.

Jason Hirsh -- His hold on a rotation spot has become tenuous. Still a good cheap name for deep keeper leagues, though.

Florida Marlins

Dontrelle Willis -- His 91 percent owned rate in ESPN leagues belies his current statistics and his track record for the this season. If you are waiting for the D-Train to turn around your season I got news for you; you are at the wrong station.

Scott Olsen -- He is working on earning our trust back, but he needs a few more good games to convince us to get back on the saddle. That, or he has to stop walking so many hitters.

Sergio Mitre -- His WHIP is high enough that his ERA will likely be end up in the low 3.00s. That number is still very useful for NL-only and deep mixed leagues.

Josh Johnson -- Deep mixed and NL-only leagues need to buy low on Johnson. He should cost almost nothing in trade thanks to two bad outings, but he has the skills and attitude to be effective.

Byung-Hyun Kim -- The change of address from Coors has done nothing so far for Kim. Stay away.

Houston Astros

Roy Oswalt -- Something is not right with Roy. He is going to shatter his career mark for walks. A correction might not be coming in time for fantasy owners and if you can package Oswalt for another potential No. 1 starter, do it.

Jason Jennings -- Jennings might be a good speculative add for teams that need help in the win category. Jennings goes deep enough into games that his team has ample opportunity to get him a win; and he doesn't particularly hurt you anywhere else.

Woody Williams -- Williams is the same pitcher he always has been; pitching deep into games and hoping his team can win 8-7.

Wandy Rodriguez -- He teases with a string of decent starts, but treat him as no better than a rare spot-start so you won't be disappointed.

Chris Sampson -- Has pitched well enough to be owned in all NL-only leagues and deserves some attention in deep mixed leagues as well. He has ten quality starts this year.

Los Angeles Dodgers

Derek Lowe -- Lowe has it all together this year and the fact that he is available in 6 percent of ESPN leagues leads me to believe not everyone has noticed.

Brad Penny -- Sell, sell, sell. Penny did this last year, with a 2.91 ERA before the All-Star break and a 6.25 ERA after.

Randy Wolf -- I'm not so hopeful that Wolf will bounce back next month. He basically had a really good May, and that's it.

Hong-Chih Kuo -- Kuo remains one of the better spot starts in the NL. When he's on, he can really pile on the strikeouts.

Chad Billingsley -- If Billingsley keeps the walks down, he is going to be a boon to both NL-only and mixed leagues for the second-half.

Jason Schmidt (DL) -- Even keeper leaguers might want to bail on this tired arm.

Milwaukee Brewers

Ben Sheets -- He erased all fears about his arm by rattling off five straight wins. Strikeouts have improved, but they're still not the plethora you want them to be.

Jeff Suppan -- Still not a fantasy-relevant arm, but if he is around on the wire at the end of July pick him up to see if he can repeat last seasons strong finish.

Dave Bush -- You can only be unlucky for so long before people start thinking it must be something you are doing wrong. I'm done with Bush for this season. Redraft leagues should be too.

Claudio Vargas -- Still uses up his pitch count too quickly, which really makes his bad starts hurt your team's numbers.

Yovani Gallardo -- Looks like the kid wonder is headed for the bullpen. Injuries are bound to creep up in the rotation, which will afford him another shot, but now is the time to sell high if you can't afford to wait.

Chris Capuano (DL) -- Will rejoin the rotation next week, and has kept his walks low enough this year that even mixed leagues should be paying attention. He'll likely have more value than Gallardo in redraft leagues.

New York Mets

Tom Glavine -- His numbers haven't warranted a roster spot in most leagues. He has strung together two good outings, but I want to see one more before I start to forgive him for the last month.

Orlando Hernandez -- If you can find a trading partner that will give you what you need, don't hesitate to deal El Duque. His numbers are terrific, but they have been few players less trustworthy these past few years.

John Maine -- Don't look for Maine to continue his bid at an ERA in the 2.00s. Mid-3.00s is achievable, however, and he'll remain useful in most leagues while falling short of being a difference maker.

Oliver Perez -- It's scary to see him walk more hitters than he strikes out, for fear of a relapse to 2006 Ollie. Yet he continues to have strong outings. Treat him the same way as you'd treat Maine.

Jorge Sosa -- On the other hand, it's time to ease yourself away from Sosa. He had a recent good outing against a bad St. Louis offense. He's not going to be so lucky every time he pitches.

Pedro Martinez (DL) -- Pedro is not going to have his fastball this season. If you own him, your best bet is to try to capitalize on the hype when he is almost back, before his first start.

Philadelphia Phillies

Cole Hamels -- They don't get much better than Hamels. His last couple starts have inflated his ERA, but that only means it might be easier to buy him.

Adam Eaton -- He is going to win with the Phillies, but it's not worth the high ERA and WHIP in any fantasy format.

Jamie Moyer -- Moyer has some quality numbers this season, but he gets them inconsistently. He's too risky for shallower leagues and should be used as a matchup pitcher.

Kyle Kendrick -- Kendrick puts the ball in play and lets his team do the work. If he sticks in the majors, look for a lot of wins to go with a subpar ERA.

Jon Lieber (DL) -- Lieber's season is likely over, and he offers little to keeper leagues.

J.D. Durbin -- You want no part of Durbin. He sports a 94.50 ERA. I know, he has only got two batters out this year, but it's still a gaudy number.

Pittsburgh Pirates

Tom Gorzelanny -- If you don't need strikeouts, Gorzelanny is one of the best pitchers to go after for wins, ERA and WHIP.

Ian Snell -- If you do need strikeouts, then Snell is your man. This one-two punch is going to be fantasy worthy for years.

Paul Maholm -- This sinkerball pitcher could use a better defense. He's only good for the occasional fantasy spot start.

Zach Duke -- Duke isn't fooling anybody this year, as opponents hit .388 against him. Unless your league rewards you for 2005 statistics, leave Duke alone.

John Van Benschoten -- He should be watched, but from afar. If he can't work deep into games against weaker offenses, he'll struggle quite a bit.

San Diego Padres

Jake Peavy -- Cy Young and fantasy Cy Young. Don't trade him for anything.

Chris Young -- No Cy Young, but pitching at Petco and having guys like Maddux and Peavy to work with has to help. A correction is coming to his ERA, but he is a strong No. 2 starter, regardless.

Greg Maddux -- The Petco factor is at work for Maddux as well. In fact, he should only be started when the Padres are at home.

David Wells -- Same deal for this veteran. Only play him at Petco and he can be very helpful.

Justin Germano -- Germano is due for a huge stat correction. The time to trade him is now. He actually has a better ERA on the road than at home, and just doesn't have the pedigree to keep this up.

San Francisco Giants

Barry Zito -- If any offense he faces is on any kind of roll, they eat Zito alive. Tread carefully with this lefty.

Matt Cain -- Only has one real explosion on the year. I wouldn't hesitate to trade for Cain as a No. 2 starter in mixed leagues.

Matt Morris -- Forgive him for struggles against the Yankees and Red Sox. Morris has given us no reason not to have him on the roster in most formats, yet he isn't; he's only owned in 31 percent of leagues.

Noah Lowry -- The WHIP and the walks are both too high and trouble is brewing for the lefty.

Tim Lincecum -- As expected, Lincecum bounced right back against the Padres and managed base runners with more maturity. Buy with confidence as arguably the top rookie pitcher.

St. Louis Cardinals

Todd Wellemeyer -- He is just not pitching effectively and it's no secret that he is just a Band-Aid for this rotation.

Adam Wainwright -- Needs to increase his strikeouts almost twofold before he will be effective. Still makes a good spot-start option now and then.

Mike Maroth -- Looked pretty good in his debut, but if my league was deep enough to make him a commodity I would sell. He is still Mike Maroth.

Brad Thompson -- Another member of the Band-Aid brigade. He's barely useful in a relief role.

Anthony Reyes -- I'm not going to forget about his skill set heading into next year, but at 0-10 with a 6.40 ERA, it really is time to move on.

Chris Carpenter (DL) -- He's getting closer to making a return. Make an offer for him now and you could be getting box scores before August.

Mark Mulder (DL) -- He is still a month away and may be just as bad as last year. If he is free and you have roster space, I could see picking him up ... if you're desperate.

Braden Looper (DL) -- Could rejoin the rotation very soon, and is worth stashing away in deeper leagues in hopes that his recent poor performance was due to the shoulder sprain that sent him to the DL.

Washington Nationals

Matt Chico -- Doesn't get far enough into games. He does not have issues with walks, and that could mean good things in the future. For now, say no thanks.

Jason Simontacchi -- That 10-earned-run performance should be enough to keep everyone away from him. He doesn't offer enough K's to risk a spot start, either.

Micah Bowie -- Bowie warrants more attention than he is currently getting. Before the Braves teed off on him, Bowie was keeping his team in games and racking up a decent amount of strikeouts.

Mike Bacsik -- He's Bowie without the strikeouts. No thank you, indeed.

Jason Bergmann -- Six out of his nine starts have been quality starts. He didn't walk anyone in his return from the DL. Add him now in NL-only leagues and watch closely in deep mixed formats.

John Patterson (DL) -- Still no word on what the problem with Patterson is. There is no real reason to keep him in non-keeper leagues.

Shawn Hill (DL) -- Hill should also be on the radar in deeper leagues as it was learned this week that he only has tendinitis and is on the road to recovery.

American League

Baltimore Orioles

Erik Bedard -- No worries about Bedard, as he came back from his hamstring strain rocking. Outside of Johan Santana, he's the best investment to make in the AL.

Daniel Cabrera -- Why owners in 12 percent of ESPN leagues still cling to hope is beyond me. Cut ties with Cabrera for this season.

Steve Trachsel -- Remains irrelevant to fantasy.

Jeremy Guthrie -- He is 100 percent for real. Ten starts, all of them quality? Trade for him with confidence.

Brian Burres -- He was doing all right when he was keeping the home run out of the equation, but has allowed three home runs in his last two starts. It might not be safe to spot-start him again for a while.

Boston Red Sox

Josh Beckett -- The wins will keep pouring in, but his ERA is better than it should be. Now may be the time to get the best value for him in trade.

Daisuke Matsuzaka -- If Dice-K needed some time to adjust, that time is over. The hype has died down so it may be easy to pounce on Matsuzaka and his 1.59 June ERA.

Tim Wakefield -- Owning Wakefield is the same as flipping a coin for a good start.

Julian Tavarez -- The strikeouts still aren't there and Tavarez still doesn't work deep enough into games yet.

Kason Gabbard -- It's definitely going to be a short-lived appearance in the majors if Gabbard keeps walking six guys a game. He won't be up much longer anyway.

Curt Schilling (DL) -- There is still no exact timetable on Schilling. Expect him to take until late July.

Chicago White Sox

Jose Contreras -- He hasn't been able to strike out batters out as much as he is used to, and it shows in his ERA and WHIP. Still, he is keeping most teams in check and deserves to be watched closely.

Jon Garland -- Speaking of not striking people out, that's what Garland does best. He pitches effectively without whiffing guys and is a decent No. 4 starter for any fantasy team.

Mark Buehrle -- He actually has underrated numbers this season, just don't invest in him in AL-only leagues, as the odds of him being traded from the White Sox are very good.

Javier Vazquez -- It's always a mystery how Vazquez can have such a low WHIP and such a ballooned ERA. Nonetheless, he is useful in virtually any format for his K numbers.

John Danks -- The team is trying to adjust when he throws his fastball, and if results don't start showing soon they probably won't. His 0.2 percent owned rate in ESPN leagues is quite appropriate.

Cleveland Indians

C.C. Sabathia -- Cy Young for C.C.? It could happen. If you are going to trade for an elite pitcher to help in all four categories, make it Sabathia.

Fausto Carmona -- It may have been just "one of those nights" for Carmona against the A's, but it also could be a harbinger of things to come for one of this season's nicest surprises.

Cliff Lee -- Watch him for spot-start opportunities, but don't do much else with him.

Paul Byrd -- Byrd has enough control to deserve to be owned in AL-only and some deep mixed leagues, but you still have to spot start him.

Jake Westbrook -- His first outing back from the DL was OK, but it was also against the Nationals. Wait until you see something from Westbrook before you use him.

Detroit Tigers

Jeremy Bonderman -- He doesn't have the nicest ERA of the pitchers that win that many games, but the strikeouts are there.

Justin Verlander -- Cheaper than Bonderman to acquire, but might have better numbers at the end of the year.

Kenny Rogers -- He looked solid, and controlled in his return against an Atlanta team that hits southpaws well. It would not hurt to roster the Gambler right away and play him for wins.

Andrew Miller -- Still needs to be spot started this year, but is showing us how good he will be once he starts striking people out.

Nate Robertson -- His arm didn't look so tired after a stint on the DL, and you can go back to spot starting Robertson against weaker offenses, or any team that has trouble with lefties.

Kansas City Royals

Gil Meche -- Still undervalued because he is a Royal. If you need cheap K's go after him, but be warned; those who own Meche know how valuable he is.

Brian Bannister -- Anyone is liable to be hit hard by the Brewers, so don't hesitate to use Bannister as a deep-league spot-start when you need K's or a win.

Odalis Perez -- The six earned run implosions are coming too frequently to use Perez this year.

John Thomson -- It's good to see that, even after beating the Angels, Thomson remains 0 percent owned in ESPN leagues. It's not going to be pretty when the league catches up with him.

Jorge De La Rosa -- He likely kept his rotation spot by beating the Angels, but they still got 10 hits against him in six innings. There is no reason to hold out hope for someone who may be slipping from the Royals rotation.

Los Angeles Angels

John Lackey -- It wasn't the kind of performance we are used to from Lackey this year, but it was good to see him come out of this week's start after eight innings with seven strikeouts. They are not always earned runs, but it's the third time in his last four starts that at least five runs were scored while he was on the mound.

Kelvim Escobar -- Here's the ace of the Angels staff from here on out. Escobar has been mowing them down this year and deserves all the respect that his strong numbers indicate. Trade for him as a fantasy ace.

Bartolo Colon -- He is still nowhere close to 2005 form, but Colon has looked progressively better on the mound. There are definitely worse investments to make right now.

Ervin Santana -- Concerns about him hiding an injury have cropped up. If you have been using Santana lately, make alternate plans.

Jered Weaver -- Started to get his off-speed stuff working again on Wednesday. If he can start striking out batters with more frequency, he will be safe to use in all formats again.

Minnesota Twins

Johan Santana Carlos Silva -- He is still struggling more often than not. Look elsewhere for help with wins in AL-only.

Boof Bonser -- We warned about troubles looming for Boof, and his ERA and WHIP are almost in line with where they should be now. If you can get on the Bonser train for the current price of admission, his strikeouts should get back up a bit and be useful in deep leagues.

Kevin Slowey -- Redraft leagues can start ignoring Slowey. He is going to need time to learn how to keep the ball from leaving the park before his killer command can be useful.

Scott Baker -- Is pitching better after nearly losing his spot in the rotation. Watch to see if this newly ignited fire keeps burning. If not, start making plans to acquire Matt Garza.

New York Yankees

Chien-Ming Wang -- The 10-strikeout game was a complete aberration. Just buckle in for more low-K, high-win action a la Wang.

Andy Pettitte -- With all the talk surrounding Clemens, Pettitte might be a buy-low candidate. He should end the season with fewer strikeouts than Rocket, but better overall fantasy numbers.

Mike Mussina -- The Giants, and therefore the rest of the majors, figured out how to beat the new tandem of Mussina and Wil Nieves. Run on them. If the new battery doesn't adjust, expect Mussina to slip back to his April numbers.

Roger Clemens -- The lack of strikeouts against the Orioles was a freak incident. Buy Clemens with confidence if you can afford him.

Kei Igawa -- Igawa looked no better this week than he did back in April. It looks like the Daisuke train only brought one major-league ready pitcher over from Japan.

Phil Hughes (DL) -- The boot is off his injured ankle and he is now working on the hamstring. Remember he had a no hitter going when he was hurt and is definitely worth rostering if you have the room.

Oakland Athletics

Dan Haren -- If ERA is the problem for your fantasy team, it looks like no one will make a bigger positive impact than Haren.

Joe Blanton -- A lot of Oakland pitchers have been showing sparkling ERAs lately, and the one who could maintain awesome numbers is Blanton. Trade for him as a strong No. 2 starter.

Chad Gaudin -- The honeymoon is almost over for Gaudin. His good-looking ERA has been trending back towards his ugly WHIP.

Joe Kennedy -- He has started to show why he had no value coming into the season in mixed leagues. If you have been experimenting with Kennedy in anything but the deepest of leagues, stop.

Lenny DiNardo -- Doesn't strike out enough batters or last long enough in games to generate much fantasy interest outside of as an occasional spot-start.

Seattle Mariners

Felix Hernandez -- He is still way too much of a roller-coaster ride this season. If you need a boon-or-bust arm, he is a very intriguing trade target, but if you are playing it safe, you should think about dealing away King Felix.

Jarrod Washburn -- He's a deep league spot starter at best, because he does not offer any strikeouts.

Miguel Batista -- He is still too wild to use for fantasy purposes, and his K's are down now that he's back in the American League.

Jeff Weaver -- He's been decent since coming off the DL, but the end seems to always be ugly with this Weaver. As tempting as it may be, even if he has another good outing, try to avoid him.

Ryan Feierabend -- He is not working deep enough or managing base runners well enough to stick around for very long. At the very least he shouldn't touch your fantasy team with a 10-foot pole.

Cha Seung Baek (DL) -- He is down for the time being with shoulder inflammation, but has the stuff to win when he comes back. Worth a look in deep leagues.

Tampa Bay Devil Rays

Scott Kazmir -- He is working his way back into the "above average" category. It's a slow but steady process, and fantasy owners should be anticipating a hot streak out of Kazmir before the season is over.

James Shields -- He slowed down a bit during interleague play, but was happy to greet the White Sox again with 11 strikeouts. He's a decent No. 2 starter though, because we don't know if he can keep this up for an entire season.

Edwin Jackson -- Hanging on to his rotation spot by a thread, you want nothing to do with him.

Andy Sonnanstine -- Free-swinging teams have been crushing Sonnanstine, as he depends on called strikes to be effective. Unless he faces an offense that strikes out a lot, keep him on the bench.

J.P. Howell -- He pounds the strike zone and should only be considered for a spot start against teams that don't hit very well.

Texas Rangers

Kevin Millwood -- The 10-strikeout gem against Cincinnati is no longer the norm for Millwood. He is a weak No. 4 starter in fantasy.

Vicente Padilla -- Padilla finally hit the DL, after the team says he has been pitching with pain all season. I guarantee it hurt us more to watch than it hurt Padilla to pitch.

Robinson Tejeda -- The Rangers are now stuck with guys like Tejeda, who force their team to win the game 9-8.

Kameron Loe -- Loe is intriguing as long as the defense can keep up with his ground balls. Still, he is only a venture spot start for deep AL-only leagues.

Jamey Wright -- His WHIP is over 2.00. Enough said.

Toronto Blue Jays

Roy Halladay -- Halladay is in for a major shift in his ERA… a positive one. If an owner in your league is worried about the Doc, move on him as if you were getting a No. 1 starter.

Dustin McGowan -- The no-hit bid should not change your opinion of McGowan in any way. If your league is deep enough to warrant his use, you would have noticed the string of quality starts over the month of May and June. If he wasn't noticeable then, don't let a broken up no-hitter change your opinion.

A.J. Burnett -- Burnett looked just peachy in his return on Thursday, striking out six hitters over four-plus innings. Two of the five earned runs were Jason Frasor's fault. John Gibbons took Burnett out after a reasonable 75 pitches. Treat him as a strong No. 2 starter.

Shaun Marcum -- Let's all start giving Marcum the respect he has earned as a starter. He has been nothing short of dominant since being moved to the rotation. Pay attention to him even in the shallowest of leagues.

Josh Towers -- The Jays haven't learned their lesson after suffering through Towers' awful 2006, but hopefully you have. Ignore.

Sean Allen is a fantasy baseball and hockey analyst for ESPN.com and TalentedMrRoto.com. He can be reached at alla_rino@TalentedMrRoto.com.