The Fantasy Baseball Pitching Planner is your guide to setting your rotations for the upcoming scoring period. Every week, we'll give you the latest on all of the matchups, highlight two-start options and much more. NOTE: The Planner will be updated with the latest rotation information every Sunday prior to lineup deadlines.
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Enough time has elapsed this season so that we can introduce a new feature into our weekly Pitching Planner.
In the right-hand column of our interactive tool below, there is a color-coded bar that shows you the likelihood that a pitcher has either overperformed or underperformed. The length and color of the bar is determined by the difference between a pitcher's ERA and his xFIP, which is a measure that estimates what an ERA would be if you only took the things that a pitcher can control into account. A red bar indicates that a pitcher has probably overperformed so far, while a green bar indicates that you can probably expect improvement in the future.
Due to space limitations, we are no longer showing a pitcher's flyball rate in any of the table's columns, but you can still filter out the extreme flyball and ground ball pitchers by using the slider in the upper right corner.
Advisable Two-Start Pitchers (Standard Mixed Leagues)
Josh Beckett, Boston: Despite dealing with fatigue and dehydration, Beckett was effective in his last start, a brief 68-pitch outing against the Angels. He has allowed more than three runs in a start just once so far this season, so owners should use Beckett's starts versus the Twins and at the Yankees this coming week.
Chad Billingsley, L.A. Dodgers: Billingsley has overcome an underwhelming start to the season and kicked into a higher gear. He should not be benched in 20 percent of his leagues.
Trevor Cahill, Oakland: xFIP estimates that, with less luck, Cahill's ERA should be more than a run and a half higher than it is. Still, what's wrong with an ERA in the low-to-mid 3.00s, especially when you're also helping with strikeouts and WHIP? Cahill can afford to backslide, because he will still be good enough to be a must-start option.
Chris Carpenter, St. Louis: Carp had a rough start against the Marlins on Wednesday, but he's been his usual reliable self in most of his starts. He needs to remain active in all formats.
Jhoulys Chacin, Colorado: As expected, Chacin's strikeout rate is down from last year, but he has compensated for it with better control and a monstrous 60 percent ground ball rate. Owners should be starting him regardless, but with the Mets and Padres on his schedule next week, Chacin is likely to pay huge dividends.
Zack Greinke, Milwaukee: Take away a two-run homer by Nate McLouth, and Greinke's season debut doesn't look bad at all. Now that he has shaken off some rust, he should be trusted with starts against the Padres and Pirates in the coming week.
Jason Hammel, Colorado: You have to pick your spots with Hammel, but with favorable matchups against the Mets and San Diego, he is a good pitcher to pick up to give your mixed league team some additional starts. There is a good chance that Hammel is available, as he is currently owned in only 26 percent of leagues.
Tim Hudson, Atlanta: Hudson's six-pack of strikeouts against the Brewers on Wednesday were a season high. He is starting in 80 percent of leagues, so most owners know that his contact-pitching ways won't hinder his productivity in Fantasy. With a two-start week ahead, owners in the other 20 percent of leagues should think about getting Hudson in their lineups.
Edwin Jackson, Chicago White Sox: The inconsistent Jackson is probably the most controversial pick among these advisable two-start pitchers. The gap between Jackson's ERA and xFIP of one run plus change shows that Jackson has been a bit unlucky, as he really hasn't been all that bad aside from some wildness. He could struggle against the Angels, but his second start against the A's should cushion his week's stats enough so that he can still help owners in standard mixed leagues.
Ian Kennedy, Diamondbacks: Kennedy was inconsistent with his strikeout tallies earlier this season, but he has fanned 21 batters over his last 22 2/3 innings, spanning three starts. Make sure you have him active for his coming starts at the Giants and Dodgers.
Mat Latos, San Diego: Don't look now, but after three so-so starts to begin the season, Latos appears to be rounding into form. Owners in 12-team mixed leagues should have no hesitation about starting last year's breakout sensation, though his starts in home-run havens Milwaukee and Colorado may make him too risky for shallower leagues this week.
Ted Lilly, L.A. Dodgers: Lilly is normally among the league leaders in WHIP, so it's shocking to see him with a 1.46 mark after seven starts. Opposing batters can maintain a ground ball batting average over .350 against him for only so long. Certainly, starts at Pittsburgh and against Arizona shouldn't be a deterrent to owners banking on a turnaround for the normally-reliable lefty.
Tim Lincecum, San Francisco: Lincecum's velocity has returned, and he is back in his Cy Young form. Enough said.
Brandon Morrow, Toronto: Morrow looked like a breakout candidate coming into this season, and in his three starts to date, he has not disappointed. The 26-year-old should be able to handle whatever lineups the Tigers and Twins throw at him.
Michael Pineda, Seattle: The rookie has exceeded lofty expectations so far, though we did see his biggest weakness -- strong fly-ball tendencies -- hurt him in Wednesday's start against the mighty Rangers. Pineda gave up his first two homers as a major leaguer in that outing, and he could launch another gopher ball or two in Camden Yards on Tuesday. A second start in pitcher-friendly Cleveland balances out his week, so Pineda should be fine to start in standard mixed leagues.
Max Scherzer, Detroit: Scherzer has been wild at times, but he is on a five-game streak in which he has struck out at least seven batters. He is still benched in 24 percent of leagues, so if there is any doubt as to whether Scherzer should be starting every week, his recent span of dominant starts should remove it.
C.J. Wilson, Texas: As surprisingly good as Wilson was last year, which was his first season as a starter, he has taken his game up a notch this year. Most important, he has shored up his biggest weakness, which was a high walk rate. It may be a little too soon to label Wilson as a must-start, but he should be active in most formats in the coming week when he faces the A's and Angels.
Other Add/Activate Targets
Homer Bailey, Cincinnati: Bailey looked sharp in his season debut on Thursday, holding the Astros to a single run, while striking out seven batters over six innings. He will reprise his matchup against Brett Myers next Tuesday, but on Houston's home turf this time. Bailey is currently active in just 11 percent of leagues, so at least in deeper mixed leagues, owners need to get him active for his rematch against Myers and the 'Stros.
Zach Britton, Baltimore: Britton's low K-rate makes him a mediocre option in some weeks, but with a start against Seattle in the offing, he's worth a start in shallower leagues. He is currently active in just under 50 percent of leagues, so plenty of the rookie's owners need to check their lineups and make sure that Britton is starting for Week 6.
Clay Buchholz, Boston: Buchholz seems to have his command back, as he has pitched much better over his last three starts. That includes Saturday's rain-interrupted outing against the Twins, in which Buchholz came back after a two-hour delay to complete five scoreless innings. He is worth starting for this Friday's tilt at Yankee Stadium.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco: After a pair of fine starts at Pittsburgh, Washington and Colorado, Bumgarner's poor beginning to the season seems like a long time ago. He has actually done a good job of throwing strikes for five starts running, so you can trust him against the Cubs next week.
Fausto Carmona, Cleveland: With a middling strikeout rate and ERA, it's not surprising that Carmona is active in roughly half of all leagues. As xFIP shows, though, Carmona would have an ERA that is close to a full run lower if not for a very low strand rate. He's a decent candidate to start in standard mixed leagues more often than not, and with a start against the Mariners coming up, you will likely regret leaving the Indians' top pitcher on your bench.
|1.||Mark Melancon, RP Astros||30|
|2.||Jake Arrieta, SP, Orioles||29|
|3.||Bud Norris, SP, Astros||17|
|4.||Brandon League, RP, Mariners||15|
|5.||Brandon Beachy, SP, Braves||13|
|6.||Drew Storen, RP, Nationals||13|
|7.||Jason Marquis, SP, Nationals||13|
|8.||Homer Bailey, SP, Reds||13|
|9.||Jason Hammel, SP, Rockies||13|
|10.||Eduardo Sanchez, RP, Cardinals||13|
Bartolo Colon, N.Y. Yankees: Colon finally hit the wall in Week 5, allowing four home runs and eight earned runs in 11 1/3 innings over his last two starts. We can cut him a little bit of a break, as two of those homers were at Rangers Ballpark at Arlington, and meanwhile, he's still racking up Ks. Go ahead and get him active for a Week 6 showdown against the Red Sox.
Johnny Cueto, Cincinnati: Cueto made his 2011 debut on Sunday, as he had been on the DL since the start of the season with a shoulder injury. There is always the risk of a few rough starts after coming off of an injury, but Cueto came out sharp, holding the Cubs scoreless for six innings. Owners should be able to trust him next week against the Cardinals. The fourth-year pitcher could be due for a big year, as he has improved his walk and homer rates in each of the last two seasons.
R.A. Dickey, N.Y. Mets: Over his last four starts, Dickey has done a much better job of throwing strikes and he's induced a bunch of ground balls. It seems like he should have more to show for it than a 0-2 record and 15 earned runs over 27 2/3 innings. Look for better things for Dickey in his start at Houston.
Doug Fister, Seattle: Fister doesn't profile much differently than Brandon McCarthy or Kyle Lohse, but with a 14 percent ownership rate, he's a lot less popular. Give him a try in deeper mixed leagues this week.
Yovani Gallardo, Milwaukee: With 13 strikeouts over 13 innings in his last two starts combined, Gallardo's stats are starting to look more Gallardo-like. He follows up his one-hitter at St. Louis with a home start against Pittsburgh. Despite the favorable matchup and some positive momentum, Gallardo is still too risky to trust in 10-team mixed leagues, but he is still worth starting in a 12-team league.
Derek Holland, Texas: A 5.18 ERA and 1.61 WHIP give Holland the appearance of being steeped in mediocrity yet again, but take a closer look at his peripherals. His K/9 rate is a very solid 7.6 and his ground-ball rate is up over 50 percent. His Fantasy stats don't match his impressive skill set because opposing hitters are batting .303 against him on fly balls in play, whereas the major-league average is typically around .130. This is all just a way of letting you know that it's time to get Holland in your lineup, as a rebound is imminent. If you don't have him on your roster, grab him off waivers or buy low from the owners who has him.
Shaun Marcum, Milwaukee: Marcum is almost universally owned, but he is benched in 18 percent of leagues. He is as much of a must-start as any pitcher this week. Marcum has been nothing short of outstanding this season and he faces the Padres this coming scoring period. If you can't start him this week, you might as well not have him rostered at all.
Brett Myers, Houston: He could get a second start if manager Brad Mills opts to skip fifth starter Aneury Rodriguez. Myers got hit around in Cincinnati on Thursday, but he has been better at home since becoming an Astro. He'll face the Reds and possibly the Mets at Minute Maid Park next week.
Chris Narveson, Milwaukee: Narveson wasn't at his best in recent starts against the Reds and Astros, but while he had been more hittable, he hadn't lost his command of the strike zone. He rebounded against the Cardinals on Sunday, so look for the bounce back to continue when he pitches against the Pirates next Saturday.
Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox: Having completed his rehab assignment, Peavy is now tentatively scheduled to make his season debut on Wednesday at the Angels. At least in deeper mixed leagues, it's time to figure out how to clear an active roster spot for him.
Tim Stauffer, San Diego: Stauffer has been much more efficient over his last four starts, going at least six innings each time. He's also compiled a 1.37 ERA in facing the Cubs, Phillies, Dodgers and Diamondbacks over that span. This is probably not an isolated streak, as Stauffer was also very effective in his seven starts last season. He is worth starting in most mixed league formats.
Randy Wolf, Milwaukee: Wolf will be opposing Stauffer next week. While they both can't come away with a win, there's not much risk in starting Wolf when he goes up against the National League's least lethal offense.
Inadvisable Two-Start Pitchers (Standard Mixed Leagues)
Jake Arrieta, Baltimore: Arrieta is inducing more whiffs this year, but more often than not, he has lacked consistency in pitching in the zone. The breakout potential is there, but he's not reliable enough yet to be trusted in shallower leagues, even with two starts.
Nick Blackburn, Minnesota: With the flu-stricken Francisco Liriano having his next start pushed back a day, Blackburn inherits a second start for Week 6. The Red Sox and Blue Jays are not the safest matchups, but it's hard to trust Blackburn under most circumstances. Save him for deeper AL-only leagues.
Joe Blanton, Philadelphia: The Phillies are looking for Blanton to step back into the rotation on Monday, as he appears to be past his elbow issues. That gives him a pair of starts in his first week back at Florida and Atlanta. Blanton probably deserved a lot better than a 5.92 ERA over his four pre-DL starts, but especially after a layoff, there are safer two-start options out there.
Chris Capuano, N.Y. Mets: There will be weeks where you won't get hurt using Capuano in a deeper mixed league, but he is too amenable to home runs to be trusted in a week where he visits both Coors Field and Minute Maid Park.
Kevin Correia, Pittsburgh: With less than a strikeout every other inning, it doesn't matter how effective Correia has been at preventing baserunners. There are just too many pitchers who can help with ERA and WHIP, while providing Ks as well, so leave Correia for deeper leagues.
Kyle Davies, Kansas City: He's not as wild as he once was, but Davies still gives up too many homers and allows too many of his baserunners to score. Even with two starts, he's an AL-only option.
Freddy Garcia, N.Y. Yankees: Garcia has been racking up strikeouts with his mid-80s fastball, but he's also been pitching out of the zone plenty often. It's only a matter of time before that catches up with him.
Jeff Karstens, Pittsburgh: Even in NL-only leagues, Karstens should be used only as a last-resort two-start option. He could have an especially hard time in his second start of the week, which is in homer-friendly Milwaukee.
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Jason Marquis, Washington: Marquis is off to a nice start, though his stats have been bolstered by two especially strong outings against the Mets and Giants. His track record shows that we shouldn't be surprised if he becomes inconsistent with his control. Even in deeper mixed leagues, you can probably find better two-start pitchers to fill out your rotation.
Mike Pelfrey, N.Y. Mets: With Chris Young on the disabled list and an off day on Thursday, the Mets can opt to use a four-man rotation this week. They have not announced that they are doing so, but if they do, Pelfrey will get a second start. His sinker hasn't been all that effective, so he could have a tough week pitching at Colorado and Houston, both notorious home run parks.
Aneury Rodriguez, Houston: Rodriguez threw five scoreless innings against the Reds in his first major league start this week, but an unimpressive minor league track record should be a warning that things won't always go this smoothly. He will get to face Cincy again next week, but don't be surprised if he loses his second start against the Mets. The Astros have Thursday off, so they can afford to skip their fifth starter.
Ervin Santana, L.A. Angels: Santana is exhibiting his strongest command since his fine 2008 season. He's had a few clunkers this year, too, so he hasn't shown the consistency to earn the trust of standard mixed league owners. This may be a particularly bad week to roll the dice with Santana, as his second start comes at Texas, where he has posted a 7.60 ERA with 20 home runs allowed over 12 starts in his career.
Andy Sonnanstine, Tampa Bay: The Rays will use Sonnanstine as the fill-in for Jeff Niemann (back) on Tuesday at Cleveland. He also lines up to take Niemann's Sunday start against Baltimore, though the team could also pull an arm from their minor-league system to take the hill. Whether he gets one start or two, Sonnanstine is merely a last resort for AL-only owners who need a warm body.
Josh Tomlin, Cleveland: Tomlin has issued just eight walks in 40 2/3 innings, and his sharp control is one of the reasons he was a sleeper for deeper mixed leagues coming into this season. However, only five of the 50 ground balls hit off him have become base hits, and that's a trend that is extremely unlikely to last. Don't put too much weight into Tomlin's 0.81 WHIP and keep him out of your standard mixed league rotation for now.
Javier Vazquez, Florida: In six tries this season, Vazquez has one quality start and he just barely qualified with three earned runs in six innings against the Rockies. This is not a very good sign from a pitcher who has a lot to prove this year.
Travis Wood, Cincinnati: Despite a season-high four walks, Wood had one of his best starts of the year on Wednesday against the Astros. It's a small step forward, but the not-so-portly portsider has to develop some consistency to be worth using in shallower formats.
Carlos Zambrano, Chicago Cubs: Zambrano has put together a couple of nice outings in a row, but one can't help but notice he's become a contact pitcher with some strong flyball tendencies. He can have some success that way, but if Fantasy owners wanted Jeremy Guthrie, they could have probably acquired him at a much lower cost than what it took to get Zambrano. Until he starts getting hitters to produce some strikeouts and grounders, he's hardly a no-brainer for standard mixed league owners. He's certainly no match for Chris Carpenter and Tim Lincecum, his Week 6 opponents.
Other Drop/Stash Targets
Bruce Chen, Kansas City: Chen took care of the Orioles on Thursday, but just three starts ago, he was blasted for six earned runs in 4 1/3 innings at Texas. That is the likely result for Chen when he's pitching in a home run park. You won't want any part of him when he travels to Yankee Stadium for his next start.
Wade Davis, Tampa Bay: If you think that a 3.07 ERA looks odd for a pitcher who is striking out 4.1 batters every nine innings, then xFIP agrees with you. According to this metric, Davis has overperformed more than just about any major-league pitcher this year. His past stats show that he can be genuinely good, but avoid him in standard mixed leagues until he ratchets up that K-rate.
Aaron Harang, San Diego: Harang's old nemeses, the home run and the line drive, have reemerged in his recent starts. He may wind up being more reliable this year than he has been in some time, but with a trip to Coors Field in Week 6, this is a good time to give the former Red a breather.
Matt Harrison, Texas: With five walks in six innings against the Yankees on Friday, that made three consecutive starts for Harrison in which he completely lacked command. Given his long-term history of mediocrity, it's too much to expect him to return to the form he exhibited in his first four starts. Don't drop Harrison in mixed leagues just yet, but bench him for his Week 6 start against the A's.
Colby Lewis, Texas: Lewis has been much better in his last two starts, but in squaring off against the weak A's and Mariners lineups in their pitcher-friendly parks, you can't be too comforted. He gets the A's one more time this coming week, but at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, Lewis' fondness for flyballs could get him into real trouble.
Alexi Ogando, Texas: Ogando had his Sunday start against the Yankees skipped due to blister issues, but he is expected to take his turn on Friday against the Angels. He has raced out to a 3-0 record with a 2.17 ERA, so asking owners in standard mixed leagues to sit him might not be a popular request, his blister notwithstanding. However, he's really not that much of a strikeout pitcher, and BABIPs under .200 and strand rates over 85 percent aren't made to last, and he currently falls into both categories. Ogando could be due for quite a fall.
May Not Start in Week 6
Josh Collmenter, Arizona: Collmenter is the most likely candidate to replace recently-demoted Barry Enright in the Snakes' rotation. He is already something of a risk, as Micah Owings could grab the fifth starter's role instead. However, even if the job belongs to Collmenter, the rookie is largely unproven above Double-A. He may be worth picking up in NL-only leagues, but it is still too early to use him.
Ramon Ortiz, Chicago Cubs: The Cubs have still not named a starter for next Saturday's game against the Giants, but Ortiz currently stands as the most likely candidate. He would be starting on regular rest, as his next Triple-A start comes on Tuesday. The last time that Ortiz posted an ERA below 5.00 was 2004, so if he does get the call, even owners in deeper leagues can't rely on him to contribute.
Jeanmar Gomez/Alex White, Cleveland: One of these two Indians starters will probably get demoted to Triple-A if Carlos Carrasco returns this coming week. Gomez is a performance risk in any event, so he should be stashed or dropped in all formats. White is a more intriguing option, so keep tabs on his and Carrasco's status in AL-only and deeper mixed leagues.
Philip Humber, Chicago White Sox: Chicago manager Ozzie Guillen has insisted that he will keep Humber in the rotation, even though Jake Peavy is slated to come off the DL this coming week. Someone in the potential six-man rotation is bound to get skipped with the Sox having Thursday off, and Humber seems to be the most likely to get bullpen duty.
Roy Oswalt, Philadelphia: The Phillies placed Oswalt on the 15-day DL with a lower back injury, but he is eligible to come off in time to make his next scheduled start on Friday at Atlanta. He is not certain to spend the minimum time on the disabled list, so owners should see if they have safer alternatives available for Week 6.
Chris Young, N.Y. Mets: Young made his second trip to the DL of the young season on Sunday. It is not yet known how long he will be out, but the results from an MRI on his shoulder should tell us more. In any event, owners will not be able to use Young until Week 7 (May 16-22) at the earliest.
Esmil Rogers, Colorado: Rogers went on the DL with a strained lat muscle on Saturday, though he has not pitched since May 1. The 25-year-old had not been effective, but his NL-only owners should check back on his status, as he could be available for Week 7 (May 16-22).
Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay: Niemann developed stiffness in his back during Wednesday's start versus Toronto and was placed on the DL on Friday. He will miss at least two starts and will not be back until Week 7 (May 16-22), if not later.
Brian Matusz, Baltimore: Matusz will start one more game in extended spring training and will then make a minor-league rehab start. If he continues to progress in his return from an intercostal strain, Fantasy owners could see Matusz back with the Orioles in Week 7 (May 16-22).
Carlos Carrasco, Cleveland: Carrasco was placed on the DL on April 28 with right elbow inflammation. He made a rehab start on Friday for Double-A Akron and is expected to be back with the Indians in Week 6. He will assume the roster spot currently held by either Jeanmar Gomez or Alex White, though no announcement has been made regarding his activation date.
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