The Rockies have provided us with one of the strangest rotation developments to come along in awhile. In demoting Jeremy Guthrie to the bullpen, they will move forward with a four-man rotation consisting of Jeff Francis and three starters who have never put in a full season in a big league rotation. While the Colorado starting contingent is low on both quantity and quality, it does pose some interesting possibilities for Fantasy Week 13 (June 25-July 1). With the Rockies playing a full seven-game schedule, they will provide Fantasy owners with not one, not two, but three two-start pitchers. Only Alex White won't get a chance at a double dip.
Even in deep leagues, a two-start week isn't especially welcome if the pitcher looks due for a pair of meltdowns. Francis, Christian Friedrich and Josh Outman haven't been reliable, and all are saddled with a pair of starts at Coors Field for the week ahead. One of them, however, may have a better chance to succeed for owners in deeper formats. To see which one it is, you'll have to peruse this week's two-start options section just below. As is the case each week in Plumbing the Depths, the two-start pitchers reviewed here are ones you won't see in the upcoming top 70 starter rankings, but each should be kept active in at least some deeper formats.
I have also spotlighted a handful of one-start pitchers worth a deep-league flier, as well as some starters who may be on the verge of losing their jobs. All stats are current for games through Wednesday, June 20.
Deeper league two-start options
Gavin Floyd, White Sox:
Projected matchups: @MIN (Hendriks), @NYY (Hughes)
2012 stats: 5-7, 5.20 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 76 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 51/25
Outlook: Floyd came out of a six-game funk on Wednesday, when he held the Cubs scoreless for 6 1/3 innings. Even after a solid outing against the punchless North Siders, Floyd's HR/9 rate at U.S. Cellular Field is a bloated 1.5. Some owners in mixed leagues might take a look at Floyd's line from his most recent start and think he could be usable with a two start week. He may be able to escape with decent outing at the Twins, but his weekend start at Yankee Stadium has the potential to ruin his week. You might as well keep Floyd active in most AL-only leagues, but in practically any mixed league, you need to give the big righty a rest.
Bruce Chen, Royals:
Projected matchups: TB (Moore), @MIN (Hendriks)
2012 stats: 6-6, 4.81 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 59 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 18/8
Outlook: The last time I recommended Chen as a viable start, I got pelted with volleyballs. You might think the sting of that payoff for a lost Weekly Wager on Fantasy Baseball 360 would make me shy away from Chen, but being a slow learner and all, I'm back at it, risking further punishment. As a flyball pitcher, Chen has generally been more vulnerable away from Kauffman Stadium, though home runs haven't hurt him much home or away this year. It's has actually been subpar BABIP and strand rates that have been at the root of Chen's 6.05 road ERA. Not only is he safer to use than his ERA would indicate, but with starts at Kauffman and homer-squelching Target Field next week, Chen needs to be activated in far more than eight percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com.
Luke Hochevar, Royals:
Projected matchups: TB (Archer), @MIN (Liriano)
2012 stats: 4-7, 5.65 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 60 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 16/7
Outlook: Unlike Chen, Hochevar has worse splits at home than on the road this season, but that looks more like a small sample fluke than anything. Hochevar is a less viable option than Chen this week, simply because the weaknesses that make him a deep league option in the first place aren't mitigated by where he pitches. He is a low-end starter mainly because he has consistently shown that he has trouble stranding baserunners. Hochevar's 60 percent strand rate would look like a horrific case of bad luck for nearly any other pitcher, but it's not far off his career norm. Despite the two-start week, Hochevar's seven percent activation rate looks just about right.
Travis Wood, Cubs:
Projected matchups: NYM (Santana), HOU (Lyles)
2012 stats: 1-3, 4.14 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 29 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 6/3
Outlook: It's not clear what happened to the circa 2010 version of Wood, but if the southpaw were still a control artist, he could be used in standard mixed leagues on occasion. While he is now too wild to use in those formats, he still has his uses for owners in deeper leagues. In fact, if you subtract out a single Wrigley Field start against the Padres, in which the wind was blowing out unusually strong, his ERA would be just 3.22. With a pair of home starts, Wood will once again be subject to the whims of Mother Nature, but he is still worth using in all NL-only leagues this coming week.
Josh Outman, Rockies:
Projected matchups: WAS (Zimmermann), SD (Bass)
2012 stats: 0-3, 8.41 ERA, 1.62 WHIP, 22 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 1/1
Outlook: The Rockies' rotation owns the majors' highest ERA, so the stink created by the group as a whole has attached itself to each individual member, at least in the minds of Fantasy owners. With a stratospheric ERA and WHIP, Outman is an easy target for disgruntled owners, but xFIP thinks he's the best thing the Rockies have going right now. The advanced pitching metric, which estimates that Outman would have a 3.51 ERA if you could factor out the impact of defense and luck, may have a point. Albeit in just 20 1/3 innings, Outman has done an outstanding job of inducing whiffs (11.4 percent swinging strike rate) and grounders (53 percent ground ball rate), but his good work has been all for naught due to a 47 percent strand rate and a .368 BABIP. Outman had success at getting strikeouts and grounders last season in Triple-A, as he was working his way back from Tommy John surgery. He was also solid in 13 games with the A's last season, though he had the benefit of a better home park in which to pitch. Despite a pair of starts at Coors Field, Outman may be the Rockies' pitcher best equipped to get through Week 13 unscathed, and at minimum, he should be started in all NL-only leagues.
Waiver wire targets
Garrett Richards, Angels:
Projected matchups: @TOR (Chavez)
2012 stats: 2-0, 0.86 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 17 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 41/18
Outlook: With Jerome Williams (illness) being placed on the 15-day disabled list, Richards gets to enjoy a longer stay in the Angels' rotation. He hasn't had very good control above Double-A, but with unsustainably high strand and popup rates, Richards has gotten away with 11 walks in his 21 innings with the Angels. He has also avoided damage despite a 48 percent flyball rate, though given the ground ball tendencies he showed in the minors, that rate could recede. This will be Richards' first trip to a hitter's park this season, so it's best to stash Richards for his start against the Blue Jays. However, he could be useful in deeper mixed leagues in future weeks, so he is worth a pickup in those formats if he is available.
Clayton Richard, Padres:
Projected matchups: @HOU (Harrell)
2012 stats: 4-7, 3.94 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 52 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 21/11
Outlook: After a slow start to the season, Richard (not to be confused with Richards) is quietly working on a career year. As he has improved his command and strengthened his ground ball tendencies, Richard has posted a 2.66 ERA and 1.14 WHIP over his last seven starts. Averaging nearly seven innings per start during this span, he is profiling more and more like fellow lefty Matt Harrison, though without the copious quantities of run support. With one start this coming week, Richard is a good option in deeper mixed leagues, and at some point during a future two-start week, he will have standard mixed league viability.
Ross Detwiler, Nationals:
Projected matchups: @ATL (Delgado)
2012 stats: 4-3, 3.34 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 46 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 14/4
Outlook: Detwiler had poor results in a string of mid-May starts, so when Chien-Ming Wang came off the disabled list roughly a month ago, it was convenient for manager Davey Johnson to ship Detwiler to the bullpen. It was an undeserved demotion, as Detwiler's biggest offense was posting a fluky-looking .404 BABIP over his last three starts. The 26-year-old actually looked like he was coming into his own this year, keeping the ball down and getting strikeouts at a higher rate. At his peak earlier this year, Detwiler was owned in 72 percent of our leagues, and in future two-start weeks, he could reach those levels again. Even with a single start at the Braves, Detwiler needs to be owned and started in far more deeper mixed leagues.
Chris Archer, Rays:
Projected matchups: @KC (Hochevar)
2012 stats: 0-1, 1.50 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 7 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 9/3
Outlook: Archer could actually make a second start, facing the Tigers on June 30, but Jeremy Hellickson (shoulder) could also come off the disabled list and knock Archer out of the rotation. Even with one start against the Royals, Archer is worth using in AL-only leagues as well as some deeper mixed leagues. Archer has some control issues, but even if he struggles, he could get bailed out by a Kansas City squad that leads the AL in swing percentage on pitches outside the strike zone.
Marco Estrada, Brewers:
Projected matchups: @CIN (Arroyo)
2012 stats: 0-3, 4.50 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 34 Ks
Ownership/activation rates: 4/0
Outlook: Barring a setback, Estrada will rejoin the Brewers' rotation on Tuesday to face the Reds. He hadn't been all that effective prior to going on the DL, and his best moments came against the Rockies and Cubs in a pair of home starts. Estrada can be vulnerable to the long ball, so his start at Cincinnati may not go very well, but when healthy, he's a worthy arm to roster in NL-only leagues. Most owners should plan on stashing Estrada for now, but it's best to pick up him up soon, before he gets a few good starts under his belt.
Vulnerable rotation spots
Red Sox: Josh Beckett (shoulder) could return from the disabled list as soon as June 27. If that happens, Franklin Morales would be the most likely pitcher to get bumped from the rotation, so owners should plan on sitting him for Week 13.
Rangers: Derek Holland (shoulder) may be ready to assume his place in the Rangers' rotation by next weekend. That would likely end Justin Grimm's tenure as a big league starter, though he will at least get one Week 13 start, facing the Tigers on Monday. AL-only owners can start Grimm one more time before dropping or stashing him.
Blue Jays: The Jays are still trying to piece together their rotation after losing three starters in a five-day span to injury last week. Neither Joel Carreno nor Jesse Chavez fared well in their turns this week, and neither is guaranteed to keep a starting role. Carlos Villanueva, Aaron Laffey and recently-acquired Sean O'Sullivan could all be potential replacement options, but all should be avoided for now.
Royals: Felipe Paulino is expected to be activated next week and pitch in the series against the Rays. Either Luis Mendoza or Vin Mazzaro would lose his rotation spot, but both have had some success lately. However, due to their uncertain status, owners should plan on sitting both hurlers until more is known about the Royals' plans.
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