Another week, another set of Dixon’s Picks. This is something of an odd week in that most of the good two-start aren’t readily available in most leagues. The bulk of the others aren’t people I’d gamble on at this point. So, we have to improvise.
The first two names you’ll read are available in most leagues. But, that only gets us to four starts. Call me crazy, but I like looking at six good matchups per week. So, that’s what we’re going to do. We’re going to look at a few other guys for one start.
Now, I will say that both of the bonus picks are actually two-start guys. But in both cases, they’re going up against an offense that you just don’t stream pitchers against. So, I’d suggest that you couple these two together and use each in his best matchup.
Now, let’s get to it.
- Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves — Probable Starts: Monday vs. Minnesota Twins, Sunday at New York Mets
Here’s a prime example of where pitcher’s numbers early in the year are inconclusive. Yes, Teheran enters the week with relatively unimpressive numbers, sporting a 4.57 ERA and 1.48 WHIP. But while those aren’t impressive, they don’t tell the complete story.
When Teheran took the mound on April 23 against the Rockies, his ERA was 7.31. Since then, that total has been reduced by nearly three full points. Welcome to the world of pitcher’s stats in the early part of the year. They are way out of whack. Starting with that Rockies start, three of his four most recent outings were quality starts. Even the one that wasn’t a QS wasn’t terrible in the ERA department, allowing two runs over 5.1 innings.
The recipe for success has been pretty simple over that time. In those four starts, Teheran has walked a total of one hitter. In the three before that, he had seven walks. Nothing new here, but walks are ERA killers. If you don’t issue the free passes, you’re chances to survive are great.
Now, there are still some drawbacks with Julio Teheran. The main one is that he’s a contact pitcher, so he allows a lot of hits. As a matter of fact, he’s never had an outing in 2013 where he allowed fewer hits than innings pitched. Fortunately, these aren’t the teams to expose those flaws. The Mets sport one of baseball’s worst batting averages and OBP, while the Twins are decidedly average in both. Remember, that start will be in Atlanta, so the Twins will not have the DH, either.
Teheran is moving in the right direction, and these are two opponents that will allow him to keep heading that way.
Teheran’s Projections for the Week
- Josh Lindblom, Texas Rangers – Probable Starts: Monday vs. Oakland Athletics, Sunday at Seattle Mariners
This is something you won’t see in too many Dixon’s Picks — a pitcher making his first ever start in the week I’m suggesting you pick him up. But there a few reasons why Josh Lindblom is a good pick this week.
- I won’t call the A’s a bad offense. They are a typical Billy Beane team in that they don’t hit for a high average, but do draw a lot of walks. As a result, they’re one of the most prolific scoring offenses in the league. But right now, they’re a struggling team. Even their wins are generally pretty low-scoring.
- Seattle is a Bottom-10 offense in most major categories.
- While he hasn’t been particularly prolific at strikeouts this season, Lindblom has been a strikeout pitcher throughout his career. Both Seattle and Oakland are in the Top-10 in the majors in strikeouts. It’s nice to have a category that you can reliably fall back on if things go south.
- Though the sample size is somewhat limited (100.2 innings — all relief), Lindblom’s career Major League ERA is 3.31, his WHIP is 1.262, with nearly one strikeout per inning.
- Lindblom has been excellent in Triple-A this season, sporting a 4-0 record, 2.08 ERA, and 0.877 WHIP in 43.1 innings.
Now, the drawback is that he’s really economical with his pitches, there’s a pretty good chance that Lindblom will be limited to five, maybe six innings this week, especially in the first start. But the good news is that while he’s on the mound, there’s plenty of reason to believe he’ll bring things. Remember, the Rangers are a contending team. When Alexi Ogando went down with an injury, Texas had to bring up a pitcher they were confident in. If they weren’t going anywhere in the standings, they might have gone with a more highly touted guy to get his feet wet, even if the experience was rough. This tells me that they believe in Lindblom for a few starts. So do I.
Lindblom’s Projections for the Week
- Scott Kazmir, Cleveland Indians – Recommended Start: Monday vs. Seattle Mariners
We’ve already gone over why the Mariners are a good matchup for pitchers. Kazmir, in particular, can be exceptionally dangerous against them, as he enters Monday striking out more than one hitter per inning. Actually, even in Kazmir’s worst years, he still struck out hitters at a good rate.
Like Teheran, Scott Kazmir is a prime example of how stats for pitchers can be deceiving. Yes, he had a terrible opening outing against the Astros of all teams (more on that later, but remember that he issued three walks in that game). But in the 22 subsequent innings, he’s posted an ERA of 3.68, and a WHIP of 1.18. Better yet, he’s struck out 24 batters.
Now, over the weekend, Kazmir will take on the Red Sox at Fenway. The Sox haven’t been especially great over the last few weeks, and I do wonder if they’re true contenders, but I still don’t like that matchup at Fenway. There are just too many good hitters, and too many ways to get in trouble in that park.
But the Mariners are a good matchup. With their tendency to strikeout a lot, you could be looking at a double-digit strikeout day. I won’t go as far as to predict that, but you’ll see plenty from Kazmir.
Kazmir’s Projections against Seattle
- Bartolo Colon, Oakland Athletics – Recommended Start: Sunday at Houston Astros
This is an interesting one. Colon is actually Lindblom’s scheduled opponent, but I just don’t like matchup. Not in Arlington, anyway. While I am not enamored with the matchup against the Rangers, the A’s will leave Arlington to a more pitcher-friendly part of the state, Houston. Actually, the city and ballpark aren’t particularly pitcher-friendly, but the Astros offense is, and that’s what counts here.
Not many pitchers will get into trouble against that offense. Really, when you’re facing a bad offense, the only way you get into trouble is to walk batters. Otherwise, they’re dependent on stringing two or three hits together, and that’s just not likely to happen too often. Say what you will about Bartolo Colon, but he will never beat himself on the mound. Wait, that’s awkward. Well, he doesn’t walk guys, let’s put it that way.
In 47.1 innings in 2013, Colon has issued two walks. Read that again, it is not a typo. TWO WALKS. This is where the ultimate question comes in. What is the worst that can happen? The Astros just don’t have the bats that can inflict serious damage on a pitcher who doesn’t help them out. Colon isn’t a strikeout guy, but Houston tends to bring out the inner Tom Seaver in all of its opponents. As a general rule, if you’re in need of a good start and see a guy on the waiver wire facing the Astros, sign him. Even if the guy is a contact guy who allows a lot of hits (like Colon), if he throws strikes, the outing will almost always be good, and sometimes even great.
Colon’s Projections against Houston