Photo courtesy of Keith Allison.
In 2012, Dixon’s Picks was not only something I did every week, but I really enjoyed it. So, here we are again.
You don’t win a fantasy baseball league without taking chances. Some of those are season-long chances, other are short-term ones, like, should I pick this waiver wire pitcher up for a few starts, or not?
The simple word for all of that is streaming. It’s a practice that some people hate, but many use, which is why I write these every week.
Who’s eligible, who’s not?. Well, anyone available in more than half of ESPN leagues (ESPN is my primary fantasy baseball site) is eligible. For the most part, these are guys who are scheduled to pitch twice during the week and for the benefit of you head-to-head guys, this will run every Monday. We all know that Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw won’t be claimed on any waiver wires. These guys won’t be that good for the length of the season, but they’re in situations with favorable matchups. Now, you ultimately decide whether or not these guys come to your team, but I’d suggest giving these guys a look.
Of course, I’m dealing with probable starts. Things like weather delays and injuries sometimes change that, let’s just hope it doesn’t happen too much.
Let’s get 2013’s first Dixon’s Picks underway…
Ricky Nolasco, Miami Marlins – Probable Starts: Monday at Minnesota Twins, Sunday vs. Chicago Cubs
Obviously, if you claim a Marlins’ player, you know that the run support will be thin, so they won’t exactly be bankable for wins. But they’ve had some solid pitching performances through the year, and Ricky Nolasco has been rock solid. Take a look at what he’s done through the first four starts of the year.
That’s two out of four quality starts, and none of the outings were particularly bad. Remember, this early in the season, it doesn’t take much more than a bad inning or two to really inflate things like ERA and WHIP. So, he’s pitching well and getting to pitch at Target Field & Marlins Park against a middle of the road offense (Twins), and a struggling one (Cubs). Thus far, he’s gone twice against a strong Nationals team, and once against the Mets and Phillies.
Now, the downfall for Nolasco is that he’s not a high strikeout guy. But pitching against these hitters in these parks, contact shouldn’t be a huge problem. Yes, Justin Morneau, Joe Mauer, Anthony Rizzo, Starlin Castro, and even Alfonso Soriano are fine hitters, but nobody else really strikes fear into any pitcher. I’d fully expect two quality starts this week from the Marlins’ top guy.
Nolasco’s Projections for the Week
Jose Quintana, Chicago White Sox – Probable Starts: Tuesday vs. Cleveland Indians, Sunday vs. Tampa Bay Rays
Do you like gambling? If you do, then Jose Quintana is a guy that you should give a really strong look at this week. Yes, the Indians and Rays have some capable hitters on their rosters but right now, those are scuffling offenses and Quintana is pitching incredibly well.
We also know that Quintana is capable of keeping runners from crossing home plate when he is on. Take a look at his first three months of 2012 (he didn’t debut until May).
- May: 1.76 ERA, 0.72 WHIP
- June: 2.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP
- July: 3.67 ERA, 1.14 WHIP
Perhaps a bit lucky with that June ERA, but also unlucky in July.
The point of all of that is that over his last two starts, Quintana has been pretty hot. Take a look at the numbers.
One of those games was a seven-inning, one-hit, no walk performance against the Indians. Another was a similarly dominant performance against the Blue Jays.
Now, I am not projecting that Quintana will continue at this pace for the season or even the week, but he can be worse than that and still pretty dang good. Those numbers are just gaudy. Right now, I don’t see Cleveland or Tampa halting that in a serious way. But going beyond this week a little bit, Quintana is 24, was a dominant pitcher in the minors and was solid in 2012 as a rookie. He’s available in more than 90 percent of ESPN leagues. If you have a scuffling pitching staff or have one of many guys who have been hurt, Quintana might be a valuable addition beyond this week.
Quintana’s Projections for the Week
Carlos Villanueva, Chicago Cubs – Probable Starts: Tuesday at Cincinnati Reds, Sunday at. Miami Marlins
I’d like to show you how Carlos Villanueva has done thus far in 2013, but let’s look at this start-by-start.
|vs. San Francisco||7.1||0||3||1||3||0.00||0.55||ND|
Okay, Major League Baseball insists that teams who qualify for the Wild Card play-in game are playoff teams, so we’re going to go with that right now. All three of those teams made the playoffs in 2012. I make that point and I showed the start-by-start totals because I’m sure many of you are looking at that first opponent, the Cincinnati Reds, as a team that doesn’t exactly jump out as a classic stream opponent. With Shin Soo-Choo, Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto, and Jay Bruce, they’re one of the most dangerous lineups in baseball, especially at home. Under normal circumstances, this is not a team you’d stream against.
But Villanueva has had three brilliant outings against very capable lineups this year, including a scorching Atlanta lineup.
I’d also point out that if you really don’t want to gamble, you could leave Villanueva on the bench on Tuesday, and pitch him over the weekend against the Miami
Marlins. Now, you may see that and realize that I also advised Nolasco for that game. Obviously, if you need two wins on Sunday, that’s not going to work. But I would expect a low-scoring affair there and would have no problem throwing opposing pitchers, even if I can’t pick up more than one win.
Like Quintana, VIllanueva has a history of getting really hot. Now, his career is a little longer and while he’s not a bad pitcher, he’s not a great one. But when he’s hot, you want him on your team. Right now, he’s hot. You’ll certainly want him on your team when he’s facing the Marlins.
Now, I think Villanueva will do fine against the Reds this week, but I do understand if many of you don’t want to start him against Cincinnati. So, instead of just a total projection, I’ll give you a start-by-start one.
Villanueva’s Projections for the Week