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Welcome to the Week 15 Pitching Planner. Is it sacrilegious as a baseball fan to hate the MLB All-Star break? No box scores to look at, notes to read, pitchers to predict, what is an obsessed Fantasy Baseball owner to do? I suppose obsessed is a bit strong, but I’ll allow it.

I did ramble on about sports writers and end of season predictions the last couple days, so I suppose I found a use for my time off. Nevertheless, the second half has finally started, and several big questions remain.

Do Johnny Cueto and Cole Hamels draw a start for their respective teams in the upcoming week, July 20-26? Will we have another trade deadline like David Price last season, but two times over?

And what about Brian Johnson? Instead of a trade acquisition, the Boston Red Sox went to Triple-A for a rotation upgrade. Or, speaking of the Cincinnati Reds, what can we expect from Tony Cingrani? Last I checked the Reds already had a five man rotation with Cueto and Mike Leake. Is this a bit of foreshadowing?

I’ll touch on all these questions and more in this week’s pitching planner. Five to start and five to sit, here we go.

Pitching Planner, July 20-26

 

Five Pitchers to Start

1. Brian Johnson, LHP, Boston Red Sox

Johnson has arguably earned his spot with Boston just as much, if not more, than Eduardo Rodriguez did, and we saw how he fared after initially receiving the promotion. Johnson draws the Houston Astros on Tuesday as of right now and a free swinging offense does not generally bode well for a team that has never faced a pitcher, nor have much of a scouting report on them. Rodriguez had eight strikeouts in his lone start against Houston earlier this season.

2. Tony Cingrani, LHP, Cincinnati Reds

The Reds had this weapon at their disposal for two years now, and I honestly think they forgot what he is capable of. I recently sat down with Kris Medlen during his rehab start with the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. By talking to him you could tell the type of stress and anxiety that he dealt with during 2012 while bouncing from bullpen to rotation back to bullpen and back to the rotation. Medlen went 9-0 with a 0.97 ERA as a starter that season. Cingrani, temporarily, is expected to draw the start against the Chicago Cubs on Wednesday. Cingrani has a 0.00 ERA through 14 innings with 18 strikeouts at Triple-A this season.

3. Tanner Roark, RHP, Washington Nationals

The Nationals temporarily expect Roark to start against the New York Mets on Tuesday, although it may be perhaps more realistic that they promote Joe Ross for the start. Until the Mets show me they are committed to fixing their offense, I will gladly take a cheap option against their lineup any day. If Ross gets promoted, he is obviously a must-start.

4. Julio Teheran, RHP, Atlanta Braves

Teheran has been a huge disappointment this season, however he has a 2.18 ERA at Turner Field this season and is 1-0 with a 2.41 ERA in July. A start against the Los Angeles Dodgers is not ideal, however he matches up with Mike Bolsinger, bonus 1, and the Dodgers rank 21st in the league with 42 runs scored in July, bonus 2.

5. Corey Kluber, RHP, Cleveland Indians

Kluber is generally an obvious start, but I think he could have the “start of the week.” One constant this season has been the Chicago White Sox’s inability to score runs, and he gets them for a Friday night start at home this week. Kluber has a 2.74 ERA at Progressive Field this season, and has a 1.99 ERA thus far in July. For the cherry on top, Kluber went 9 innings allowing one earned run with 12 strikeouts in his last start against the White Sox.

 

Honorable Mention:  Johnny Cueto, RHP, Boston Red Sox

Cueto, I expect, will make his final start for the Reds today against Cleveland. At which point, I anticipate a start the following weekend against either the New York Mets (if moved to the Los Angeles Dodgers), the Texas Rangers (if moved to the Angels), the Houston Astros (if moved to Kansas City) or as I expect, the Detroit Tigers (if moved to the Boston Red Sox).

 

Five Pitchers to Sit

1. Danny Salazar, RHP, Cleveland Indians

I love Salazar’s upside, however he is beginning to get priced out a little bit in daily, and the match-up this week certainly does not favor him. Salazar has been a little inconsistent of late, and a start at Miller Park against Milwaukee seems like an unfortunate way to start the second half. Milwaukee ranked second in the league with 70 runs scored in 12 July games going into yesterday.

2. Kendall Graveman, RHP, Oakland Athletics

Graveman has been spectacular for over a month now, but he still does not offer hardly any upside in terms of strikeouts, and a contact pitcher rarely “dominates” the Toronto Blue Jays. Given that he is right-handed, and the start comes in Oakland, he may have a chance to get the victory. However, without the strikeout upside, I would hope you can find other alternatives than to play roulette against the Blue Jays lineup.

3. Tom Koehler, RHP, Miami Marlins

Koehler has allowed more than two earned runs just once since the end of May over the course of six starts totaling 39.2 innings pitched and a 4-2 record. That’s the good. The bad: Koehler has notoriously pitched poorly away from Miami in his career (9-14), and has a 5.07 ERA away from Marlins Park this season. It’s not a terrible match-up against San Diego at Petco Park, but I still would not trust Koehler in any start on the road.

4. Scott Kazmir, LHP, Oakland Athletics

If Kazmir starts for Oakland this week, it will come at home against Toronto. While Kazmir has pitched phenomenally in Oakland, and most of the peripheral stats look promising for Kazmir to have a good start, I will never play a left handed starter against Toronto. Whether you sort by runs on the road, runs at home, runs in July, runs against lefties, or righties for that matter, the Blue Jays rank toward the top of the league in runs scored. Ignore the splits, ignore the stats, and trust your gut. Sit Kazmir this week. Toronto is batting .298 as a team against lefties with a .481 slugging percentage.

5. Cody Anderson, RHP, Cleveland Indians

Remember the regression we all anticipated and waited for when Eduardo Rodriguez was dominating Major League Baseball? The same can be said for Cody Anderson and I think it comes this week at Miller Park against the Milwaukee Brewers. If Anderson can only get one strikeout against the Houston Astros in 6.2 innings pitched, a team that easily ranks atop the league in strikeouts, how do you think a “pitch to contact” approach will fare against a fairly “patient” team in a bandbox like Miller Park? If you are curious, how about we just ask Kyle Lohse or Matt Garza.

I think we can all agree, it sure is nice to have baseball back in our lives. No more breaks until November- and then we have Fantasy Football, so it’s more like no more breaks until February. Best of luck this week and I hope the pitching planner helps you start the second half off strong.

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