Philly's Cliff Lee (2.82 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 47/8 K-BB ratio) is still searching for his first win of the season, despite top-10 pitching stats.
The following slideshow touts five start-or-sit matchups to consider for fantasy Week 9 (May 28-June 3), featuring six overall hitters and four starting pitchers.
All five battles involve players at the same position, with similar circumstances heading into this week's action.
For example, the three hitting comparisons feature batters with only six games for the week, and both pitching matchups include one-start assets during the current seven-day window.
Enjoy the show!
April might have been a lost month for Choo, but he has rebounded nicely in May (three homers, four steals, .287 batting), boosting the confidence of fantasy owners everywhere (and the gurus who assigned him a top-20 ranking among outfielders in March).
On the flip side, Prado's numbers have been stellar at all points of the campaign. For the year, he has 22 RBI, 30 runs and seven steals. From a 15-day perspective, Prado (above) is shredding opposing pitchers, batting at a .439 clip.
Which brings me to this: As an Atlanta resident and someone who watches the Braves regularly (at least when the Tigers aren't playing), I didn't know that Prado was killing the ball like this; and that's a frightening concept for a Baseball-Reference nerd to accept.
Sure, Prado may never get his just due on ESPN or MLB Network—but you'd be hard-pressed to find 10 better hitters with dual-positional eligibility right now. What a (quiet) gem!
Choo has the easier slate for his six-game week (Royals, Twins), but no one in his right mind would bench Prado during the hottest of hot streaks.
Outside of a slight bump in hits allowed per outing, there are no discernible differences between Lee's dominance of seasons past and his 2012 production (2.82 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 47/8 K-BB ratio).
And yet, Lee has yet to tally his first win of the season.
That quirky trend will end Wednesday in New York—not because the Mets are pushovers at Citi Field, but because the law of averages scream something positive in Lee's favor.
Josh Johnson has charted a similarly luckless course in the first two months, getting rocked in his second, fifth and sixth starts. But of his last four outings, Johnson has racked up two wins and 19 strikeouts, while surrendering eight runs in 26 innings.
It's a close battle...but I foresee Lee to be a greater lock for one victory and eight strikeouts.
The Cubs' 12-game losing streak (as of May 28) cannot be pinned on Samardzija. Since April 24 (spanning six starts and 39.2 innings), the fire-baller has a remarkable 1.84 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 41/12 K-BB ratio.
Jackson (1-2, 3.38 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 50 Ks) is enjoying a strong year too, minimizing walks and home runs allowed and registering 6-9 strikeouts for nearly every start. But his level of ERA and WHIP dominance simply cannot match that of Samardzija, one of three top-notch starters in the Cubs rotation (Matt Garza, Ryan Dempster).
Samardzija (vs. Padres) and Jackson (@ Marlins) only have one start each this week. When given the choice, I'll ride the hotter arm who will be pitching at home.
Beltre (10 HR, 33 RBI, 26 runs, one steal, .318 batting) has more than justified his top-five preseason ranking among third basemen. From a daily and weekly perspective, he's also been a rock-steady force in the Rangers' vaunted lineup, continually batting over .300 at every 15- and 30-day window.
Encarnacion (above) also boasts stellar stats for the season, but his production has more of a spurt factor than Beltre's. For example, E-5 is only batting .262 since April 29; but in the last 15 days, he's hitting at a .304 clip (with four homers). And on the season, he amazingly has 15 homers and 39 RBI.
With two explosive assets like Beltre (vs. Mariners, @ Angels) and Encarnacion (vs. Orioles, vs. Red Sox), it makes sense to simply ride the hitter with the better matchups. And Encarnacion has the luck-of-the-draw luxury of not facing Felix Hernandez or Jered Weaver in the next seven days.
Encarnacion gets the nod.
Without a doubt, Altuve (three HR, 15 RBI, 27 runs, nine steals, .307 batting) has been a fantasy force for the Astros this season. But is he the better option over Phillips...when both hitters are in peak form?
Since May 13, Phillips has three homers, 12 RBI, 11 runs and a .327 batting average—a stretch that includes five multiple-hit games. Altuve, in turn, may have difficulty replicating a period like that from this point forward, especially when having the full attention of opposing pitchers.
Altuve plays at Coors Field for three of his six games this week, followed by a head-to-head clash with Phillips' Reds in Houston. By all accounts, that should be enough to warrant a fantasy start at second base.
But I'm going start the hotter bat (Phillips)...and pray that he can keep the good times rolling against the Pirates and Astros.