Fantasy Baseball 2012: 5 Start-or-Sit Matchups for June 18-24

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterJune 18, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: 5 Start-or-Sit Matchups for June 18-24

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    The following slideshow touts five start-or-sit matchups to consider for fantasy Week 12 (June 18-24), featuring six overall hitters and four starting pitchers.

    All five battles involve players at the same position or hitting slot, 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!

Starting Pitcher: Tim Lincecum vs. Chris Capuano

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    As God as my witness, this will be the last time for June and July that I implore fantasy owners to keep the faith with Lincecum (2-8, 6.19 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 83 Ks).

    After all, one can only go to the well so often to defend a pitcher who has already surrendered four-plus earned runs 10 times this season.

    To put that into perspective, Lincecum had allowed four or more runs just 25 times from 2008-11, and more than half of the 25 outings covered only four runs.

    In many ways, Capuano (8-2, 2.71 ERA, 1.14 ERA, 80 Ks) has been the anti-Lincecum for the Dodgers. He rarely has a bad outing and seldom creates opportunities for disaster via the almighty base on balls. To bench him reeks of unfairness.

    And yet, I would probably ride Lincecum over Capuano, citing three reasons:

    1. Lincecum draws the anemic A's in a spacious ballpark (Friday).

    2. On June 11, the sweet-swinging Angels notched eight hits and four walks against Capuano, and this weekend's rematch comes in Anaheim.

    3. If this is truly Lincecum's last stand, let's give the two-time Cy Young a fully cooperative chance to partially erase a nightmare campaign.

Outfield: Corey Hart vs. Austin Jackson

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    Corey Hart (14 HR, 31 RBI, 38 runs, .251 BA) has been a solid asset for the Brewers this season, and if we were judging him solely on the "Player Rater" function, it would be a close battle between him and Jackson.

    But the per-game averages tell the real story with Jackson (seven homers, 27 RBI, 35 runs, six steals, .323 batting average), who would undoubtedly garner more All-Star attention if he hadn't missed a good chunk of games to injury (ab strain).

    Extrapolating his current stats over 150 games, Jackson might have been in line for 26 homers, 88 RBI, 112 runs and 20 steals.

    Throw in the fact A-Jax (one homer, .318 batting since June 11) has three games against the sometimes-shaky Pirates this week (along with three home games against the Cardinals), and he seems like the safer lock for Week 12 fantasy fun.

3rd Base: Chase Headley vs. Kyle Seager

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    From a seasonal standpoint, I could go either way on Kyle Seager (eight homers, 39 RBI, 30 runs, five steals, .256 BA) or Chase Headley (seven homers, 31 RBI, 32 runs, eight steals, .261 BA).

    The differences really aren't that profound.

    But Headley is the clear winner in two other phases: a) 15-day track record (.294 batting, three steals) and b) weekly matchup (six home games against the Rangers and Mariners). He's also the better candidate for two or more steals in Week 12.

    On the flip side, the rookie Seager (.171 batting since June 3) has six roadies with the Diamondbacks and Padres.

Starting Pitcher: Johan Santana vs. Shaun Marcum

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    Aside from one clunker start against the Giants on May 22 (six runs allowed), Marcum has been a consistent source of fantasy goodness in his last 10 outings.

    Nine starts of three or less runs allowed. Eight outings of three walks or less, and for good measure, six different appearances with six-plus strikeouts.

    For the week, Marcum (5-3, 3.39 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) draws the Blue Jays at home.

    Regarding Santana, he's surrendered 10 runs since his no-hitter against the Cardinals. But that's not a major concern, given his track record of 13 runs allowed from April 24-June 1 (with 55 strikeouts).

    With a cool pairing like this, it's all about the matchup at hand, and by the slimmest of margins, I'd endorse Marcum at home against Toronto over Santana against Baltimore.

    For what it's worth, though, both pitchers are good bets for 13 strikeouts.

Utility Spot: Nick Swisher vs. Mark Reynolds

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    Reynolds (three homers, 10 RBI, 11 runs, .341 batting) has been crushing the ball of late, a subtle reminder of his per-season averages of 38.5 home runs and 92.5 RBI from 2008-11.

    But is that enough to overtake someone of Swisher's caliber for the week, even if the Yankee outfielder is nursing a quad injury and may not play Monday?

    Despite Swisher's seven hits in four days and .350 batting average since June 3, I'm still willing to take that chance.

    After all, Reynolds had been long overdue to bust out of a sub-.200 funk that lasted 34 days (April 6-May 10) and essentially vanquished all the fantasy cred he had accumulated from the dream 2009 campaign (44 homers, 102 RBI and 24 steals).

    Bottom line: Even if Reynolds' batting average should stagnate in the .240 range, just focus on the surge of homers, runs and RBI that will surely come.