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Fantasy Baseball: Week 3 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em Breakdown

Jason CataniaMLB Lead WriterApril 15, 2013

Fantasy Baseball: Week 3 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em Breakdown

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    Relax, let us decide for you.

    In fantasy baseball, several factors determine how your team fares, including injuries, trades and even luck. Ultimately, though, success comes down to decisions.

    During draft day, decisions are all about which players to pick or buy, when and/or for how much.

    Once the season starts, though, decisions become a day-to-day grind. At times, the process is enough to wear out even the most veteran, savvy owner.

    Should you bench your slumping superstar for that hotshot journeyman? Do you dare start your pitcher at [insert hitter-friendly stadium here]? Is that rookie phenom really for real? And most importantly...is that slice of leftover pizza from last week still edible?

    To help out with these types of questions (OK, probably not that last one), here's a batch of Sit 'Em or Start 'Em calls—aka decisions—that have been made for you, based on anything from career stats to recent streaks to just plain old gut calls.

    Best of all? If any of these decisions backfire after you, ya know, decide to follow along, then there's only one other decision to make: blame us.

James McDonald, RHP, Pittsburgh Pirates

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    Scheduled Start: Monday, April 15, vs. St. Louis Cardinals

    You want consistency? In 2011 and 2012, James McDonald pitched 171 innings and posted a 4.21 ERA. Exactly. Both years.

    You want more consistency? On the road, McDonald had a 5.95 ERA and a 1.60 WHIP in 2011, while those numbers were 5.42 and 1.71, respectively, last season. 

    Luckily, though, McDonald is pitching at PNC Park Monday—he has a 2.96 ERA and 1.14 WHIP there since 2011—and even if he's up against the Cardinals' potent offense, he handled them pretty well in two starts last year: two wins, four hits and 13 strikeouts in 13 innings.

    Verdict: Start 'Em

Jeremy Hellickson, RHP, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Scheduled Start: Monday, April 15, at Boston Red Sox

    Is Jeremy Hellickson finally falling victim to the lords of regression?

    The Rays righty owned a 3.06 ERA and 1.19 WHIP coming into 2013, but always seems to get better results than expected given his meager strikeout rate (6.1 K/9), blah control (3.1 BB/9) and propensity to give up the long ball (1.1 HR/9).

    A large part of Hellickson's success could be attributed to a .244 batting average on balls in play and an 82.2 percent left-on-base percentage, both of which were the best in baseball from 2010-12.

    So far this year? The 26-year-old has allowed eight runs and 17 baserunners in 11.1 innings, while striking out just three. No thanks.

    Verdict: Sit 'Em

Bud Norris, RHP, Houston Astros

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    Scheduled Start: Wednesday, April 17, at Oakland Athletics

    Bud Norris has been great thus far, and a trip to Oakland's O.co Coliseum (yes, that's the actual name) is usually a pitcher's best friend.

    The A's offense, however, no longer is. The club's sticks have been in high gear to start the season, ranking in the top 10 in baseball in average (.265), OPS (.808) and homers (19), while leading MLB with 74 runs scored.

    That could spell trouble for Norris, even if he doesn't have to worry about facing Yoenis Cespedes, who just hit the DL with a hand injury.

    Verdict: Sit 'Em

Bartolo Colon, RHP, Oakland Athletics

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    Scheduled Start: Wednesday, April 17, vs. Houston Astros

    Opposing Bud Norris? Mr. Bartolo Colon.

    Colon didn't cut up the Astros' whiff-tastic lineup like some other pitchers have so far this year (just two strikeouts in six innings back on April 6), but he limits the damage very well against even the good hitting teams. To wit, he's walked nary a batter in 13 innings.

    While Houston's hitters have been better recently, the club still struggles with the swing-and-miss—their 121 K's are far and away the most among all teams—so Colon is a good bet for a quality start and a win.

    Verdict: Start 'Em

Miguel Gonzalez, RHP, Baltimore Orioles

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    Scheduled Start: Thursday, April 18, vs. Tampa Bay Rays

    The Rays are prone to being shut down by righties, as evidenced by Clay Buchholz's domination Sunday. In fact, Tampa's teamwide triple-slash stat line versus right-handers is an ugly .202/.291/.294.

    Enter Miguel Gonzalez.

    The 28-year-old righty has been little more than decent in his first two turns (four runs allowed on 10 hits with an 8-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12.1 innings), but he could be in line for a sneaky strong start, if you feel like gambling in deeper leagues.

    Just don't expect a win—he's going up against David Price.

    Verdict: Start 'Em

Marco Estrada, RHP, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Scheduled Start: Friday, April 19, vs. Chicago Cubs

    A big fantasy sleeper heading into the year, Marco Estrada may have fantasy folks who invested wondering what gives as his ERA reads 4.50 through three starts.

    The 29-year-old right-hander, though, has an impressive 21-to-2 strikeout-to-walk rate in 18 innings, and while he' surrendered 21 hits and four homers already, his best outing of the season came against the Cubs on April 8 when he allowed only two runs and six baserunners while striking out six over seven innings to earn his lone win.

    Estrada's ERA for the game may come down to how many four-baggers the fly-baller gives up—for his career, his HR/9 rate is 1.3—but he's likely to help in WHIP and whiffs. And against the Cubs, who are scoring just 3.5 runs per game, Estrada might make it two-for-two in the win column.

    Verdict: Start 'Em

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