Fantasy Baseball: Week 4 Start 'Em or Sit 'Em Breakdown

Jason Catania@@JayCat11MLB Lead WriterApril 22, 2013

Fantasy Baseball: Week 4 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 as well as 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 and 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 you have enough gas in your car to make it to work and back?

    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—a.k.a. 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.

Travis Wood, LHP, Chicago Cubs

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    Scheduled Start: Monday, April 22, at Cincinnati Reds

    Travis Wood has been great so far, allowing just four earned runs in 19.2 innings (1.83 ERA), but c'mon, he's a fly-ball pitcher (just 32.9 percent ground balls) who's always been prone to surrendering homers (1.03 HR/9), and now he goes up against the powerful Reds' offense (No. 1 in MLB in runs scored) in hitter-friendly Great American Ball Park, which has consistently ranked among the most home-run friendly locales in the majors, according to ESPN's Park Factors.

    Even if you feel lucky, punk, you should be playing it safe here.

    Verdict: Sit 'Em

Ricky Nolasco, RHP, Miami Marlins

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    Scheduled Start: Monday, April 22, at Minnesota Twins

    Using Ricky Nolasco is always a risky proposition, as the righty's been known to put up a clunker when all of the signs point to a good matchup.

    But the 30-year-old is off to a solid start (3.86 ERA, 1.24 WHIP) and travels to a fairly pitcher-friendly park in Target Field to take on an offense that is scoring just 4.2 runs per game and has managed all of nine home runs, ranking second-worst in the majors.

    If you're looking for a streaming option in mixed leagues, you can probably do better elsewhere, since Nolasco hasn't won since last Sept. 9. This is more of an if-you-have-to for NL-only owners, but using Nolasco could pay off with a decent line.

    Verdict: Start 'Em

Derek Holland, LHP, Texas Rangers

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    Scheduled Start: Monday, April 22, at Los Angeles Angels

    Slow start aside, the Angels' offense is always a threat. Despite their below-average 3.8 runs per game, they're hitting .280 (second-best) and own a .764 OPS (eighth-best) as a team.

    Still, Mike Trout, Albert Pujols, Josh Hamilton and Co. are batting a middle-of-the-road .258 versus southpaws, Derek Holland has been much better on the road (3.99 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) than at home (5.20, 1.43) for his career, and he pitched great in beating the Angels on April 5 (seven innings, two runs, seven base runners and five strikeouts).

    If you're still on the fence, it's worth pointing out that Holland and his 1.64 ERA and 0.77 WHIP so far go against Joe Blanton and his shield-your-eyes 8.59 ERA and look-away-it's-hideous 2.05 WHIP.

    Verdict: Start 'Em

Ryan Vogelsong, RHP, San Francisco Giants

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    Scheduled Start: Monday, April 22, vs Arizona Diamondbacks

    After spending the past two seasons gaining and retaining fantasy owners' trust, it hasn't taken long—about three starts—for Ryan Vogelsong to lose it.

    However, it's just that—three starts—plus, each one of the righty's outings has been better than the previous one, leading up to his seven-inning, three-run showing at Milwaukee last week.

    The D-backs' offense is average-to-slightly-above in most categories, so it comes down to whether or not you're the kind of owner who believes in larger sample sizes (i.e., what Vogelsong did in 2011 and 2012) or the kind who thinks the sky is falling just because a 35-year-old pitcher has a .351 BABIP and a 57.9 left on base percentage.

    Verdict: Start 'Em

Ross Detwiler, LHP, Washington Nationals

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    Scheduled Start: Tuesday, April 23, vs. St. Louis Cardinals

    Normally, Ross Detwiler should be started.

    After all, the 27-year-old left-hander has a 0.90 ERA—tied for the best in baseball with Clay Buchholz—and the impressive Nationals' offense in his corner.

    This time out, though, the circumstances are just about as tough as it gets: against the Cardinals (5.2 runs per game) and Adam Wainwright, who you might know is a pretty great pitcher himself...and who you might not know hasn't walked a single hitter in his NL-high 29 innings.

    About the best you could hope for from Detwiler is a quality start and a handful of strikeouts, but expecting a win, too, might be pushing it.

    Verdict: Sit 'Em

Patrick Corbin, LHP, Arizona Diamondbacks

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    Scheduled Start: Tuesday, April 23, at San Francisco Giants

    A 23-year-old in his first full season in the majors taking on Matt Cain and the defending world champs doesn't exactly scream "Go for it!"

    That is, except for the fact that Patrick Corbin has thrown three straight quality starts against some pretty good competition already in the Brewers, Dodgers and Yankees, and sports a 2-0 record with a nifty 1.42 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.

    In addition, much as it's too early to be overly concerned about Cain, the Giants righty just hasn't looked quite right so far, allowing 18 earned runs in 22.2 innings for a 7.15 ERA and pitching with a fastball in the very low 90s.

    Corbin's chances for yet another quality start and even a 'W' might not be as remote as you initially thought.

    Verdict: Start 'Em

Roy Halladay, RHP, Philadelphia Phillies

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    Scheduled Start: Wednesday, April 24, vs. Pittsburgh Pirates

    Amazing that it's come to this—Roy Halladay as a Start 'Em/Sit 'Em.

    While Doc still hasn't looked exactly like his old self at any point in recent memory, he has been noticeably better in his past two turns (2-0, seven hits, three runs and an 8:3 K:BB in 15 innings) and gets the dismal Pirates' offense this time.

    If you're not going to start Roy Halladay against the Pirates (3.8 runs per and MLB's fifth-worst OPS at .665), then really, what's the point of owning him?

    Verdict: Start 'Em

Edwin Jackson, RHP, Chicago Cubs

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    Scheduled Start: Thursday, April 25, at Miami Marlins

    Edwin Jackson is still looking for his first win as a Cub, but this matchup puts that possibility on a tee.

    The Marlins rank dead-last in baseball in—deep breath now—runs (43 or 2.3 per game), homers (six), average (.212) and OPS (.557). Better yet, Jackson gets them at pitcher-friendly Marlins Park where they're—get this—actually worse (2.0 runs per, one homer, .179 average and .474 OPS).

    If Jackson, who's 0-3 despite some respectable peripherals (20 hits, one home run allowed, 24:11 K:BB in 22.1 innings) can't get a win here...  

    Verdict: Start 'Em


    All statistics come from Baseball Reference and FanGraphs, unless otherwise indicated.

    When a decision blows up, let me know on Twitter: @JayCat11