Spot Check: Pineiro, Cecil on the spot
Pineiro, Cecil headline this week's top spot-start options
Fantasy pitching is like a relationship.
Sometimes it supports you when nothing else is going right. Sometimes it breaks your heart. And sometimes it's better to cut bait and move on with your life.
Hey, there are always other fish on the waiver wire.
Whether you're looking for a serious long-term commitment or just a casual one-time encounter, Spot Check is here to play wingman. Read on -- because you never know when you might find The One.
Joel Pineiro, Angels
Next start: Friday, April 30 at Tigers
'10 stats: 2-2, 3.42 ERA, 26 1/3 IP, 1.29 WHIP, 15 Ks
Outlook: Many owners wrote Pineiro off on draft day, thinking that his soft stuff wouldn't fare well in the hitter-friendly AL. But the truth is that the right-hander's Dave Duncan-approved formula -- pound the strike zone relentlessly and induce as many ground balls as possible -- will play anywhere. Pineiro has never been a big strikeout pitcher, but there's something to be said for a stabilizing ERA and WHIP presence with a good chance for double-digit wins in the middle of your fantasy rotation.
Wade LeBlanc, Padres
Next start: Thursday, April 29 vs. Brewers
'10 stats: 1-0, 0.82 ERA, 11 IP, 1.27 WHIP, 10 Ks
Outlook: Any pitcher with the luxury of tossing his home turns in PETCO Park is worth a look in deeper mixed leagues. LeBlanc's value goes beyond just his ballpark, however. The left-hander notched a 3.69 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in nine starts last season and his strong Minor League peripherals (8.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9) are marred only by a high home run rate. The Padres will have a rotation crunch once Chris Young is ready to return from the disabled list, but it will be difficult to relegate LeBlanc to the Minors -- especially after Saturday's six shutout innings against the Reds at Great American Ball Park.
Brett Cecil, Blue Jays
Next start: Wednesday, April 28 vs. Red Sox
'10 stats: 1-0, 5.40 ERA, 6 2/3 IP, 1.05 WHIP, 8 Ks
Outlook: Pushed to the Majors last season at age 22, Cecil struggled to a 5.30 ERA and 1.65 WHIP in 18 appearances (17 starts). Those stats don't tell the whole story, though. The left-hander held opponents to two runs or fewer seven times, posted a respectable 6.7 K/9 and was the victim of some poor luck on balls in play. With more experience under his belt and some serious strikeout upside (228 K in 228 1/3 career Minor League innings), he's worthy of matchup consideration in deeper formats as long as he remains in Toronto's rotation.
Probable starters, April 26-May 2
Monday, April 26 (All starters)
Spot on: Matt Harrison vs. Tigers
'10 Stats: 0-1, 4.24 ERA, 17 IP, 1.24 WHIP, 10 K
Outlook: Harrison allowed just two runs with a 7/1 K/BB ratio in 13 innings to start the season before getting roughed up by the Red Sox in his last turn. The left-hander has added some velocity to his fastball this season and has the tools for success if he can keep the ball on the ground at cozy Rangers Ballpark. The Tigers are second in the AL with a .277 batting average through 17 games, but only one Junior Circuit club hit has hit fewer home runs in the season's early going.
Spot on: Tom Gorzelanny vs. Nationals
'10 stats: 0-2, 2.40 ERA, 15 IP, 1.07 WHIP, 14 Ks
Outlook: The Cubs' decision to move Carlos Zambrano to the bullpen and keep Gorzelanny in the rotation was questionable at best, but there's no denying that the left-hander has been very effective this April. In fact, Gorzelanny's 9.4 K/9 and 3.08 K/BB ratio in 13 appearances (seven starts) after being traded to Chicago last July suggest that he pitched much better than his 5.63 ERA. Washington's offense isn't anything special and the Nats' best hitters are susceptible to the strikeout, so owners may want to ride the hot hand here.
Spot on: Charlie Haeger vs. Mets
'10 stats: 0-2, 6.46 ERA, 15 1/3 IP, 1.83 WHIP, 19 Ks
Outlook: When the ball leaves Haeger's hand, nobody knows where it's going. Not catcher Russell Martin, not the opposing batter, not even the knuckleballer himself. Similarly, we have no idea where Haeger's fantasy value is going. After striking out 12 Marlins in his first '10 start, he looked like a potential contributor in deep leagues this season. Since then, the right-hander has a 7/8 K/BB ratio in 9 1/3 innings. In the long-term, he's probably little more than a novelty act. But on a day without many decent spot starter options, risk-friendly owners can give him a whirl against a shaky lineup in a forgiving ballpark.
Spot on: Carl Pavano at Tigers
'10 stats: 3-1, 4.24 ERA, 23 1/3 IP, 1.11 WHIP, 17 Ks
Outlook: Talk about not beating yourself: no AL starter has dished out fewer walks per nine innings (0.4) or has a better K/BB ratio (17/1) than Pavano this season. The right-hander's control won't be that good all year, but he's had a BB/9 above 2.0 just once since 2003 and his stuff should be good enough to rack up 6-7 K/9. The Twins offense is surging and spacious Comerica Park gives Pavano some room for error, so look for six-plus solid innings and a good chance for a W.
Spot on: Colby Lewis at Mariners
'10 stats: 2-0, 3.12 ERA, 17 1/3 IP, 1.33 WHIP, 18 Ks
Outlook: After pitching for the Hiroshima Carp of Japan's Central League for the past two seasons, Lewis has spent most of April teaching AL hitters the meaning of the word "sanshin" -- strikeout. The right-hander's command is still a work in progress, but the Mariners' hitters aren't an especially selective bunch and don't have the power necessary to take advantage of pitching mistakes. Safeco field also provides another layer of security for the fly-ball-prone 30-year-old.
Spot on: Dana Eveland vs. A's
'10 stats: 2-0, 1.93 ERA, 18 2/3 IP, 1.23 WHIP, 9 Ks
Outlook: Has Eveland pitched as well as his record and ERA suggest? Probably not. Does he need to pitch that well to beat Oakland? Doubtful. Although the A's have scored a respectable number of runs with a middle-of-the-pack batting average through the season's first three weeks, only two AL clubs had fewer home runs or a lower slugging percentage. Eveland likes to pitch to contact, so this matchup should be golden.
Spot on: Wade Davis vs. Royals
'10 stats: 1-1, 2.65 ERA, 17 IP, 1.29 WHIP, 13 Ks
Outlook: A top prospect entering the season, Davis won the Rays' fifth starter job out of Spring Training and has put up solid numbers despite facing the White Sox, Red Sox and Yankees -- three of the AL's most potent offenses. Walks have been a little bit of an issue, but the right-hander isn't likely to pitch around anyone in Kansas City's lineup besides Billy Butler. Grab Davis for this week, and feel free to keep him rostered if the results are favorable.
Ian Kay is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.