Spot Check: Who is spot-on?
Kennedy, Marcum, Millwood among this week's slickest 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.
Ian Kennedy, D-backs
Next start: Tuesday, May 4, at Houston
'10 stats: 1-1, 4.45 ERA, 30 1/3 IP, 1.06 WHIP, 27 K's
Outlook: Once a heralded prospect, Kennedy fell off the radar after getting lit up in 10 '08 appearances (nine starts) and losing nearly all of last season to injury. Traded to Arizona in the three-team Curtis Granderson deal in December, he's now finally proving that the 1.95 ERA and 9.9 K/9 rate in 248 2/3 Minor League innings were no joke. The peripheral stats -- 8.0 K/9, 3.4 K/BB are already there and only a league-high seven home runs allowed are inflating his ERA. Long balls have never been a problem for Kennedy in the past, so that rate should drop and take his ERA with it. Go grab him before that happens.
Shaun Marcum, Blue Jays
Next start: Friday, May 7, at White Sox
'10 stats: 0-1, 3.44 ERA, 34 IP, 1.00 WHIP, 28 K
Outlook: Marcum isn't the type of player who can single-handedly win you a fantasy title. He's not likely lead the league in a major statistical category or garner many Cy Young votes. But the right-hander brings something important to the table: consistency. He's pitched at least six innings in each of his six turns this season and recorded five quality starts. He's struck out at least five in each outing and walked multiple batters just once. Despite missing all of 2009 after Tommy John surgery his K/9 rate is 7.4 -- a slight uptick from his 7.1 career mark. If you have some high risk/high reward options in your rotation, it'd be wise to grab Marcum and gain a little stability.
Kevin Millwood, Orioles
Next start: Friday, May 7, at Twins
'10 stats: 0-3, 3.15 ERA, 40 IP, 1.25 WHIP, 32 K's
Outlook: When Millwood posted a 3.67 ERA last season, it looked like a fluke performance. After all, this was the same guy who posted a 4.89 mark in 94 starts over the previous three seasons. But through five turns this year, the right-hander has improved on his '09 numbers by increasing his strikeouts and limiting free passes. He's relying on his off-speed stuff more than ever, so it's possible that a late-career change in pitching philosophy could result in a sub-4 ERA for the long term.
Probable starters, May 3-9
Monday, May 3 (All starters)
Spot on: Mike Leake vs. Mets
'10 Stats: 2-0, 3.25 ERA, 27 2/3 IP, 1.41 WHIP, 18 K's
Outlook: For a guy who was pitching against the Pac-10 a year ago, Leake has held his own early this season. His overall peripherals are ugly, but he's shown some improvement in his last two turns (10 K, 3 BB, 1.14 WHIP in 14 innings) and the Mets lineup isn't exactly the NL's toughest assignment. The Major League workload will be a concern later in the season, so don't invest for the long-term, but he's a solid play on a day with a short slate of games.
Spot on: Anibal Sanchez vs. Giants
'10 stats: 1-2, 4.32 ERA, 25 IP, 1.52 WHIP, 14 K's
Outlook: After two straight solid turns -- 3 ER, 8 K in 13 IP -- Sanchez gets the endorsement here. The Giants' lineup is a little stronger than previous opponents Houston and San Diego, but the right-hander has a decent track record when pitching at home and a little bit of strikeout upside.
Spot on: Brandon Morrow at Indians
'10 stats: 2-2, 5.46 ERA, 28 IP, 1.46 WHIP, 33 K's
Outlook: Who needs K's? Morrow has whiffed 25 batters in his last 19 innings, bumping his season K/9 to 10.6. Of course, there is the walk issue -- the right-hander's 5.1 BB/9 this year is right in line with his career average. If he could reduce that to about 4, he'd be much more than a spot starter. Until then, owners just have to hope that the damage is limited against a Cleveland lineup that's hit .245 with the fewest runs scored in the AL through 23 games.
Spot on: Scott Olsen vs. Braves
'10 stats: 2-1, 4.35 ERA, 20 2/3 IP, 1.50 WHIP, 18 K's
Outlook: Olsen hasn't been a particularly useful fantasy contributor since '06 and there's not much reason to expect a change this season. He does, however, have a nice setup for his next turn. The Braves hit .228 as a team through their first 22 games and only two teams scored fewer runs in that span. In 12 contests between April 17 and April 29, Atlanta mustered more than four runs just once. If there's ever a time Olsen can help your team, it's this week at roomy Nationals Park, especially after back-to-back scoreless outings.
Spot on: Carlos Silva at Reds
'10 stats: 2-0, 2.90 ERA, 31 IP, 1.00 WHIP, 21 K's
Outlook: Silva may have already purchased a one-way ticket to regression town, but the train hasn't left the station quite yet. The right-hander has always kept his walks down, but a lot of luck on balls in play is driving his league-leading WHIP and an abnormally low home run rate has pushed his ERA nearly three full runs below his career mark. Those trends will eventually reverse themselves, but owners should feel free to enjoy the ride while it lasts -- especially considering Silva held Cincinnati to one run on three hits over six innings back on April 9.
Spot on: Jhoulys Chacin at Dodgers
'10 stats: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1 IP, 0.00 WHIP, 2 K
Outlook: There's a lot to like about Chacin, but owners should keep in mind that he's sushi raw. The right-hander has dominated at every Minor League level to the tune of a 40-17 career record with a 2.43 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, but his control tends to come and go. He walked 11 in 21 1/3 Triple-A innings this season and had a 9.0 BB/9 in nine '09 appearances (one start) for the Rockies. While the Dodgers' potent lineup won't make his first 2010 start an easy one, Dodger Stadium is a forgiving ballpark for many power pitchers.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.