Spot Check: Medlen set to step up
Maine settling into groove; Olsen looking like real deal again
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.
Kris Medlen, Braves
Next start: Friday, May 14 vs. D-backs
'10 stats: 1-1, 2.45 ERA, 22 IP, 1.27 WHIP, 19 Ks
Outlook: Blessed with enviable rotation depth, Atlanta opted to begin the season with Medlen working out of the bullpen. But a Jair Jurrjens injury has opened up a temporary rotation spot for the right-hander, who posted lights-out numbers in 12 relief appearances. Workload issues could be a concern eventually (his career high of 120 1/3 innings came in '08), but Medlen's combination of strong command and strikeout stuff (9.3 career K/9, 2.67 career K/BB) makes him a high-upside prospect as long as he's getting regular work.
John Maine, Mets
Next start: Monday, May 10 vs. Nationals
'10 stats: 1-1, 5.97 ERA, 28 2/3 IP, 1.67 WHIP, 29 Ks
Outlook: Those season numbers are ugly, but there's reason for hope following the Maine Event's recent performance. After posting a 10.38 ERA and an 11/8 K/BB ratio in his first three '10 starts, the right-hander has turned things around with a 2.30 ERA and an 18/7 K/BB ratio over his last three turns. He's always helped in the strikeout category (7.5 career K/9) and while home runs continue to be an issue, Citi Field should mitigate some of that effect over time. Buy low before those season stats improve too much.
Scott Olsen, Nationals
Next start: Tuesday, May 11 at Mets
'10 stats: 2-1, 3.54 ERA, 28 IP, 1.21 WHIP, 26 Ks
Outlook: Olsen got the recommendation as a spot starter last week, but the nod came with plenty of reservations. After taking a no-hitter into the eighth inning Thursday against Atlanta, owners can begin to take the left-hander a little more seriously. A former top prospect now nine months removed from shoulder surgery, Olsen's velocity is up across the board and he's inducing more swings at pitches outside the strike zone than ever before. With just one earned run allowed in his last 20 1/3 innings, this success could turn into a season-long phenomenon rather than just an isolated hot stretch.
Probable starters, May 10-16
Monday, May 10 (All starters)
Spot on: Sergio Mitre, Yankees at Tigers
'10 stats: 0-0, 2.79 ERA, 9 2/3 IP, 0.93 WHIP, 3 Ks
Outlook: A true spot starter, Mitre is scheduled to take just a single rotation turn as Andy Pettitte recovers from some elbow soreness. The right-hander has been superb out of the 'pen this year, and while his track record as a starter is less than spectacular, he's a nice play for this week. The Tigers lineup leads the American League in batting average, but it's not an especially powerful bunch and Comerica Park covers up many pitching miscues. Plus, Mitre should have a nice shot at a win with A-Rod, Mark Teixeira and Co. teeing off against Dontrelle Willis.
Spot on: Vin Mazzaro, A's at Rangers
'10 stats: 0-0, 12.00 ERA, 3 IP, 2.00 WHIP, 4 Ks
Outlook: Between injuries (Brett Anderson, Justin Duchscherer) and ineffectiveness (Ben Sheets, Trevor Cahill), rotation spots are ripe for the taking in Oakland. Mazzaro's debut didn't go so well last season and it was the same story in his initial '10 start, but the right-hander should get at least a few more chances to prove he can stick in the big leagues. With strong Minor League numbers (3.53 ERA, 7.7 K/9 in 114 2/3 Triple-A innings), owners should consider giving him a mulligan for his previous poor start against Texas.
Spot on: Chris Volstad, Marlins at Cubs
'10 stats: 3-2, 4.12 ERA, 39 1/3 IP, 1.07 WHIP, 21 Ks
Outlook: After six starts, Volstad is once again looking like the pitcher who quietly dominated the opposition as a rookie in '08. While it may be asking too much for him to match the terrific 2.88 ERA he posted that season, the big right-hander has allowed more than three earned runs just once in 2010 and has a 1.69 ERA and a 12/3 K/BB ratio over his past two turns. Facing the Cubs offense is no picnic, especially at Wrigley Field, but Volstad has enough of a ground-ball tendency to inspire confidence.
Spot on: Mat Latos, Padres at Giants
'10 stats: 2-3, 4.19 ERA, 34 1/3 IP, 1.19 WHIP, 26 Ks
Outlook: Latos keeps posting solid numbers, but he remains widely available in mixed formats. He's allowed more than three earned runs just once in his last five starts and his K/BB ratio portends to more good things. Coming off his best start of the season -- an eight inning, two-hit performance against the Astros on Friday -- the young right-hander faces the same Giants lineup he tossed seven scoreless innings against back on April 20. The road assignment is a little bit tougher this time, but owners can expect a similar result.
Spot on: Anibal Sanchez, Marlins vs. Mets
'10 stats: 1-2, 4.08 ERA, 35 1/3 IP, 1.52 WHIP, 21 Ks
Outlook: Like Olsen, Sanchez is a former top prospect who has struggled with command and consistency at the Major League level. Also like Olsen, the right-hander has put together a string of impressive turns early this season. Over his last four starts, spanning 23 1/3 innings, Sanchez has posted a 2.70 ERA and a 15/7 K/BB ratio. That stretch, combined with a Mets offense that was third worst in the National League with a .236 average through 30 games, makes Sanchez a relatively safe option at pitcher-friendly Citi Field.
Spot on: Doug Fister, Mariners vs. Angels
'10 stats: 2-1, 1.71 ERA, 42 IP, 0.88 WHIP, 18 Ks
Outlook: Fantasy owners aren't showing much love for Fister, who leads the AL in WHIP and ranks third in ERA. Those numbers aren't sustainable for the long term, but there's nothing wrong with riding the hot hand for as long as it lasts. The Angels scuffled to a 1-6 mark in their first seven May games and Fister has allowed just one earned run in three home turns, so this matchup has a nice setup for fantasy usefulness.
Ian Kay is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.