Nick Nelson

The Week Ahead

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Launching Liriano

Friday, May 06, 2011

Francisco Liriano's no-hitter this past week didn't bear many traits of a flat-out dominating performance. The lefty issued six walks while notching only two strikeouts, and managed to deliver barely over half his offerings in the strike zone. Still, for a starter whose early problems appear to be mostly mental, the confidence gained from such a momentous achievement could prove vital in getting things turned around.

After racking up over 200 strikeouts last year, Liriano flew off the board in fantasy drafts this spring, and to say he's disappointed his owners over the first month of this season would be an understatement. His performance had been so abysmal that there were indications he was fighting for his spot in the rotation on Tuesday night. Fantasy owners and Twins fans are now hoping that the southpaw can use the no-no as a launching point to jump-start his 2011 season. Liriano figures to get his chance in the upcoming week, where he appears among the AL two-start pitcher crop with tough match-ups against the Red Sox and Blue Jays. (Ron Gardenhire has discussed the possibility of pushing Liriano's next start back to Tuesday due to a high pitch count in the no-hitter but for now he remains scheduled for Monday and Sunday. Check back here for updates.)

On the season, Liriano has more walks than strikeouts, and until he starts showing meaningful improvement with his command he'll remain a relatively risky play. His ability to control a game remains intact, though, and that was on display against the White Sox.

Going Twice...

American League

Strong Plays
C.J. Wilson: OAK (Cahill), LAA (Santana)
Michael Pineda: @BAL (Arrieta), @CLE (Tomlin)
Ervin Santana: CWS (Jackson), @TEX (Wilson)
Max Scherzer: @TOR (Morrow), KC (Davies)
Jon Lester: MIN (Liriano), @NYY (Garcia)

Decent Plays
Francisco Liriano: @BOS (Lester), TOR (Morrow)
Brandon Morrow: DET (Scherzer), @MIN (Liriano)
Trevor Cahill: @TEX (Wilson), CWS (Jackson)
Freddy Garcia: KC (Davies), BOS (Lester)
Edwin Jackson: @LAA (Santana), @OAK (Cahill)
Josh Tomlin: TB, SEA (Pineda)
Jake Arrieta: SEA (Pineda), @TB

At Your Own Risk
Kyle Davies: @NYY (Garcia), @DET (Scherzer)

National League

Strong Plays
Tim Lincecum: ARI (Kennedy), @CHC (Dempster)
Chris Carpenter: @CHC (Dempster), @CIN (Wood)
Zack Greinke: SD (Latos), PIT (Correia)
Chad Billingsley: @PIT (Karstens), ARI (Saunders)
Tim Hudson: WAS (Marquis), PHI (Blanton)

Decent Plays
Jason Marquis: @ATL (Hudson), FLA (Vazquez)
Mat Latos: @MIL (Greinke), @COL (Hammel)
Kevin Correia: LAD (Lilly), @MIL (Greinke)
Jeff Karstens: LAD (Billingsley), @MIL (Gallardo)
Joe Blanton: @FLA (Vazquez), @ATL (Hudson)
Ted Lilly: @PIT (Correia), ARI (Kennedy)
Jason Hammel: NYM (Pelfrey), SD (Latos)
Travis Wood: @HOU (Rodriguez), STL (Carpenter)
Jhoulys Chacin: NYM (Capuano), SD (Harang)
Ian Kennedy: @SF (Lincecum), @LAD (Lilly)

At Your Own Risk
Chris Capuano: @COL (Chacin), @HOU (Rodriguez)
Aneury Rodriguez: CIN (Wood), NYM (Capuano)
Javier Vazquez: PHI (Blanton), @WAS (Marquis)
Ryan Dempster: STL (Carpenter), SF (Lincecum)

Streamer City

The following pitchers are generally available in over 50 percent of fantasy leagues and have favorable match-ups this week:

American League

Wednesday, 5/11: Scott Baker vs. DET
Baker has really turned it on lately but remains unowned in an awful lot of leagues. When he's pitching at Target Field, he's a must-play.

Thursday, 5/12: Alex White vs. TB
The heralded rookie impressed in his first MLB start. Give him a look at home against the Rays.

Thursday, 5/12: Ivan Nova vs. KC
Nova's nothing too special, but he should be able to handle the Royals and figures to get plenty of run support against Sean O'Sullivan in Yankee Stadium.

National League

Tuesday, 5/10: Homer Bailey @ HOU
The young righty looked very sharp in his return from the disabled list this past week. He definitely merits a nod against the lowly Astros.

Friday, 5/13: Bud Norris vs. NYM
As long as Norris keeps throwing like a stud and remains available in a huge chunk of fantasy leagues, I'm going to keep recommending him.

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Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter at nnelson9.
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