Nick Nelson

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Better Latos Than Never

Friday, May 27, 2011

After emerging as one of the top pitchers in the National League last year with a 2.92 ERA and 1.08 WHIP to go along with 189 strikeouts in 184 innings, Mat Latos saw his 2011 campaign lurch to a rather inauspicious start. The 23-year-old right-hander opened the season on the disabled list after being bothered by his shoulder in spring training, and continued to raise concern after his return by going 0-4 with an ERA near five in the month of April while allowing five home runs in four starts.

Since then, however, Latos has settled back into a 2010-like groove, with a 3.45 ERA and 25-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in five May starts. His latest outing, a home win over the Cardinals, stands as his most impressive of the season, as he allowed just one run on six hits over eight innings while striking out seven and walking none. It marked the first time this season that Latos has completed seven innings in a start.

Over his past six turns, the righty has lowered his ERA by almost two full runs. I'm very comfortable labeling him a high-end "Strong Play" for the upcoming week, in which he draws match-ups against the Braves and Astros. Latos joins a sizable slate of two-start options for both leagues, all of whom are listed below.

Going Twice...

American League

Strong Plays
C.J. Wilson: @TB (Sonnanstine), @CLE (Talbot)
Trevor Cahill: NYY (Sabathia), @BOS (Lester)
CC Sabathia: @OAK (Cahill), @LAA (Santana)
Jake Peavy: @BOS (Lester), DET (Penny)
Jon Lester: CWS (Peavy), OAK (Cahil)

Decent Plays
Derek Holland: @TB (Davis), @CLE (Carmona)
Andy Sonnanstine: TEX (Wilson), @SEA (Bedard)
Wade Davis: TEX (Holland), @SEA (Fister)
Doug Fister: BAL (Arrieta), TB (Davis)
Erik Bedard: BAL (Guthrie), TB (Sonnanstine)
Nick Blackburn: @DET (Penny), @KC (Hochevar)
Brian Duensing: @DET (Scherzer), @KC (Francis)
Ervin Santana: @KC (Hochevar), NYY (Sabathia)
Jeff Francis: LAA (Pineiro), MIN (Duensing)
Brad Penny: MIN (Blackburn), @CWS (Danks)
Fausto Carmona: @TOR (Reyes), TEX (Holland)
Jake Arrieta: @SEA (Fister), TOR (Reyes)

At Your Own Risk
Jo-Jo Reyes: CLE (Carmona), @BAL (Arrieta)
Luke Hochevar: LAA (Santana), MIN (Blackburn)
Mitch Talbot: @TOR (Morrow), TEX (Wilson)

National League

Strong Plays
Roy Halladay: @WAS (Hernandez), @PIT (McDonald)
Kyle McClellan: SF (Bumgarner), CHC (Dempster)
Ryan Vogelsong: @STL (Carpenter), COL (Chacin)
Madison Bumgarner: @STL (McClellan), COL (Nicasio)
Mat Latos: @ATL (Minor), HOU (Rodriguez)
Chad Billingsley: COL (Chacin), @CIN (Wood)
Jhoulys Chacin: @LAD (Billingsley), @SF (Vogelsong)
Tim Hudson: SD (Harang), @NYM

Decent Plays
Livan Hernandez: PHI (Halladay), @ARI (Collmenter)
Jason Marquis: PHI (Lee), @ARI (Kennedy)
Chris Carpenter: SF (Vogelsong), CHC (Coleman)
Aaron Harang: @ATL (Hudson), HOU (Happ)
James McDonald: @NYM, PHI (Halladay)
Jeff Karstens: @NYM (Gee), PHI
Dillon Gee: PIT (Karstens), ATL (Jurrjens)
Chris Narveson: @CIN (Wood), @FLA (Volstad)
J.A. Happ: @CHC (Coleman), @SD (Harang)
Chris Volstad: @ARI (Collmenter), MIL (Narveson)
Travis Wood: MIL (Narveson), LAD (Billingsley)
Josh Collmenter: FLA (Volstad), WAS (Hernandez)
Ian Kennedy: FLA (Sanchez), WAS (Marquis)

At Your Own Risk
Aneury Rodriguez: @CHC (Zambrano), @SD (Latos)
Casey Coleman: HOU (Happ), @STL (Carpenter)

Streamer City

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

American League

Tuesday, 5/31: Freddy Garcia @ OAK
The veteran righty boasts a 3.26 ERA and 1.29 WHIP and draws a very pitcher-friendly assignment this week.

Wednesday, 6/1: Rick Porcello vs. MIN
Porcello is on a roll, with two or fewer runs allowed in his last six starts and a four-game winning streak.

National League

Tuesday, 5/31: Mike Minor vs. SD
The talented young southpaw certainly merits a look against the punchless Padres.

Wednesday, 6/1: Jake Westbrook vs. SF
Over his past two starts (both wins), Westbrook has allowed only one run on eight hits over 15 innings.

Thursday, 6/2: Mike Pelfrey vs. PIT
The Mets right-hander has turned in a quality start in three of his past four trips of the mound.

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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 @NickNelsonMN.
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