Nick Nelson

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Surprise Treasure

Friday, June 10, 2011

What do Jeff Karstens and Paul Maholm have in common? They're both lined up for two stARRRRts in the upcoming week.

Lame pirate jokes aside, the two Pittsburgh starters have both been huge surprises this season, though their low rate ownership in fantasy leagues suggests that many haven't taken notice.

Kartsens, through 14 appearances (10 starts), sports a 2.94 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. Prior to this season, the 28-year-old right-hander had amassed a 12-27 record and 5.07 ERA as a big-leaguer. Karstens' immaculate control has been a huge factor in his success; he's issued 12 walks in 64 1/3 innings, including just one in his past four starts. He is also averaging a career-high 6.2 strikeouts per nine innings. He'll probably come back to Earth a bit as his .274 BABIP normalizes, but he's been legitimately excellent this year.

The lefty Maholm, also 28, is cruising along as well, with a 3.39 ERA through 13 starts that has him on pace for the best season of his career. His control hasn't been quite as sterling, but he's done a tremendous job of limiting hits, holding opponents to a .223 average.

Of course, despite their impressive efforts this year, Karstens and Maholm have only five wins between them. That's the nature of pitching in Pittsburgh, sadly.

Going Twice...

American League

Strong Plays
Alexi Ogando: @NYY (Sabathia), @ATL (Jurrjens)
James Shields: BOS (Wakefield), FLA (Volstad)
Jason Vargas: LAA (Haren), PHI
Josh Outman: KC (Duffy), SF (Cain)
CC Sabathia: TEX (Ogando), @CHC (Wells)
Dan Haren: @SEA (Vargas), @NYM (Niese)
Justin Verlander: CLE (Masterson), @COL (Cook)
Justin Masterson: @DET (Verlander), PIT (Karstens)
Gavin Floyd: @MIN (Pavano), @ARI (Collmenter)

Decent Plays
Carlos Villanueva: BAL (Jakubauskas), @CIN (Arroyo)
Alex Cobb: @DET (Coke), FLA (Nolasco)
Carl Pavano: CWS (Floyd), SD (Moseley)
A.J. Burnett: CLE (Carrasco), @CHC (Dempster)
Danny Duffy: @OAK (Outman), @STL (Garcia)
Phil Coke: TB (Cobb), @COL (Jimenez)
Carlos Carrasco: @NYY (Burnett), PIT (Maholm)
Tim Wakefield: @TB (Shields), MIL (Gallardo)

At Your Own Risk
Chris Jakubauskas: @TOR (Villanueva), @WAS (Maya)

National League

Strong Plays
Jaime Garcia: @WAS (Maya), KC (Duffy)
Matt Cain: @ARI (Collmenter), @OAK (Outman)
Jeff Karstens: @HOU (Norris), @CLE (Masterson)
Paul Maholm: NYM (Pelfrey), @CLE (Carrasco)
Cole Hamels: FLA (Volstad), @SEA (Vargas)
Hiroka Kuroda: CIN (Arroyo), HOU (Norris)
Bud Norris: PIT (Karstens), @LAD (Kuroda)
Ricky Nolasco: ARI (Duke), @TB (Cobb)
Jair Jurrjens: NYM (Niese), TEX (Ogando)
Derek Lowe: @HOU (Rodriguez), TEX (Harrison)

Decent Plays
Dustin Moseley: @COL (Cook), @MIN (Pavano)
Jonathon Niese: @ATL (Jurrjens), LAA (Haren)
Yovani Gallardo: @CHC (Wells), @BOS (Wakefield)
Randy Wolf: @CHC (Dempster), @BOS (Lester)
Wandy Rodriguez: ATL (Lowe), @LAD (De La Rosa)
Aaron Cook: SD (Moseley), DET (Verlander)
Zach Duke: @FLA (Nolasco), CWS (Humber)
Josh Collmenter: SF (Cain), CWS (Floyd)

At Your Own Risk
Yunesky Maya: STL (Garcia), BAL (Jakubauskas)
Mike Pelfrey: @PIT (Maholm), LAA (Chatwood)
Chris Volstad: @PHI (Hamels), @TB (Shields)
Bronson Arroyo: @LAD (Kuroda), TOR (Villanueva)
Randy Wells: MIL (Gallardo), NYY (Sabathia)
Ryan Dempster: MIL (Wolf), NYY (Burnett)

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, 6/15: Nick Blackburn vs. CWS
The Twins have handled the White Sox this year and Blackburn is always a good bet at Target Field.

Thursday, 6/16: Edwin Jackson @ MIN
Since the beginning of May, Jackson has posted a 3.26 ERA while issuing only 12 walks in 38 innings.

Friday, 6/17: Jeremy Guthrie @ WAS
Despite a rough showing against the Blue Jays in his last start, Guthrie owns a 3.25 ERA over his past six outings and is routinely pitching deep into games.

National League

Wednesday, 6/15: J.A. Happ vs. PIT
Happ holds a 2.70 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in six home starts this season.

Friday, 6/17: Clayton Richard @ MIN
Richard is generally a recommended play when facing a weak offense in a pitcher-friendly park. This certainly qualifies.

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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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