Nick Nelson

The Week Ahead

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National Awakening

Friday, September 2, 2011

The last time Stephen Strasburg threw a pitch in a major-league game was August 21, 2010. Working against the eventual champions in Philadelphia, the sensational 21-year-old rookie was dominating as usual, having allowed only two hits with no walks while striking out six through 4 1/3 innings.

After delivering a 1-1 changeup to Dominic Brown, Strasburg grimaced and clutched his right arm. He was removed from the game, and about a week later the Nationals announced that he’d need Tommy John surgery. Strasburg finished up his rookie campaign with a 2.91 ERA and 92-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 68 innings.

After a year of rehab, the wunderkind is set to make his return in the upcoming week and he falls into our two-start crop. Normally it’d be difficult to recommend a pitcher who hasn’t appeared in a major-league game in over 12 months, but I feel comfortable labeling Strasburg a Strong Play in his home match-ups against the Dodgers and Astros. He posted a ridiculous 25-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 14 1/3 innings during a minor-league rehab stint, so it seems safe to say all systems are go.

If you’re lucky enough to have Strasburg on your roster, start him with confidence this week and enjoy the ride for the rest of the year.  

Going Twice...

American League

Strong Plays

James Shields: TEX (Ogando), BOS (Beckett)
Felix Hernandez: @LAA (Santana), KC (Duffy)
CC Sabathia: BAL (Guthrie), @LAA (Haren)
Dan Haren: SEA (Hernandez), NYY (Sabathia)
Doug Fister: @CLE (Jimenez), MIN (Swarzak)
Josh Beckett: @TOR (Alvarez), @TB (Shields)
Ubaldo Jimenez: DET (Fister), @CWS (Stewart) Decent Plays
Luis Perez: BOS (Lester), BAL (Guthrie)
Henderson Alvarez: BOS (Beckett), BAL (Simon)
Rich Harden: KC, @TEX (Ogando)
Jake Peavy: @MIN (Diamond), CLE (Carmona)
Zach Stewart: @MIN (Swarzak), CLE (Jimenez)
Fausto Carmona: DET (Porcello), @CWS (Peavy) At Your Own Risk
Alexi Ogando: @TB (Shields), OAK (Harden)
Anthony Swarzak: CWS (Stewart), @DET (Scherzer)
Scott Diamond: CWS (Peavy), @DET (Fister)
Danny Duffy: @OAK (Gonzalez), @SEA (Furbush)
Jeremy Guthrie: @NYY (Sabathia), @TOR (Perez)

National League

Strong Plays

Stephen Strasburg: LAD (Billingsley), HOU (Sosa)
Madison Bumgarner: @SD (Stauffer), LAD (Billingsley)
Cliff Lee: ATL (Lowe), @MIL (Wolf)
Yovani Gallardo: @STL (Westbrook), PHI (Oswalt)
Ted Lilly: @WAS (Lannan), @SF (Vogelsong)
Javier Vazquez: NYM (Capuano), @PIT (McDonald)
Matt Garza: CIN (Willis), @NYM
Tim Hudson: @PHI (Oswalt), @STL (Westbrook)
Josh Collmenter: @COL (Rogers), SD (LeBlanc) Decent Plays
John Lannan: LAD (Lilly), HOU (Rodriguez)
Jake Westbrook: MIL (Wolf), ATL (Hudson)
Wade LeBlanc: SF (Surkamp), @ARI (Collmenter)
Tim Stauffer: SF (Bumgarner), @ARI (Miley)
James McDonald: HOU (Sosa), FLA (Vazquez)
Roy Oswalt: ATL (Hudson), @MIL (Gallardo)
Chris Capuano: @FLA (Vazquez), CHC (Wells)
Randy Wolf: @STL (Westbrook), PHI (Lee)
Chad Billingsley: @WAS (Strasburg), @SF (Bumgarner)
Henry Sosa: @PIT (McDonald), @WAS (Strasburg)
Dontrelle Willis: @CHC (Garza), @COL (Cook)
Derek Lowe: @PHI (Lee), @STL (Jackson)
Wade Miley: @COL (Cook), SD (Stauffer) At Your Own Risk
Miguel Batista: @FLA, CHC (Garza)
Aaron Cook: ARI (Miley), CIN (Willis)

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, 9/7: Bruce Chen @ OAK
The veteran lefty has turned in four straight quality starts, with outings against the Yankees and Blue Jays mixed in.

Friday, 9/9: Blake Beavan vs. KC
With a minuscule K-rate, Beavan’s modest rookie success seems like smoke-and-mirrors, but that may be good enough against the Royals.

National League
Wednesday, 9/7: R.A. Dickey @ FLA
The knuckleballer has ratted off seven consecutive quality starts and has completed at least six innings every time he’s toed the rubber since the All-Star break.

Wednesday, 9/7: Aaron Harang vs. SF
The last time Harang faced the Giants at Petco, in mid-July, he hurled seven shutout frames.

Thursday, 9/8: Mike Minor @ NYM
Minor is scheduled to pitch half of a split doubleheader, so he may see a softer lineup.  

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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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