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Change of Scenery

Friday, May 04, 2012

Back in 2008, Cincinnati's Edinson Volquez was one of the most promising young pitchers in the National League. That year, he went 17-6 with a 3.21 ERA for the Reds, finishing fourth in the Rookie of the Year voting.

Volquez's next two seasons were cut short by injuries, and last year he was simply a mess. The strikeouts were there, as he averaged 8.6 K/9, but the right-hander scuffled in other departments. His control was worse than normal, he gave up too many hits and far too many homers (19 in 108 2/3 innings).

During the offseason, the Reds granted the struggling starter a change of scenery, sending him to San Diego in the Mat Latos deal. Not surprisingly, Volquez has looked much better in the friendly confines of Petco. Through six starts, he owns a .2.92 ERA and 33/18 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. The control still hasn't been great – Volquez has always been effectively wild even at his best – but his 4.4 BB/9 rate is below his career average and he's allowed only 25 hits and two homers.

Volquez is listed as a Strong Play this week, and best of all, he's available in most leagues.

Initially, it appeared that a change of scenery was paying similar dividends for fellow two-start pitcher A.J. Burnett, but he coughed up a staggering 12 earned runs in his last start for Pittsburgh, landing him squarely in the At Your Own Risk category this week.

In the AL, Jered Weaver lines up for two starts fresh off his no-hitter against the Twins, and Doug Fister goes twice in his return from an oblique injury (with excellent match-ups).

Going Twice…

American League

Strong Plays

Ricky Romero: @OAK (Parker), @MIN (Hendriks)
Matt Harrison: @BAL (Arrieta), LAA (Weaver)
Neftali Feliz: @BAL (Matusz), LAA (Williams)
James Shields: @NYY (Nova), @BAL (Arrieta)
Jered Weaver: @MIN (Liriano), @TEX (Harrison)
Justin Verlander: @SEA (Millwood), @OAK (Parker)
Doug Fister: @SEA (Beavan), @OAK (Milone)

Decent Plays

Blake Beavan: DET (Fister), @NYY (Nova)
Jarrod Parker: TOR (Romero), DET (Verlander)
Ivan Nova: TB (Shields), SEA (Beavan)
Philip Humber: @CLE (Tomlin), KC (Sanchez)
Justin Masterson: CWS (Danks), @BOS (Bard)
Daniel Bard: @KC (Duffy), CLE (Masterson)
Felix Doubront: @KC (Sanchez), CLE (Tomlin)
Jake Arrieta: TEX (Harrison), TB (Shields)
Brian Matusz: TEX (Feliz), TB (Moore)

At Your Own Risk

Francisco Liriano: LAA (Weaver) TOR (Hutchison)
Liam Hendriks: LAA (Haren), TOR (Romero)
Jonathan Sanchez: BOS (Doubront), @CWS (Humber)
Josh Tomlin: CWS (Humber), @BOS (Doubront)

National League

Strong Plays

Edwin Jackson: @PIT (Burnett), @CIN (Arroyo)
Lance Lynn: @ARI (Saunders), ATL (Hanson)
Edinson Volquez: COL (Pomeranz), @PHI (Halladay)
Roy Halladay: NYM (Niese), SD (Volquez)
Carlos Zambrano: @HOU (Happ), NYM (Niese)
Ted Lilly: SF (Zito), COL (Pomeranz)
Bronson Arroyo: @MIL (Gallardo), WAS (Jackson)
Tommy Hanson: @CHC (Samardzija), @STL (Lynn)
Joe Saunders: STL (Lynn), SF (Zito)

Decent Plays

Barry Zito: @LAD (Lilly), @ARI (Saunders)
Jonathon Niese: @PHI (Halladay), @MIA (Zambrano)
Yovani Gallardo: CIN (Arroyo), CHC (Samardzija)
J.A. Happ: MIA (Zambrano), @PIT (Burnett)
Drew Pomeranz: @SD (Volquez), @LAD (Lilly)
Jeff Samardzija: ATL (Hanson), @MIL (Gallardo)

At Your Own Risk

A.J. Burnett: WAS (Jackson), HOU (Happ)

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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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