Nick Nelson

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Straight A's For Zito

Friday, April 12, 2013

It wasn't so long ago that Barry Zito was one of the biggest punch lines in baseball. Nowadays, the only lines he's putting up are zeros, as he's been the one dealing the punches.

After taking a loss at home against the Mets on August 2 last year to drop to 8-8, Zito began an incredible stretch of winning that continues today. The Giants went 11-0 in his final 11 starts of the regular season, with the lefty compiling a 7-0 record in decisions, and went on to win all three of his postseason starts. This season, he's off to a 2-0 start and hasn't allowed a run in 14 innings.

All in all, San Francisco has won 16 straight games started by Zito, and over that span the curveball chucker is 11-0 with a 2.93 ERA. It's been a remarkable turnaround for a guy who appeared to be cooked as little as a year ago. The particularly jarring part of this run is that it hasn't coincided with substantial improvements in his peripherals. Zito remains an extreme fly ball pitcher with an 83 MPH fastball and a substandard strikeout rate. His control has improved somewhat during this run, but nevertheless it's hard to imagine the success stretching on much longer while he continues to allow so much contact.

At some point, the 34-year-old will surely come hurtling down to Earth, much like one of his signature benders. But I'm guessing this won't be the week, as he matches up against scuffling Milwaukee and San Diego clubs in his two starts.

Going Twice…

American League

Strong Plays

Derek Holland: @CHC (Wood), SEA (Beavan)
Matt Moore: @BAL (Arrieta), OAK (Milone)
Tommy Milone: HOU (Bedard), @TB (Moore)
Ryan Dempster: TB (Hellickson), KC (Shields)

Decent Plays

Mark Buehrle: CWS (Floyd), NYY (Pettitte)
Joe Blanton: @MIN (Pelfrey), DET (Porcello)
Rick Porcello: @SEA (Beavan), @LAA (Blanton)
Dylan Axelrod: @TOR (Johnson), MIN (Pelfrey)
Felix Doubront: @CLE (Jimenez), KC (Santana)
Jake Arrieta: TB (Moore), LAD (Billingsley)
Josh Johnson: CWS (Axelrod), NYY (Nova)
Erik Bedard: @OAK (Milone), CLE (Jimenez)
Jeremy Hellickson: @BOS (Dempster), OAK (Parker)

At Your Own Risk

Ivan Nova: ARI (McCarthy), @TOR (Johnson)
Mike Pelfrey: LAA (Blanton), @CWS (Axelrod)
Gavin Floyd: @TOR (Buehrle), MIN (Correia)
Ubaldo Jimenez: BOS (Doubront), @HOU (Bedard)
Blake Beavan: DET (Porcello), @TEX (Holland)

National League

Strong Plays

Barry Zito: @MIL (Peralta), SD (Stults)
Jordan Zimmermann: @MIA (LeBlanc), @NYM (Hefner)
Lance Lynn: @PIT (McDonald), @PHI (Lee)
James McDonald: STL (Lynn), ATL (Maholm)
Cliff Lee: @CIN (Arroyo), STL (Lynn)
Kris Medlen: KC (Guthrie), @PIT (Sanchez)

Decent Plays

Jake Westbrook: @PIT (Sanchez), @PHI (Kendrick)
Eric Stults: @LAD (Billingsley), @SF (Zito)
Kyle Kendrick: @CIN (Bailey), STL (Westbrook)
Wily Peralta: SF (Zito), CHC (Wood)
Wade LeBlanc: WAS (Zimmermann), @CIN (Arroyo)
Chad Billingsley: SD (Stults), @BAL (Arrieta)
Juan Nicasio: NYM (Gee), ARI (Cahill)
Travis Wood: TEX (Holland), @MIL (Peralta)
Bronson Arroyo: PHI (Lee), MIA (LeBlanc)
Homer Bailey: PHI (Kendrick), MIA (Sanabia)

At Your Own Risk

Brandon McCarthy: @NYY (Nova), @COL (Francis)
Jonathan Sanchez: STL (Westbrook), ATL (Medlen)
Dillon Gee: @COL (Nicasio), WAS (Gonzalez)
Alex Sanabia: WAS (Haren), @CIN (Bailey)
Jeff Francis: NYM (Hefner), ARI (McCarthy)
Jeremy Hefner: @COL (Francis), WAS (Zimmermann)

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, 4/16: Jason Vargas @ MIN
Coming off an outstanding 2012 campaign with the Mariners, Vargas is off to another strong start with the Halos and should fare well against Minny's lefty-heavy lineup.

Tuesday, 4/16: A.J. Griffin vs. HOU
The young righty could hardly ask for a better match-up than the punchless Astros at home.

Wednesday, 4/17: J.A. Happ vs. CWS
Happ was splendid in spring training, posting a 1.90 ERA in 23 innings, and carried that momentum forward into a dominant first start. How long can he keep it going?

National League

Wednesday, 4/17: Ross Detwiler @ MIA
Detwiler didn't allow an earned run over six innings in his season debut. He'll contend with a weak lineup in Miami.

Wednesday, 4/17: Shelby Miller @ PIT
If you were looking for a good opportunity to stream the impressive young hurler, here you go. The Pirates offense has been brutally bad.

Thursday, 4/18: Jhoulys Chacin vs. NYM
Chacin has logged a quality start in each of his first two turns and looks to be the most valuable fantasy option in the Colorado rotation.

Total Games

American League

5: KC

National League


Lefty/Righty Breakdowns

American League

BAL: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
BOS: 7 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
CLE: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
CWS: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
DET: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
HOU: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
KC: 4 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
LAA: 6 vs. RHP, 0 vs. LHP
MIN: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
NYY: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
OAK: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
SEA: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
TB: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TEX: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
TOR: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP

National League

ARI: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
ATL: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
CHC: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
CIN: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
COL: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
LAD: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
MIA: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
MIL: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
NYM: 5 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
PHI: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
PIT: 6 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP
SD: 3 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
SF: 4 vs. RHP, 2 vs. LHP
STL: 4 vs. RHP, 3 vs. LHP
WAS: 5 vs. RHP, 1 vs. LHP

The Infirmary

You can get a full listing of injured players at Rotoworld's Injury Page but here's the latest on a few prominent players who have been out of action:

Jered Weaver: Out until mid-May (elbow)
Freddie Freeman: Out until early May (ribs)
John Lackey: Out indefinitely (biceps)
Gordon Beckham: Out until late May (wrist)
Zack Greinke: Out indefinitely (collarbone)
Aramis Ramirez: Out indefinitely (knee)
Scott Sizemore: Out for the season (knee)
Michael Saunders: Out indefinitely (shoulder)
Matt Harrison: Out until late April (back)

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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