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Silver League Update: Wisdom of the Crowd - Pitchers

Things have tightened up a bit in the Silver League as the hottest and slowest starts begin evening out, but four familiar teams sit on top of the standings: Spirit of St. Louis, Mr. Perfect 56, E-Z Sliders, and the twice-renamed Tupac to Shoppach. I'm beginning to think they have good teams.

Last week, we took a look at the wisdom of the Silver League crowd to see which rarely owned hitters have a place on our teams and which popular hitters don't. This week, we'll be doing the same thing, but with starting pitchers. I'll examine pitchers on our waiver wire that are owned in more than 30% of Yahoo! leagues and those we do own that are rostered in fewer than 20% of leagues. 

Popular Pitchers We Don't Like

Topping this list is Clay Buchholz, owned in 58% of leagues. Buchholz, who isn't pitching well this year and was mediocre last year, is probably owned by the strength of his reputation. After all, he once had an ERA under 3.00 and pitches in Boston. What more do you need to be a famous person? The thing is, he was never as good as his 2010 surface numbers suggested, and may not be that great at all. Stay away.

Alexi Ogando (49% owned) is either owned for his middle-relief prowess or because owners didn't realize he was going back to the 'pen. If you're in the latter group, don't admit it, just drop Ogando quietly. If you've got him as a non-closing RP, I hope there aren't any closers or decent setup men on your waiver wire, because Ogando isn't any higher than third in line for Texas' save chances. That said, he's certainly pitching well.

The same can't be said for Jair Jurrjens (also 49% owned), who's been straight-up awful. His pitch-to-contact ways have collided with more walks than strikeouts. He's probably also owned because of past lucky-good years, because he's more of a borderline rosterable pitcher when he isn't in a cold stretch. There are almost certainly lots of better options available in your league.

Bartolo Colon (41%) however, is off to a great start, after implausibly reinventing himself last season. It was so implausible that he wasn't on a lot of fantasy radars before the season, but it looks like people are catching on. He's got an impeccable WHIP, and I know he's pitched mostly against Seattle this year, but things like the unbalanced schedule and a great pitcher's park are worth taking into account. I only wish I could squeeze him onto my roster ...

Francisco Liriano (35%) will keep getting chances because of that one year he pitched like Johan Santana ... back when Santana pitched like a first overall pick. Liriano's got talent, but he keeps sending mixed messages with it. There's that almost-12.00 ERA, but as Tom Warman wrote in this week's Stock Watch, his velocity has been increasing from start to start. I say, roll the dice and give him a try, but don't drop someone you'll miss for him.

Rounding out the group of ex-famous people is Barry Zito. He's off to a good start, and, like fellow former Cy Young winner Colon, pitches in a friendly park and has some weak-hitting division rivals. Still, he's got just 10 strikeouts in 21 innings. He might not be awful, which would be an accomplishment, but I'd stay away in standard leagues.

 Our Favorite Unknowns

Ross Detwiler (20%) has seen his stock go up pretty consistently. And why not? He's striking out nearly a batter per inning, with an ERA and WHIP both under 1.00. Not only that, but the Nats were willing to send reliable innings-eater John Lannan -- and his $5M salary -- to the minors to keep Detwiler in the rotation, essentially giving up on a Lannan trade. I wondered before the season if Washington knew something we didn't, and the results so far suggest they do. I'd take Detwiler over anyone on the above list.

Henderson Alvarez (16%) intrigued in a brief callup last year and he's been, well, OK so far. The ERA doesn't impress, but the WHIP is good. He isn't striking many people out, but he's got decent upside and a team that ought to win ballgames, especially once summer hits and the Jays get the traditional break from the rest of the AL East. I think you can take him or leave him, but he's got a better chance of being good than most pitcher's with his ownership rate.

A.J. Burnett (12%) made Left is Right look good for picking him up in time for his first start. Burnett came back from his injury quicker than expected and delivered a dominant outing. I feel good for saying good things about him before his injury and bad for not picking him up. Even with a lousy return, I'd have suggested picking up Burnett (really). His strikeout-pitching ways should play nicely away from the AL East. Beware: you shouldn't expect a good WHIP and you should prepare for the occasional blowup.

Chris Capuano (9%) is delivering good strikeouts, but his ERA and WHIP numbers haven't been awesome. I like to give benefit of the doubt to strikeout pitchers, especially those that keep their walks down. Looking deeper into his numbers, you can see that most of his runs and walks came in his first start of the year. When considering pitchers at this stage of the season, you should always check out their game logs--two good games and one bad one are a lot more promising than three marginal games.

Juan Nicasio and Drew Pomeranz (both 7%) are worth their fliers, but Pomeranz has more upside to deliver, as the top prospect in the Ubaldo Jimenez deal. Neither pitcher is off to an auspicious start, but Nicasio showed flashes of excellence last year, and Pomeranz is striking out nearly a batter per inning. If you have roster space, Colorado pitchers can be put to use in road games only, making them a bit better than their total numbers.

Finally, Tommy Milone (6%) is off to a decent start with the A's, posting a low ERA and WHIP. His strikeouts aren't what I normally like, but -- like the Colorado starters above -- Oakland starters present an opportunity to use them in home games and against the Mariners. Pitchers like this have their uses, for sure. 

The nature of pitching and the prevalence of streaming means that there will be wide variance in which starters are owned, but hopefully this will help you make a decision or two, even if you're only picking someone up for a day. If you know any other pitchers that deserve to be owned (or dropped) in more leagues, let us know in the comments -- last week's discussion was great.


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