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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Fantasy baseball: Stephen Strasburg's debut and Week 10 pitchers to start

Stephen Strasburg's major-league debut, set for Tuesday against the Pirates, has been likened to LeBron James' first game with the Cavaliers.

Forget the hype for a second, however. As fantasy owners, we're concerned with results, which is why three names come to mind for comparisons to the Nationals' can't-miss rookie pitcher: David Price, Tim Lincecum and Mark Prior.

Price, who is 8-2 with a 2.29 ERA this season, was the top overall pick of the 2007 draft by Tampa Bay. He started 19 games in the minor leagues in 2008 before getting called up to the Rays. In Tampa, he made five appearances that year, and four of them were in relief. In 2009, Price's true rookie season, he was 10-7 with a 4.42 ERA and 102 strikeouts in 128 1/3 innings.

A year later, he's destined to be an All-Star at age 24.

Lincecum, the No. 10 overall pick in 2006 (nine selections after the Royals took Luke Hochevar), was on a minor-league track that more closely resembles Strasburg's. The Giants' two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner made his big-league debut in May 2007 after all of eight games down on the farm. That season, he was 7-5 with a 4.00 ERA and an impressive 150 strikeouts in 146 1/3 innings.

In 2008, the year he turned 24, the player they call Franchise was 18-5 with a 2.62 ERA, striking out a ridiculous 265 batters in 227 innings. The following year, he was 15-7 with a 2.48 ERA and 261 Ks in 225 1/3 innings in repeating as the National League's top pitcher.

Prior, the No. 2 overall choice in 2001, threw nine games in the minors (two fewer than Strasburg) before getting promoted to the Cubs in May 2002. He was 6-6 with a 3.32 ERA and 147 strikeouts in 116 2/3 innings. In 2003, he was an All-Star, compiling an 18-6 record with a 2.43 ERA and 245 Ks in 211 1/3 innings.

Injuries ruined his career before it ever got on its Hall of Fame path, but Lincecum and Price are doing just fine.

The same should be said about Strasburg, a 6-foot-4, 220-pound righty who "needed" 11 starts in Double- and Triple-A. Many felt he was ready coming out of spring training, but the Nationals waited until he was 7-2 with a 1.30 ERA and 65 strikeouts in 55 1/3 innings in the minors before making the call -- thus delaying Strasburg's arbitration clock and allowing him to make his debut this week against a pair of offensive jugger-nots.

Tuesday, Strasburg has a home start against the Pirates, who entered Sunday ranked 29th in the majors in batting average (.238) and last in runs scored (181 in 55 games, an average of 3.3). Pittsburgh's OPS of .670 ranks 27th among MLB's 30 teams.

Start No. 2 for Strasburg will come Sunday, June 13 at Progressive Field against David Huff and the Indians. The Tribe entered Sunday ranked 25th in batting average (.245), 26th in runs scored (215 in 54 games, 4.0 per contest) and 26th in OPS (.687).

If you drafted Strasburg and were savvy enough to keep him, you're starting him this week. If Lincecum and Prior are accurate indicators, you can keep him in your lineup and expect a record in the .500 range and plenty of strikeouts -- think Fausto Carmona, times two.

All of which brings us to our breakdown of the remainder of the two-start pitchers for Week 10. These are the less-obvious choices among the group. You already know to start Cliff Lee, Felix Hernandez and Barry Zito, and if you want to play Kyle Davies or Huff, I'm not going to stop you.

For a complete list of pitching matchups for the week, check out ESPN's Fantasy Forecaster.


Johnny Cueto, Reds (Monday, Giants; Saturday, Royals); Armando Galarraga, Tigers (Tuesday, at White Sox; Sunday, Pirates); Edwin Jackson, Diamondbacks (Tuesday, Braves; Sunday, Cardinals); Kevin Slowey, Twins (Tuesday, Royals; Sunday, Braves); Stephen Strasburg, Nationals (Tuesday, Pirates; Sunday, at Indians)


Two-start pitchers with one favorable and one difficult matchup (the more risky plays):

Brett Anderson, Athletics (Tuesday, Angels; Sunday, at Giants); Fausto Carmona, Indians (Monday, Red Sox; Saturday, Nationals); Jeff Francis, Rockies (Tuesday, Astros; Sunday, Blue Jays); Kyle Kendrick, Phillies (Tuesday, Marlins; Sunday, at Red Sox); Ted Lilly, Cubs (Tuesday, at Pirates; Sunday, White Sox); Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox (Monday, at Indians; Saturday, Phillies); Kris Medlen, Braves (Tuesday, at Diamondbacks; Sunday, at Twins); Randy Wells, Cubs (Monday, at Pirates; Saturday, White Sox)


Scott Feldman, Rangers (Monday, Mariners; Saturday, at Brewers); Gavin Floyd, White Sox (Tuesday, Tigers; Sunday, at Cubs); Scott Kazmir, Angels (Monday, at Athletics; Saturday, at Dodgers); Wade LeBlanc, Padres (Monday, at Phillies; Saturday, Mariners); Colby Lewis, Rangers (Tuesday, Mariners; Sunday, at Brewers); Clayton Richard, Padres (Tuesday, at Mets; Sunday, Mariners); Wandy Rodriguez, Astros (Monday, at Indians; Saturday, at Yankees); Ben Sheets, Athletics (Monday, Angels; Saturday, at Giants)

For more fantasy updates, follow Kevin Kleps on Twitter.

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