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April 23, 2012 posted by Paul Greco

Five Stories to Watch This Week 4/23

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Santiago Casilla, Pitcher, San Francisco Giants

I’m really excited for this new segment, exclusive to FantasyPros911.com’s premium side, and I think you should be too. Each week we’ll pick out five of the biggest fantasy stories to watch and dive into them.

First one is a good one: Which out-of-the-blue, suddenly-effective starting pitchers will stay hot the longest?

Let’s go through five of the most interesting ones:

Jason Hammel – Reinvented himself with the help of Orioles’ pitching coach Rick Adair (he’s the guy credited with changing Doug Fister), and has been throwing his two-seamer harder and more often than ever before in his career. He’s 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and 18 strikeouts in 19 innings. You see this time and time again when pitchers can suddenly master either a cutter or two-seamer, throw it hard and effective, and become much better pitchers. Hammel was left for dead in Coors Field. He looks great inBaltimore. He’s no fluke.

Completely made-up chances of staying effective: 68 percent.

Lance Lynn – A former first round pick, spent a season and a half in Triple-A, cumulating 7.8 K/9, 3.3 BB/9 and a 4.43 ERA. And suddenly the 24-year-old is lights-out with the Cardinals. He’s allowed 10 hits in three starts (he also has three hits himself) as he’s gone 3-0 with a 1.42 ERA.

Bottom line, though: He doesn’t have overpowering stuff. He’s been able to hit his spots and work both sides of the plate – an effective strategy, sure, but he never did it this well in the minors and it’s hard to imagine he’ll keep it up consistently in the majors. Chris Carpenter’s replacement will end up being just that, a replacement.

Chances of staying effective: 17 percent.

Bartolo Colon– In case you missed it, Colon threw 38 straight strikes against the Angels on Wednesday night, which is believed to be the most since 1988. The streak lasted from the second pitch of the fifth inning till the seventh pitch of the eighth inning, and he eventually finished the game having tossed 82 strikes in 108 pitches.

Colon has registered three quality starts this year (granted, two of them were against the Mariners) while striking out 19 batters compared to just two walks. His ERA is 2.63. This is all quite impressive. The guy is just on right now Can it last all year, and against better opponents? Maybe, we really don’t know. But he’s worth a shot.

Chances of staying effective: 44 percent.

Ross Detwiler – It’s hard to imagine, because his name has been tossed around for a while now, that Detwiler is only 26 years old. A former first-rounder, the tall lefty is 2-0 through three starts with a 0.56 ERA. And to think he got a late start in spring training…

Well, he appears to be finally ready for success in the big leagues – and the Nationals had so much faith in him they made John Lannan the highest-paid minor leaguer ever. And the stat line is no different: 15 strikeouts, four walks, 11 total hits allowed in 16 innings. He was dominant in the minors, too, before an off-year in 2011. This kid could be special.

Chances of staying effective: 62 percent.

Danny Duffy – He’s 23 years old, he’s a lefty, he’s got electric stuff and he’s only going to get better. Rated the No. 68 prospect by Baseball America last year, Duffy’s fanned 15 batters in 12 2/3 innings this season, including a strong start against the high-powered Tigers, while accumulating a 2.13 ERA. He struck out 10.5 per nine innings in the minors. If he’s still available, you need to find a better league.

Chances of staying effective: 91 percent.

Which old dude has a better year: Raul Ibanez or Juan Pierre?

Pierre, 34, is the Phillies starting left fielder and he’s really not doing that bad. His on-base percentage sucks, but that’s nothing unusual. We know what we’re getting out ofPierre: a mediocre average, zeroes in the power categories, and plenty of runs and steals. But I don’t think he stays an every-day starter for long. Charlie Manual loves John Mayberry Jr., especially against lefties, and Domonic Brown is still lurking in the minors.

Ibanez, 39, is a perfect fit inNew York. He’s a pull-hitting lefty who can’t play defense and the Yankees have been using him accordingly. He’s got two homers already, but even more impressive, he’s swiped two bases. I think he has a huge year for the pinstripes, perhaps even 25 homers with a whole lot of counting stats. Get him while you still can.

Will Matt Carpenter be the next Nick Johnson – but a healthy one?

With Lance Berkman on the 15-day disabled list nursing a calf injury (he aggravated it while chasing a pop fly, an injury only old guys would get), the door has opened for the hot-swinging 26-year-old.

Carpenter made a splash last Sunday when he went 4 for 4 with a triple, homer and five RBIs against the Cubs. The rookie will likely log every-day at-bats at first base and could prove to be an even better version of Johnson with his incredibly-patient approach at the plate.

In three seasons against minor league competition, Carpenter walked 205 times, compared to just 209 strikeouts, in 1,426 plate appearances. He hit .300/.408/.451 while also showing some power. His job might be temporary, but he can also play third base, and if David Freese can’t stay healthy, that creates just another opportunity for Carpenter to get at-bats.

If you’re in a 12-team standard mixed league with $1000 FAAB budget, I’d spend $70 for a guy like that.

How is this closer situation going to shape up in San Francisco?

OK, this is getting frustrating. First it’s Santiago Casilla – he’s got first shot at the job, Bruce Bochy even said it. Oh wait, suddenly he doesn’t. He allowed one hit – an infield single – against the Mets on Friday night before Bochy lifted him for Javier Lopez.

OK, it’s Javier Lopez, at least half the time. He’s a lefty, Bochy will play the matchups and this will work fine. Aw crap, Lopez has made six appearances this season and gotten more than one out just once. Yeah, he’s nothing more than a lefty specialist.

OK, it’s Sergio Romo. He’s got the best stuff, he was unbelievable last year and he wants to be that guy. His beard even matches Brian Wilson’s. He came in during a tie game on Friday and shut the door in the ninth inning. Then he was given a chance to close it out in the 10th and gave up a pair of base hits before being lifted by Clay Hensley (????).

OK, it’s Clay Hensley. He’s experienced, he’s a right-hander who is effective vs. lefties, and he got the save on Friday night. But he was terrible last year, and who knows how long he can stay effective this year.

OK, Bruce Bochy sucks. And my sixth beer is really kicking in. Good luck with this one.

Paul finished the 2011-2012 Fantasy Football season as the #1 Weekly Rankings & Projections winner of the 411Fantasy Expert Challenge. He also finished 2nd in the FantasyPros.com Expert Draft Accuracy Challenge in 2011. Top 10 Finisher in the FSWA Fantasy Football Draft Projections. Paul is also apart of baseballs elite as a member of Tout Wars. You can follow me on Twitter @PaulGreco
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