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Finally, baseball is upon us and that means a very, very long fantasy season.

Here I am to help by making a fantasy baseball pitching planner to help nudge you towards a player that you should keep in or leave out.

There are so many solid starters from last year that could either continue their path, or completely explode and diminish all their value.

There are also many players that make you really scratch your head, aside from the ones that are for-sure starters or not even on your team.

I’m just here to recommend who to start or sit that are on the bubble based on their most recent performances and their current matchups. Let’s get it started.

Fantasy Baseball Pitching Planner

Start

Ervin Santana, Minnesota Twins vs. Baltimore Orioles (April 4)

2015 – 7-5, 4.00 ERA, 82 Ks

With a small sample to pull from last year due to Santana being suspended for the first 80 games, Santana would’ve had a better year if he was able to play all of the 2015 season.

Santana is always really good at the beginning of the season, not the best in the middle, and finishes strong. The fact that he only had half a season might be why his ERA was a 4.00 at the end of last season.

Santana is going up against the three-headed monster of Manny Machado, Chris Davis, and Adam Jones. He might give up a few hits and maybe a run, but don’t expect him to leave the game early or without the W.

Kenta Maeda, Los Angeles Dodgers vs. San Diego Padres (April 6)

2015 – (JPCL) 15-8, 2.09 ERA, 175 Ks

Maeda signed with the Dodgers in September after winning his second Sawamura Award as the league’s best pitcher in 2015 for the Nippon Professional Baseball league in Japan. He has a career ERA of 2.39 and 1,233 strikeouts in eight seasons.

The only reason why I put him here is because of what he’s doing in spring training. In 13.2 innings, he has an ERA of 1.32 and 13 strikeouts. His slider is super nasty and he is going to be a force as the season goes on.

It doesn’t seem like there’s going to be much difference from his stats in Japan and the majors.

Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians vs. Boston Red Sox (April 7)

2015 – 14-10, 3.45 ERA, 195 Ks

Danny Salazar is one of those up-and-down guys that is finally starting to become a much more consistent player. Between 2014 and  2015 his ERA dropped almost a full point, his WHIP dropped from 1.38 to 1.13 and his opponent batting average from .272 to .226.

One thing that Salazar has always been good at is getting strikeouts. They used to come in bunches and then he’d go on a bit of a drought, but look for him to light it up against the Red Sox on Thursday.

Jake Peavy, San Francisco Giants vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (April 7)

2015 – 8-6, 3.58 ERA, 78 Ks

Except for last season, Jake Peavy has been awesome in April. He comes out firing and usually can keep his ERA below 3.00 in the first month. Last season he was dealing with a nagging back injury that didn’t make it easy to bring down his numbers.

His spring numbers don’t look good (6.11 ERA over 28 innings), but he had one bad outing (six ERs over 1.2 IP) and has been solid since. Betting on the Giants is probably a good idea, so look for good performances from Peavy all year.

Luis Severino, New York Yankees vs. Detroit Tigers (April 8)

2015 – 5-3, 2.89 ERA, 56 Ks

Here comes a 22-year-old that is going to be a star soon. Severino pitched 62.1 innings last year with 56 strikeouts, and held his own with a 2.89 ERA. This year, he’s starting against the Detroit Tigers, who finished last place in the AL Central last year.

This spring, if you take away his first outing (five ERs over 1.1 IP), he managed a 1.35 ERA with 23 Ks over 20 IP. He’s going to have a great first outing and one of many to come.

 

Sit

Julio Teheran, Atlanta Braves vs. Washington Nationals (April 4)

2015 – 11-8, 4.04 ERA, 171 Ks

I have to admit, this one is a bit personal. I drafted him for his outstanding 2014 campaign and took him earlier than I would’ve liked last year, just to see his lack of consistency. Sure, he’s doing fine this spring, but he did fine during spring in 2015 as well.

Now for an unbiased opinion: he’s facing Max Scherzer. Along with that, Atlanta really doesn’t have much of an offense, so it’s all on Teheran to out duel on of the game’s best on the first day of the MLB schedule. A win is not likely this week.

Jeremy Hellickson, Philadelphia Phillies vs, Cincinnati Reds (April 4)

2015 – 9-12, 4.62 ERA, 121 Ks

Being the Opening Day starter for the Phillies is like being the only girl in the room and being called the prettiest. If Hellickson was on a decent team, he would be a No. 3 or 4 in the rotation.

He was the Rookie of the Year in 2011 when he had a 2.95 ERA and 1.15 WHIP over 29 starts, all career bests. He hasn’t been below a 4.00 ERA over the last three seasons and now the Phillies are trying to resurrect his career.

His spring training numbers aren’t awful, but I wouldn’t trust Hellickson in my lineup against the Reds right now, who are coming off a very good spring.

James Shields, San Diego Padres vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (April 5)

2015 – 13-7, 3.91 ERA, 216 Ks

James Shields is going up against Scott Kazmir and the Dodgers for his first outing of 2016. While both of these pitchers are above-average on the mound, Kazmir has the offense to back him up. James Shields is going to have to be at his best to get the win because his offense is going to struggle.

Along with that, Shields has had an up and down spring. He is getting hit and giving up runs. That’s not a good sign, especially in your last outing before the season starts. Between that and not having any help, it’ll be a stressful day for him.

Cole Hamels, Texas Rangers vs. Seattle Mariners (April 4)

2015 – 13-8, 3.65 ERA, 215 Ks

Cole Hamels is a solid pitcher. His stats last year were great and the Rangers managed to make the playoffs. There are two points to why you should avoid him in this start: Poor spring and King Felix.

Hamels had a 5.79 over 9.1 innings in three outings this spring. He gave up two home runs and eight hits. A tad too rusty right now. Also, he has to pitch against Felix Hernandez, who has never lost an Opening Day start. Depending on how this new roster performs for Seattle, it could be more than just a loss for Hamels.

 

Masahiro Tanaka, New York Yankees vs. Houston Astros (April 4)

2015 – 12-7, 3.51 ERA, 139 Ks

Tanaka is a solid pitcher when healthy and he had a solid spring, minus one outing. The problem here is that he’s going up against Dallas Keuchel. Not many Cy Young winners are going to be that easy to beat on Opening Day. That one poor outing (seven ERs over four IP) was his most recent.

 

This is looking to be a great first week. We have so many good match-ups to start the 2016 season and I’m ready to find some of those diamonds in the rough as spring and summer progresses as well as those overrated busts. Ending with a cliché: Play ball!

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