Nick Nelson

The Week Ahead

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Gearing Up For the Stretch Run

Friday, August 03, 2012

The trade deadline came and went this past week, with several high-profile players switching teams. Now, as we venture into August, the finish line is beginning to materialize on the horizon.

In these final months, we'll see non-contending teams call up intriguing prospects for a late-season look (Corey Kluber of the Indians, one of this week's two-start pitchers, is a good example), while others will lock in for the stretch run.

Here are a few notes on the upcoming week:

* In the AL, I struggled with placing James Shields and Yu Darvish in the "Strong Plays" category this week. Both are looking ahead to at least one tough match-up, and neither has been especially effective lately – though they've both been racking up tons of strikeouts. Ultimately, it was their talent and whiff potential that swayed me to recommend them, but there's reason to proceed with caution.

* The Dodgers are slated to face five lefties in six games, including four straight to begin the week. Consider benching Andre Ethier (627 OPS vs. LHP) and get ready for a big week from Matt Kemp (1497 OPS vs. LHP).

* My favorite mid-tier two-start plays in the NL this week are Jake Westbrook, Jeff Karstens and Patrick Corbin.

Going Twice…

American League

Strong Plays

James Shields: TOR (Villanueva), @MIN (Diamond)
Yu Darvish: @BOS (Beckett), DET (Porcello)
Jason Vargas: @BAL (Tillman), @LAA (Haren)
Dan Haren: @OAK (Parker), SEA (Vargas)
Scott Diamond: @CLE (McAllister), TB (Shields)
Justin Verlander: NYY (Nova), @TEX (Holland)
Jake Peavy: KC (Mendoza), OAK (Parker)
Zach McAllister: MIN (Diamond), BOS (Buchholz)

Decent Plays

Carlos Villanueva: @TB (Shields), NYY (Hughes)
Jarrod Parker: LAA (Haren), @CWS (Peavy)
Phil Hughes: @DET (Porcello), @TOR (Villanueva)
Ivan Nova: @DET (Verlander), @TOR (Laffey)
Luis Mendoza: @CWS (Peavy), @BAL (Tillman)
Rick Porcello: NYY (Hughes), @TEX (Darvish)
Josh Beckett: TEX (Darvish), @CLE (Kluber)
Chris Tillman: SEA (Vargas), KC (Mendoza)

At Your Own Risk

Jeremy Guthrie: @CWS (Sale), @BAL (Britton)
Corey Kluber: MIN (Deduno), BOS (Beckett)
Zach Britton: SEA (Beavan), KC (Guthrie)

National League

Strong Plays

Edwin Jackson: @HOU (Keuchel), @ARI (Miley)
Lance Lynn: SF (Zito), @PHI (Worley)
Matt Cain: @STL (Westbrook), COL (Pomeranz)
A.J. Burnett: ARI (Miley), SD (Marquis)
Vance Worley: ATL (Sheets), STL (Lynn)
Jon Niese: MIA (LeBlanc), ATL (Sheets)
Yovani Gallardo: CIN (Arroyo), @HOU (Lyles)
Johnny Cueto: @MIL (Fiers), @CHC (Wood)
Ben Sheets: @PHI (Worley), @NYM (Niese)
Wade Miley: @PIT (Burnett), WAS (Jackson)

Decent Plays

Ross Detwiler: @HOU (Lyles), @ARI (Corbin)
Jake Westbrook: SF (Cain), @PHI (Lee)
Barry Zito: @STL (Lynn), COL (Sanchez)
Jeff Karstens: ARI (Corbin), SD (Wells)
Wade LeBlanc: @NYM (Niese), LAD (Capuano)
Chris Capuano: COL (Pomeranz), @MIA (LeBlanc)
Bronson Arroyo: @MIL (Gallardo), @CHC
Patrick Corbin: @PIT (Karstens), WAS (Detwiler)

At Your Own Risk

Kip Wells: CHC, @PIT (Karstens)
Jordan Lyles: WAS (Detwiler), MIL (Gallardo)
Drew Pomeranz: @LAD (Capuano), @SF (Cain)
Jonathan Sanchez: @LAD (Fife), @SD (Zito)
Dallas Keuchel: WAS (Jackson), MIL (Estrada)
Travis Wood: @SD (Ohlendorf), CIN (Cueto)

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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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