Ahead of the Curve: Circling The Fish Market

These next six weeks are going to be FUN.

Welcome to the latest edition of Ahead of the Curve. It's good to see your face again. But before we get all serious and delve into schedules, let's have some fun with 2012 team stats that I've been looking at for research (all stats are as of Wednesday's games). Did you know that there are five different teams that have a collective batting average under .200? While the number of teams may shock you, the actual teams probably will not (Oakland, Minnesota, Pittsburgh, San Diego and Cleveland). On a more positive note, Detroit and St Louis have team batting averages of over .300. On another negative note, those two team batting averages are higher than the slugging percentages of the Twins, Pirates and Padres.

As far as strikeouts go, your "leader" in that category is Milwaukee, who have struck out at a team rate of 24.1%. To put it mildly, that's very high for a team. Last year, the highest K-rate for a team was 21.7% (and it was the Padres). So this may explain why a pitching match-up against Milwaukee, despite the power in their lineup and hitter-friendly home park, can be a plus match-up regardless.

Now, to get started. There's always going to be one team that has a stretch of games over a six-week span, which makes all of their starters seem attractive when you analyze the match-ups. That team right now are your new-look Miami Marlins. Here are their next twelve scheduled opponents: HOU, CHC, @WSH, @NYM, ARZ, @SF, @SD, HOU, NYM, PIT, @ATL, @CLE. So you've got six series at home in their vast new ball park, of which only one is against a team projected to even sniff .500. Then you've got road series against weak offenses in pitchers' parks like @NYM, @SF, @SD, @ATL, @CLE. And the one remaining series is on the road is @WSH against the team with a 23.3% K-rate (good for 4th worst in MLB).

In other words, if you have a chance to grab a Marlins starter, do it. I don't care if it's Ricky Nolasco, Anibal Sanchez or Mark Buehrle. If someone wants to freak out and sell on Josh Johnson, take advantage. If Carlos Zambrano is available on your waiver wire in anything deeper than a 10-team league, grab him and run him out there. He's got a home start against Houston on Saturday, so he may get scooped up by a streamer if you don't act fast. The point is, circle the fish market -- and then count up your profits.

Moving on after the jump..

THE POTENTIAL OUTPERFORMERS

Roy Halladay (@SF, @SD, CHC, @ATL, NYM, SD)
Joe Blanton (@SF, @SD, CHC, @ATL, NYM, HOU)

Halladay doesn't really require much thought as far as his schedule, but I'd be remiss to not mention his upcoming match-ups. Blanton, however, is probably available in your league. He looked good against the Marlins on Thursday night, but that's been like shooting fish in a barrel so far this season (pun most definitely intended). Why not take a shot on him if you're in a deeper league?

Lance Lynn (CHC, @PIT, @CHC, PIT)

Lynn was very impressive in his first start of the season, but any time you can exploit four consecutive starts against NL Central cellar dwellers, you just have to do it. Lynn was probably a hot pickup in your league earlier this week, but if he's still out there, remedy that situation.

Chad Billingsley (@MLW, @HOU, WSH, @CHC, SF)

Do you believe in Chad Billingsleys? I'm going to go out on a limb and say that the person who owns him in your league probably doesn't either. However, you can trick him into "selling high" on Chad and ride him out for what would appear to be a very favorable medium-term schedule. After match-ups with K-prone teams like Milwaukee, Washington and Chicago, he could appear very attractive on paper at the end of April.

Dan Haren (OAK, BAL, @CLE, TOR, @MIN, OAK, @SD, @SEA)

This one's in here just because of its gaudiness. Seriously, there's only one competent offense in this group and Haren gets them in Anaheim, where he has put up great numbers since his trade to the Angels. And could his road starts be any more attractive? Now eight starts out, this schedule may very well not hold, but if it does, this may end up being the best stretch for any pitcher all year.

Other attractive schedules:

Ian Kennedy (PIT, ATL, @MIA, @WSH)
Clay Buchholz (TB, NYY, @MIN, OAK, BAL, CLE)
Chris Sale (DET, @SEA, @OAK, CLE)
Mike Leake (@WSH, @CHC, HOU, CHC, @MLW)
Jered Weaver (OAK, BAL, @CLE, MIN, @MIN)
Edinson Volquez (@LAD, PHI, WSH, MLW, COL)
Adam Wainwright (CHC, CIN, @CHC, PIT, @HOU)

THE POTENTIAL UNDERPERFORMERS

Danny Duffy (DET, TOR, @MIN, @DET, BOS)

After his dominating first outing of the season against the A's, Duffy was a very popular add in nearly all formats. However, take a look at this upcoming schedule -- he just may not be all that usable over the next month or so. Sure, the @MIN matchup is a good one, but the other four games will likely be against top AL offenses. If someone's very high on Duffy, you may want to think about cashing him in before he scuffles against better teams.

Ivan Nova (LAA, @BOS, @TEX, BAL, @KC)

I was not high on Nova coming into the season, as he was clearly an outperformer of his underlying 2011 stats, but he impressed in his first start of the season against Baltimore. Unfortunately, not all of his starts will come against Baltimore. Even more unfortunately, this is the schedule that he will be facing. He'll always have the win potential playing for the Yankees, but it's hard to envision him having decent ratios when this is over.

Anthony Swarzak (TEX, @NYY, BOS, KC)

Ron Gardenhire: "Anthony, I've got some good news for you -- we want you back in the rotation."
Anthony Swarzak: "Really Coach? That's great! Who do I get to face, the Indians? White Sox?"
Ron Gardenhire: "No, Anthony, you've got Texas, the Yanks and the Sox."
Anthony Swarzak: "Umm..I think I left something back in Rochester, Coach."

Other unattractive schedules:

Bruce Chen (DET, TOR, @MIN, NYY, BOS)
Yovani Gallardo (LAD, COL, @STL, @SF, CIN)
Nick Blackburn (TEX, @NYY, BOS, @LAA)
R.A. Dickey (@PHI, @ATL, MIA, @COL, ARZ)
Erik Bedard (@ARZ, STL, @ATL, @STL)
David Price (@BOS, @TOR, LAA, @TEX)
Neftali Feliz (@MIN, @DET, TB, @TOR)

Follow me on Twitter at @tfw_bret for additional content, including my newly minted "streamer of the day" feature.

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