Bits: Zito getting the job done at home 

May, 9, 2013
I'm not quite sure how San Francisco Giants left-hander Barry Zito does it, since his stuff seems pretty average -- OK, perhaps below average -- but there he was on center stage Wednesday afternoon mowing down the Philadelphia Phillies at AT&T Park for seven innings of four-hit, one-run ball. Zito is owned in roughly half of ESPN's standard mixed leagues, which makes sense because he's worth owning about half the time. That's right, Zito is currently one of the best examples of a hurler fantasy owners should stream for home games, but avoid when he's on the road.

When one watches Matt Harvey and Yu Darvish, one marvels at their ability, and it's not only velocity. Their stuff is tremendous. Watching Zito on Wednesday, I was trying to figure out why Phillies hitters were falling for the off-speed junk and couldn't hit it hard. Nevertheless, Zito has twirled 33 innings at San Francisco's beautiful yet pitcher-friendly stadium in 2013, and permitted two runs. That's all. It's a 0.55 ERA, best in baseball for any pitcher with a minimum 20 home innings. In Zito's case, he's not a strikeout guy, and with a larger stadium, more fly balls are catchable. Perhaps it brings extra confidence that even if foes hit the ball hard, it's not leaving the yard. From 2010-12, Zito's home ERA was 3.63, his road mark 5.12. Zito is worth owning even in shallow 10-team leagues if you're the spot-starting type of owner that plans ahead in daily formats.

Who else has been money so far at home? Some of the top home pitchers are just awesome pitchers one would use in any stadium at any time, such as Los Angeles Dodgers lefty Clayton Kershaw or Washington Nationals right-handers Jordan Zimmermann and Stephen Strasburg. Seattle Mariners lefty Joe Saunders is third in home ERA with a 0.81 mark, which is not surprising. Lovely Safeco Field also is large, helpful for pitchers. A year ago, Jason Vargas, a similar softer-tossing lefty, posted a 2.74 home ERA, and that mark was more than two runs higher on the road. Now Vargas is in Anaheim, but still boasts a considerable edge in home ERA. I'd use Saunders and most of the time Vargas at home, but rarely away from home.