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Welcome to the starting pitcher planner, where every Friday I’ll be taking a look at the pitchers slated for two turns in the upcoming week. The hope is that the planner can help guide lineup and FAAB decisions that need to be made over the weekend. Of course, my information isn’t perfect and I don’t have a crystal ball. Rain, injuries, and teams reshuffling between when I write and Monday’s first pitch will definitely happen. If new information comes to light after we publish, I’ll try to tackle it in the comments. Feel free to beat me to it if you have any info, and I’ll be glad to offer my opinion there if you want it.

Let’s get some ground rules out the way before getting started. The pitchers will be split by league and then by category. Here are some general thoughts about the categories:

Auto-Starts: You paid a big price for these guys, either with an early draft pick, high dollar auction bid, or significant haul of prospects or MLB talent. These are the top 20 or so starters in baseball, so you’re starting them anywhere, anytime. Guys can pitch their way on to or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many notes associated with this group, unless a player has just moved up or is in imminent danger of moving down.

Starts: These are the pitchers I’m recommending you give the ball to this week. Some will be obvious, though not quite auto-start excellent. Others will be lesser talents who find themselves with a pair of favorable outings that you can take advantage of.

Considers: These guys will be on the fence and your league settings and position in the standings will play a big role in your decision. A pitcher in this category can be an SP2 or SP3 with a tough week of matchups. Conversely, he could be a team’s number five who happens to be lined up against a couple basement dwellers. Your particular league context carries the day here; if you are in a 10-team mixed league you probably don’t need to take the risk, but a 10-team AL-only leaguer might see it as a nice opportunity to log some quality innings from a freely available resource.

Sits: These are the guys I’m staying away from this week. They will range in talent from solid to poor. With mixed leagues smaller than 16 teams my default position for all two-start pitchers who rank outside of the top 60 or so is to sit them unless the matchups dictate otherwise. Additionally, mid-rotation starters who face a couple tough draws will find themselves in this category more often than not.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START

Johnny Cueto

@MIA, BAL

Jose Fernandez

SF, CHW

Zack Greinke

@NYM, @BOS

Max Scherzer

CLE, ATL

START

Zach Davies

ATL, CIN

Junior Guerra

ATL, CIN

Jason Hammel

LAA, STL

Steven Matz

ARI, SD

The Braves and Reds are terrible against righties on the season, but both have been dramatically better lately and are top-ten offenses by wRC+ over the past month. Nevertheless, I’m advising starts for both Davies and Guerra. I’ve been slow to warm to the soft-tossing Davies despite one of the majors’ best changeups. It produces swings and whiffs at rates both inside the top-25 and opponents are hitting just .200 against it. Guerra has a nasty offspeed pitch of his own. His splitter generates whiffs on 41 percent of swings, second only to Kevin Gausman. I like the balance of Guerra’s repertoire more than Davies’, and he generates sufficient soft contact to run a below-average BABIP, but maintaining a .242 mark is probably asking too much. Is it me or is Hammel in this column every week? On the plus side, Matz continues to strike out close to a batter per inning and limit walks. On the minus, he’s been far too hittable lately. Among the 60 hits he’s given up in the past 10 starts and 52 2/3 innings are eight home runs. I don’t think the 17 percent HR/FB rate that resulted in those numbers will hold up, which is why I’m still willing to recommend him on the heels of a poor outing against the Yankees.

CONSIDER

Tyler Anderson

TEX, @PHI

Michael Wacha

CIN, @CHC

I’m sure most fantasy players don’t trust Anderson’s 3.25 ERA, even though it’s substantiated by your advanced metric of choice. For the purposes of this exercise, I often use cFIP. Anderson’s cFIP of 86 matches his teammate Jon Gray’s, who is gaining confidence in the fantasy community. Anderson doesn’t have Gray’s strikeout upside, but he doesn’t have the WHIP downside either and he doesn’t show much of a home/road split, despite pitching more than two-thirds of his innings to date at Coors. Wacha’s strikeouts have disappeared recently, which isn’t all that surprising given the underwhelming quality of his raw stuff and his slipping velocity. He’s had success in two 2016 starts against the Reds and mixed results in two against the Cubs.

SIT

Tyler Chatwood

TEX, @PHI

Tyrell Jenkins

@MIL, @WAS

Mike Leake

CIN, @CHC

Jeff Locke

SD, @LAD

Bud Norris

PHI, PIT

Luis Perdomo

@PIT, @NYM

Cody Reed

@STL, @MIL

Jake Thompson

@LAD, COL

Rob Whalen

@MIL, @WAS

Chatwood has been the equal of his surprising rotation mates in Colorado. Unlike Gray and Anderson, Chatwood is a mirage and his home/road split is extreme. The two Braves are a long way from fantasy relevance, but I’m excited to see what they can do over the next two months. Whalen especially is a nice dynasty target in case he carries his minor league success over to the big leagues. Jake Thompson is the presumptive beneficiary of Aaron Nola’s trip to the disabled list. He’s made a steady climb through the minors and should capably eat innings towards the back-end of a rotation. That’s not terribly exciting for fantasy, though it does have utility in deep and mono contexts.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START

Cole Hamels

@COL, DET

Chris Sale

@KC, @MIA

START

Michael Fulmer

@SEA, @TEX

Jake Odorizzi

@TOR, @NYY

Rick Porcello

NYY, ARI

Fulmer continues to post ratios befitting an SP2, even as some of his strikeout have gone away. The only real danger here is the Tigers beginning to manage Fulmer’s innings by utilizing off days to push starts back a day or two. He should eclipse his previous career high of 124.2 innings next week. Odorizzi was a tough call even though he hasn’t given up a run in any of his past three starts, covering more than 20 innings. Toronto is typically a club I want to avoid with homer-prone pitchers. Odorizzi has limited the Jays to four earned runs in his three starts against them this season, which gives me some comfort. Three of those four runs came on solo shots, which suggests he’s been the beneficiary of some sequencing luck. Odorizzi has fared similarly well in a pair of starts against the Yanks, so I’ll roll the dice. Porcello is likely to give you six or more innings of low-risk, unspectacular ball, making him an easy Start recommendation.

CONSIDER

Kevin Gausman

@OAK, @SF

Kendall Graveman

BAL, SEA

Collin McHugh

@MIN, @TOR

Wade Miley

@OAK, @SF

Luis Severino

@BOS, TB

Gausman’s upside will always keep him in strong consideration status. Parks that can help him limit home run damage suggest we’ll get the good version next week, but the Gausman experience doesn’t always accommodate solid rationale. Graveman snapped an excellent five-game stretch (2.68 ERA, 1.03 WHIP) with a clunker Wednesday against the Angels. He has a 2.92 ERA and 3.31 at home this season, compared to 5.64 and 5.67 on the road. McHugh has been consistently solid since mid-June, with the exception of an eight-run blowup in Detroit last week. Bolstered by two double-digit strikeout games in that stretch, McHugh’s strikeout rate is getting closer to the 2014 version that brought him to fantasy relevance than the 2015 version that had people questioning whether he was a one-hit wonder. Miley pitched like a man who wanted to get the hell out of Seattle in his last couple turns as a Mariner. He gets the same contextual boost as Gausman, making him a solid play next week. Severino has been lights out since returning to the majors in late July, and I think he’s a smart target for the rest of the year. A start at Fenway isn’t the warmest of welcomes back to the rotation, so exercise caution next week.

SIT

Trevor Bauer

@WAS, LAA

R.A. Dickey

TB, HOU

Tyler Duffey

HOU, KC

Mike Fiers

@MIN, @TOR

A.J. Griffin

@COL, DET

Jesse Hahn

BAL, SEA

Wade LeBlanc

DET, @OAK

Hector Santiago

HOU, KC

Edinson Volquez

CHW, @MIN

Jered Weaver

@CHC, @CLE

Bauer has been just as poor in July and August as he was brilliant in June, and his latest start was his worst. Bauer allowed 13 baserunners and seven earned runs without making it out of the third inning. I’ll wait to see some signs of life before using him.