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Welcome to the starting pitcher planner, where every Friday we’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 we write and Monday’s first pitch will definitely happen. If new information comes to light after we publish, we’ll try to tackle it in the comments. Feel free to beat us to it if you have any info, and we’ll be glad to offer our 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

Three NL teams went with a six-man rotation last week. This week, due to September call-ups and the desire to give veteran starters some extra rest, five NL teams will roll out a six-man rotation. That’s a third of the league. The Cubs, Dodgers, and Brewers will deploy their six starters across seven games, given each team a single two-start starter. The Rockies and the Mets have only six games this week to distribute among their six starters, giving them no two-start starters for the week. It’s kinda interesting that the Mets are using a six-man rotation this week because last week, they went with a four-man rotation.

AUTO-START

Kyle Hendricks

@STL

MIL

It’s not a banner week for high-end starters in the NL getting two starts. Kyle Hendricks is leading the NL in ERA among qualifiers – auto-starts don’t get much more automatic than that.

START

Anthony DeSclafani

MIL

PIT

Dan Straily

MIL

PIT

Andrew Cashner

@ATL

@PHI

Jeremy Hellickson

PIT

MIA

Alec Asher

PIT

MIA

Gerrit Cole

@PHI

@CIN

Jameson Taillon

@PHI

@CIN

Jeff Samardzija

SD

STL

Anthony DeSclafani is finally delivering on the promise that has made him one of Bret Sayre’s favorite roto players for the last few years. He carries a 2.93 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP into his two starts this week against the free-swinging Brewers and the slumping Pirates, and he was on the cusp of being included in the Auto-Start category. DeSclafani’s teammate Dan Straily is planted firmly in the Start category due to those same matchups. Andrew Cashner would normally appear in the Consider category and might even be dropped into the Sit category if he had a bad matchup or two, but this week he has two of the best matchups possible, road games against Atlanta and Philadelphia, two of the worst offenses in baseball. Phillies starters Jeremy Hellickson and Alec Asher draw the sputtering Pirates and the fading, Stanton-free Marlins during a homestand, allowing both to earn a promotion into the Start category. Gerrit Cole is tentatively scheduled to make his first two starts since August 24, which is a risky proposition, but his matchups against the Phillies and Reds are pretty attractive. Cole’s rotation-mate Jameson Taillon gets those same tasty matchups, of course. Jeff Samardzija has a great matchup against the Padres and a decent one against the Cardinals.

CONSIDER

Robbie Ray

COL

LAD

Ross Stripling

@NYY

@AZ

Wily Peralta

@CIN

@CHC

Albert Suarez

SD

STL

Mike Leake

CHC

@SF

Jaime Garcia

CHC

@SF

Robbie Ray has been great this year, but he has two rough starts this week in his hitter-friendly home park, one against the potent Rockies and one against the surging Dodgers. Wily Peralta has pitched better recently than he did earlier in the season and his matchup against the Reds is appealing, but his matchup against the Cubs is scary. Albert Suarez’s favorable matchup against the Padres bumps him into the Consider category. Mike Leake and Jaime Garcia would both usually appear in the Start category, but their matchup against the Cubs bumps them down to Consider status.

SIT

Matt Wisler

MIA

WAS

Shelby Miller

COL

LAD

Paul Clemens

@SF

@COL

Stephen Strasburg

NYM

@ATL

Stephen Strasburg isn’t appearing in the Sit section based on talent. According to some sources, he’s still listed as the Nationals’ projected starter for two games next week, but we all know that he’ll be missing at least one start and probably a good deal more than that after leaving his last start due to elbow pain, which is now being reported as a flexor strain. I felt the need to include him in this article based on those projected starter listings, but he definitely won’t be making two starts next week (and very probably won’t make any), so don’t set your lineup as if he will. The rest of the starters in this category combine poor 2016 performance with at least one terrible matchup. Steer clear except in the deepest of leagues, and even then, only use these guys if you’re desperate.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Like the NL, the AL has five teams using six-man rotations this week, a third of the league. The Astros have six games for their six starters, giving them no two-start starters for the week. The Orioles, the Yankees, the A’s, and the Rays have seven games this week, giving each team a single two-start starter.

AUTO-START

Jose Quintana

CLE

@KC

Carlos Carrasco

@CWS

DET

Danny Duffy

OAK

CWS

Marcus Stroman

TB

@ANA

Marcus Stroman has two great matchups this week, one against the Rays and one against the Angels. Danny Duffy has a great matchup against the A’s and a decent one against the White Sox. Jose Quintana and Carlos Carrasco don’t appear in this category due to their matchups, they appear here due to their excellent performance this year overall.

START

Drew Pomeranz

BAL

NYY

David Price

BAL

NYY

Miguel Gonzalez

CLE

@KC

Trevor Bauer

@CWS

DET

Matt Boyd

MIN

@CLE

C.C. Sabathia

LAD

@BOS

R.A. Dickey

TB

@ANA

Drew Pomeranz and David Price have both been very good lately, but they have difficult matchups this week against the hard-hitting Orioles and the surging Yankees. Miguel Gonzalez doesn’t have an unfavorable matchup this week, which is enough to keep him in this category. Trevor Bauer has started to demonstrate some consistency this year, making him appear in this category regularly. Matt Boyd has a nice start against the Twins. CC Sabathia has had a great bounceback season this year, but he draws two difficult matchups this week against the resurgent Dodgers and the high-scoring Red Sox. Lastly, R.A. Dickey has two terrific matchups this week, a home game against the struggling Rays and an away game against the Angels in their pitcher-friendly park.

CONSIDER

Ricky Nolasco

SEA

TOR

Anibal Sanchez

MIN

@CLE

Jason Vargas

OAK

CWS

Ervin Santana

@DET

@NYM

Ariel Miranda

@ANA

HOU

Jake Odorizzi

@TOR

@BAL

Martin Perez

@HOU

OAK

I know it looks weird to see Ricky Nolasco anywhere but the Sit category. He threw a complete game shutout a couple of games ago, though, and he has two games at home this week in his spacious home park. The offenses he’s facing are pretty good, though. This is the Consider category, which isn’t a ringing endorsement.

Anibal Sanchez and Jason Vargas have had injury issues and spotty performances this year, but both have one favorable matchup this week, too. Sanchez gets the Twins while Vargas get the A’s. Ervin Santana has been a bit shaky lately, making him a riskier proposition than usual. Ariel Miranda has been shaky, too, but he has a good matchup against the Angels and a start against the middle-of-the-pack Astros. Jake Odorizzi would usually appear in the Start category, but he has two starts this week against the two teams leading the AL in home runs, one in Toronto and one in Baltimore. Martin Perez is on the cusp of appearing in the Sit category, but his matchups against mediocre Houston and anemic Oakland are attractive enough to merit a promotion into the Consider category.

SIT

Alex Meyer

SEA

TOR

Wade Miley

@BOS

TB

Kyle Gibson

@DET

@NYM

Ross Detwiler

@KC

@TEX

These guys would all fall into this category regardless of their matchups. Unless your league is very deep and you need innings regardless of quality, stay away.