keyboard_arrow_uptop

Every Friday I’ll be previewing the hurlers scheduled for two starts in the upcoming week. Hopefully that will give readers enough insight to make educated lineup moves and FAAB decisions over the weekend. As the old wrestling promoters would always say, “Card Subject to Change"—because lots can happen between the time this goes up and first pitch. Unfortunately, weather, injuries, and tinkering managers make this less than a science. I’ll do my best, though, and should new information present itself after this posts, we can go over it in the comments. We’ll crowd source this as well, so if you hear anything, feel free to comment and we all can offer our takes, hot or not.

Here’s how this works. The pitchers will be split by league using these categories:

Auto-Starts: These are your aces, your studs, and your guiding lights. You paid big to acquire these guys, whether via early draft pick, high-dollar auction bid, or hefty trade package. You’re likely starting these guys anywhere, anytime, on a train, and on a plane. You get it. The list is fluid, and guys can pitch their way into or out of this category. You know all about these guys, so there won’t be as many notes associated with this group.

Starts: As the name suggests, this group won’t quite be as much of a slam-dunk decision, but I’m still recommending you give them the ball. Some will still be easy decisions due to pedigree, but others will be based mostly on favorable matchups that you can take advantage of.

Considers: This category will be populated by guys that are really tweeners, and your league settings and position in the standings will be a key factor in your ultimate decision. These pitchers can range from an SP2 or SP3 with a week of tough matchups to No. 5 starters pitching against bad teams in good ballparks. Your league context will be important here; if you are in a shallow mixed league, you probably have better options, and don’t need to take the risk. However, in an AL- or NL-only league, these guys could provide a nice opportunity to log some innings at a cheaper price.

Sits: These are the guys I want no part of this week. This group will run the gamut from mid-rotation starters with tough matchups (or trips to Coors Field), to just flat-out uninspiring options.

At this point of the season, the majority of these recommendations will be based on a combination of ADP/auction price and PECOTA projections for opponent strength. As the season progresses and we get more concrete data points for how the pitchers themselves and their opponents are actually performing, the formula will gradually evolve into a performance-based projection.

Before we dive in, I just wanted to say that if you’re relying on two-start pitchers this week…buddy, I’m sorry. As you’ll soon find out, it’s the dregs. Good luck!

National League

Auto-Start

Max Scherzer

@ATL, @NYM

Moving right along…

Start

Jaime Garcia

SD, @PHI

John Lackey

MIL, @CIN

Mike Leake

PIT, @MIL

Shelby Miller

@SD, LAD

Robbie Ray

@LAD, LAD

Prime example of the quality of two-start hurlers this week. Garcia hasn’t been great so far this season, but he’s in this category based on his matchups. The Padres offense isn’t very daunting, and the Phillies were the second-worst team in baseball last season against lefties (according to wRC+). I’m starting him, but totally not feeling awesome about it.

Homemade apple pie. A cold beer on a hot day. A beat-up pair of jeans that fit just right. John Lackey. Some things are just timeless. The 38-year-old is somehow still really good, and he has two strong matchups this week, especially if your league rewards yelling at umpires and the defense.

Leake (and his flowing locks) has gone at least seven innings in each of his first two starts, striking out 13 compared to just one walk. He’s never going to be a high-volume strikeout guy, but he should give you steady innings and solid rates.

After a rocky start, Miller looked *gasp* decent in his first start of the season against the Indians. He was slightly less decent in his follow up performance in San Francisco, but Miller is throwing harder than ever and he’s getting a strong number of whiffs while doing so.

Ray has been very “Robbie Ray” so far this season, striking out over a batter per inning while also allowing a small village on the bases via free passes and hard contact. For most, it’s a recipe for disaster, but for Ray, he finds a way to live on the edge. He’s getting a double dip of Dodgers this week, and he could certainly take advantage of their woes against left-handed pitching.

Consider

Amir Garrett

BAL, CHC

Tom Koehler

@SEA, @SD

Ivan Nova

@STL, NYY

Brandon McCarthy

ARI, @ARI

Jimmy Nelson

@CHC, STL

Before giving up a homer in his second start, it looked as if Garrett might go his entire career without giving up a run. That would have been, um, impressive. Despite low strikeout totals, he’s managed to produce respectable swinging strike numbers, which he’ll need against the Orioles and Cubs this week.

Nova hasn’t generated many whiffs yet this season, but I would expect him to bounce back to at least his career-average strikeout rate eventually (around seven per nine innings). More importantly, I am here for the IVAN NOVA REVENGE GAME against the Yankees over the weekend.

Who’s ready for the Brandon McCarthy Bounceback Party! It has always been about injuries for McCarthy, and it appears that he’s fully recovered from his 2015 Tommy John surgery, with his velocity back to 2014 levels.

A shift on the rubber helped Nelson deliver a strong season debut against the world champs, fanning eight in six innings of work. If the whiffs continue, he could yet deliver on some of the promise that made him an interesting prospect in 2014.

Sit

Chase Anderson

@CHC, STL

Mike Foltynewicz

WAS, @PHI

Zach Lee

ARI, MIA

Lance Lynn

PIT, @MIL

Jered Weaver

@ATL, MIA

Zack Wheeler

PHI, WAS

After completely dominating the Blue Jays last week and lowering his ERA to 0.69, the question persists: Is Chase Anderson kind-of good now? I’m still skeptical as his .156 BABIP and 0.69 HR/9 are far cries from his career norms.

Foltynewicz is interesting, but in a “Oh, that unremarkable caterpillar could turn into an unspectacular butterfly someday” way. You know the type. Starting him against the Nationals this week would make me nervous.

Just as we all expected, Lee kicked off his season by tossing 5 2/3 scoreless innings against the Rockies—at Coors Field… Shockingly, I’m still not convinced. I’m staying away from Lee and Weaver (there’s just something about an 84 mph fastball that terrifies me) until further notice.

Lynn’s velocity is down almost three ticks from his last pre-Tommy John surgery start. As a pitcher that throws almost 60 percent fastballs, he’s going to need all the giddyap he can muster, or else he’ll be susceptible to giving up the occasional multi-homer game.

It’s just fun having Wheeler back in our lives. That said, I’m still not super-confident plugging him in there on a consistent basis.

**A starter for the Phillies will get two starts next week. It won’t be Clay Buchholz.

American League

Auto-Start

Yu Darvish

@OAK, KC

Michael Fulmer

@TB, @MIN

With Darvish and Fulmer, you get two studs and two great matchups. Start with confidence (it will get harder and harder to say this as we go).

Start

Jordan Montgomery

CWS, @PIT

Joe Musgrove

LAA, @TB

Danny Salazar

@MIN, @CWS

Marcus Stroman

BOS, @LAA

Andrew Triggs

TEX, SEA

Montgomery is interesting. His big-league track record is obviously limited, but the lefty flashed solid skills in his debut, striking out seven Rays and inducing 17 swinging strikes. In the same vein, Musgrove offers some upside with his matchups this week. He hasn’t really found his strikeout groove yet, but he’s shown a propensity in the past to limit baserunners and pitch deep into games. I’d like to see more from both of these guys, but in a pinch, they could be interesting options.

Strikeout. Walk. Strikeout. Wash, rinse, repeat. So it goes for Salazar who will square off against two lineups littered with a ton of swing and miss. If he can avoid the long ball, he’s a great option this week.

While the Jays have gotten off to a slow start, the same can’t be said for Stroman. He has relied on a 93 mph sinker to induce ground balls at a near 60 percent clip, en route to a sparkling 1.76 ERA. He has yet to unleash his slider at the rates we saw late last season, which could ultimately goose his strikeout totals. When he does, he might not be long for this category.

If you’ve figured out Triggs, let me know. Since being converted to a full-time starter in Oakland, he has tossed 34 1/3 innings with a 1.83 ERA, and struck out five batters for every walk. He has yet to give up a run in 2017. I’m tentatively intrigued.

Consider

Matt Andriese

DET, HOU

Yovani Gallardo

MIA, @OAK

Jesse Hahn

TEX, SEA

Jason Hammel

SF, @TEX

Derek Holland

@NYY, CLE

Phil Hughes

CLE, DET

Ariel Miranda

MIA, @OAK

Josh Tomlin

@MIN, @CWS

I don’t know why, but color me intrigued by Andriese. His 3.63 DRA in 2016 points to a pretty solid starter In addition, he carried a 5/1 K/BB ratio against right-handed hitters last season. He will face plenty of righties against the Tigers and Astros.

Gallardo is, well, Gallardo. Miranda has struggled with preventing homers thus far in his big-league career, but in the season’s infancy he has been better at keeping the ball on the ground. If you hadn’t guessed, these two are strictly matchup-based plays.

The good news is that Hahn is sitting at 96 mph again. The bad news is that he will need to seriously limit baserunners for his 5.44 K/9 career strikeout rate as an Athletic in order to be playable.

The move to Kansas City has yet to bear fruit for Hammel. He might log some innings, but that might be about it.

Derek Holland has been pretty good so far in a White Sox uniform. Fool me once…

Who’s ready for the Phil Hughes Bounceback Party! Wait, I used that one already?

Sit

Jesse Chavez

@HOU, TOR

Mike Fiers

LAA, @TB

Kyle Gibson

CLE, DET

A.J. Griffin

@OAK, KC

Ubaldo Jimenez

@CIN, BOS

Ricky Nolasco

@HOU, TOR

Eduardo Rodriguez

@TOR, @BAL

Blake Snell

@BOS, HOU

Steven Wright

TB, @BAL

At this point, he is probably good for about five innings, a handful of strikeouts, and will give up a homer or two. *Rings buzzer* Who is Jesse Chavez? Correct. Fiers or Gibson would have also been acceptable.

Jimenez has surrendered five earned runs in each of his two starts this season. That’s good if you’re looking for consistency, but it’s less good if you’re looking for quality.

Rodriguez and Snell can be lumped together as two young lefties who show a ton of promise. Their huge strikeout potential is matched only by their propensity to give up a ton of free passes. I’m in on both of these guys for this season and beyond, but this week they face some really tough matchups.

If relying on an unpredictable pitch and giving up lots of homers is wrong, I don’t want to Steven Wright. That feels like a good one to end on.