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After a week of scarcity, this week our two-start cup runneth over. No clubs will play short schedules, which means a bump back up into the mid-40s for two-start options. American Leaguers will have significant advantages in both quality and quantity, while managers in NL-only leagues will be stuck pecking through a bunch of uncertain options after a shakier-than-you’d-like top five of startable hurlers. Personal pick of the week: Atlanta’s Williams Perez, whose nasty secondaries and bad-ass histrionics last week highlighted one of the more entertaining big-league starting debuts I can remember watching.

As far as the nuts and bolts guidelines for what lies within, the pitchers will be split by league and then by categories:

Auto-Starts – These are your surefire fantasy aces. You paid a handsome sum 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 emerge onto or fall off of this list as the season evolves. There won’t be many—if any—notes associated with these groupings each week, unless a player has just moved up or is in imminent danger of moving down.

Starts – These are the guys I’m recommending you put into your lineup this week. Some will be obvious, but not quite auto-start excellent, while others will be waiver-wire fodder who find themselves with a pair of favorable outings that you can take advantage of in your league.

Considers – As mentioned earlier, these guys will be on the fence and your league settings and position in the standings will really be the decider here. A pitcher in this category can be your number two starter with a tough week of matchups in Boston and Colorado. Or conversely if the Cincinnati Reds’ fifth starter is slated to face the Braves at home followed by a stop-over in Philadelphia, he will appear on this list because the matchups are great even though he might not be. Your particular league settings will have a lot to say 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.

At the season’s outset the majority of these recommendations will come to pass as a combination of ADP/auction price and PECOTA projections for opponent strength. As the season rolls on and we get some more concrete data points for how both the pitchers themselves and their opponents are actually performing, the formula will gradually evolve into a performance-based projection.

As a general frame of reference, when I talk about “deep” leagues I’m talking very broadly about mixed leagues with at least 16 teams and –only leagues with at least 10. “Medium-depth” leagues refer to mixed 12- and 14-teams and –onlies with eight or nine. “Shallow leagues” will refer to mixed 10-teamers and –only leagues with less than eight teams.

As always the standard disclaimer applies to these match-up previews that all start schedules are subject to unfortunately frequent change on account of rainouts, injuries, managers arbitrarily shuffling their rotations, etc. And of course, if you have questions about any of the starters I don’t expand upon in the body of the article feel free to inquire in the comments.

With that, on to the Starting Pitcher Planner!

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START

Johnny Cueto

COL, WAS

Madison Bumgarner

@MIL, ATL

Jordan Zimmermann

@CHC, @CIN

START

Tyson Ross

@LAA, PIT

Tim Lincecum

@MIL, ATL

Notes:

Tyson Ross has been a disappointment to many a fantasy owner thus far, checking in just 80th in returned value among starting pitchers. His walk rate has jumped to uncomfortably high levels, and he hasn’t pitched particularly well at home. Still, the whiffs have been there in spades and he’s pitched better of late since migrating away from his four-seamer, which had been getting knocked around pretty good in the early going. He’ll have a strong matchup week this week, with a trip to pitcher-friendly Orange County and a visit from a Pirates team that hits poorly on the road.

CONSIDER

Chase Anderson

@STL, @MIL

Bartolo Colon

PHI, MIA

Brett Anderson

ATL, @STL

David Phelps

@PIT, @NYM

Julio Teheran

@LAD, @SFG

Carlos Martinez

ARI, LAD

Kyle Lohse

SFG, ARI

Tsuyoshi Wada

WAS, KCR

Williams Perez

@LAD, @SFG

Charlie Morton

MIA, @SDG

Notes:

Chase Anderson’s a really borderline call for a straight start recommendation here. He’s been a top-25 pitcher so far by DRA, and cFIP likes him as a top-50 guy going forward. His BABIP and home-run rates are probably due for some negative regression, and he’s not generating as many whiffs as he did last year or getting ahead as often, so it’s definitely not all puppy dogs and rainbows in his profile. Still, he’s played a pretty active role in halving the homerun rate by keeping opponents from pulling the ball, and he’s improved his walk rate notably. The matchup data is fairly neutral here, and I’d lean towards a start in most formats.

Yes, Bartolo Colon gave up nine runs in his last outing against St. Louis, but eight of those scored immediately after he reached and subsequently advanced from first base. He’s still somehow throwing 91 mph, and while he’ll usually get knocked around a bit, he doesn’t walk anybody (literally for 48 1/3 innings) and makes for a solid-average WHIP play. He’ll get a couple of bottom-third offenses this week as he looks to get back on track, and while he’ll have to figure out a way to get Giancarlo Stanton (5-for-9, two homers) out, he makes for a decent play.

Brett Anderson (no relation) has been on a nice little run over his past four starts, allowing just five runs over 22 2/3 innings with a 1.14 WHIP and 20-to-5 K:BB ratio. He’s certainly not a guy who is likely to work deep into games; his last start was his first in which he worked past the sixth. In NL-only formats and deeper mixed leagues he’s a nice option this week, as Atlanta’s offense is poor and the Cardinals have struggled some hitting left-handers.

I wrote up Phelps earlier this week, concluding that while he’s unable to fall off a cliff he has been performing above where he should be valued moving forward. He took a shakier turn in his last start, but he’ll see a nice calendar this week. The Pirates have been better lately but still grade out poorly as a unit, and the Mets have struggled to score runs from the season’s outset.

Tsuyoshi Wada is an interesting name to jump right into two-start status for his second and third starts off the DL this season. He put up an exactly league-average cFIP last year, though his 4.46 DRA slotted him squarely in the middle of the “unfulfilled promise” tier, among the likes of Clay Buchholz, Trevor Bauer, Nate Eovaldi, and Danny Salazar (versions 2014). He’s not a frontline talent who should be expected to darkhorse his way to the top of your fantasy rotation, but he should be an average source of Ks with decent-enough peripherals. He’s a fly-ball pitcher who’ll happen to pitch in front of one of the better outfield defenses around at corralling flyballs, and he should garner enough whiffs and win potential to make for a nice immediate add in NL-only and deeper mixed formats. Outside of the deepest of leagues where innings are paramount, I’d lean towards shelving him this week against a couple of tough offenses until he gets his MLB legs under him and we see exactly what we’re dealing with, but he’s a worthwhile guy to monitor in formats deep and shallow alike this week.

Charlie Morton has shown plenty of glimpses in the past of being capable to return stretches of solid value. It being his first and second starts of the season after hip labrum surgery benching him is probably the safer play. He’s pitched very well through his rehab, though, and the matchups tilt slightly in his favor.

SIT

Eddie Butler

@CIN, @PHI

Severino Gonzalez

@NYM, COL

Jeff Locke

MIA, @SDG

Notes:

Someday, maybe, I’ll have the opportunity to write a start recommendation for a Colorado starter. Today is not that day, however. If the shine isn’t completely off Eddie Butler right now, it’s certainly pretty close, as he’s endured a brutal start to his major-league career that includes a 23-to-30K:BB ratio in his first 50 innings. He currently sits dead last out of 127 starters in cFIP and 111th in DRA, and while his prospect pedigree may warrant you continuing to hang onto him in your deep dynasty league, there’s really no reason he should be rostered in shallower formats and re-draft leagues at this moment.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START

David Price

@OAK, @LAA

Dallas Keuchel

@BAL, CHW

STARTS

Danny Salazar

TEX, @SEA

Jake Odorizzi

SEA, @BAL

Roenis Elias

@TAM, CLE

J.A. Happ

@TAM, CLE

Shane Greene

@OAK, @LAA

Notes:

I went back and forth between officially bumping Salazar up into the auto-start bin or just slotting him here, and I opted for the more conservative assignment because we’re not quite there yet despite the devastating peripherals. Salazar has suffered from an unlucky homerun rate thus far, and while is small sample number is extreme thus far it’s not without precedent. There’s also the matter of playing in front of the single least efficient defense at converting balls in play into outs. I noted on Twitter the other day that Cleveland currently boasts three of the top four starters in baseball by cFIP (and four of the top 40), yet their team ERA is 26th. Salazar’s stuff is good enough that he very well may be able to overcome an above-average BABIP and homerun rate to post elite fantasy numbers anyway, but things haven’t quite clicked with the topline performance yet. The match-ups this week will pose a bit of a test to boot, as Seattle’s offense is a top-five unit in team TAv, while Texas remains an average offense in its own right. I’ll run him everywhere for the elite strikeout potential, but don’t assume the ERA and WHIP numbers the stuff hints at are bankable.

I’ve written at every opportunity I’ve had to extoll the virtues of Roenis Elias because, well, left-handed Cuban junkballers are my jam. Best of all in this particular case, Elias has been pitching well enough to earn the accolades. He’s been throwing more changes and getting more whiffs with it, and both of his fastballs generate plus movement to set it up. And despite a rough start in his last turn, J.A. Happ has been a very nice (and legitimate) back-end contributor thus far. I wrote about him at length here, and I like him to continue providing similar value going forward. The match-ups grade out nicely for both Seattle southpaws and I like them as deeper-mixed and AL-only options for the week.

Shane Greene’s inclusion here is a testament both to Shane Greene and Shane Greene’s schedule. He’s been a top-50 pitcher by DRA thus far, establishing himself as a legitimate back-end option despite a plummeting whiff rate and one of the worst strand rates of any starting pitcher. He’s generating a good deal of ground-ball contact and avoiding the longball with help from two pitches in his cutter and slider that both feature double-plus horizontal movement. The other part of this equation is a tasty schedule against two frustratingly poor offenses. The Angels entered the year with an offense projected for the second-highest team TAv in baseball, and currently sit dead last in baseball. And while Oakland has been a solid middle-of-the-pack team thus far, they’ve been performing as a bottom-third unit for the past month.

CONSIDER

Wei-Yin Chen

HOU, TAM

Matt Shoemaker

SDG, DET

Clay Buchholz

@MIN, @TEX

Jesse Hahn

DET, NYY

Jesse Chavez

DET, NYY

Yordano Ventura

@NYY, @CHC

Nathan Eovaldi

KCR, @OAK

Adam Warren

KCR, @OAK

Jered Weaver

SDG, DET

Carlos Rodon

@TOR, @HOU

Joe Kelly

@MIN, @TEX

Notes:

I wrote up Chen at a little more length earlier this week, noting that while his metrics don’t point to a continued run at quite the same level of topline performance he has made legitimate changes in his approach to where at least some of his absurdly low .222 BABIP has been earned through extremely weak, often flyball contact. He’s also stealing more called strikes so far thanks to Caleb Joseph’s elite framing, and it’s helped him bump his strikeout rate up despite actually generating fewer whiffs in the early going. He’ll welcome two offenses that do their fair share of whiffing and flyball hitting this week, making it a nice set of matchups for him to do what he does effectively.

If you have a firm idea of what to do with Clay Buchholz right now you’re better at this than I am. By advance metrics like DRA and cFIP he both has pitched reasonably well and is projected to pitch like a top-ten starter in baseball going forward. By TRAA Buchholz has been the best right-hander in baseball at controlling the running game thus far, and he’s shown himself capable of games likes this a couple turns back against Seattle. Minnesota and Texas grade out as below-average and average offensive units, respectively, but both squads have been knocking the ball around a bit of late. I’d probably be inclined to run him with my fingers crossed in anything deeper than a 12-teamer, but the standard potential for catastrophe remains with Buchholz until further notice.

The back end of the Yankees rotation has the potential to be a glorious tire fire going forward, and these two are at the center of it. Eovaldi’s the better option, checking in at a robust 89th in cFIP, over Warren (122nd). The splitter that was going to revolutionize Eovaldi’s arsenal has been deployed just seven percent of the time thus far, and he’s lost more than four percentage points off his slider’s whiff rate in the early going. The strikeouts are up a bit above league average so far, but he’s given back those gains in the form of harder contact. For his part Warren has seen three percentage points melt off his own whiff rate, and his sub-15 percent whiff strikeout rate isn’t going to cut it for fantasy purposes. It’s a mixed bag in terms of matchups for these two, with a date at Oakland serving to tempt while the Royals swinging for the short porch looks less appetizing. In certain deep mixed and –only leagues, one of these guys might make sense, but I don’t really have confidence in either to reel off consecutive quality starts right now.

I really, truly give up with Weaver. His DRA’s hovering just south of 5.00 and he check in 110th in cFIP, yet he’s allowed four runs over 23 1/3 innings over his last three starts against three teams in the top 12 by TAv. You’re on your own figuring out what to do with him at home against one solid and one poor lineup.

Be careful this week, Carlos Rodon owners. This is a tricky slate of matchups for anybody, particularly a rookie hurler who’s shown significant control issues out of the gate. A trip to Rogers Centre might just be the worst-case scenario for a guy like Rodon, as the Jays’ lineup is awesome at home and really awesome against southpaws. They’ve collectively posted an .866 OPS against left-handed pitching thus far, meaning that Jose Bautista has been a roughly average hitter for them. The Astros present a much more manageable draw, but managers in weekly leagues are going to have a serious risk/reward equation to work through. When that kind of calculus involves an unproven rookie hurler I tend to err on the side of caution.

SIT

Drew Hutchison

CHW, @MIN

Chris Tillman

HOU, TAM

Shaun Marcum

TEX, @SEA

John Danks

@TOR, @HOU

Ricky Nolasco

BOS, TOR

Phil Kline

@CLE, BOS

Wandy Rodriguez

@CLE, BOS

Notes:

We’re not quite there with Drew Hutchison just yet. After showing some signs of being the guy everyone drafting him hoped he could be for a couple starts in a row Hutchison got knocked around a bit by the Angels in his last turn. His velocity has interestingly spiked this month as he’s altered his mechanics and arm slot a bit. But while the strikeouts are there (20 in his last three starts), they’re running in conflict with his whiff rate and something’s going to have to give there. The matchups aren’t terrible here, but given the depth of his early-season funk, I’d like to see another couple of good ones in a row before I’d be willing to commit multiple starts to him.