keyboard_arrow_uptop

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.

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 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.

NATIONAL LEAGUE

AUTO-START

Jose Fernandez

WAS, @SF

Stephen Strasburg

@MIA, MIN

Noah Syndergaard

@PHI, @ATL

START

Chase Anderson

@MIN, PHI

Adam Conley

WAS, @SF

Jerad Eickhoff

NYM, @MIL

Jason Hammel

@STL, @CIN

Raisel Iglesias

COL, CHC

John Lackey

@STL, @CIN

Francisco Liriano

@SD, @ARI

Anderson hasn’t given up an earned run yet, despite facing a couple of excellent offenses in the Cardinals and Astros. The whiff rate on his already-nasty change is up and he’s added a cutter to his repertoire. As a fly ball pitcher in a pitcher’s park, some home runs are coming, but I’ll ride the hot streak in a pair of favorable matchups.

Conley pitched one messy inning in his season debut before getting washed out, and followed it up with a gem against the Mets on Wednesday, leaning heavily on a fastball up more than a tick over 2015’s version. The Giants have scored the most runs in the league and the Nationals’ lineup should be tough on southpaws, so the context isn’t great. I’ll stand by my preseason optimism on Conley until we have more to go on.

Like Conley, Eickhoff is another youngster following up an unexpectedly impressive rookie campaign with a hot start. Unlike Conley, Eickhoff’s 2.74 DRA last season validated his performance. Eickhoff’s two opponents next week are piling up strikeouts in the early going.

The two matchups aren’t great for the two Cubs, one because of the opponent, one because of the venue. Nevertheless, they find themselves in this group, in part because it’s an otherwise messy week for double dippers.

The amount of ink spilled on Iglesias this winter means you probably had to pay full freight for his 2016 services. Given the initial investment and early returns, there isn’t much reason to sit him, even though facing the Cubs in Cincinnati is a terrifying proposition.

Liriano’s placement here is tenuous. He was skipped this week with some discomfort in his right hamstring and is considered day-to-day. Ryan Vogelsong pitched in his stead and I assume will continue to do so if Liriano can’t go. The prospect of pitching in Petco would make Vogelsong a candidate for the next group if he takes both of Liriano’s turns.

CONSIDER

Mike Leake

CHC, @SD

Jake Peavy

ARI, MIA

Wily Peralta

@MIN, PHI

Robbie Ray

@SF, PIT

Tanner Roark

@MIA, MIN

Matt Wisler

LAD, NYM

Alex Wood

@ATL, @COL

Remember when I said it was a messy week for two-start pitchers? This is what I meant. If I’m being honest, I’d have a hard time starting any of these guys above any halfway decent singleton unless I was absolutely desperate for innings volume. It’s difficult to imagine being in that position in mid-April. This is Wily Peralta’s last chance. If he can’t make good on these matchups, he’ll be a fixture in the Sit section for as long as he can hold a rotation spot.

SIT

Matt Cain

ARI, MIA

Rubby De La Rosa

@SF, PIT

Jordan Lyles

@CIN, LAD

Colin Rea

PIT, STL

Alfredo Simon

COL, CHC

You could make an argument for Colin Rea to be in the above group on skills, but I’ll pass this week given the opponents, even at Petco. He’s another guy whose velocity has bumped up a little bit compared to last season. If that holds, Rea’s numbers should eventually improve and he could make for a nice buy low on the heels of what looks like a tough week.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START

Carlos Carrasco

SEA, @DET

START

Wade Miley

@CLE, @LAA

Michael Pineda

OAK, TB

Carlos Rodon

LAA, TEX

Ervin Santana

MIL, @WAS

Marcus Stroman

@BAL, OAK

Yordano Ventura

DET, BAL

Miley might be a surprise here but he doesn’t have to face the Rangers—who blew him up to the tune of 11 earned runs in 12 innings in his first two starts—next week. If you’re willing to look past the run prevention numbers and chalk up some of the poor performance to a .429 BABIP to date, you might notice he has 12 strikeouts against no walks. Both of the offenses he’ll face next week are off to slow starts.

Pineda and Rodon were both included in last week’s planner and subsequently bumped by a rainout over the weekend. I was hesitant to recommend Pineda as a Start because he was slated to pitch in Toronto. Turns out he handled that assignment as well as you could hope for, and now draws a far more favorable couplet for his two-start week. Rodon has the skills to ascend to auto-start status if he can get the walks under control. He issued five free passes in six innings against a Minnesota lineup that he should have been daring to swing. He’s shifted to a sinker-heavy approach so far in 2016, throwing his lethal slider less often. A spike in groundball rate at the expense of a few strikeouts might make him a little less fun to watch but could do wonders for his ERA, especially as he continues to struggle to throw strikes.

Ervin Santana: league-average starting pitcher.

I love Stroman but we might just have gotten ahead ourselves here. For all the talent, the strikeouts just aren’t there right now. His ratios will be solid and he’s a prime target for win chasers, but there’s a limit on the fantasy ceiling until his swinging strike rate improves.

Ventura picked up where he left off in 2015 with regard to strikeouts. Meanwhile, he’s struggled to harness his electric stuff, adding nine walks to his 12 strikeouts. That he’s managed to keep the whiffs up without throwing as many deuces as he did down the stretch last year is probably a good thing for his long-term health. I’ll trust the talent even though the matchups aren’t ideal this week.

CONSIDER

Clay Buchholz

TOR, @HOU

Shane Greene

@KC, CLE

J.A. Happ

@BOS, OAK

Phil Hughes

MIL, @WAS

Mat Latos

LAA, TEX

Hector Santiago

@CHW, SEA

Matt Shoemaker

@CHW, SEA

Drew Smyly

@BOS, @NYY

Unlike this week’s Consider group in the senior circuit, the American League collection has some intriguing options. Buchholz isn’t one of them. Greene’s velocity was reportedly up in the spring and Pitchf/X data from his first start backs up those reports. Recall that he struck out more than a batter per inning in his 2013 debut. Hughes has a ways to go to earn back the trust that he lost in 2015. Do we dock him for giving up a homer in each of his first two starts or celebrate that it was just the one in each? Speaking of bouncing back from a miserable 2015, how about Mat Latos’ first two turns? He’s allowed only one earned run in his first dozen frames. I’m not sure what to make of either of the Angels. Shoemaker is a roller coaster I’m not quite willing to board and Santiago’s fantasy-relevant statistics continue to defy the underlying performance. Smyly is head and shoulders above the rest of this crew on talent. I’ll skip him this week in road draws against two difficult divisional opponents.

SIT

Scott Feldman

@TEX, BOS

Kendall Graveman

@NYY, @TOR

A.J. Griffin

HOU, @CHW

Ubaldo Jimenez

TOR, @KC

Joe Kelly

TB, @HOU

It only took two starts for us to see both the good Ubaldo and the bad Ubaldo. I’ll bet on seeing more of the latter against the Jays and Royals.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
kristopherjhoff
4/15
Is Jimmy Nelson going to get 2 starts this week?
jarretthaines
4/16
Iglesias looked fine against the Cubs a few days ago. I'll roll the dice on the double start.
buzzspice
4/17
It's week 3