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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

Steven Matz is coming back from a brief DL stint and is scheduled to start twice this coming week, one time each against the other two playoff contenders in their division.

AUTO-START

Jake Arrieta

PIT

SF

Jose Fernandez

@NYM

@CLE

Johnny Cueto

AZ

@CHC

Not much to say about these guys. They’re good. Start them.

START

Rich Hill

@COL

SD

Julio Teheran

SD

@PHI

Dan Straily

@ANA

STL

Jon Gray

LAD

AZ

Jacob deGrom

MIA

WAS

Carlos Martinez

@MIL

@CIN

Tanner Roark

@PHI

@NYM

If he wasn’t making one of his starts in Colorado, I would have put Rich Hill in the Auto-Start group. Julio Teheran hasn’t been great recently, but he has two favorable matchups this week against the Padres and the Phillies. Carlos Martinez has two starts on the road in homer-friendly parks, but both lineups are fairly strikeout-prone, giving him more downside and more upside than he’d have in a normal two-start week.

CONSIDER

Tom Koehler

@NYM

@CLE

Steven Matz

MIA

WAS

Gerrit Cole

@CHC

MIL

Steven Matz and Gerrit Cole are used to being in the Start category. Steven Matz is returning from the DL after spending the minimum amout of time there resting his shoulder. He has two home games, one against the Stanton-free Marlins and one against the potentially scary Nationals. Gerrit Cole hasn’t quite been himself this year, and he’s been even further from his usual self over his last few starts. Plus, this week, one of his two starts is a road game against the juggernaut on the north side of Chicago.

SIT

Zach Davies

STL

@PIT

Jake Thompson

WAS

ATL

This might be Jake Thompson’s last start for the Phillies for a while. The only thing keeping him in contention for a rotation spot is a lack of viable alternatives.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

AUTO-START

Rick Porcello

TB

@OAK

Trevor Bauer

MIN

MIA

I’m as surprised as you are to see these two by themselves in the auto-start category. Rick Porcello has been very good recently, already has seventeen wins thanks to the offense behind him, and has two favorable matchups this week against Tampa at home and against Oakland on the road. Trevor Bauer still has a walk rate that’s a tick or two higher than I’d like, but one of his two starts is against the hapless Twins and the other is against the Marlins, a team missing its biggest bat.

START

Matt Shoemaker

CIN

@SEA

Matt Boyd

CHW

KC

Joe Musgrove

OAK

@TEX

Hisashi Iwakuma

@TEX

ANA

James Paxton

@TEX

ANA

James Paxton recently returned from two weeks on the DL due to elbow discomfort. It’ll be interesting to see if the significant velocity spike we saw from Paxton earlier this year survived his stint on the shelf. Matt Boyd has been on a bit of a roll recently, although his high home run rate makes him a blowup risk.

CONSIDER

CC Sabathia

@KC

@BAL

Sean Manaea

@HOU

BOS

Jake Odorizzi

@BOS

TOR

Jake Odorizzi has been performing well of late and would have been in the Start category if it wasn’t for the two brutal matchups he has this week. CC Sabathia has been great recently, racking up 26 strikeouts over his last three starts, although he did allow 11 runs over those three games thanks to a disastrous seven-run outing against the Blue Jays.

SIT

Dillon Gee

NYY

DET

Wade Miley

TOR

NYY

James Shields

@DET

@MIN

Anthony Ranaudo

@DET

@MIN

Andrew Albers

@CLE

CWS

Not much to say about these guys except stay away. If there was a lower category than this one, I’d put James Shields in it.

Thank you for reading

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seansmallman
8/26
I believe Darvish goes twice this week as well.
bugthecat
8/26
You're right, he is scheduled to go twice this coming week. The Rangers had a lot of TBDs on their schedule yesterday. I'd put Darvish in the Start category, right on the cusp of the Auto-Start category.
ErickBlasco
8/26
Maybe make an auto-sit category just for Shields?
lfkjr1
8/26
Would think Hendricks get two starts as well (Tue & Sun).
bugthecat
8/28
Doesn't look like that is going to happen. It looks like the Cubs' week will shape up like this:

Monday: Arrieta
Tuesday: Hendricks
Wednesday: Montgomery
Thursday: Hammel
Friday: Lester
Saturday: Lackey
Sunday: Arrieta

That could change, of course, but right now, it seems like this is the schedule the Cubs are going to use next week.
JohnnyFive
8/26
I'm curious as to your suggestion with Musgrove. What signs has he given in his recent performance that warrants even a "start" rating over a "consider"?

I say this as somebody who recently jettisoned him from my squad in favor of Robbie Ray.
bugthecat
8/28
I'm basing that rating on his performance over the course of the full year rather than his admittedly worse performance over the last two games. If you constantly change your rankings, rating, and evaluations of pitchers based on one or two starts, you'll drive yourself nuts and probably do more harm than good. The one exception is if there's obviously something physically wrong in those 1-2 starts, like a 3-5 MPH dip in average four-seam velocity.
Gillogly
8/27
Where are all the explanations on each pitcher listed. I miss that.
bugthecat
8/28
Did Greg Wellemeyer do that? I read a few of his recent ones and it didn't seem like he did. I tried to provide explanations for all of the pitchers I thought were interesting, pitchers on the cusp between different categories, or pitchers with recent changes i their performance.
kvamlnk
8/28
I think he offered some thoughts about each "Consider" SP. The other sections would only mention interesting pitchers.
itblumenfeld
8/28
Is Estrada not on the list. He is slated to start Monday for Toronto. He's been bad recently and the Orioles matchup probably makes him a weak "consider?"
bugthecat
8/28
The Blue Jays are using a six-man rotation this week. It looks like they'll go with this sequence:

Monday: Estrada
Tuesday: Happ
Wednesday: Sanchez
Thursday: off
Friday: Liriano
Saturday: Stroman
Sunday: Dickey
bugthecat
8/28
So, Toronto won't have anyone starting twice this week unless they reshuffle their rotation.
lkirbo35
8/29
Is Rich Hill going twice? CBS and MLB both show him Pitching Tuesday which would put him on pace for one start? Or do we know they'll pitch him on normal rest on Sunday and skip someone else's start?
bugthecat
8/29
It looks like the Dodgers are leaning towards starting Hill on normal rest on Sunday, making it a two start week. It's not definite, though, especially considering that Hill's injury history. I'd guesstimate that there's a 75% chance Hill will get a second start this coming Sunday against the Padres.