keyboard_arrow_uptop

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

Five NL teams will roll out a six-man rotation this week. The Cubs, Brewers, and Pirates will deploy their six starters across six games, giving them no two-start starters. The Rockies and the Padres have seven games this week to distribute among their six starters, giving them a single two-start starter for the week.

AUTO-START

Clayton Kershaw

SF

COL

Rich Hill

SF

COL

Jose Fernandez

WAS

ATL

Noah Syndergaard

ATL

PHI

Madison Bumgarner

@LAD

@SD

Johnny Cueto

@LAD

@SD

In stark contrast to last week, it’s a banner week for big-name starters in the NL. Clayton Kershaw, Rich Hill, and Jose Fernandez are always auto-starts as long as they’re actually able to make their starts. Noah Syndergaard gets the added bonus of facing two of the worst offenses in baseball. Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto get finish the week with favorable matchups in pitcher-friendly San Diego against the Padres.

START

Julio Teheran

@NYM

@MIA

Robert Gsellman

ATL

PHI

The depth in the Auto-Start category this week leaves the Start category a little thinner than usual. Julio Teheran has both of his starts on the road in pitcher-friendly parks against injury-ravaged lineups. Like his teammate Noah Syndergaard, Robert Gsellman has two starts that are about as favorable as can be.

CONSIDER

Aaron Blair

@NYM

@MIA

Dan Straily

@CHC

@MIL

Jake Esch

WAS

ATL

Carlos Martinez

@COL

@CHC

A.J. Cole

@MIA

@PIT

Aaron Blair would normally appear in the Sit category, but both of his matchups this week are in pitcher-friendly parks against injury-weakened lineups. Dan Straily’s 3.81 ERA and 1.18 WHIP would usually earn him a spot in the Start category, but he has two rough starts this week, one against the beastly Cubs and one against the homer-happy Brewers in their homer-friendly park. Jake Esch is pretty close to the border between the Consider category and the Sit category, but his start against the Braves pushes him into the Consider category. Carlos Martinez usually appears in the Start category and can even reach the Auto-Start category with a good matchup or two, but he has two of the worst matchups possible this week, one in Colorado and one on the north side of Chicago. A.J. Cole would have ended up in the Sit category with more neutral matchups, but his two favorable starts on the road in pitcher-friendly parks against the Marlins and the Pirates pushed him up into the Consider category.

SIT

Rubby De La Rosa

@SD

@BAL

Tyler Anderson

STL

@LAD

Jake Thompson

CHW

@NYM

Paul Clemens

AZ

SF

Rubby De La Rosa hasn’t been terrible this year and his start on the road against the Padres is appealing, but his road start against the Orioles is scary. Tyler Anderson hasn’t been bad this year, either, but he draws the Cardinals at Coors Field followed by a road start against the surging Dodgers. Since his promotion, Jake Thompson hasn’t been hasn’t been striking anyone out (6.0 K/9, 1.6 HR/9) but he has been putting them on base (4.4 BB/9, 1.48 WHIP). Paul Clemens has struggled to the tune of a 4.94 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP in the majors this year, but he did throw five shutout innings in his last start against the Giants, for what it’s worth.

AMERICAN LEAGUE

The AL has three teams using six-man rotations this week. The Tigers, Athletics, and Rays each have six games this week for their six starters, which means that they don’t have any starters making two starts this week.

AUTO-START

Rick Porcello

@BAL

@TB

His matchup against the Orioles is a little scary, but Rick Porcello’s numbers this season make him an Auto-Start, and his road start in pitcher-friendly Tampa balances out some of the risk posed by the start in Baltimore.

START

Brad Peacock

@OAK

ANA

Joe Musgrove

@OAK

ANA

Yordano Ventura

CHW

@DET

Martin Perez

ANA

@OAK

Brad Peacock usually occupies the Consider category while Joe Musgrove can appear in the Start category or the Consider category depending on his matchups. This week, they both have great matchups, one on the road in pitcher-friendly Oakland and one against the Angels. Yordano Ventura just keeps on doing his thing, with his ERA, WHIP, and strikeout totals never quite matching his fastball velocity. Martin Perez usually sits on the cusp between the Consider category and the Sit category, so an appearance in the Start category is a rarity. Like Peacock and Musgrove, though, he has starts against the light-hitting Angels and A’s, with the start against the A’s held in pitcher-friendly Oakland.

CONSIDER

Dylan Bundy

BOS

AZ

Kevin Gausman

BOS

AZ

Eduardo Rodriguez

@BAL

@TB

Carlos Rodon

@KC

@CLE

Josh Tomlin

KC

CHW

Edinson Volquez

@CLE

@DET

Michael Pineda

@TB

@TOR

Taijuan Walker

TOR

@MIN

Marco Estrada

@SEA

NYY

Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman could both appear in the Start category most weeks, but their matchups against the high-scoring Red Sox and the Diamondbacks demote them to the Consider category. Eduardo Rodriguez has a tough matchup against the Orioles in Baltimore followed by an attractive start against the Rays in Tampa. Carlos Rodon has been good recently, although he still allows too many hits and issues to many walks to hold down a regular spot in the Start category. Josh Tomlin doesn’t walk many batters, but he allows too many hits and doesn’t strike out enough batters. After two good seasons in Pittsburgh and Kansas City, Edinson Volquez has reverted to his pre-Ray Searage ways, allowing lots of baserunners and lots of runs. Michael Pineda has a good start on the road against the Rays followed by a bad one on the road in hitter-friendly Toronto. Taijuan Walker has an unfavorable start against the Blue Jays followed by an appealing start against the Twins in Minnesota. Marco Estrada had a 2.93 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP before the All Start break but has a 5.47 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP in the second half.

SIT

Jhoulys Chacin

@TEX

@HOU

Daniel Wright

@TEX

@HOU

Tyler Duffey

DET

SEA

Jhoulys Chacin and Daniel Wright are proof of how thin the Angels rotation options are. Tyler Duffey has a 6.39 ERA and a 1.52 WHIP this season—enough said.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
BPKevin
9/16
I read that Cole might lose two start status due to Ross returning this weekend....thoughts?
bugthecat
9/16
It's possible. There hasn't been anything definitive news one way or the other so far. Most sites are still listing Cole as a two-start starter next week and aren't listing Ross as a projected starter for any games next week, so I'd say there's maybe a 75 percent chance Cole makes two starts next week. It's a fluid situation, though, so keep your eyes peeled.
BPKevin
9/16
Thank you...2 weeks left and every IP, K and Win counts in tight categories. I've got Tyler Skaggs and possibly David Phelps to drop, and among the best choices remaining for 2 starts are AJ Cole, Josh Tomlin and Brad Peacock...I guess I should get Peacock despite facing ANA in HOU and Alex Bregman possibly out for the year.
rgmoore68
9/16
I question you benching Tyler Anderson. He's generally excellent at home, and the Dodgers are horrible v. lefties.
bugthecat
9/16
Question away. I don't like most starters in Coors, especially ones with mid-rotation profiles. A lot of Anderson's success at home relative to the road is due his 0.9 HR/9 in Coors compared to his 1.2 HR/9 on the road. It seems unlikely that, in the long run, any pitcher can have a significantly lower HR/9 at Coors than they do everywhere else. I also don't like that fact that in both starts, he's facing a better starter (Carlos Martinez for the Cardinals, Rich Hill for the Dodgers) and a better team than his team. That said, in a single game, anything can happen. Maybe Anderson really will be hat rare individual who posts a better pitching line in Coors than he does everywhere else in the long run. I just don't want to bet on that based on 101 innings. If you like Anderson this week, by all means, pick him up and start him.
siteanalytics
9/17
Scooter, Taijuan Walker had an excellent game his last time out. Some attribute it to finally buying into the mechanical improvements suggested by his pitching coach, such as a higher leg kick. If true, that would imply he could do markedly better next week than he has for most of '16. You rate him a Consider. Do you buy the "improved mechanics" argument, or was that just one of those random good games which any pitcher can achieve on any given day? How much of that "improved mechanics" line of thinking was baked into the Consider recommendation (vs otherwise would have been a Sit)? Thanks.
bugthecat
9/18
It takes more than a game or two for me to think that a mechanical change is significant enough to consider. With a sample size that small, it's impossible to unpack whether a change in performance is attributable to a mechanical change or just variance.
Nacho999
9/18
I don't have much of a choice, but to leave Walker active unless I want to lose him for next season, but I'm with Mr Hotz...Let's see him excel against a real lineup...I watched that Anaheim game and it looked like his motion was intentionally slowed down...He didn't look free and easy to me at all...Toronto is going to be a tough matchup for him...Although Donaldson is playing hurt and Bautista has been stinking it up all year...Still, I'll be surprised if he wins that game...He's got 6 freaking wins all year!...He and Michael Pineda (6 wins as well) are maddening to own...I own Gausman and Santana too, but at least they are pitching their butts off in non-decisions...Bottom line?...If you are desperate for wins and believe in Walker's future you have to start him, but if you can bench him without losing him, I'd do that...He's probably going to wind up opposite J.A. Happ or Sanchez and lose one way or the other anyway...Just my frustrated two cents...
sonsofslam
9/17
Do you think Wei Yin Chen will get a double start. He's showing a Monday start on rosterresource.com. Looks like they have seven games next week.
bugthecat
9/18
It does look like Chen will get two starts next week. When this article was published, Chen's return from the DL was uncertain. Now it looks like the Marlins have decided that Chen is ready to return on Monday. That means Jake Esch, listed in the Consider category above, won't get any starts this week, and Chen will get two home starts against the Nationals and the Braves. I'd put Chen in the Consider category because it's unclear how deep into each game he'll be able to go and because his injury could recur.
ramtax
9/19
I can sit Porcello for the Orioles and put him back in for TB. Is the Baltimore start scary enough for such measures?
bugthecat
9/19
At this point in the season, it depends on where you are in your categories. If your in a tight race with your rate stats but don't have much ground to gain or lose in counting stats (W,K), then skip the Baltimore starts. If you're locked into your spots in the standings with regards to your rate stats but could move up or down in your counting stats, then start him in Baltimore. It's all about the specific gain/loss proposition in specific categories in September.