keyboard_arrow_uptop

Every Friday we preview the hurlers scheduled for two starts in the upcoming week. Hopefully that will give 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 crowdsource this as well, so if you hear anything, feel free to comment and we all can offer our takes, hot or not.

The pitchers are 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.

National League

Auto-Start

Jon Lester

PHI, NYY

Noah Syndergaard*

@ATL, MIA

Lester hasn’t been as Lester-y as usual so far this season, but he’s one of your studs and this week he’s getting home starts against two lineups that are mediocre against lefties.

You dare threaten Thor with such a puny weapon? OK, fine. Neither of these teams are terrible offensively, but I really wanted to work that Thor quote in, so cut me some slack. *Yes, this one obviously comes with a huge caveat. Syndergaard was scratched from his start Thursday and was likely headed for an MRI. As of filing, he’s still penciled in for two starts next week, but check before setting your lineup. If he doesn’t go, Matt Harvey would likely be in the “Consider” category. If he doesn’t go, Rafael Montero would be in the “Sit” category. If he doesn’t go, Tim Tebow would be in the…nevermind.

Start

Gerrit Cole

@CIN, MIL

Johnny Cueto

@LAD, @CIN

Carlos Martinez

MIL, @ATL

Tanner Roark

ARI, @PHI

Julio Teheran

NYM, STL

Don’t look now, but vintage Cole might be back. He’s up two ticks from this time a year ago and has scaled back the walks while maintaining solid strikeout levels. He will face two sneaky powerful lineups this week, so if Cole can limit the home run, you should be home free.

Cueto has gotten off to a slow start. His walks are up, his strikeouts are down, and he has given up too many homers. He still makes it into this category because his swinging strike rate is actually pretty good, and he has been able to figure it out before.

It has been a year of extremes so far for Martinez. His walk totals look bloated, but an anomalous eight walk outing in the Bronx is mostly to blame. He has 31 strikeouts in 22 2/3 innings and a 1.29 DRA. The WHIP might never be where you want it, but Martinez is a star.

Six innings, five strikeouts, two runs, and one walk. That’s pretty much every Roark stat line. Mark it down.

We said it before and we’ll say it again: Teheran isn’t facing Bryce Harper this week. Start him with confidence.

Consider

Trevor Cahill

COL, LAD

Wei-Yin Chen

TB, @NYM

Zach Davies

@STL, @PIT

Robert Gsellman

@ATL, MIA

Jeremy Hellickson

@CHC, WAS

Edinson Volquez

TB, @NYM

Adam Wainwright

MIL, @ATL

So we’ve had a little fun at the expense of the Padres’ pitchers. I’ll be the first to admit when I’m wrong because there’s definitely something interesting going on with Cahill. He still walks a few more than you’d prefer, but he has 25 swinging strikes in his past two starts and still induces grounders at an elite level. I’m intrigued.

Why can’t I quit Chen? It’s just me? I’m the only one still considering him? OK, fine.

Davies won our nerdy little hearts last season thanks to his awesome CSAA numbers. It hasn’t gone super well for him so far this season, but he held the Reds scoreless in his last start while striking out six. He will get two decent matchups in pitcher-friendly environments this week.

Sit

Brett Anderson

PHI, NYY

Tyler Chatwood

@SD, ARI

Rookie Davis

PIT, SF

R.A. Dickey

NYM, STL

Scott Feldman

PIT, SF

Tyler Glasnow

@CIN, MIL

Mystery D-back Starter

@WAS, @COL

Wily Peralta

@STL, @PIT

Vincent Velasquez

@CHC, WAS

Chatwood has a career 5.10 ERA at Coors Field, and a 3.20 ERA on the road. He will make one start at home and one start on the road (against the Padres) this week. You know what to do.

We’ll always have 2012, Mr. Dickey.

Surprisingly, Feldman has been pretty OK this season. Great American Ball Park is a launching pad, though, so while you’re getting him at home, you’d probably be better off with Feldman (from across the hall).

Even when it’s going good for Glasnow, he still throws too many pitches and has a hard time getting deep into games.

When a mystery tag-team partner is announced, there’s a pretty good chance that it will turn out to be someone exciting. I’m much less optimistic about the yet-to-be-named Diamondbacks starter who will get two turns this week.

American League

Auto-Start

Corey Kluber

@DET, @KC

Chris Sale

BAL, @MIN

Justin Verlander

CLE, @OAK

Kluber has struggled a bit with the long ball, giving up five dingers in his first 27 1/3 innings. His 16.7 percent HR/FB rate is a little inflated from his typical career rate, so there’s a great chance he rights that wrong.

Imagine how good Sale will be once he settles into his new digs.

Verlander has given up a few too many walks thus far this season, but his 6.04 ERA can partially be attributed to bad luck. He’s still striking out about a batter per inning, and his 2.50 DRA points to a brighter future.

Start

Dylan Bundy

@BOS, CWS

Danny Duffy

CWS, CLE

Marco Estrada

@NYY, @TB

Cole Hamels

@HOU, @SEA

Lance McCullers, Jr.

TEX, @LAA

James Paxton

LAA, TEX

Rick Porcello

BAL, @MIN

Jose Quintana

@KC, @BAL

Luis Severino

TOR, @CHC

Matt Shoemaker

@SEA, HOU

Only two Tim Beckham homers (wait, what?) kept Bundy from extending his 15-inning scoreless streak. The 24-year-old has been especially impressive this season, dusting off his slider (or cutter, depending on whom you ask) and throwing it more frequently, and getting outstanding results.

Aside from one blowup outing on the South Side, Duffy has been really good. Despite his velocity being down, he is inducing more ground balls via slider and sinker, producing a bit more efficient outings.

Estrada has a 6.35 DRA and a 2.70 ERA. For a mere mortal, this would be an ominous sign. For Estrada, it’s business as usual.

I’m far from worried about Hamels, but it sure would be nice if he struck out a few more guys. The Mariners and Astros rank 27th and 29th, respectively, in team strikeout rate. So starting next week, let’s get a few more strikeouts, huh?

After another gem, Paxton might not be long for this category. The lefty induced another 17 whiffs against the Tigers in his previous outing, lowering his ERA to a paltry 1.39. He’s striking out dudes left and right, and is walking fewer than two per nine innings. Big Maple is really good.

Both Porcello and Quintana have gotten off to bumpy starts, but both also have rebounded nicely in recent starts. I’m still not worried.

While Severino is still predominantly throwing only two different pitches, he has started to work a changeup into the mix more, especially against lefties. The more-advanced arsenal has helped the 23-year-old maintain a 1.16 DRA in 27 innings, with a 33:4 strikeout to walk ratio. Sure, it’s early and he’s shown flashes in the past, but his ability to limit walks should bode well for his development.

Consider

Alex Cobb

@MIA, TOR

Sean Manaea

@MIN, DET

Wade Miley

@BOS, CWS

Daniel Norris

CLE, @OAK

Jake Odorizzi

@MIA, TOR

Hector Santiago

OAK, BOS

The Rays have two pretty strong matchups this week, so their hurlers find their way into this category despite Odorizzi being fresh off the DL and Cobb still not looking great post-Tommy John surgery.

I waxed poetic about how good Manaea has looked so far this season, and then he left his previous start after feeling a sharp pain in his shoulder (which had led to a significant drop in velocity). Control+X. Pitchers, man. I like the matchups this week, but I don’t like the health.

Miley has been kind of good so far this season. He has 32 strikeouts in his first 26 innings en route to a shiny 2.08 ERA. Even so, he’s still Wade Miley, so history makes it tough to buy all of the way in. In addition, if the O’s decide that they want to continue the Tough, Gritty, Manliness Contest this week in Boston, Miley’s chances for a quality start could be impeded by an early beanball.

Santiago’s 2017 has been a house of cards. He has produced a pristine 2.19 ERA, which is great. However he is running a strand rate nearing 90 percent and batters are hitting .247 on balls in play. Enjoy the ride, and hopefully you hop off before the wheels explode.

Sit

Trevor Bauer

@DET, @KC

Andrew Cashner

@HOU, @SEA

Dylan Covey

@KC, @BAL

Mike Fiers

TEX, @LAA

Nate Karns

CWS, CLE

From Bauer, I expect strikeouts. However I also expect a lot of pitches, a lot of walks and a handful of homers.

Cashner is averaging nearly eight walks per nine innings, is striking out fewer than five, and has a 7.61 DRA. Somehow he has a 2.93 ERA. It’s the calm before the storm.

Getting two starts in the pitcher-friendly Kauffman Stadium is nice, but not nice enough to start Karns, who has surrendered five home runs in 17 innings.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
markusbaa
4/28
So it looks like the Mets have officially shuffled their schedule around and Syndergaard is slated to pitch Sunday(!) after the injury scare. Harvey is getting two starts in his place. I'd "Consider" him this week. I'm a little concerned that the velocity is ticking down and he's just not getting as many strikeouts as vintage Harvey.
mattstupp
4/28
Thoughts on Brandon McCarthy?
markusbaa
4/28
It has always been about health for McCarthy, right? I'm buying this start. His velocity is up and it looks like he's finally getting his command back post-TJ surgery. I like him.
bigbart
4/28
Isn't Taijuan Walker set for 2 next week? @WAS and @COL? Looks like a sit to me... Thoughts?
markusbaa
4/28
Yeah, it looks like they shuffled some things around to get two for Walker. I like him more than, say Zach Godley, but wouldn't start him with confidence until he's a bit more consistent.
jfranco77
4/28
Big Maple is a great nickname.
markusbaa
4/28
George Bissell alerted me to it, I guess that's what Servais calls him. I couldn't agree more. It's incredible.
ramtax
4/28
markusbaa
4/28
I kind of like Alex Wood, but I don't know if he stays in the rotation when Rich Hill comes back. As for Montgomery, I think he's fine, but he's probably a #4 or so starter, which is useful, but I'm probably not moving mountains to get him.
MikePemulis
4/28
In re Trevor Cahill - Not only is he missing bats (.64 contact_rt) and inducing GBs at a fantastic rate (3rd best min 24 IP) but he's also allowing very few line drives (16.39% - 5th lowest). His line looks very similar to Dallas Keuchel's except he's inducing more than double the pop-ups and while Keuchel has an untenable .188 babip to date, Cahill's is sitting at .322 which is the second highest among starters with a sub 20% LD rate trailing only his teammate, Clayton Richard (who also has a 60%+ worm burner rate). The Padres are in the middle tier on most defensive metrics so it's not as if he's being punished by a miserable defense behind him. It's also not as if the league hasn't seen him plenty before so the swinging strike rate and contact rates might be legit improvements. PECOTA has his 90th percentile at a 3.35 DRA with the help of a .258 babip and he's currently carrying a 2.51 DRA with unlucky defense behind him. I'm doubling down.
markusbaa
4/28
I've made fun of the Padres' pitching staff a lot, but I'm starting to believe in Cahill. He's been good before, too, so it's not like this is completely out of nowhere. I don't know if any of their starters can keep this up, but they're definitely more interesting than I gave them credit for early.
itblumenfeld
4/29
I see that Ryu seems to be listed as the Dodger probable for Sunday. Does that Kershaw is moved to Monday and gets 2? I know what to do with him, obviously.
markusbaa
4/29
I hadn't seen that yet. You're right, it looks like Kershaw is getting two next week, one at San Diego. Giddyup.