keyboard_arrow_uptop

On Fridays, we preview the hurlers scheduled for two starts in the upcoming week. Hopefully that gives enough insight to make educated lineup decisions 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 post 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 gets posted, we can go over it in the comments. We’ll crowdsource it as well, so if you hear anything, feel free to comment and we all can offer our takes, hot or not.

Here’s how this works. The pitchers will be 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 in the season, most of these recommendations are 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

Stephen Strasburg

@PIT, @ATL

It’s a little bleak this week for two-start pitchers, especially on the senior circuit. Strasburg has been relying on his secondary offerings more than he did a year ago, which has resulted in more ground balls. He’s not striking out as many guys as you might like, but I’m relying on him this week with two decent road matchups.

Start

Chad Kuhl

WAS, PHI

John Lackey

CIN, MIL

Brandon McCarthy

@SF, MIA

Luis Perdomo

MIL, ARI

Kuhl has given up 53 earned runs thus far in his career. Over half of those have come against the Cubs and Dodgers. He hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in a game to any other team. He isn’t pitching against the Cubs or Dodgers this week.

Lackey is a little Clint Eastwood-y. He started his career as a rough-and-tough hombre who you always could count on in big spots. He has since morphed into a version of himself that is a little less good, and tosses out the occasional hot take or conspiracy theory. Other than allowing eight homers in his 42 innings of work, Lackey remains roughly the same guy. Do you feel Lackey?

McCarthy is making his first start since going on the DL with roster manipulation a sore shoulder. He has been pretty good so far this season and is back to sitting around 94 mph with his fastball and sinker. Everything is solid across the board for the 33-year-old righty, and if he can manage to push his strikeout totals closer to his averages as a Dodger, he will be a strong option.

Perdomo gave up five earned runs in five innings in his first start of the season, including his lone home run. Since then, he hasn’t given up more than three runs in any outing, with a 68 (!) percent ground-ball rate that makes Dallas Keuchel look like Jered Weaver. He isn’t getting a ton of strikeouts, but that’s not the end of the world, with all of those grounders at about league-average exit velocity.

Consider

Chase Anderson

@SD, @CHC

Jerad Eickhoff

@TEX, @PIT

Kyle Freeland

@MIN, @CIN

Zack Godley

NYM, @SD

Jimmy Nelson

@SD, @CHC

Clayton Richard

MIL, ARI

Zack Wheeler

@ARI, LAA

Anderson has been pretty good, striking out nearly eight per nine innings en route to a 2.97 ERA. The problem is that he has a 4.8 percent HR/FB with no underlying reason to believe that it’s sustainable. He’s getting two decent matchups this week, depending if the wind is blowing out at Wrigley.

Freeland gets two starts not in Coors Field. That’s reason enough to consider a Rockies’ pitcher.

This is our first “Double Zack” edition of the Planner, so in honor of their namesake, Mr. Morris, I’d just like to say, “Time Out.”

*Looks directly into the camera*

Just follow me here: It might seem weird to consider Godley, but he’s an extreme ground-ball pitcher and he’s striking batters out at a career-high rate. He gets the Mets and Padres this week. It’s intriguing. OK. “Time in.

Richard isn’t great, but he throws a sinker that scares 92 mph two-thirds of the time from the left side, and the pitch has been yielding almost 63 percent ground balls. You could do worse than a ground-ball pitcher with two starts in Petco Park.

Wheeler has shown flashes this season to remind everyone of the ace-level promise he exhibited before Tommy John. He’s back up to touching 98 mph with his fastball, which is good. He’s also walking a few too many dudes, which is less good. Wheeler is trending in the right direction, however, after looking strong in his latest outings. That said, he pitches for the Mets so there’s a chance that both of his arms and legs could explode at any minute.

Sit

Bronson Arroyo

@CHC, COL

Matt Cain

LAD, @STL

Bartolo Colon

@TOR, WAS

Jaime Garcia

@TOR, WAS

Tom Koehler

HOU, @LAD

Dan Straily

HOU, @LAD

Arroyo is probably a nice guy, and all, but I don’t really want him anywhere near my fantasy rotation. The 85 mph fastball just doesn’t really inspire much confidence.

I remember when Matt Cain was an ace. It was a simpler time.

I don’t want to say anything bad about Big Bart. So I’ll just say this: Only start Colon if your league has a “sexiness” category.

Garcia hasn’t been good this year. He’s striking out fewer batters, he’s walking more, and he’s doing it with a .255 BABIP. He’s facing two teams this week that feast against lefties too. Not great, Bob.

Koehler has given up nine dingers in 35 1/3 innings, and has a DRA over 7.00. Straily has a 4.03 ERA despite a .196 BABIP. I’m staying away from the Marlins hurlers this week, especially since they’re matched against two explosive offenses.

American League

Auto-Start

Chris Archer

@CLE, NYY

Carlos Carrasco

TB, @HOU

Yu Darvish

PHI, @DET

These three are in the top 30 for starter DRA, with Archer and Carrasco both in the top seven. They’re all good. They get strikeouts. Start them.

Start

Marco Estrada

ATL, @BAL

Derek Holland

@LAA, @SEA

Sean Manaea

@SEA, BOS

CC Sabathia

@KC, @TB

Andrew Triggs

@SEA, BOS

When someone figures out how Estrada is good, please let me know. He’s riding the best swinging-strike rate of his career this season, and until he’s not awesome, you should treat him as such.

Guess who’s back. Back again. Holland’s back. Tell a friend. Guess who’s back. Guess who’s back. Guess who’s back. Guess who’s back.

OK, sorry. That might be a bit premature, but Holland is finding a way to work with diminished velocity and is producing his best results since 2014. This week he gets two mediocre offenses when it comes to facing lefties.

Manaea will get two starts this week, fresh off the most-recent injury scare for the southpaw. Despite a somewhat bloated ERA, he actually has pitched really well in limited action, holding opponents to one home run in 24 1/3 innings while carrying a 2.04 DRA and fanning more than a batter per inning. The offense in Boston is heating up, but getting them in a cavernous home park should help.

Admittedly, Sabathia is a matchup play, because he’s been pretty bad so far in 2017. He will square off in two pitcher’s parks against two of the worst offenses in the league against left-handed pitching, including the Rays, who strike out against lefties more than any other team in the league.

Outside of one blowup start against the Mariners (not coincidentally where he gave up his lone home run of the season), Triggs has surrendered four earned runs in 36 innings (for non-math people, that’s a 1.00 ERA). He’s doing it with moxie and guile (read: no idea), and his DRA, FIP, and cFIP numbers all point to this being somewhat sustainable despite low strikeout tallies. You definitely can pull the Triggs-er (I’m sorry) this week.

Consider

Matt Boyd

BAL, TEX

Jesse Chavez

CWS, @NYM

Yovani Gallardo

OAK, CWS

Wade Miley

@DET, TOR

Joe Musgrove

@MIA, CLE

Chavez has been the epitome of serviceable this season and, really, for his entire career. Everything he does is right around average. Sure, that’s not going to set the world ablaze, but it’s definitely useful—sometimes.

Look, somebody has to start these games. Starting Gallardo would make me feel just as uneasy as you, but he’s getting two “meh” offenses at Safeco this week. Consider starting and avert your eyes.

Who is this and what have they done with Wade Miley? This season, he is striking out almost 11 batters per nine with a 2.45 ERA. He’s also walking almost six per nine and is stranding almost 90 percent of his baserunners. As a famous science teacher-turned-meth kingpin would say, “tread lightly.”

Musgrove has the tools to be pretty good, he is just walking a few too many right now, and giving up way too many long balls. If he can find a way to keep the ball in the yard, he could be interesting this week.

Sit

Blue Jays Starter

ATL, @BAL

Chase De Jong

OAK, CWS

Jason Hammel

NYY, @MIN

Phil Hughes

COL, KC

Brian Johnson

@STL, @OAK

Mike Pelfrey

@LAA, @SEA

Before dominating the Indians this past weekend, Hammel had been pretty bad in the season’s infancy. After dominating the Indians, he got lit up by the Rays. So, some good starts followed by a few more bad starts. Sounds very Jason Hammel-y to me.

A couple of weeks ago we asked the age-old question, “Were in the middle of a Hughes renaissance?” I think we have the answer. No. No, we’re not.

Johnson isn’t Kyle Kendrick, but that doesn’t mean he’s reliable either.