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, 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.

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 of the season, many 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 actually perform, the formula will evolve into a performance-based projection.

National League

Auto-Start

Gerrit Cole

@ATL, NYM

Jon Lester

SF, @LAD

Cole has managed to navigate a rocky 2016 and has come out on the other side smelling like daisies. Large, sweaty daisies. The velocity and strikeouts have returned, as the 26-year-old is running his fastball up to 100 mph and is striking out almost a batter per inning.

The luster has faded a bit from guys like Lester, but he’s still really good. In the era of unpredictability, sometimes the reliable guy is king.

Start

Johnny Cueto

@CHC, ATL

Mike Foltynewicz

PIT, @SF

Zack Greinke

CWS, @MIL

Matt Harvey

SD, @PIT

Kyle Hendricks

SF, @LAD

Julio Teheran

PIT, @SF

Part of Foltynewicz’s success can be tied to a more aggressive use of his changeup, a pitch that is getting whiffs almost 30 percent of the time. This week he’s getting a suddenly star-deprived Pirates lineup and a start at AT&T Park.

Greinke is Greinke. He has been hit a little more than in previous seasons, but he’s also striking dudes out at a rate that he hasn’t touched since his days with Milwaukee. His walk rate has been 2015 Greinke good, and his 1.87 DRA also indicates that he has been better than his traditional numbers might suggest.

Things haven’t been, um, great in New York. Many think it might be over. But as a wise and chubby (and probably drunk) man once said, “Nothing is over until we decide it is! Was it over when the Germans bombed Pearl Harbor? Hell no!” Wait, where was I? Harvey has slowly been getting his pre-2016 fastball velocity back, and while he’s been giving up an ungodly number of homers, they have come in a whopping 24.4 percent of all fly balls (third worst in the league). That number should come back to Earth, potentially even this week as Harvey squares off against two lackluster offenses.

Consider

Jerad Eickhoff

COL, CIN

Zach Eflin

COL, CIN

Scott Feldman

CLE, @PHI

Amir Garrett

CLE, @PHI

German Marquez

@PHI, STL

Tanner Roark

SEA, SD

The likely culprit for Eickhoff’s slow start is a few extra walks in addition to a poorly located sinker, which has led to a career-worst ground-ball rate. He is still striking batters out, so if he can curtail the contact and get his BABIP down to previous career norms, he should be a strong option again.

Eflin was having a nice little year before a hiccup in Arlington. In his most successful outings, he has leaned on his slider and change a little more, which have yielded high ground-ball rates. That’s a nice skill to have, especially considering he is striking out fewer than five batters per nine innings.

Feldman hasn’t been terrible this year. Look, I’m as surprised as you are. He still isn’t striking many guys out, which never has been a strength of his, so it’s often a high-wire act when he’s on the mound.

Garrett is reemerging in the Reds’ rotation after a stint in Triple A to refine his skills (or, you know, manipulate his service time—you pick). He passed, making one start and striking out six in two innings. He was a little less good in his return to the big-league rotation against the Cubs, however.

To say that it has been a roller-coaster season thus far for Marquez would be a slight understatement. He’s getting two decent matchups this week, and judging by his track record, at least one of them is going to be a gem. May the odds be in your favor.

The sun rises in the east, taxes are due in April, Jose Bautista will irritate an opponent with his antics, and Roark will continue to be an extremely serviceable, if unspectacular, starter. These things I know.

Sit

Ty Blach

@CHC, ATL

Jhoulys Chacin

@NYM, @WAS

Patrick Corbin

CWS, @MIL

Matt Garza

TOR, ARI

Tyler Glasnow

@ATL, NYM

Lance Lynn

@LAD, @COL

Blach has 11 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings. He has made a handful of quality starts, but he will always need to be really good in order to make up for the paltry whiff totals.

In 2017, Chacin has a 0.67 ERA at Petco Park. That is very good. He has an 8.77 ERA on the road. That is less good. This week he will make two road starts.

Garza has been doing his best 2014 Matt Garza impression so far. The problem is that I still remember his 2015-2016 iterations. I’m still skeptical that this start is real.

Sometimes when you’re 6-foot-8, you struggle to keep everything moving the right direction. For pitchers, this wreaks havoc on your mechanics, which screws with your control, which inflates your walk totals, which increases the likelihood of grooving fastballs, which allows for more run-scoring opportunities, which causes high anxiety for numerous fantasy owners. This is where we’re at with Glasnow.

Despite a strong ERA, Lynn has struggled with the long ball. That’s not particularly reassuring when making a trip to Coors Field.

American League

Auto-Start

Carlos Carrasco

@CIN, KC

Dallas Keuchel

DET, BAL

After being removed early from his previous start with a pectoral issue, Carrasco again is tabbed for two starts this week. If health permits, I’d be confident rolling him out there.

Keuchel is getting ground balls at a higher rate (68 percent) than he did during his Cy Young season. He is very good.

Start

Danny Duffy

@NYY, @CLE

Michael Fulmer

@HOU, CWS

Lance McCullers, Jr.

DET, BAL

Michael Pineda

KC, OAK

Rick Porcello

TEX, SEA

Matt Shoemaker

@TB, @MIA

Duffy has been perfectly fine this season, and yet it’s still somewhat disappointing. His swinging strike rate is up, so I think the strikeouts are coming. I’m sticking with him this week although I’ll be holding my breath during his start at Yankee Stadium.

Fulmer was the 2016 AL Rookie of the Year without much fanfare. He has gotten better in 2017, again, without much fanfare. He is getting a few more strikeouts, is issuing fewer walks, and has a sparkling 1.75 DRA in his first eight starts.

It always has been about walks and health with McCullers. Well, he has slashed his walk rate in half and seems to have a clean bill of health so far (*knocks on all the wood*). He is also getting ground balls over 60 percent of the time and is still striking out nearly 10 batters per nine innings. If this holds up, dude will be scary.

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: Pineda is striking out over 10 batters per nine innings, his DRA is considerably better than his ERA, and he’s had a little trouble keeping the ball in the yard. Pineda is doing Pineda things.

Shoemaker started off a little slowly after returning from a devastating skull injury that ended his 2016 campaign. Totally justifiable. He has been rounding back into form recently, however, with two strong outings in a row. He’s getting two more great matchups this week, both coming in predominantly pitcher-friendly ballparks.

Consider

Alex Cobb

LAA, @MIN

Jordan Montgomery

KC, OAK

Jake Odorizzi

LAA, @MIN

Ervin Santana

@BAL, TB

Jason Vargas

@NYY, @CLE

J.C. Ramirez

@TB, @MIA

It has been a little over two full years since Cobb went under the knife for Tommy John surgery, and he is finally back to hitting 94 mph on the radar gun. The strikeouts are still M.I.A., but he has done a great job restricting baserunners via the free pass, and has given up only six dingers in 56 1/3 innings (which is impressive in this home run climate).

Odorizzi has been good at limiting hard contact, giving up three ticks of exit velocity less than league average. Even so, he’s currently running a .192 BABIP which is almost certainly going to regress somewhat. I’d lean toward starting him this week, especially with his matchups, but don’t be surprised if there’s a blowup or two down the line.

At 34 years old, Vargas is enjoying the best season of his career. He has been stingy with the free passes, and is striking out eight batters per nine innings with a career-high 12.2 percent swinging-strike rate. Oh, and he’s doing it with a fastball that sits at 86 mph. It’s unlikely he maintains an ERA under 3.00 the rest of the way, but it’s a cool story nonetheless.

Sit

Christian Bergman

@WAS, @BOS

Andrew Cashner

@BOS, @TOR

Dylan Covey

@ARI, DET

Miguel Gonzalez

@ARI, DET

Ubaldo Jimenez

MIN, @HOU

Josh Tomlin

@CIN, KC

Jordan Zimmermann

@HOU, CWS

Every week I advocate for sitting Cashner, and every week he pitches not terribly, just to spite me. Somehow, he has a 2.45 ERA despite a 21:19 BB:K ratio in 40 1/3 innings.

After a fast start out of the gate for Gonzalez, he has since yielded 18 earned runs in his past four starts. He’s getting two hot offenses this week in hitter-friendly parks. I’m nervous for him. Covey is also squaring off against said hot offenses, and he’s doing so without the early season success.

I don’t want any part of Tomlin pitching in a launching pad like Great American Ball Park.

Do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do, d’ do-do

Where have all the strikeouts gone? It’s almost as if Paula Cole was singing about Zimmerman. Wait…or was it cowboys? Never mind.

You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
GreenvilleGent
5/19
Isn't Rich Hill likely to pitch twice for LAD? Should be against Lynn (STL) and Lester (CHC). Sounds like a "consider" given that he'd be matching up against a "sit" and an "auto start."
markusbaa
5/19
It looks like the Dodgers are still doing their six man rotation thing with Hill, Kershaw, Ryu, Wood, Urias, and McCarthy. If that holds, Hill would throw Tuesday and then Monday, so he'd get two starts the following week. I'm starting Hill if I have him, knowing that he's susceptible to the blister-related short outing.
GreenvilleGent
5/19
Ah, okay. I haven't been following them closely enough to know they are working six. Thanks.
bhacking
5/19
I'll be happy if Hill again pitches twice this month.
markusbaa
5/19
It's frustrating, for sure. Especially because he's so good when he's out there.
BPKevin
5/19
Jose Urena (MIA) pitching twice vs Hahn in Oakland and Shoemaker (LAA) at home?
markusbaa
5/19
That rotation is looking a little chaotic right now. I read they were thinking about giving Phelps a start, which would push Urena back to Monday since they only have five games this week. If he does get those two starts, I'd strongly consider sliding him into the lineup, it would be two pretty strong matchups in good parks.
ceadie
5/21
Because of you I now know every word of Paul's Coles famous song. 🤡
markusbaa
5/22
Glad to help! Do-do, d’ do-do