It's time to preview the hurlers scheduled for two starts in the upcoming week. As the old wrestling promoters would always say: “Card Subject to Change,” because injuries and tinkering managers can make this less than a science. Should new information present itself, we can go over it in the comments.

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 and their opponents perform, the formula will evolve into a performance-based projection. For more information on some key terms—Auto-Start, Start, Consider and Sit—click here.

National League


Clayton Kershaw


Jon Lester


It’s Kershaw. You know what to do.

The only basic difference between 2016 Lester and 2017 Lester is that the Cubs defense isn’t suppressing opponents’ BABIP at a historic level. He’s walking a few more guys, sure, but he’s also running his best strikeout rate since 2010. This week, the matchups are about as good as you could ask for.


Gerrit Cole


Johnny Cueto


Zack Greinke


Mike Leake


Tanner Roark


Outside of two disastrous starts to kick off June, Cole has been exceedingly solid. The uptick in home runs is somewhat troubling, but the surge has not coincided with more fly balls, and is likely buoyed by a 17.9 percent HR/FB rate that would be a career high by nearly 10 percentage points.

Much like Lawrence of Arabia, it’s fair to say Greinke has figured out the desert. After a bumpy first year for the Diamondbacks, the ace has rebounded nicely with nearly 11 strikeouts per nine innings. He is walking fewer than two batters per nine and has a 2.07 DRA. Only a start in Coors Field keeps him from the “Auto-Start” category.

Leake doesn’t lead the National League in ERA anymore (stupid Kershaw, ruining everything), but the right-hander has still been great early in the season. He is limiting baserunners at elite levels, issuing a meager 1.6 walks per nine innings.


Zach Davies


Chad Kuhl


Brandon McCarthy


Mike Montgomery


Clayton Richard


Julio Teheran


Zack Wheeler


After a rough first month, Davies has rebounded nicely, producing a 3.71 ERA since May 1. He’s never going to put up huge (or even average) strikeout numbers, but he has gone at least five innings in every start since Opening Day, putting himself in line for solid win totals.

In 72 2/3 career road innings, Kuhl has a 2.97 ERA and is holding opposing batters to a line of .238/.285/.364. Are you feeling lucky?

Health has always been the question with McCarthy, but the big right-hander has made 11 starts this season, with only one stop on the DL. McCarthy has been awesome the first time through the order, striking out 23 batters to only three walks, en route to a 1.65 ERA. If he can manage to carry some of that dominance deeper into outings, he could be a sneaky good option moving forward.

So, the Padres rotation has just been bad, as opposed to historically awful, like we thought before the season started. Part of that tepidness can be attributed to Richard, who has exactly a league average ERA. How’s that for a ringing endorsement?

Wheeler was rounding (Get it? Because wheels are round?) into form before getting lit up by the Cubs in his previous start. The good news is that the righty is still touching 98 mph on the gun and the Cubs outing looks like a clear aberration. The bad news is that he’s still walking way too many guys (4.1 per nine innings), and he gets the Dodgers this week, a team that draws walks in 10 percent of plate appearances. He also gets the Giants at AT&T Park, so yeah, good news and bad news.


R.A. Dickey


Scott Feldman


Matt Garza


Jeremy Hellickson


German Marquez


Matt Moore


Edinson Volquez


Vance Worley


Dickey was a 6.9 WAR pitcher in 2012, the year he won the Cy Young Award. Since, he has amassed 6.5 WAR. Oh, 2012. You were a simpler time.

It would appear as though Hellickson decided to forego strikeouts in favor of home runs. On its face, I think it’s a better strategy for hitters than pitchers.

Three of Marquez’s 10 starts have accounted for 19 of his 25 earned runs. He’s interesting, but I’m staying away this week as the Diamondbacks come to Coors Field.

The last time I recommended sitting Volquez, he threw a no-hitter. Congrats on your second no-no this season, Edinson!

American League


Corey Kluber


In an interview aired during a recent Indians’ telecast, Kluber was asked about the U.S. Open, taking place at Erin Hills. He almost smiled. Almost. Since Kluber returned from the DL, his teammates have been doing the smiling, as the former Cy Young winner has been dominant, striking out 28 batters in 19 innings. He is still prone to the occasional home run, so the start at Camden Yards is slightly worrisome, but always bet on talent.


Marco Estrada


Sonny Gray


Lance McCullers, Jr.


Brad Peacock


Michael Pineda


Ervin Santana


Justin Verlander


Estrada vs. Rays: 14 1/3 innings, 14 strikeouts, seven home runs allowed and a 10.05 ERA. Estrada vs. the league: 67 innings, 78 strikeouts, six home runs allowed and a 3.36 ERA. This week he takes on two offenses ranked in the bottom six, according to wRC+. Neither are the Rays.

Gray’s resurgence has coincided nicely with increased usage of a slider that has gotten nearly 30 percent whiffs this season. He’s throwing more grounders, limiting baserunners, striking out nearly a batter per inning, a feat that he hasn’t accomplished since his rookie year.

I’m going to say something controversial: I think injuries are the worst. McCullers hit the DL amidst a truly breakout campaign, where the 23-year-old cut his walk total in half while maintaining the elite run prevention and strikeout tallies. He’s also getting ground balls at a 64 percent rate. It’s always been about the health so hopefully McCullers can come back healthy to finish what he started.

Peacock joined the “Throw Your Best Pitch More” club, ramping up his slider usage and finding success in the Astros’ bullpen. A wave of injuries found Peacock in the rotation where he has been immensely interesting. In five starts, he has fanned 36 batters in 22 2/3 innings, while giving up only one home run. He still walks too many guys, which combined with easing into a starter’s workload, has shortened his outings.

Santana has quietly been filthy this season. He decided to stop giving up hits all together, as the righty averages under 5 1/2 base hits per game, leading to a downright dirty .194 TAv against. A few more strikeouts would be nice, sure, but let’s not get greedy here.


Dylan Bundy


Alex Cobb


Hector Velazquez


Francisco Liriano


Ariel Miranda


Jake Odorizzi


Jordan Zimmermann


It hasn’t always been pretty, but Bundy has found a way to get the job done in the early going, tossing a solid 3.29 ERA in his first 14 starts. While the home-run totals are creeping up, so are the swinging strikes, as Bundy amassed 30 combined whiffs in his past two starts.

Russell Martin is back, which means we can start considering Liriano again. He is still walking the world (5.6 per nine innings), which make it tough to rely on the enigmatic lefty. Having said that, he gets two teams that are below average at drawing walks, including the Royals, who rank dead last.

Miranda has been much better at Safeco (for now at least) Field, holding batters to a line of .185/.241/.258 with a 2.14 ERA in 42 innings.

Odorizzi has been fine this season. Not bad, not great, just fine. Perhaps a touch better. He is still giving up too many deep flies, but at least both of his starts this week come at home. Cobb gets a similar home park boost this week as well.

If ever there were a week to start Zimmermann, this would be the week, with starts coming at Seattle and San Diego.


Daniel Gossett


Austin Bibens-Dirkx


Andrew Cashner


Sam Gaviglio


Jason Hammel


Derek Holland


Matt Shoemaker


Chris Tillman


Josh Tomlin


Bibens-Dirkx is a cool story, but I’m not starting him in fantasy. Especially at Yankee Stadium. Cashner has 33 strikeouts and 31 walks in 69 1/3 innings, also making him a less-than-ideal options against the Yankees.

We’re closing in on the point where I’m not considering any mid-level starters making trips to Yankee Stadium. Shoemaker doing a Yankees/Red Sox double dip on the east coast doesn’t add much persuasion. He also left his previous start because of a forearm injury.

Tomlin is good enough to surprise you with a gem, but he’s giving up nearly 12 hits per nine innings and I’m not entirely convinced that he has solved his home-run issues. That’s a recipe for "stay away."

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
What about Frances Martes?
With all of the injuries and guys coming back, I'm not really sure what the Astros' rotation is going to look like this week. I'm not sure Martes will get two starts this week. The matchups are good, but I'm still scared of all the walks.

We wrote him up for his call up a couple weeks ago: