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Week 23

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.

*September baseball is in full force, leading to lengthier games, whirlwind roster additions, and a notatall-frustrating unpredictability when it comes to parsing out future rotation schedules. Toss in a handful of teams fully committing to the six-man rotation, and you have the recipe for some stressful playoff matchups. As always, we’ll try to deal with the turnover in the comments, but it’s looking bleak this week. Let’s be careful out there.

National League

Auto-Start

Jacob deGrom

@CHC, @ATL

Zack Greinke

COL, @SF

As it turns out, pitching in front of the worst defense in baseball (according to BP’s Park Adjusted Defensive Efficiency rankings) doesn’t typically help your rate stats. This season, deGrom is finding that out the hard way, as the hurler is enjoying one of his best seasons as a pro despite the highest ERA of his career.

According to wRC+, the Rockies are the third-worst road offense in baseball. The Giants are the worst offense anywhere. Both of these things bode well for Greinke this week.

Start

Gerrit Cole

@MIL, @CIN

Gio Gonzalez

ATL, LAD

Dillon Peters

@PHI, MIL

Jose Quintana

NYM, STL

Taijuan Walker

COL, @SF

Brandon Woodruff

PIT, @MIA

Gonzalez is holding batters to a line of .205/.297/.329 in home starts, with a 1.87 ERA in 82 innings. The Braves and Dodgers are both strong lineups against lefties, but at this point Gonzalez has earned a little leeway.

Peters popped up relatively unheralded for the Marlins this season and has been great through two starts. He has induced groundballs at an absurd 68 percent clip and has even tossed in over 10 strikeouts per nine innings for good measure. The sample is small, but the matchups this week are pretty good for the young lefty. Plus, you could be in a spot where you need to pick between Peters and Woodruff for your lineup, and as any 90’s kid knows, Dylan vs. Brandon is always the hardest question.

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Even with a pair of 10-strikeout performances in his last eight starts, Walker has struggled inducing whiffs this season, sporting an 8.9 percent swinging-strike rate in 137 2/3 innings of work. He’s still finding success, however, thanks in large part to a slider that ranks among baseball’s best at getting ground balls.

Woodruff certainly has been impressive in his first five starts for the Brewers. No, the 1.52 ERA isn’t likely sustainable, especially factoring in a 90.2 percent strand rate and 4.8 percent HR/FB rate. However he’s getting lots of whiffs (above-average swinging-strike rates in every start but his foray into Coors Field) and hitters have an exceedingly difficult time squaring up his 97 mph fastball, as the pitch has produced one of the highest foul-ball rates in the game.

Consider

Kyle Freeland

@ARI, SD

Jon Gray

@ARI, SD

Robert Stephenson

@STL, PIT

Adam Wainwright

CIN, @CHC

Freeland gets tons of ground balls, a strategy that plays nicely when Coors Field is your home. Starting the 24-year-old might be a risky play this week, but the Diamondbacks and Padres are two of the four worst offenses in the league when it comes to hitting lefties, so if you want to roll the dice, Freeland might be your guy.

Since sputtering in his first couple starts back from the DL, Gray has reclaimed the throne as the ace of the Rockies staff, posting a 2.98 ERA in his past eight starts, striking out nearly a batter per inning. Gray is really good, but the issue isn’t black and white, with matchups this week in two parks that give pitchers fits.

Sit

Nick Pivetta

MIA, OAK

One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do. Sorry you don’t have more company this week, Nick.

American League

Auto-Start

Justin Verlander

@LAA, SEA

Turns out Verlander wasn’t sticking with the Tigers for the remainder of the season. New zip code, same solid production for the veteran flamethrower.

Start

Sonny Gray

@TB, BAL

Cole Hamels

SEA, @LAA

Reynaldo Lopez

@KC, @DET

Carlos Rodon

@KC, @DET

Eduardo Rodriguez

OAK, @TB

Danny Salazar

DET, KC

Gray has been a stabilizing force in the Yankees rotation since coming over at the deadline. In seven starts with the Bombers, Gray has a 2.74 ERA with 40 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings. In six of those outings he has induced at least 10 swinging strikes, which will play nicely this week against two of the whiffiest (I know this isn’t a word, but it should be) lineups in the American League.

Hamels has never produced a full season swinging-strike rate below 11.5 percent. This season, he’s hovering at an uninspiring nine percent, en route to a meager 5.7 strikeouts per nine innings. Glass half full: his velocity is actually ticking up as the season has gone on, and the southpaw has been better recently with a “monster” 6.4 strikeouts per nine innings in his past eight starts.

Rodon is walking a few too many dudes, but he’s also striking out over a batter per inning since returning from the DL in late June. The Royals are one of the worst teams in baseball against left-handed pitching, and the Tigers lineup has become somewhat depleted as of late, making Rodon an interesting play this week. Watch out for his shoulder, though. Rodon was scratched Thursday because it felt “tight,” he said.

The bad news: Salazar lasted only 2/3 of an inning in his return from the DL. The good news: He’ll be super well-rested for his two starts this week at home against struggling division rivals.

Consider

Marco Estrada

BAL, @MIN

Jaime Garcia

@TB, BAL

Kevin Gausman

@TOR, @NYY

Kyle Gibson

SD, TOR

Miguel Gonzalez

SEA, @LAA

Sean Manaea

@BOS, @PHI

Garrett Richards

HOU, TEX

Estrada will sprinkle in some Estrada-y work every few starts to remind us all of what he’s capable of, but those outings have been more sparse this season amidst plenty of crooked numbers.

Sure, Gonzalez got rocked in his first start for the Rangers, but he was solid in his final five starts on the South Side, posting a 1.85 ERA in 34 innings.

Manaea’s 2017 season could be a featured ride at Cedar Point. The southpaw can look downright filthy at times, riding a nasty slider and changeup, both pitches nearing a 20 percent swinging-strike rate. The problem, however, is that he’s also plagued with abbreviated outings littered with hits and runs. This week he gets two opponents who struggle with lefties, but he’ll also be without the cover of his cavernous home park.

There wasn’t a ton to glean from Richards’s first start back from the DL, as he only threw 52 pitches in 3 1/3 innings against the A’s. The 27-year-old was hitting 97 mph with his fastball and sinker, which is certainly a good sign, and managed seven swinging strikes to go with three strikeouts and six ground balls. The upside ultimately will be tied to pitch counts, so the Houston start could be a good litmus test for how useful Richards will be down the stretch.

Sit

Joe Biagini

BAL, @MIN

Matt Boyd

@CLE, CWS

Sam Gaviglio

CWS, @CLE

Jason Hammel

CWS, @CLE

Jeremy Hellickson

@TOR, @NYY

Artie Lewicki

@CLE, CWS

Ariel Miranda

@TEX, @HOU

Andrew Moore

@TEX, @HOU

Biagini, Gaviglio, and Lewicki would probably be a better Italian law firm than a trio of guys to start this week.

Miranda is actually a decent pitcher if it weren’t for the all the homers, which I guess is akin to saying Game of Thrones is actually a pretty family friendly show if it weren’t for all the murders.

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markusbaa
9/08
Off to a great start. With Salazar headed to the bullpen, Carlos Carrasco and Corey Kluber will get two starts apiece for the Indians this week. They're good, start them. Also, Myles Jaye will get Lewicki's starts for the Tigers. I am unfamiliar with Mr. Jaye's work, so I'd hold off on starting him this week.
winder
9/08
Hey Mark.what are you're thoughts on Quintana? Arrieta is injured,is he definitely not pitching next week though?
markusbaa
9/08
I'm still in on Quintana. He's struggled a bit, but I think he's really good. From what I've read, they were just skipping Arrieta once, so he would pitch on Friday, the 15th and Quintana would get the Tuesday and Sunday starts.
sldetckl16
9/10
Shout out, Cedar Point!