For those who play in Head-to-Head Leagues, having a handle on which starting pitchers are scheduled to pitch in two game in an upcoming week is invaluable. Of course, if you are an owner in a roto league, and your starting pitching is not looking as good as it did when you drafted your team, or if injuries, demotions to the minors or general poor performance are hurting your placement in the standings, you may want to consider the streaming technique to pep up the rotation. Or you just like to shuffle the deck. Whatever your impetus, if you want to get an idea of who could benefit your squad in the next scoring period, you have arrived at the correct and proper place. On a weekly basis, this series of articles will set forth those starting pitchers that as of Saturday are on deck to take the hill twice.
The format is to put the group of two-start pitchers into three tiers. The first tier is entitled “Start ‘em If You Own ‘em” and consists of those pitchers that are suggested for you to wind up and let go, no matter where they are pitching or what opponent they face. Most, if not all, of these SPs will be owned in your league, but if you own one or two, smile and walk happy.
The second tier is called “Maybe Yes, Maybe No,” and is generally the largest tier. If there are enough members of the tier, then it will be broken down into sub-tiers for convenience in both the ability to provide analysis of the individuals that make up the tier, and to assist our readers in deciding how much risk they are willing to tolerate on a weekly basis. Depending on how many two-start options there are in a given week, the sub-tiers number either two, or at most, three.
The final tier is called “Not On My Roster” which I believe is self-explanatory. If you are absolutely desperate for a two-start option, due to inning minimums in your league settings, or are just a glutton for punishment, then you can consider rostering one or more of these guys. In good faith none of these pitchers can be recommended for one or both of their starts, but then again, it is your team and you are free to manage it as you see fit (a philosophy I would encourage more leagues to adopt instead of micromanaging every team’s moves during the season <steps down off soapbox>).
Please realize that these articles feature most recent rotation information available when the article is written, but that circumstances do change due to weather conditions, injuries and general craziness with managers. If a pitcher listed here as having two starts ends up with one (or perhaps none) in the upcoming week, apologies but this article is meant to provide analysis, it is up to the manager to set the lineups or rotations.
The middle tier breaks down into two sub-tiers, the first running from Kuhl and ending with Miley. These are the best options if you cannot roll out a slate of starters consisting entirely of top-tier pitchers. The second tier contains pitchers that have questions about their matchups or their general performance through the season’s first three weeks, but do offer some value and potential for some useful stats.
Kuhl is working on a two game QS streak, and only missed out by an inning from having three among his first three appearances for the Pirates. The loss of Sterling Marte does hurt his team’s offense, though, and he did pitch worse at home last season, so the first start is no guarantee of continued success for the Pittsburgh righty, but he looks to be the best option in the middle tier this week.
Severino is putting up elite strikeout and command numbers (27:2 K/BB ratio over 20 innings), but a 4.05 ERA over those same starts tempers his value somewhat, although he is pitching deeper into games, having gone at least six innings in each of his starts. Still, you have to like the way he is missing bats this season, and if he is still on your waiver wire, make a claim right now.
Wacha has also been missing a good share of bats, racking up 17 Ks with just five walks in his 18.2 innings in 2017. His 4.27 FIP when compared to his 2.41 ERA, and an unnaturally low .267 BABIP point to regression in his future. He does have two home starts this week, although that was not a key to success for him last season at all. Tread cautiously even if you are fully buying in on his early season success.
Ross looked sharp in his first start since being recalled by the Nationals, twirling a QS with seven Ks and just one free pass over 7.0 innings. He figures to slot in as the fifth starter in Washington, and thus should see significant innings from this point on. Pitching in Colorado for his first start could be an issue, but the second start at home against the Mets is worth considering.
Hahn, the 27 year-old Oakland right-hander, is working on a string of three QS, and will look to continue that streak on the road for two starts in Week 4. Of course, it was away from Oakland that he struggled the most in 2016, so hopefully that trend is being reversed this year as he was sharp in his first two starts at Texas and Kansas City.
Corbin gets to face the visiting Padres for his first start, who he recently held to three earned runs over 6.0 innings in his last start (a loss, alas). He also racked up eight Ks in that start, the most he has collected this young season. He also gets Colorado at home for his second appearance of the week, so there is that in his favor this scoring period as well.
Miley has been putting up elite strikeout numbers this season, which looks like an aberration given his prior performance. Should the 30 year-old have discovered a new skill, then he becomes a must start option, but that seems unlikely at best. Getting Tampa Bay at home looks promising, although the trip to Yankee Stadium for his second start in Week 4 carries more risk.
Shoemaker kicks off the top sub-tier, and he has thrown three QS among his four starts, with 19 Ks over 21.2 innings. He also has allowed six home runs in his four starts, so that is a concern. He also pitches in two of the best hitters’ parks this week, although getting to face Oakland helps somewhat. The second start against Texas on the road should give his owners pause about using him in his second appearance.
Despite his early success (two victories, a 2.84 ERA and 15 Ks over 19.0 innings), Gonzalez is a risky starter due to his team’s woeful offensive production. He is also sporting an 83.3% strand rate and a 4.09 FIP (as opposed to a 2.84 ERA), which suggests he has been enjoying more than his fair share of luck to open 2017. He does get to face the Tigers in his second start with the bottom-tier Jordan Zimmermann opposing him on the mound, a nice matchup.
Liriano has been much more consistent over his past two starts after lasting just a third of an inning in his first start at Tampa Bay. He has the potential to provide elite strikeout numbers, or blow up entirely, so using him is risky. Facing Ricky Nolasco and the Angels on the road in his first start is tempting, but you have to hope that the Rays do not have his number after that first start. He does have a superb 17 Ks over just 12.1 innings, but needs to show better control and command of the strike zone to be a good option in all his starts, not just selected appearances.
Richard has been up and down in his four starts this season, tossing two QS but also pitching at least six innings in each of his trips to the mound. Fortunately for the soft-throwing southpaw, he still has the ability to generate a ton of groundballs, with an elite 4.38 GB/FB rate this season, which admittedly is down a tick from the past two seasons. Heading to Chase Field to take on the Diamondbacks is worrisome, as he has allowed four homers so far in 2017, despite his ability to get hitters to drive the ball into the dirt. A second start in San Francisco is more tempting, especially facing Ty Blach, who is slated to replace Madison Bumgarner in the Giant rotation for the time being.
Chen is a risky SP, just due to his potential for a serious injury, as he is dealing with a partial tear to the UCL in his left elbow. He could be done for the season at any point, but until then, he is a useful plug-in SP. He has allowed seven earned runs this season, but six of those came during his second start of the season. The other two were QS, and he does have two wins on the season. Still, that lingering UCL tear limits his value in seasonal leagues.
Gsellman pitched better in his fourth start, lowering his ERA nearly a full run to 5.09 after it ballooned to a horrific 5.91 in a road loss to Miami on April 13th. He boasts a 20:6 K/BB ratio over his four starts, consisting of 17.2 innings. He does have a locked in slot in the Mets’ rotation, assuming he can pitch as he did in his most recent game, and does not revert to the disappointing performances he put up to open the season. Since that is not a certainty, use him with caution.
Anderson is coming off his worst start of the season, lasing just 3.2 innings against the Brewers at home, with six of the sight hits he allowed going for extra bases. He has been a useful if unexciting starter over his career, at least when he is healthy and not nursing one of his many injuries that have plagued his career. As with Chen above, there is a sense that whatever innings you get out of him are a bonus due to the injury potential each possesses. He does sport a 3.62 FIP, better than his current 4.40 ERA and a .338 BABIP, both of which suggest that he has been somewhat unlucky on the mound so far this season. Of course, road games at Pittsburgh and Boston do temper expectations for his continued success in Week 4.
Tomlin started the season poorly, but managed to cut his ERA with a nice performance at Target Field in his last start. Granted, his ERA still sits at a terrible 11.68 with a 1.95 WHIP, but it is trending the right direction finally. He has two home starts this week, and is backed by a potent offense in Cleveland, but he is still a risky option, especially with an 87 MPH fastball limiting his Ks. If he has his control, though, he can still be effective, even without missing many bat, as he continues to induce his fair share of grounders.
Vargas has been racking up the Ks this season, at a rate that seems unlikely to continue. He is striking out 10 batters per nine innings this season, which flies in the face of his career 6.0 K.9 rate. He features a mid-80s fastball, so that seems primed against him continuing to put up double digit strikeouts going forward. Neither opponent in Week 4 is a big strikeout target, although the White Sox and Twins do not field scary offenses, either, so his success could continue for a while longer. Start him if you believe in his early season achievements.
None of this dozen is recommended for one start at this time, let alone two. It would be nice to see Ryu bounce back from his injuries that cost him all of 2015 and nearly all of 2016. Six homers in three starts covering 15.1 innings does not inspire much confidence, however, even with the southpaw showing good command and dominance (17:4 K/BB). Unless you play in a super-deep league or are suffering from desperation due to poor performances or injury, just stay away from these SPs.
Please note that the Fantasy Alarm Forums are now open for your use, to ask questions or provide your own commentary and wisdom. I enjoy responding to comments, or if you do not want to put your question out for public consumption, feel free to write me at firstname.lastname@example.org for a more personal response to your specific issue. The more detail you can provide about your team and league, including settings (H2H vs roto, points or categories, weekly or daily moves, roster size, league size, etc.) the better my response will be suited to your individual situation. I am open to questions about issues apart from starting pitching, too, as I play fantasy sports as well as serve as an analyst. As ever, good luck and Godspeed in all your fantasy endeavors.