Welcome back, Pitcher List community! I hope this segment helps you formulate your pitching staff each week. Each Friday, I look at every projected two-start pitcher for the week ahead and summarize my thoughts to help you set your rosters. You know the rules, there are four tiers: Definitely, Probably, Questionable, and Bench. Definitely Start features starters that are no-doubters for the week ahead, followed by Probably Start, which includes pitchers who look like good plays but may create a hesitation or two. Players labeled as Questionable are for deeper leagues or have one of two outings that should be skipped. Pitchers under Bench should be avoided despite their two starts. Next week is stacked friends! We finally have a ton of depth not only in the top tier but the second tier as well. Here we go!
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Blake Snell (@DET, @BOS)
Stephen Strasburg (CHW, @SDP)
Aaron Nola (@SDP, CIN)
James Paxton (@TOR, @CLE)
Walker Buehler (@ARI, @SFG)
Noah Syndergaard (SFG, COL)
Chris Paddack (PHI, WSH)
Charlie Morton (@DET, @BOS)
David Price (@KCR, TBR)
Luis Castillo (@STL, @PHI)
Max Fried (@PIT, @MIA)
Kyle Hendricks (COL, STL)
- We have a plethora of aces with two starts next week. The top two are sitting pretty. Blake Snell and Stephen Strasburg are top 10 in the league in terms of strikeouts and have elite CSW rates at over 33%. Oh, and they have at least one matchup against a team ranked 25th or lower in CSW in the Tigers and Padres.
- Aaron Nola has been pitching much better lately, tallying 26 strikeouts in his past three starts. He’s still struggling a little with walks, but the road start in San Diego should yield ace-like results and I like his ability to curb the Reds offense at home. James “Big Maple” Paxton is back off the IL, and he struck out seven in four hitless innings upon his return. The Blue Jays and Indians may be slightly tougher than the Padres, but I see no issues with Paxton next week.
- Walker Buehler has been pitching like an ace recently save for his last outing against the Mets. His 62.9% strand rate won’t last, and the matchups next week make my mouth water. If Chris Paddack will ever get two starts in a week, it’s next week, when the Padres play seven games. Here’s hoping that actually happens.
- Charlie Morton is healthy and is in must-start territory regardless of the opponent. He rarely throws more than six innings, so his ceiling is limited compared with the big dogs atop this tier but that doesn’t mean he can’t dominate his opponents. Luis Castillo has had trouble finding the zone this season, but his changeup is the best in the game. He has more upside than all but Snell and Paxton, but I’ve dropped him a bit because of the control issues.
- Kyle Hendricks and Max Fried have limited upside, but you don’t get two matchups much better than the Pirates and Marlins in Fried’s case. Would you believe me if I told you that Hendricks has a 31.2% CSW rate? Well, he does. He’s also rocking a 3.09 ERA which is actually 0.02 higher than his career ERA.
Madison Bumgarner (@NYM, LAD)
Shane Bieber (MIN, NYY)
Mike Minor (BAL, OAK)
Masahiro Tanaka (@TOR, @CLE)
Frankie Montas (@LAA, @TEX)
Zach Davies (MIA, PIT)
Griffin Canning (@CHC, SEA)
Wade Miley (@SEA, BAL)
Jon Lester (LAA, STL)
Robbie Ray (LAD, @TOR)
Martin Perez (@CLE, @DET)
- I won’t argue with you (too much) if you think that Madison Bumgarner and Shane Bieber should be in the top tier. I just think they have a few warts and their matchups are not friendly. Over the past month, no team has been better offensively than the Twins. They hit the ball hard, evidenced by a .367 wOBA over that span, and have the lowest CSW rate as a team this year. The Dodgers aren’t far behind as they rank third and sixth in wOBA and CSW rate, respectively. Both Bieber and Bumgarner have been a little too hittable (if that’s a word) recently, so while I’m still rolling with them, I don’t have high expectations for either.
- Mike Minor‘s surface numbers tell me that given his matchups next week, he belongs in the top tier. I just don’t trust his 85.9% strand rate, and I think his home run rate rises with the weather. I’d start him for sure against the Orioles, but a start at home against the Athletics gives me a little pause.
- The Angels got to Frankie Montas in his last start, but he was rolling prior to that outing. He had struck out 19 batters while giving up just two earned runs prior to Wednesday night’s game. I like his chances to regain his control in Anaheim while piling up strikeouts against the Rangers. I wouldn’t overthink the Zach Davies starts. He’s on the regression train, but these matchups look just fine to me.
- Griffin Canning appears to be the real deal, but rookie pitchers have a way of inflating ratios in a single ugly start. The start in Chicago isn’t ideal, but I’ll give the edge to Canning because the Cubs haven’t seen him yet. He’s all systems go at home versus the Mariners, who have come back down to earth in the month of May.
- Wade Miley now has a 2.88 ERA over his last 150 innings. No, he’s not going to strike out many guys, but at some point, you have to tip your cap and take what he’s giving you. I like Jon Lester at home as he has a 1.90 ERA in Wrigley this year. His K-BB rate is up nearly 5% from last year, so I think he can handle the division rival Cardinals and the Angels in the Friendly Confines.
- Martin Perez was jumped on early against the Rays last night but has two very good matchups next week. If you want a deep dive, check out the excellent work by Ben Palmer on Perez earlier this month.
Yusei Kikuchi (HOU, @LAA)
Jakob Junis (BOS, CHW)
Corbin Martin (@SEA, BAL)
Pablo Lopez (@MIL, ATL)
- Oakland absolutely crushed Yusei Kikuchi the last time out. This was the third time they had seen him. The Angels will get their second crack at Kikuchi while it will be the first for the banged-up Astros. I’m giving Kikuchi the edge in this tier because Jakob Junis faces a healthy Boston club that’s heating up.
- The questionable tier is shallow this week, and that’s OK. At some point, Corbin Martin‘s 31.6% HR/FB rate will stabilize, but a walk rate near 12% makes me shiver. He’s on my bench in Seattle, but there are worse streamers than Martin against the Orioles in Houston.
- I don’t always look at home/road splits, but Pablo Lopez has some of the craziest splits I’ve ever seen. He’s sporting a cool 1.84 ERA in Miami compared with an embarrassing 8.26 ERA on the road. No way in hell he’s in my lineup in Milwaukee, but I could see him throwing a quality start against the Braves.
Dylan Bundy (@TEX, @HOU)
Ryan Weber (@KCR, TBR)
Trevor Cahill (@CHC, SEA)
Wade LeBlanc (HOU, @LAA)
Daniel Mengden (@LAA, @TEX)
Genesis Cabrera (CIN, @CHC)
Eric Lauer (PHI, WSH)
Jeff Hoffman (@CHC, @NYM)
Drew Smyly (BAL, OAK)
Clayton Richard (NYY, ARI)
Ryan Carpenter (TBR, MIN)
- Dylan Bundy has been pitching a lot better of late. However, a two-step in the state of Texas will likely give owners chest pains. I’ll set the over/under at 3.5 for home runs between the two starts next week, and I’d probably take the over. There are several metrics I don’t like regarding Wade LeBlanc, including a 26.6% CSW rate, an 88.3% Z-Contact rate, and a 17.3% contact rate. The most telling stat that will keep me from LeBlanc is an ugly 1.66 WHIP.
- Despite one of the best mustaches and windups in the Majors, Daniel Mengden finds himself in the bottom tier next week. I’m not trusting any pitcher with a 5.4% K-BB rate. How deep is your league where you’re considering Eric Lauer for a two-step versus the Phillies and Nationals? No chance. His swinging-strike rate is a measly 6.7%!
- Hey look, the Rockies are playing on the road! Color me intrigued with Jeff Hoffman‘s increased curveball usagem but boym that four-seam fastball is atrocious. The Cubs have hit 54 home runs in the past 30 days, so starting him in Wrigley is a bad idea. It doesn’t get any better as Citi Field in New York actually plays up for home runs. Momma said, “Nothing good happens after midnight,” and I say nothing good happens for your fantasy team if your streaming pitchers from the bottom tier. That’s a long-winded way of saying no to Drew Smyly, Clayton Richard, and Ryan Carpenter.
Good luck next week everyone!
(Photo by Juan DeLeon/Icon Sportswire)