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. There are four tiers: Definitely, Probably, Questionable, 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. We have a nice group of pitchers in the top tier next week, but it gets shallow quickly, as six teams have only five games next week.
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through the week. These are subject to change.
Chris Sale (COL, HOU)
Noah Syndergaard (@WSH, @MIA)
Chris Paddack (@LAD, PIT)
Matthew Boyd (HOU, OAK)
Aaron Nola (MIL, COL)
Jose Berrios (LAA, @SEA)
Shane Bieber (@CHW, BAL)
Robbie Ray (PIT, SFG)
Charlie Morton (@MIA, @NYY)
- All Chris Sale owners can take a deep breath. His swinging-strike percentage and CSW rate are back up into the elite levels. He has struck out 10 batters in three of the last four outings, totaling a whopping 42 strikeouts in that span. As a result, he finds himself back on the two-start leaderboard. The Red Sox only have five games, but I’d guess they’ll skip the fifth spot and start Sale on normal rest.
- There’s nothing too surprising underneath Sale. I know Noah Syndergaard has been frustrating, but there’s a ton of bad luck on his side when digging into his numbers. He should be fine against the Nationals and gets an easier matchup versus the Marlins at the end of the week. Chris Paddack and Matthew Boyd are new fixtures in the top tier of pitchers this year. They have both earned their elevated strikeout rates and should be in your lineups every week without hesitation.
- The remaining pitchers in the top tier are pretty self-explanatory, except for maybe Aaron Nola and Robbie Ray. That’s only if you look at Nola’s seasonlong numbers. There’s nothing wrong with Nola’s CSW rate, and he’s given up just one earned run in each of the last three starts. He’s just about 100% back to an elite starter. Ray has two easy matchups and is coming off an 11-strikeout outing against the Rays. You never know when his control will be out of whack, but I’m willing to roll with Ray this week. Given these matchups, I wouldn’t be surprised if he strikes out 20 batters next week.
Jack Flaherty (@ATL, @TEX)
Jerad Eickhoff (MIL, COL)
Yusei Kikuchi (OAK, MIN)
Kyle Hendricks (@CIN, @WSH)
Tyler Skaggs (@MIN, KCR)
Kyle Gibson (LAA, @SEA)
Spencer Turnbull (HOU, X)
- What is Captain Jack Flaherty doing in this tier? His walk and home run rates are hurting him. It’s usually just one inning the second or third time through the order where he gets stung. He’s got elite strikeout potential and may eventually make his way to the top tier, but he can’t be trusted at the moment. Start with caution.
- The rest of this group may not provide elite strikeout numbers, but hey, that’s what tier one is for, right? Jerad Eickhoff has arrived, and we can thank his cutter for his success. He’s allowed just a .169 wOBA against the cutter and a contact rate that sits below 60%! He’s stuck with a matchup against an improving Brewers team, but the Rockies have not been good away from Colorado.
- Can you name the pitcher in this tier who has only given up two earned runs over his last four starts? The answer is Spencer Turnbull. He’s been limiting home runs and hard contact and has decent swing-and-miss stuff. I love that he has two home starts, although the Astros will be a tough start. Note: Turnbull is scheduled to throw one of the Tigers doubleheader games on Saturday and is no longer a two-start option.
- Kyle Gibson’s 17.8% K-BB% is actually better than it was last season. He essentially has the same pitch mix but is missing more bats. He’s paired up against a struggling Angels club and the Mariners, who have slowed their blistering pace. He’s worth a two-start stream next week.
- There’s something satisfying knowing that your starter doesn’t walk anyone. Yusei Kikuchi is giving up fewer than two free passes per nine innings and has limited home runs in recent outings. His swinging-strike rate is low, but a 30% CSW rate shows his ability to freeze hitters on pitches inside the zone. I like Kikuchi to net a couple of quality starts next week at home.
Sonny Gray (CHC, LAD)
Brad Peacock (@DET, @BOS)
Brandon Woodruff (@PHI, @ATL)
Joe Musgrove (@ARI, @SDP)
Mike Foltynewicz (STL, MIL)
Reynaldo Lopez (CLE, TOR)
Jonathan Loaisiga (BAL, TB)
Trent Thornton (@SFG, @CHW)
Nick Kingham (@ARI, @SDP)
Kyle Freeland (@BOS, @PHI)
Danny Duffy (TEX, @LAA)
Brett Anderson (@SEA, @DET)
- How unlucky is Sonny Gray, who is 0-4 with a 4.15 ERA but a 3.01 FIP? Very. Believe it or not, Gray is pitching well, but he gets two difficult matchups in Great American Smallpark against the red-hot Cubs (.357 wOBA last 14) and the Dodgers. He’s a high-risk, moderate-reward two-start option next week. Brad was out peacocking after his 12-strikeout performance against the Royals this week. He draws a weak Tigers lineup in Comerica Park next week, which has upside written all over it. However, the start in Boston could go sideways quickly, so think long and hard about him in weekly lineups.
- I’m thinking a pitcher with a 23.1% K-BB rate should be universally owned, right? I’m talking about Brandon Woodruff who has been plagued with a .385 BABIP. Things don’t get any easier on the road next week, which is why he’s stuck in this tier. Given better matchups, he would receive a promotion.
- What’s going on with Joe Musgrove? He walked seven batters in his last two starts after allowing the same amount through his first six outings. You can check out Nick’s SP Roundup from today to find out more, but I had to drop him one tier. Reynaldo Lopez has been mostly bad this year, but his matchups are rather soft next week. The Blue Jays have been second-worst in MLB with a .255 wOBA the last two weeks and he just faced the Indians, netting a quality start. Albeit, a VPQS.
- I’m not trusting Mike Foltynewicz just yet. I can envision throwing him out there against the Cardinals, but not the Brewers. Things could get ugly in that one. I’m not a huge fan of Trent Thornton, but Oracle Park is where fly balls go to die. Besides, the Giants are hitting just .207 with eight home runs, yes EIGHT, at home this season.
- Nick Kingham is back in our lives again! He actually looked pretty good in his start against the Rangers this week. I might keep him on the bench in Arizona while he gets stretched out a bit, but would let him rip against the Padres. Kyle Freeland finally gets away from Coors Field. Yay! But, he gets the Red Sox and Phillies, ugh. Danny Duffy is coming off two surprisingly solid starts, so do we trust him? No, but his matchups aren’t too daunting, so if you’re desperate, give him a shot.
Andrew Cashner (@NYY, @CLE)
Freddy Peralta (@PHI, @ATL)
Wilmer Font (@WSH, @MIA)
Shelby Miller (@KCR, STL)
Jeremy Hellickson (NYM, CHC)
Manny Banuelos (CLE, TOR)
David Hess (@NYY, @CLE)
Tyson Ross (HOU, OAK)
- Nothing too exciting here. Two Orioles starters find themselves in this tier yet again with Andrew Cashner and David Hess. The Yankees are still somewhat injured but have started to get healthy and are looking dangerous in terms of the long ball. The Indians are still shallow offensively but aren’t as bad as they were the first month of the season. Just don’t do it.
- The Brewers have started with an opener for Freddy Peralta, but I’ve lost all faith in him. In an era where almost everyone is getting away from the fastball, Peralta is slinging it nearly 80% of the time. It doesn’t appear to be working, bud.
- Wilmer Font is actually an intriguing streamer in daily moves leagues for his second start in Miami. He’s not quite stretched out, and his matchup with the Nats may not end well. Is anyone else surprised that Shelby Miller is only 28 years old? He seems older than that. What’s not surprising is his place in the article—oh and his walk rate is higher than his strikeout rate. Move along.
- The last time the ball was juiced, soft-tosser Jeremy Hellickson had an ERA just under 5.50 and a HR/9 of just under 2.0. So far this year, he’s beating those numbers with a 5.52 ERA and a 2.03 HR/9. Wait, higher isn’t better?
- Of the last three pitchers, Manny Banuelos has the most upside. He’s carrying a 20%+ K rate and has increased his velocity. He’s also throwing more sliders, which is good. The problem is, he’s just not that good of a pitcher. Pass.
(Photo by Mark Goldman/Icon Sportswire)
Is it Pitcher List policy to leave these articles set in stone once published? It would be more helpful to remove Turnbull from the tier and add a note, then to add the note only.
Hey Marty, thanks for reading! You’re right, it would be helpful to have removed Turnbull from the two-start list. Once the article is published, I can no longer access it. I will continue to try and check the most recent MLB probable starter updates the make sure the article is as up to date as possible.
Marty, you seem like a smart fella who figured it out on your own. Must PL do everything for us when a minor change happens. They already pump out non-stop, great content.