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. Last week was stacked with talented pitchers, this week, no so much. I’ll scour the questionable tier for the best streaming options, so let’s dive in!
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Chris Sale (TEX, @BAL)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (@LAA, CHC)
Charlie Morton (OAK, LAA)
James Paxton (NYM, @CHW)
Jose Berrios (SEA, KCR)
Trevor Bauer (CIN, @DET)
- We may be shallow in terms of the number of elite options, but the top three here provide plenty of value for owners. No pitcher has more strikeouts over the past 30 days than Chris Sale. He’s punched out an incredible 68 batters, 18 more than the next closest over that span. It’s not close. Chris Sale is 100% back and tops next week’s list.
- Speaking of leaders over the past 30 days, Hyun-Jin Ryu has posted an ERA of just 0.40. Both his FIP and xFIP are below 3.00 on the season, and he’s sporting a career-high first-pitch strike rate, so there’s no reason he can succeed going forward. Charlie Morton has been riding his elite curveball to a 30% strikeout rate, which would be a career-high. His matchups aren’t too bad either. I have zero hesitation with Morton at this point and love him at home for both starts next week.
- James Paxton has managed to pitch one good and one bad start since coming off the IL. He gets the Mets at home, where he’s thrived this year, giving up just one earned run (yes ONE) in five starts in Yankee Stadium! The White Sox are also struggling offensively with a .299 wOBA over the past 14 days. One team that’s been worse than the White Sox in that time frame is the Royals, who are dead last with a .273 wOBA and a 27.3% strikeout rate. Just another reason to start Jose Berrios twice next week.
- Make sure you double check to see if Trevor Bauer gets the nod on Tuesday (6/11) against the Reds. If his start gets pushed to Wednesday, obviously he won’t be getting two starts. I’m still in on Bauer; his strikeout rate is over 26%, and he’s only giving up 6.5 hits per nine innings.
Joe Musgrove (@ATL, @MIA)
Mike Minor (@BOS, @CIN)
German Marquez (CHC, SDP)
Mike Foltynewicz (PIT, PHI)
Jose Quintana (@COL, @LAD)
Anibal Sanchez (@CHW, ARI)
Spencer Turnbull (@KCR, CLE)
- I almost put Joe Musgrove in the top tier after an eight-inning gem against the Braves earlier this week. His velocity has improved and clocked in over 92 mph the past two starts, and I’m a believer in his talent. We know he just handled the Braves, and the Marlins have a heavy right-handed lineup, which is where Musgrove has had his success this year.
- Mike Minor has been extremely impressive this season, but he’s not quite in the must-start territory. Next week’s two-step is one that gives me pause. The Reds and Red Sox are both in the top 10 in terms of wOBA over the past two weeks. Both ballparks are hitter-friendly, so pray Minor’s low home run rate doesn’t regress next week.
- German Marquez has to maneuver two starts at home against a Cubs team that just roughed him up in Wrigley and a Padres team that will whiff but also has some pop. There’s no easy answer here, but I’m going to trust his talent above all else. With a 31.2% CSW rate and a 13.2% swinging-strike rate, he has the ability to strike 10 batters out in any given outing. Wouldn’t you hate if that happened while he was sitting on your bench?
- I still don’t think we can trust Mike Foltynewicz, but he’s been useful in three of his past four outings. I like the backdrop of Suntrust Park, and the matchup against the Pirates looks sweet. I could go either way with the Phillies, but they just lost McCutchen, so Folty might be a decent hurler in this two-step.
- The Dodgers murder right-handed pitching (not literally of course), so Jose Quintana has the benefit of being a left-handed. I could see Quintana pitching OK in these two road matchups next week. We were interested in Anibal Sanchez in the preseason thanks to the emergence of the cutter. Then we hated him. Now, the cutter is back, 30% thrown in his past two starts, where he’s limited opponents to one earned run and 14 strikeouts. Mmmmm, that’s nice. I like him in both starts, but there’s always a risk he turns back into a 35-year-old pumpkin.
Yu Darvish (@COL, @LAD)
Jered Eickhoff (ARI, @ATL)
Sandy Alcantara (STL, PIT)
Martin Perez (SEA, KCR)
Chris Archer (@ATL, @MIA)
Cal Quantrill (@SFG, @COL)
Jon Duplantier (@PHI, @WSH)
Jakob Junis (DET, @MIN)
Dakota Hudson (@MIA, @NYM)
Mike Leake (@MIN, @OAK)
John Means (TOR, BOS)
Jason Vargas (@NYY, STL)
- Has anyone been more confusing to own this year than Yu Darvish? Neither start is appealing next week, but the one benefit Darvish has in altitude is the near 50% usage of his slider and cutter. Both pitches perform well in altitude compared with other pitch types. That being said, he struggled in his one and only game in Coors Field. The start in L.A. may be just as difficult. I understand if you need to sit this one out with Darvish, but understand he possesses upside, even if it’s slight.
- Sandy Alcantara throws 96-plus mph but can’t seem to compile many strikeouts. He has the stuff to do it, evidenced by an 11.3% swinging-strike rate, but his well below-average zone and F-strike rates limit his strikeout potential. Both starts are favorable at home, so he’s a good two-start streamer next week but with a limited ceiling.
- Jered Eickhoff and Martin Perez have been very whatever lately. Perez is getting into trouble with walks and hasn’t been missing enough bats to overcome his lack of control. Eickhoff, on the other hand, has been bitten by the long ball. With the weather warming up and his average skills, I don’t see much improvement from him. I do, however, like Eickhoff at home versus Arizona and Perez at home against the Royals, but that’s all.
- The next two names (after Chris Archer, blah) are interesting. Cal Quantrill is a great steamer in San Francisco but an obvious bench in Colorado. Sorry, weekly leaguers. He throws 95 mph and can get whiffs at above-average clips on three pitches: fastball, slider, changeup. He just struggles to find the zone, so beware. Jon Duplantier just twirled a gem against the Dodgers which is extremely impressive. The road matchups next week are difficult, so exercise caution. FYI for quality starts leagues, he hasn’t thrown more than five innings in any start.
- Give me Jakob Junis and that nasty slider all day against a weak Tigers team at home. Just say no versus the Twins in Minneapolis though. Dakota Hudson has at minimum piqued my interest. He’s given up two or fewer earned runs in his past three starts, all against quality opponents. He’s a yes for me in Miami, but the Mets provide some thump that gives me pause given his limited strikeout upside.
- John Means is here because he’s the only Orioles pitcher who has been decent. He’s been better than that though. He’s riding a 2.67 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. Those numbers won’t stand, but you could do worse than streaming Means against the Blue Jays. The Vargas Rule is back in effect! Since his disaster on April 13, Vargas has allowed more than one earned run just once in seven starts. That being said, I’m skittish against the Yankees but would start him at home against the Cardinals.
Kevin Gausman (PIT, PHI)
Michael Wacha (@MIA, @NYM)
Felix Pena (LAD, @TB)
Trent Thornton (@BAL, @HOU)
Aerial Jurado (@BOS, @CIN)
Dylan Covey (WSH, NYY)
Taylor Clarke (@PHI, @WSH)
Daniel Mengden (@TBR, SEA)
Ryan Weber (TEX, @BAL)
- Kevin Gausman and his talent do not belong in this tier. He’s getting more swings and misses but has become just a two-pitch pitcher. It’s made him too predictable, and as a result, he has been bombed for 15 runs over his past six innings pitched. One of those starts was against the Pirates. I just can’t recommend him for either start next week.
- Part of me wants to give Michael Wacha a chance against the Marlins. Then I realize the Marlins have been a top-12 offense over the past two weeks, and he’s still Michael Wacha. Despite the blow-up against the Athletics, Felix Pena is still sporting a 17.9 K-BB%. His matchups, however, are terrible. The Dodgers might be the best team in baseball right now, and the Rays are nearly as dangerous.
- The rest of this list does nothing for me. Trent Thornton and Aerial Jurado are decent pitchers, but two road starts against tough opponents lands them on my bench next week. Dylan Covey is basically in the never-start tier (if we had one), and Taylor Clarke is benched because he has a boring name. Just kidding. He’s benched because he’s bad and his starts are on the road against quality opponents. He’s not going to succeed with a 24.2% CSW rate.
- Daniel Mengden is supposed to succeed on control and finesse. From what I can tell a 14% walk rate does not constitute great control. Sorry, Daniel, you are not to be owned. Ryan Weber has not looked good in his last two starts giving up seven earned runs and didn’t make it out of the second inning yesterday. His opponents are not the issue; he is. You’ve got to make through five innings to qualify for a win Ryan!
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)