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, we have an interesting schedule where six teams have just five games on the docket: Baltimore, Boston, Cincinnati, New York Yankees, San Diego, and St. Louis. That means we won’t have any two-start pitchers for those clubs. Because of the schedule, the depth of our two-start options is limited next week. Let’s dive in and find some diamonds in the rough.
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Max Scherzer (@MIA, @DET)
Gerrit Cole (PIT, SEA)
Clayton Kershaw (@ARI, @COL)
Zack Greinke (LAD, @SFG)
Blake Snell (@MIN, TEX)
Madison Bumgarner (COL, ARI)
- Of course, the man with the broken nose, Scherzer, tops the list. This is just another reason we need to abolish bunting from the game! Luckily, it did not hinder his performance as he threw seven dazzling shutout innings with 10 strikeouts. Mad Max is simply a beast. Keep in mind, the Nationals played a double-header on Wednesday where Scherzer and Patrick Corbin both pitched. If the Nats want to give Mad Max some extra rest, they could slot Corbin in for the two-step. In that case, I’d drop him below Cole but keep him in the top tier.
- I’m loving Cole next week; he might strikeout 20 batters between his two outings against the Pirates and Mariners. If it weren’t for Mad Max, Cole would easily be atop this list.
- The rest of the top tier is full of surefire aces, but each has one difficult matchup. Kershaw in Colorado is tough, but he’s pitched pretty well in Coors over the second half of his career. Greinke just keeps defying the odds. He should dominate the Giants and is talented enough to hold serve at home against the Dodgers. Snell owners are still licking their wounds after the drubbing in the Bronx on Wednesday. Let’s try not to overreact to one start. He still holds elite swinging-strike and CSW rates, which currently sit at 18.3% and 34% respectively. Trust your ace!
- A two-step with both matchups at home? Yes please for Bumgarner. Enjoy them now before he gets traded because Oracle Park hides quite a few warts Bumgarner has shown over the past couple seasons.
Lucas Giolito (@BOS, MIN)
Jake Arrieta (NYM, @MIA)
Robbie Ray (LAD, @SFG)
Jon Lester (ATL, @CIN)
Nick Pivetta (NYM, @MIA)
Zach Eflin (NYM, @MIA)
Andrew Heaney (CIN, OAK)
Max Fried (@CHC, @NYM)
Kyle Gibson (TBR, @CHW)
- It turns out, Giolito is human after all, and as expected, that low home run rate just boarded the regression train. After the Cubs touched him up earlier this week, Giolito has a tough draw in his two-step next week. I still love the progress, but the Red Sox at home and the Twins in Guaranteed Rate Field will test his skills.
- I don’t necessarily believe Arrieta belongs in this tier given his declining skills, but I love his matchups. He’s coming off a very good start in Washington to quiet a Nationals team that has been mashing. If you own Arrieta, you’re clearly starting him next week. Ray fared well against the red-hot Rockies yesterday, but the walks are back. He’s a must-start against the Giants, but what about the home start against the Dodgers? Well, he managed a quality start and struck out nine Dodgers in seven innings the last time they met, so I’m feeling optimistic.
- Let’s talk more Philadelphia Phillies, shall we? Eflin has a two-step along with Arrieta given their seven-game slate next week. You don’t need to think twice about the Marlins matchup, but maybe the Mets at home make you nervous. It would be warranted as the Mets have been hitting well with a .344 wOBA over the past 14 days. Still, if you own him, start him.
- I’m not sure what happened to Heaney’s crazy-high strikeout rate over his past two starts. Even still, he’s carrying a 14.9% swinging-strike rate backed by a 32.3% CSW rate on the season. I like Heaney’s chances to recapture his elite whiff rates in his two home starts next week. Fried and Gibson have been pitching well this year. Neither of their matchups has me running for the hills, and the Twins and Braves provide plenty of run support for these hurlers to earn a couple wins next week.
Jon Gray (@SFG, LAD)
Adam Plutko (KCR, @BAL)
Chris Bassitt (@STL, @LAA)
C.C. Sabathia (TOR, @BOS)
Adbert Alzolay (ATL, @CIN)*
Trevor Richards (WSH, PHI)
Steven Matz (@PHI, ATL)
Julio Teheran (@CHC, @NYM)
Jesse Chavez (@DET, @TBR)
Zach Davies (SEA, PIT)
Drew Pomeranz (COL, ARI)
- Not only is Gray’s difficult start against the Dodgers, but it’s at home in Coors Field. His first start next week couldn’t be any better, so weekly leaguers, you need to decide how much you want to keep your pristine ratios. Plukto is intriguing because he’s walking just under one batter per nine innings. His issue has been with home runs. He’s an extreme fly-ball pitcher, and in just over 100 innings pitched in his big league career, he’s given up 31 home runs. That’s 2.58 home runs per nine innings! The Royals have only hit 31 home runs in Kauffman Stadium this year, so I like Plutko’s chances in KC, but I’m sitting him in Baltimore.
- I would prefer if Bassitt’s starts next week were at home, but he’s been pitching well this season. However, he’s actually been better on the road, for whatever that’s worth. If you play in a weekly league, Bassitt is the pitcher I prefer to role with of this group of pitchers in the questionable tier. He could be the diamond in the rough, owned in about 25% of FantasyPros leagues.
- Congratulations to Sabathia on win number 250! Maybe he can keep it going against the Blue Jays, and I’m all for it. Not in Boston, however. He may be amped up for that start, but odds will be against him. Richards and Matz have been inconsistent this year. Both have had their moments, but I can’t fully trust either of them in their two-steps next week. If I have to choose one, I’m going with Richards given Marlins Park as his backdrop.
- *Note: LAD and CHC have not confirmed starters for Tuesday as of yet. The Cubs could either start Tyler Chatwood or Alzolay twice next week in place of the injured Kyle Hendricks. I would prefer it to be Alzolay, but if Chatwood gets the call, I’d keep him on my bench for both starts given the difficulty of the matchups.
- I’m cringing a little as I write about the last three pitchers in this tier. Chavez is not someone I trust in my fantasy lineup. Yes, his numbers look good this year, but his metrics are poor and the majority of his innings have come out of the bullpen. Luckily, the Tigers have been terrible this year. They have managed to hit just 22 home runs in Comerica Park this year and have a .277 wOBA as a team at home.
- The E5-less Mariners will be without a designated hitter, and the Pirates in Milwaukee aren’t a bad draw for Davies but his ceiling is certainly limited. Pomeranz is here for the spacious Oracle Park. Don’t look at his ERA; he’s been horrible, but there’s some luck going against him. His strikeout rate is decent, so he’s worth a stream in very deep leagues.
Aaron Sanchez (@NYY, KCR)
Marco Gonzales (@MIL, @HOU)
Trevor Williams (@HOU, @MIL)
Brad Keller (@CLE, @TOR)
Jeff Hoffman (@SFG, LAD)
Jordan Zimmermann (TEX, WSH)
Walker Lockett (@PHI, ATL)
- There’s not much to see here. I can certainly understand where you might throw Sanchez out there in his weekend start against the Royals if you’re desperate. Personally, I’m passing on his 5.5% K-BB rate and ugly 1.67 WHIP. Gonzales is a much better pitcher than Sanchez but lacks the swing-and-miss upside. Besides, he’s on the road against the Brewers and draws a healthier Astros club over the weekend.
- The Mariners and Pirates rotate brutal road matchups against the Brew Crew and Astros, so I’m going to give Williams an additional week of rest on my bench. He didn’t look good upon his return, but I think he holds some second-half value given his elite control metrics and ability to generate weak contact.
- Here are all the things Keller is great at: limiting home runs. That’s the end of the list. He’s sporting a sub-25% CSW rate and has issues with walks. There’s no value here. Hoffman would be intriguing in Oracle Park, but his inconsistent results have owners guessing too much.
- Lockett was called up by the Mets and started last night against the Cubs. It did not go well as he couldn’t escape the third inning. Can you guess what his strikeout rate was in Triple-A this year? Nope, lower. No, lower. OK, it was 8.9%! That’s not his K-BB rate, it’s his strikeout rate. Oh, and his matchups are extremely difficult. Hard pass.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)