Welcome back, Pitcher List community! I hope everyone enjoyed the All-Star Game and Home Run Derby. It’s time to jump back in as we enter the unofficial second half. 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 who 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.
It’s important to note that many teams have yet to fully set up how their respective rotations will look following the All-Star break. We should have a better understanding following today’s games how teams will deploy their starting pitchers. I will do my best to project each two-start pitcher, but feel free to ask questions once more information becomes available. I’ll be happy to answer where pitchers will be ranked in the comments below for anyone who has been left off the list.
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Walker Buehler (@PHI, MIA)
Clayton Kershaw (@PHI, MIA)
Luis Castillo (@CHC, STL)
Blake Snell (@NYY, CWS)
Lucas Giolito (@KCR, @TBR)
Brandon Woodruff (ATL, @ARI)
James Paxton (TBR, COL)
Kyle Hendricks (CIN, SDP)
- Walker Buehler and Clayton Kershaw are my top two options next week. Both pitchers should mow right through the Marlins, and the Phillies have underperformed offensively this year will just a 94 wRC+. Luis Castillo will bring the best changeup in baseball with his two-step against the division rival Cubs and Cardinals. He’s carrying a career-best 28.8% strikeout rate with a fantastic 56.1% ground-ball rate. He’ll be inserted into all of my lineups next week.
- When Blake Snell is a top-five pitcher in the second half, don’t be surprised. The Yankees are tough, of course, but remember: Snell’s K-BB rate is 24.5%, which is better than it was last year when he won the Cy Young. I think Lucas Giolito needed the All-Star break, and now, he opens against the Royals. Giolito gets to hit the reset button, and his 32.4% CSW shows me he’s for real.
- The matchups are, for the most part, favorable for Brandon Woodruff, James Paxton, and Kyle Hendricks. I love me some Brandon Woodruff and here’s why. I expect Paxton to get off on the right foot in the second half with two home starts including one against the road Rockies. Hendricks holds a career ERA of 2.62 at Wrigley Field, and both of his outings next week are at home against league-average offensive clubs in his two-step.
Zack Wheeler (@MIN, @SFG)
Joe Musgrove (@STL, PHI)
*Jack Flaherty (PIT, @CIN)
*Zach Plesac (DET, KCR)
German Marquez (SFG, @NYY)
Max Fried (@MIL, WSH)
Dylan Cease (@KCR, @TBR)
Brad Peacock (@LAA, TEX)
Joey Lucchesi (@MIA, @CHC)
*CC Sabathia (TBR, COL)
*Martin Perez (NYM, OAK)
- Will the real Zack Wheeler please stand up? Right when I think he’s turned the corner, BAM! Philly throws a six-spot on him. If you own him, you’re starting him, but the Twins have not greeted starting pitchers pleasantly this year. The second half of 2019 will be known as the half of Joe Musgrove! Well, not really, but I think he puts up SP3 numbers the rest of the way. Both matchups are decent, and Joe-Joe’s been throwing his slide piece more often, so I’m rolling next week.
- I put Jack Flaherty and German Marquez in the Wheeler tier because both are better pitchers than their numbers indicate. Home runs are going to be an issue for Captain Jack in the GAB, but his start against the Pirates should make him a worthy option next week. How will Marquez fare against the league’s worst offense in Coors Field? It’s a great question, but I’ll lean on his talent. The trip to New York may prove to be more difficult for Marquez but he’s essentially the same pitcher he was last year, so I like his upside next week.
- Max Fried is better than his number indicate. Since June 9, his K-BB rate is 18.6%, but his ERA is an elevated 5.51 thanks to a .407 BABIP. I think he’s worthy of starting in his two-step next week. Another young pitcher in Dylan Cease draws a favorable matchup in Kansas City early next week. I really liked what I saw from Cease after he settled in during his MLB debut. The Royals don’t walk much, and command is Cease’s weakness, so while the Rays pose a threat, Cease has the stuff to provide solid numbers next week.
- Brad Peacock hasn’t pitched since June 27, so the start in LA could be a short one; otherwise, he’s a decent option. Martin Perez has not been confirmed to start on the July 16, so keep an eye on what the Twins do with him. He may not provide elite numbers next week, but the bats of the Twins should help provide a high probability for two wins next week.
Griffin Canning (HOU, @SEA)
*Andrew Heaney (HOU, @SEA)
Zach Eflin (LAD, @PIT)
Rick Porcello (TOR, @BAL)
Anibal Sanchez (@BAL, @ATL)
Adam Plutko (DET, KCR)
Jeff Samardzija (@COL, NYM)
Trevor Richards (SDP, @LAD)
Anthony DeSclafani (@CHC, STL)
Trent Thornton (@BOS, @DET)
*Vince Velasquez (LAD, @PIT)
Jakob Junis (CHW, @CLE)
- Griffin Canning and Andrew Heaney are probably the best pitchers in this tier but have to deal with the Astros at home and the Mariners on the road. I’d give both pitchers a go against the Mariners, who have struck out 25% as a team this year. My guy Zach Eflin has fallen on some hard times, and he’s due for even more negative regression in the second half. I’d only be starting my ace or No. 2 starting pitcher against the Dodgers, so Eflin does not qualify. The start in PNC Park might prove to be useful, so I’d roll the dice there.
- Veterans Rick Porcello and Anibal Sanchez both get the Orioles in Baltimore next week, and while it’s a favorable matchup, Camden Yards is a launching pad in the summer. I like Porcello at home against the Blue Jays, where he can notch a win/quality fart while netting four or five strikeouts.
- Adam Plutko is definitely worth a stream in his two-step next week in deeper leagues. Only the Padres have struck out more than the Tigers, and both the Royals and Tigers are bottom five in MLB in terms of wRC+. Speaking of streaming: Don’t stream Jeff Samardzija in Coors. That’s a given, but I like his chances at home against the Home Run Derby champ and the Mets.
- The grouping of Trevor Richards through Jakob Junis each have one great and one difficult matchup. I already mentioned that streaming against the Dodgers is a bad idea, so weekly leagues should find better options than Richards and Velasquez. Tony Disco has been on a pretty solid run save for a six-run outing against the Brewers. He’s not a bad option in either start, but I prefer him against the Cardinals. Junis is another option in this tier where I could see streaming in deep leagues, but if I had to choose between the two, start him at home against the White Sox.
Hector Velazquez (TOR, @BAL)
*Alex Young (@TEX, MIL)
Adrian Houser (ATL, @ARI)
Michael Wacha (PIT, @CIN)
Daniel Norris (@CLE, TOR)
Drew Pomeranz (@COL, NYM)
Bryse Wilson (@MIL, WSH)
Daniel Mengden (SEA, @MIN)
- Hector Velazquez might seem like he has two easier matchups given the high strikeout rates of both the Blue Jays and Orioles, but I can’t trust him as he’s averaged under three innings per start. Adrian Houser has solid metrics but has not fared well as a starting pitcher. He gave up 11 earned runs in three starts to close the first half. I believe he’s better utilized as a two-inning reliever because teams are teeing off on him the second time through.
- Drew Pomeranz is taking his 2.27 HR/9 and 10.6% walk rate with him into Coors Field next week. Hard pass for me. Maybe he can turn a quality start against the Mets in the weekend series, except he’s only gone six innings once this season. Don’t fall for that 25% strikeout rate, his 9.1% swinging-strike rate isn’t reflective of an elevated strikeout rate.
- Would you trust a 21-year-old rookie pitcher in Milwaukee and against the Nationals? I’m not feeling Bryse Wilson next week. He’s had one good start and two awful outings thus far. He’s talented and I’m intrigued long-term, but he could single-handedly lose your ratios next week.
- I’m not sure whether the Cubs will deploy Tyler Chatwood or call up Adbert Alzolay for a two-step next week, but either way, I’m skeptical. We saw what happened to Alzolay when his .000 BABIP and 100% strand rate caught up with him, and do we really trust that Chatwood has curbed his free pass issue?
- Mustache aside, there isn’t a whole lot to like about Daniel Mengden‘s profile. A strikeout/walk ratio that’s below 2.0 does not get me excited. The Mariners and Twins can mash. Stay away from Mengden next week.
*Not confirmed as starter.
(Photo by Quinn Harris/Icon Sportswire)