Welcome back, Pitcher List community! 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. Next week, an amazing 15 teams will play seven games, so our two-start options are plentiful even if the top tier options are limited. Let’s get to it!
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Gerrit Cole (OAK, @STL)
Chris Sale (@TBR, NYY)
Mike Clevinger (@TOR, @KCR)
Trevor Bauer (@TOR, @KCR)
Chris Paddack (@NYM, SF)
Stephen Strasburg (COL, LAD)
Robbie Ray (BAL, @MIA)
- OK, so Cole and Sale are a couple of pretty damn elite top options next week. Cole has two solid matchups, and while Sale’s opponents are tougher, he’s coming off a 12-strikeout performance against the Blue Jays. Lock and load these two next week.
- I’m starting to think Clevinger might be the best pitcher in the Indians rotation. Over his past three starts, he’s given up just two earned runs while striking out 27 batters across 18 innings. Bauer, on the other hand, has had a roller-coaster season. We can take solace in knowing that he draws the Blue Jays, who have just an 86 wRC+ as a team, and the Royals, who just lost one of their best offensive weapons in Adalberto Mondesi.
- These matchups are pretty sweet for Paddack. Similarly to Clevinger, the Cowboy has been nearly unhittable in his past three starts, giving up just six hits across those outings! Drawing the road Rockies, who have a .277 wOBA away from Coors Field, is nice for Strasburg. Sure, the Dodgers are nasty, but I feel confident rolling with Strasburg for both starts. Maybe Ray walks the field, but given matchups against two of the worst offenses in the league, I’ll take my chances. He could strike out 20 batters next week and I would not be surprised. Stay tuned.
Sonny Gray (@MIL, COL)
Jon Gray (@WSH, @CIN)
Eduardo Rodriguez (@TBR, NYY)
Chris Archer (STL, @NYM)
Domingo German (@MIN, @BOS)
Kyle Gibson (NYY, @CHW)
Jason Vargas (SDP, PIT)
Trevor Richards (@CWS, ARI)
- I’m not sure how I feel about Fifty Shades of Grey, but next week, I’m very likely starting both Sonny Gray and Jon Gray. For Sonny, the road start in Milwaukee looks daunting, but few starters have been as good recently. In his past four starts, he carries a 1.65 ERA with 11.52 K/9. Jon has given up just four earned runs in his past three road starts, and I think he can keep the ball in the yard next week. He’s in my lineup as well.
- It’s nice to see Rodriguez pitching well. He’s been good over his past four starts, which included a one-run outing with 10 strikeouts against the Dodgers. The strikeouts are back up for Archer, but unfortunately, so is everything else, including walks and home runs. He’s been better lately as he’s completely ditched his sinker in favor of his slider. The matchups don’t scare me all that much, so I’m giving Archer a shot next week.
- Richards and Vargas make the cut in this tier mostly because of their favorable matchups. If you need a streamer with a solid two-step, I’d give them a look. I would not blame you if you are questioning the German ranking, but he’s been just too good to sit. Next week will be the ultimate test for the young righty, and I can’t wait to see how he performs. With Gibson, I think he will dominate the White Sox, and while the Yankees pose a threat, the backdrop of Target Field eases my concerns. I’m going to be rolling with Gibson next week.
Martin Perez (NYY, @CHW)
Felix Pena (@LAD, BAL)
Danny Duffy (@ATL, CLE)
Mike Fiers (@HOU, TEX)
Nick Pivetta (@DET, ATL)
Chase Anderson (CIN, CHC)
CC Sabathia (@MIN, @BOS)
Marco Gonzales (TEX, DET)
Alec Mills (@SFG, @MIL)
Daniel Ponce de Leon (@PIT, HOU)
Spencer Turnbull (PHI, @SEA)
- Could this tier get any deeper? For the most, these guys are pretty self-explanatory. These starters are all mediocre fantasy options at best with one matchup where I’m willing to slot them into my lineup and the other, well, not so much. For daily moves leagues, I’d be looking to run with Perez against the White Sox, Pena against the Orioles, Duffy against the Indians, Gonzales versus the Tigers, Mills in San Fransisco, and Ponce de Leon in Pittsburgh. I’m benching all of these pitchers in their other matchups next week. In weekly moves leagues, my favorites are the top four options. I think they have the best chance to net positive results for your fantasy team.
- I didn’t mention Anderson because he has two moderately difficult matchups. However, he’s showing flashes of his 2017 breakout as his velocity is back up over 93.5 mph, and he’s throwing more cutters and changeups. Shallow, 10-team leagues may want to keep him on the bench, but he’s a decent streamer next week for deeper leagues.
- Do I trust Pitvetta at all? No. Would I throw him out there for upside against the Tigers, who have an anemic 70 wRC+ at home this season? Sure, why not.
- Sabathia, even at 38, just keeps plugging along and has just one outing this year over four earned runs allowed. I hate that saying, “plugging along,” and yet I’m using it for Sabathia and his two-step against the Twins and Red Sox. Both are road starts, which I don’t love, but he seems to always hold his own, especially in tough divisional matchups.
- Neither matchup for Turnbull is all that appealing, but I believe he has some value. He doesn’t belong in the bench tier next week. Turnbull has been great at limiting home runs at just 0.82 HR/9 this year and could be a ratios play next week. If you need strikeouts though, I might look elsewhere.
Zach Davies (CIN, CHC)
Jesse Chavez (@SEA, @OAK)
Dakota Hudson (@PIT, HOU)
Adrian Sampson (@SEA, @OAK)
Aaron Brooks (@ARI, @LAA)
Homer Bailey (@HOU, TEX)
Dario Agrazal (STL, @NYM)
Peter Lambert (@WSH, @CIN)
Ivan Nova (MIA, MIN)
Shaun Anderson (CHC, @SDP)
Ryan Borucki (CLE, TBR)
Aaron Sanchez (CLE, TBR)
- We’ve come to the bench tier. You shouldn’t be all that surprised with the names listed here. However, you may be asking why a pitcher with a 2.89 ERA in Davies is here. Well, his FIP is 4.28, and his xFIP is an even 5.00. You certainly won’t be getting any strikeouts given his K/9 that sits just below six. He’s been decent recently but has not faced lineups as deep as the Cubs and Reds over the past two months. You’d be wise to bench Davies next week.
- Chavez gets relief from the Texas heat next week, but I don’t think it matters. He’s been punished in his past four starts giving up 20 earned runs in those outings. There’s no value here. Do we trust Hudson’s 3.57 ERA or his 5.14 FIP? Let’s see. His K-BB rate is a poor 6.3%, so understand that he won’t help you with strikeouts. The Pirates aren’t a bad matchup, but then he gets the Astros. No thank you.
- Sampson and Brooks each draw a couple of road starts next week. Generally, it’s not a bad thing to leave Arlington in the summer, but Sampson has a 7.64 ERA away from home this year. Brooks is still ramping up from pitching out of the bullpen. He hasn’t gone three innings since June 8. Don’t expect a win or quality start next week from him.
- Bailey has a very difficult draw next week. He’s getting more whiffs thanks to an increase in splitter usage. So that’s good. Unfortunately, it’s his only plus pitch, and I think Homer will have a homer problem next week. I do not trust Agrazal despite solid matchups next week. His 2.45 ERA is a mirage. He has an 89.6% strand rate and a .250 BABIP, so there’s regression coming. Besides, he has just a 7.6% strikeout rate! Nope.
- Lambert away from Coors Field is a little more appealing. However, his putrid 14.6% strikeout rate and two difficult matchups will keep him on my bench. If you’ve read this before, you know I’m not a fan of Nova. His strikeout rate is in the Lambert range, but at least he gives up more home runs. Wait … that’s bad. Maybe you should stream hitters against Nova next week.
- The decent strikeout rates from the minors have not followed Anderson to The Show. I just can’t find any upside next week with him. Sanchez should not be pitching in the majors anymore this year. He’s been unsuccessful in generating whiffs, he struggles to find the zone, and gives up far too many home runs. You don’t need me to tell you to keep Sanchez out of your lineup, but I will anyway. Don’t let Sanchez do you dirty.
(Photo by Frank Jansky/Icon Sportswire)