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. The trade deadline is Wednesday, July 31, so beware of the pitchers below who may be on the move. There are only four teams that have seven games next week, but we have got aces galore coming at you in trade deadline week! Let’s get to it!
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Justin Verlander (@CLE, SEA)
Max Scherzer (ATL, @ARI)
Charlie Morton (@BOS, MIA)
Shane Bieber (HOU, LAA)
Patrick Corbin (ATL, @ARI)
Noah Syndergaard (@CHW, @PIT)
Caleb Smith (ARI, @TBR)
Sonny Gray (PIT, SFG)
Marcus Stroman (@KCR, @BAL)
- The top tier is pretty self-explanatory next week. I won’t argue with you if you prefer Scherzer over Verlander, but it’s like splitting hairs. Both studs have decent matchups, but does it matter? They are both matchup-proof, lock, and load. It’s been a joy to watch Morton and his incredible curveball. I hope he is able to finish the season healthy. Ground Chuck has reached evergreen status.
- The real question some may have is in regard to Bieber. Is he now an ace? Let’s see: He’s rocking a 3.44 ERA, a 0.99 WHIP, and a 25.8% K-BB rate. How about his CSW%? Well, that’s an elite 33.9%, so yeah, I guess he’s an ace. Corbin gets to face his former club in the Diamondbacks, so I have to imagine he’ll be amped up for that one. The Braves are tough, but Corbin gets the backdrop of Nationals Park.
- Will Syndergaard be dealt before he makes his second start? Rumors abound for both Thor and Zack Wheeler as potential trade candidates, so who knows? The matchups are certainly money for Thor next week, so for his owners’ sake, let’s hope he stays put.
- Smith is coming off a near no-hitter this past week and has an impressive 31.2% CSW% this season. He has an even 3.00 ERA over the past month, and I’m deploying him in all formats.
- Would you believe me if I told you that Gray is fourth in baseball over the past 30 days with a 28.2% K-BB rate? Well, he is. He’s also rocking a 1.62 ERA over that stretch and draws two below-average offensive opponents. OK, so Stroman doesn’t pile up strikeouts and could be dealt before the month of July is out, but look at those matchups. Stroman has a 2.96 ERA, gets a ton of ground balls and keeps the ball in the yard. At a minimum, he should face the Royals before the deadline, so he’s in my lineup next week.
David Price (TBR, @NYY)
Dallas Keuchel (@WSH, CIN)
Yu Darvish (@STL, MIL)
Jake Odorizzi (@MIA, KCR)
Vince Velasquez (SFG, CHW)
Kenta Maeda (@COL, SDP)
Reynaldo Lopez (NYM, @PHI)
John Means (@SDP, TOR)
- Price draws two difficult matchups in his two-step. Despite the injuries, the Yankees are still a top-three offense this year, and the Rays find themselves inside the top half. Price has struggled of late and has a forgettable history against the Yankees with a 7.24 ERA and a 1.69 WHIP against the Bronx Bombers since coming over to the Red Sox.
- Keuchel falls into the Stroman mold but draws two difficult opponents. I’m still rolling with him after a surprising 12-strikeout performance against the Royals. Expect decent ratios but not double-digit strikeouts. Darvish has sandwiched a couple of scoreless outings in between two starts where he gave up four earned runs. On a positive note, the strikeouts are back and have been consistent. As long as he continues to command his cutter, he’ll be fine. You can start Yu.
- One month ago, Odorizzi would be in the top tier given these cake-walk matchups next week. However, over the past month, he’s carrying an 8.34 ERA with a neutral BABIP. His home run rate is off the charts, but hey, he’s a fly-ball pitcher in the dog days of summer. I’d love to fully trust Velasquez, but I’m not there yet. His strikeout rate is the highest it’s been since 2016, but he’s so damn volatile. The Giants have been better lately, but the White Sox remain a bottom-five offensive club this year, roll the dice in 12-team leagues.
- Speaking of pitchers who are difficult to trust, Lopez fits that mold. He’s been on fire lately, averaging 97 mph on his four-seam fastball since the break. How important is the fastball velocity for ReyLo? The difference between an ace and a pitcher you stream against, that’s how important. We just have to trust he maintains it.
Merrill Kelly (@MIA, WSH)
Ross Stripling (@COL, SDP)
Drew Smyly (SFG, CHW)
Jon Gray (LAD, SFG)
Dinleson Lamet (BAL, @LAD)
J.A. Happ (ARI, BOS)
Tanner Roark (PIT, @ATL)
Jaime Barria (DET, @CLE)
Lucas Sims (PIT, @ATL)
- Kelly doesn’t do much for me. He’s essentially been a cross between a back-end starter and a streamer in 12-team leagues. Sure, in daily-moves leagues, I’ll roll him out against the Marlins, but I’m thinking the Nationals take him for a ride. Stripling has been a little underwhelming as a starter and has yet to go beyond the fifth inning in any start. You have to bench him in Colorado, but feel free to deploy him against the Padres at home.
- Did the Phillies figure something out with Smyly, or was he just fortunate to get the ice-cold Pirates? Well, his cutter usage was up nearly 20%, and he managed a 15.6% swinging-strike rate in that outing. That’s something I can work with. I don’t think he’ll be as dominant next week, but given the matchups, he’s a very good streaming option.
- The Orioles have a 78 wRC+ on the road, which is 28th in the league. Feel free to slot Dielson Lamet in your lineup against the Friars, but a start in Dodger Stadium at this time of year is almost suicide. Happ is having an awful year, but he’s better at home recently save for a start against the Astros. He should be fine to roll with against the Diamondbacks but not against the division-rival Red Sox.
- Barria is a little bit interesting to me. He’s got a 14.1% K-BB rate and an 11% swinging-strike rate. Those rates are essentially league-average, but I love the matchup at home against the Tigers. Detroit hitters strike out nearly 27% of the time and are in the bottom five in the league based on wRC+.
Julio Teheran (@WSH, CIN)
Wilmer Font (@KCR, @BAL)
Brad Keller (TOR, @MIN)
Jordan Lyles (@CIN, NYM)
Tyler Beede (@PHI, @COL)
Jordan Zimmermann (@LAA, @TEX)
Mystery Brewers SP??
- You might be looking at Teheran’s 3.42 ERA on the season and think: Why am I benching him next week? Well, he’s got a sub-90 mph fastball, a .260 BABIP, and a single-digit swinging-strike rate. I think the Nats lay the wood to him, and the Reds should give him trouble as well.
- I wanted to bump Font up to the next tier because the start in Kansas City looks pretty tasty. However, he’s not stretched out as he’s been a long man out of the Blue Jays bullpen. He likely won’t go five innings in either start next week. Move along. I’m not entirely sure how Keller has somehow managed an ERA below 4 in this current run environment. He’s sporting a 6.3% K-BB rate that ranks fourth from the bottom among qualified starters. You might scoot by against the Blue Jays, but the start in Minnesota looks far too daunting.
- Lyles seems completely broken. His K-BB rate is still decent, but his velocity is down from last season. Since May 23, his ERA is a mind-bending 9.57. There is far too much risk to go near him next week. Many fantasy analysts are recommending Beede as a pickup in most leagues, and I think he has a bright future. That being said, you’d have to pay me to slot him in my lineups next week. Philly is tough enough in Citizen’s Bank Park, but then he draws the Rockies in Coors. No thank you.
- Who has been worse this year: Sanchez or Zimmerman? Too close to call, but if you’re thinking about starting Zimm next week, you need to find a shallower league.
(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)