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, there appear to be plenty of top-tier options, but the depth thins out quickly as we hit the second tier. This year has been rough given the rise in offensive production, but let’s jump into our options.
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Gerrit Cole (@CHW, @OAK)
Clayton Kershaw (@MIA, @ATL)
Zack Greinke (@CHW, @OAK)
Zack Wheeler (@ATL, @KCR)
Jack Flaherty (@KCR, @CIN)
Lance Lynn (@TOR, MIN)
Mike Clevinger (BOS, @NYY)
James Paxton (BAL, CLE)
Brendan McKay (@SDP, DET)
- It’s amazing to think the Pirates couldn’t unlock the amazing goodness within Cole. His 56 strikeouts over the past 30 days are the most in the majors, and he’s compiled five wins over that stretch. There’s no reason Cole shouldn’t continue his dominance next week against the White Sox and Athletics.
- There’s a drop off after Cole, but veterans Kershaw and Greinke should be set on cruise control in your daily/weekly lineups. We are lucky to be getting vintage Kershaw with a 1.74 ERA and 40 strikeouts over his past 31 innings. Greinke wasn’t lights out in his first start with the Astros, but his velocity has been up over the past month. In the Astros we trust.
- True talent is finally coming through for Wheeler and Flaherty. Pretty soon, we will all forget about their terrible first halves and could be witnessing two future aces. Flaherty’s 0.86 ERA over the past month is second-best among qualified starters, and Wheeler is coming off two scoreless outings. Lock and load.
- Lynn has been one of the most valuable starters in the American League this year, earning 5.5 fWAR and a 21.8% K-BB rate. His fastball has been money, and there’s no need to think twice about his two-step next week. Clevinger has two nightmare matchups against two AL East opponents, but I can’t sit him. Clev has just a 2.68 FIP this year with an insane 28.4% K-BB rate! He’s a top-10 starting pitcher and an ace of the Indians staff next year, mark my words.
- What type of starts will we be graced with from Big Maple next week? His matchups are decent and in Yankee Stadium, where he’s much better with a 3.67 ERA. McKay has rare control for a rookie pitcher, which is why he has earned this ranking. He’s only walked three batters in 29.2 innings pitched. The Friars and Tigers are free-swingers, so I could see two deep outings with very nice ratios for McKay next week.
Domingo German (BAL, CLE)
Eduardo Rodriguez (@CLE, BAL)
Zac Gallen (@COL, SFG)
Joey Lucchesi (TBR, @PHI)
Max Fried (NYM, LAD)
Jose Quintana (@PHI, @PIT)
- I think Rodriguez is a very good pitcher, but he never seems to put it all together. His matchups aren’t all that bad next week, but given his lack of consistency, he finds himself in the second tier. I’m still rolling with him in all leagues next week.
- Yup, Gallen has a start in Colorado, but he’s also pitching at home against the Giants. I’ve been impressed with his ability to get whiffs. His swinging-strike rate is a very solid 12.9% with a 30.1% CSW to back it up. Call me crazy, but I like Gallen next week. Lucchesi is another guy who has been inconsistent but has shown impressive skills. Because of his shallow pitch mix, he’s not likely to be as valuable in quality start leagues, but otherwise, I’m rolling with Lucchesi this week.
- I’ve been fascinated with Fried this year, and it appears his 4.11 ERA has been a bit unlucky thanks to a .339 BABIP. I like his 16.9% K-BB rate and love that he gets two home starts next week. Fried has been better at home, and the Dodgers, while still decent, are not nearly as good against left-handed pitchers. Quintana has started to turn his season around with back-to-back solid starts. I’m not too concerned about the Pirates, and Quintana threw six shutout innings the last time the faced the Phillies.
Anthony DeSclafani (@WSH, STL)
Alex Wood (@WSH, STL)
Tyler Alexander (SEA, @TBR)
Dylan Cease (HOU, @LAA)
Jose Suarez (PIT, CHW)
Jason Vargas (CHC, SDP)
Merrill Kelly (@COL, SFG)
Trevor Williams (@LAA, CHC)
Yusei Kikuchi (@DET, @TOR)
Brett Anderson (@SFG, HOU)
- Would you look at that? The questionable tier is deep again! There are two Reds atop the list in Wood and DeSclafani. Wood struggled last night against the Cubs as he’s still rounding into form after a lengthy IL stint to start the season. I’m staying away from the start in Washington, but the Cardinals are in the bottom third against left-handers. I’d play Tony Disco the same way but ranked him over Wood because of his strikeout potential.
- Alexander is intriguing, and I like him at home against the Mariners. Comerica Park is favorable for pitchers. This kid’s got good control. At no stop in the minors has Alexander walked more than 1.91 batters per nine innings! Cease is starting to show improvements, and while I am keeping him on the bench against the Astros, he’s all systems go in LA given his strikeout potential.
- I know Suarez has an ERA that makes you cringe, but he does have a 21.9% strikeout rate with a solid 11.9% swinging strike rate to back it up. If I’m in a deep league, he’d pique my interest in this two-step next week, but I prefer him against the Pirates, who have just a 74 wRC+ against left-handed pitchers this year, good (bad) for last in the league.
- Feel free to start Vargas at home against the Padres in daily moves leagues but not versus the Cubs, who have gotten a boost from Nick Castellanos. There’s not a whole lot of analysis needed with Kelly’s two-step next week. He’s been very mediocre this season but has managed a 2.76 ERA against the Giants in three turns. The @COL designation is essentially a bench for anyone who isn’t a top-10 to -15 starting pitcher.
- Kikuchi and Anderson can be deployed in their first matchups next week, so daily leaguers can make the move. Otherwise, keep them off your roster for the weekend series.
Zach Plesac (BOS, @NYY)
John Means (@NYY, @BOS)
Asher Wojciechowski (@NYY, @BOS)
Dillon Peters (PIT, CHW)
Martin Perez (@MIL, @TEX)
Jordan Yamamoto (LAD, @COL)
Ivan Nova (HOU, @LAA)
Ariel Jurado (@TOR, MIN)
Gabriel Ynoa? (@NYY, @BOS)
Peter Lambert (ARI, MIA)
- You know what to do here. You don’t want any part of this tier unless interested in punt-ratios mode. The top three pitchers in this tier Plesac, Means, and Wojciechowski all have some talent and in certain weeks are streamable options. Next week is a different story as they all have dates with the Yankees and Red Sox. No thank you! Fun Fact: The Yankees as a team have a wRC+ of 141 over the past month. That’s like facing an entire team of Freddie Freemans or J.D Martinezes!
- Peters has two easy matchups at home next week and is carrying a 3.20 ERA in 25.1 innings on the season. Then why is here? Well, he’s induced a swinging-strike rate of just 8.6% and a CSW rate of only 26.6% this year. Oh, and his FIP is an ugly 5.26. The wheels are coming off and soon.
- When Perez was throwing 95-96 mph before the season, I had pegged him as a potential sleeper. Over the past four starts, he’s throwing under 94 mph, and his ERA over that stretch is an awful 8.14. Don’t risk it next week with his difficult road starts.
- Yamamoto is interesting to me, especially at home. However, he draws the Dodgers next week followed by a start in Coors Field. Yeah, hard pass. I get that Nova has been decent lately, but he might struggle to strike out my high school teammates. The start against the Astros is enough to have me pass on Nova next week.
- Jurado draws two difficult matchups in his two-step. The Blue Jays are reenergized with the youth invasion, and the Twins continue to aim for the home run record. He’s a clear bench next week. Lambert, unfortunately, has two starts in Coors Field next week. Not that it really matters with a pitcher who carries a 6.87 ERA and 16.3% strikeout rate. Yikes! Good luck next week!
(Photo by Tim Spyers/Icon Sportswire)