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, we have a shallow grouping of two-start options with four teams playing just five games. The top tier provides quite a bit of depth but it thins out quickly. That’s the reality of pitching in 2019.
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Gerrit Cole (DET, LAA)
Shane Bieber (@NYM, KCR)
Clayton Kershaw (TOR, NYY)
Chris Sale (PHI, @SDP)
Stephen Strasburg (@PIT, @CHC)
Dallas Keuchel (MIA, @NYM)
Trevor Bauer (SDP, @PIT)
- We are in wait-and-see mode with Gerrit Cole who has seemingly avoided a major injury after a late-scratch from Tuesday’s start. As of now, he’s scheduled for two starts next week and if that happens, he’s the top dog in his two-step.
- Justin’s relative, Shane Bieber has more than earned ace-status with his performance this year. He’s posted a 3.27 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, and a clean 200 strikeouts on the season. His 25.8% K-BB rate ranks fifth among qualified starters. He’s locked and loaded next week. Clayton Kershaw has turned back the clock with a 33.5% strikeout rate since the start of July. When healthy, few starters are as bankable and consistent as Kershaw.
- Which Chris Sale are we going to be graced with next week? It’s anyone’s guess, but few pitchers have the ability to strike out 15 batters on any given night. Sale draws the Padres who have a 26.2% strikeout rate over the last month and the Phillies have been essentially league-average offensively this year. The Red Sox only have five games next week, so Sale is at risk of receiving just one start, so keep that in mind.
- I won’t try to convince you that Dallas Keuchel belongs with the aces above him but his matchups look tasty. He just struck out seven Mets in six shutout innings. I’m inclined to ignore the eight-run blow up in Miami and chalk it up to an unlucky .538 BABIP and insanely high home run per fly ball rate. I’m betting on Kid Keuchy next week.
- I know owners are feed up with the boisterous Trevor Bauer and his inconsistency has been maddening, but I love the matchups. His issues have been with walks and an elevated home run rate. The Pirates and Padres are both in the bottom third in taking walks, so it’s up to Bauer to keep the ball in the yard. His worst pitch per FanGraphs Pitch Value this season has been his changeup, so here’s hoping Luis Castillo can give him some pointers prior to next week’s games.
Domingo German (@OAK, @LAD)
Brendan McKay (SEA, @BAL)
Cole Hamels (SF, WSH)
Kyle Gibson (CWS, DET)
Wade Miley (DET, LAA)
Kolby Allard (LAA, @CWS)
- Give me a pitcher with a 20.5% K-BB rate and a 31.1% CSW to back it up. That’s my kind of pitcher. His two-step next week isn’t ideal but German has been reliable outside of two blow-ups this year. His ability to generate whiffs outside the zone ranks third among pitchers with at least 100 innings pitched.
- The Phillies turned Cole Hamels‘ homecoming into a nightmare. He’s back in Wrigley for his two-step next week and the Giants don’t scare anybody. I think he gets on track and can manage a quality start against the Nationals in his weekend matchup. Start ’em if you got ’em. Speaking of blow-ups, Wade Miley took it on chin this week against the White Sox. He’s been pitching over his head this year but has managed 13 quality starts and 11 wins over 25 starts. His opponents aren’t too scary and the Astros should give plenty of run support. It’s not time to jump off the Miley train just yet.
- The former Braves Prospect Kolby Allard has impressed in his first two starts this year for Texas. He’s sporting an impressive 35.5% CSW and draws the White Sox and Angels who find themselves in the bottom third of the league in strikeout rate over the last month. Walks have been an issue but his zone rate seems just fine, I’m rolling the dice.
Chris Archer (WSH, CIN)
Ivan Nova (@MIN, TEX)
Steven Matz (CLE, ATL)
Gio Gonzalez (@STL, ARI)
Joe Ross (@PIT, @CHC)
Ivan Nova (@MIN, TEX)
Brad Keller (@BAL, CIN)
Marco Gonzales (@TBR, TOR)
John Means (KCR, TBR)
Trevor Williams (WSH, CIN)
Michael Wacha (MIL, COL)
- Chris Archer continues to struggle with the home run ball and his 10.6% walk rate is the highest its been since 2012. He’s still piling up the strikeouts and his 30.1% CSW rate backs it up, so given his ceiling, he’s my top choice from this group next week.
- I can’t believe the run Ivan Nova is on. Over his last five starts, he has a 0.49 ERA with two complete games. He hasn’t changed anything in his pitch mix and his velocity is actually down a tick. I don’t trust this, especially with a .168 BABIP and 91.6% strand rate. You can try to ride the hot hand but the matchups are difficult next week.
- Steven Matz has seemingly turned the corner, allowing two earned runs or fewer in four of his last five starts. He’s still a Cherry Bomb thanks to multiple five-plus run implosions this season. I hate the matchups but he’s sporting a 2.14 ERA at home this year, so I’m starting him in deeper formats. Gio Gonzalez is sort of the opposite of Matz in that he rarely blows up in the way Matz can kill your ratios. The Brewers are also cautious with him only allowing him two times through the order. He’s a decent floor play next week but will struggle to finish six innings.
- Over his last three starts, Joe Ross has only given up one earned run. He has some intrigue next week but both matchups are on the road. Given his lack of strikeout upside, I’d sit him in Chicago but give him a shot against the Pirates. He isn’t a great option in weekly leagues.
- The rest of this tier may put you to sleep. These guys don’t generate a ton of whiffs and all are below-average in terms of CSW%. Brad Keller tops this grouping of mediocre options given the lighter matchups and his ability to get ground balls. The veteran left-hander Marco Gonzales has 15 strikeouts over the last 12.1 innings pitched which at least piques my interest but one of those outings was against the horrid Tigers. Given the landscape of pitching, he’s a decent play in QS leagues.
- Despite easier matchups, John Means has two home starts in Baltimore where home runs are flying out record rates. You’d be wise to keep him on your bench. Michael Wacha closes this tier out. The only reason he’s not in the bottom tier is that he has two home starts and is coming off a decent outing in Cincinnati. You’ve got to be desperate to give him run next week.
Spencer Turnbull (@HOU, @MIN)
Dakota Hudson (MIL, COL)
Elieser Hernandez (@ATL, PHI)
Dillon Peters (@TEX, @HOU)
Eric Lauer (@CIN, BOS)
Pedro Payano (LAA, @CWS)
Tommy Milone (@TBR, TOR)
Sean Reid-Foley (@LAD, @SEA)
Kyle Freeland (@ARI, @STL)
Jeff Hoffman (@ARI, @STL)
Ross Detwiler (@MIN, TEX)
Edwin Jackson (@HOU, @MIN)
- I’ll cover a few of these guys but you know the drill here. Keep these guys on your bench. Spencer Turnbull has been solid over his last three starts but the Astros and Twins have a wRC+ of 143 and 120, respectively over the last 30 days. These are nightmare matchups.
- You know I’m not a Dakota Hudson fan. Sure, a 57% groundball rate is great for limiting home runs but he’s still giving up 1.34 HR/9! Besides, his K-BB rate is a measly 6.7%. I like Elieser Hernandez but he gives up too many fly balls and therefore, home runs. The Braves and Phillies enjoy hitting home runs and Hernandez serves up 91 mph fastballs. This is not the week to start him.
- Dillon Peters has a really solid changeup that he throws about 20% of the time. He threw it 38% of the time in his start against the Pirates and looked great. The problem is, his two-step is in Texas against the Rangers and Astros. I’d look elsewhere. How does Sean Reid-Foley have a 3.00 ERA this season? He has a below-average 26.9% CSW and just a five percent K-BB rate! I’m not one to gamble on a pitcher like that. Especially not a RHP against the Dodgers.
- Even with two starts away from Coors Field, the Rockies starters will be on my bench. Neither Kyle Freeland nor Jeff Hoffman provides any value. Even their ERAs on the road are terrible.
- Then there’s Edwin Jackson. I asked this a few weeks ago, but why is he still in the league? He’s sporting an 8.62 ERA and his FIP is 8.14! I wouldn’t start him in a two-start week if he was facing the Tigers twice. Oh wait, he’s on the Tigers. Damn!
(Photo by Gerry Angus/Icon Sportswire)