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, many of our aces have difficult matchups with other fantasy stalwarts are starting to fade. With playoffs on the line, I’ll help you determine which pitchers to thrown into your lineup and which ones should be left on the bench. Here we go!
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Jacob deGrom (ARI, LAD)
Shane Bieber (@LAA, MIN)
Madison Bumgarner (PIT, MIA)
Zack Greinke (OAK, @KC)
Aaron Nola (ATL, BOS)
James Paxton (@BOS, @TOR)
Jose Quintana (@SD, PIT)
Zac Gallen (@NYM, CIN)
Zack Wheeler (ARI, LAD)
- We have reached September baseball, and championships are on the line. You don’t need to think twice about starting deGrom, Bieber, or Bumgarner. MadBum isn’t quite in deGrom’s or Bieber’s class, but given his matchups and the backdrop of Oracle Park, you’re starting him.
- We all love to live today like it’s a Nola Day. He’s been a bit frustrating this year and is coming off a clunker in Cincinnati on Wednesday night but has been better lately. Prior to Wednesday night, he had a 2.30 ERA, 0.77 WHIP and 28 strikeouts over his previous four starts. I’m going to ride or die with Nola next week.
- Big Maple, Paxton has recorded double-digit strikeouts twice in his past three starts while giving up just four earned runs in those outings. He’s been hot at the right time, continue to roll with him.
- Since the calendar turned to August, Quintana has been a beast with a 2.66 ERA and a 26.2% strikeout rate. The Pirates have been hot lately, but the Padres are in the bottom five of Major League Baseball with a 72 wRC+ over the past two weeks. Gallen has had a hell of a rookie season. He’s only given up more than two earned runs twice (three earned runs in both outings) in 13 starts. The Reds are extremely weak away from home, and the Mets continue to fade. I like Gallen, especially with his 31.5% CSW next week.
- The roller-coaster season for Wheeler continues. Owners don’t have the luxury to wait and find out if his ERA decreases to match his peripherals. He’s been good (not great) in his past two starts, giving up just two earned runs across 11 innings. Both the Diamondbacks and Dodgers have been middle-of-the-road offensively the past two weeks, and I like that both teams will be traveling across the country to face Wheeler in his two-step. I’m rolling the dice with Wheeler next week given the shallow depth of aces.
Jose Berrios (WSH, @CLE)
Lance Lynn (TB, OAK)
Trevor Bauer (@SEA, @ARI)
Jon Lester (@SD, PIT)
Max Fried (@PHI, @WSH)
Jordan Lyles (@MIA, @STL)
Trevor Williams (@SF, @CHC)
Wade Miley (OAK, @KC)
- Neither the Nationals nor the Indians strikeout a whole lot. Berrios has an 8.74 K/9, which is only slightly above league-average, believe it or not. He’s struggled of late and does not look anything like the ace he was in the first half. Walks and home runs are up in the second half for Berrios, and that’s the reason he’s slipped into this tier.
- Speaking of nightmare second halves, I give you Bauer. The way he has pitched recently, I was thinking about dropping him into the questionable tier. Since coming over to the Reds, he has an ugly 8.23 ERA. However, he draws the Mariners, who have been awful in the second half, and Bauer still possesses ace-level upside. I’m feeling a partial bounce back next week.
- After scanning Lester’s game logs, he has littered some absolute blow-ups amidst some gems. He’s only given up one earned run in his past two starts and always seems to rise to the occasion. He will need to do so as the Cubs look to punch their ticket to October. The Padres and Pirates are solid matchups, so feel free to deploy Lester.
- Fried just twirled a gem, giving up just one hit while striking out nine in seven innings against the Nationals. I would prefer his matchups be at home next week, but I’m rolling with him. He has an elite 25:1 K/BB ratio over his past three starts.
- What have you done for me lately? For Lyles, a hell of a lot! Over his past three outings, he’s posted a 1.53 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, and three wins. The degree of difficulty is relatively low in his two-step, so I’m in on Lyles. His former teammate Williams has improved with three quality starts in his past three outings. I don’t love the start in Chicago but believe he will post respectable numbers in Wrigley. His outing in Oracle Park should carry him next week, which is why he’s in this tier.
- Miley is coming off a forgettable start in which he failed to record an out. I’m not going to pretend that Miley is a highly skilled pitcher, but he typically gets the job done. With an elite team behind him and favorable matchups, I’ll be back in on Miley once more.
Julio Urias (@BAL, @NYM)
Mike Foltynewicz (@PHI, @WSH)
Mike Fiers (@HOU, @TEX)
Merrill Kelly (@NYM, CIN)
Jakob Junis (@CHW, HOU)
Trevor Richards (@TEX, @LAA)
Robert Dugger (MIL, @SFG)
Ivan Nova (KC, @SEA)
Chase Anderson (@MIA, @STL)
Patrick Sandoval (CLE, TB)
Felix Hernandez (CIN, CHW)
Logan Webb (PIT, MIA)
- Foltynewicz and Urias provide intriguing upside but are also extremely volatile. Both the Phillies and Nationals have been mashing lately, and Folty will be away from home. He’s been much better since he was recalled, but his fastball velocity has dropped 2 mph since early August so tread lightly my friends. Urias is a better option than Folty but simply hasn’t been stretched out just yet. He hasn’t gone more than three innings since April. Look elsewhere if you need a quality start, but hopefully he has the opportunity to go five innings in his start in New York.
- Fiers continues to prove me wrong with his 13 wins and 3.51 ERA. I will still maintain that his 9.4% K-BB rate mirrors a pitcher who is closer to his 4.75 FIP. Either way, he has a two-step in Texas, where the weather is still scorching hot. Junis and Kelly have quietly been effective in the second half. Junis has been essentially league-average since the break, so I’d start him in Chicago but sit him against the Astros. Kelly is coming off his best start of the season, but it was against the Padres. I like his matchups better than Junis’, so in weekly leagues, I’d lean Kelly over Junis.
- I’m not a fan of either Duggar or Nova, but they are strapped with decent matchups. There’s limited upside here, but in weekly leagues, these guys have safe floors. Sandoval is just 22 years old and has a 27% strikeout rate backed by a 13.9% swinging-strike rate. His curve and change look like they will play in the bigs, but I’m a little skeptical of his 27.7% CSW. His matchups are tough, but at least he’s at home. Don’t expect him to go six-plus innings, but he’s a decent deep-league option.
- If you’re desperate, go ahead and turn back the clock on Hernandez. He has two easy home starts, but this isn’t 2014; we are still talking about Prince Felix here. Webb is showing us just how volatile pitching can be, especially for a rookie. Here are his earned runs by game: 1, 4, 1, 8. The matchups are tasty, and he has some swing-and-miss in his repertoire. You could do worse. See below.
Anibal Sanchez (@MIN, ATL)
Elieser Hernandez (MIL, @SF)
Dario Agrazal (@SF, @CHC)
Cal Quantrill (CHC, @COL)
Michael Wacha (@COL, MIL)
Wilmer Font (BOS, NYY)—Opener
Ty Blach (LAD, @DET)
Chi Chi Gonzalez (STL, SD)
Edwin Jackson (NYY, BAL)
- Maybe Sanchez doesn’t belong in this tier, but his two-step is brutal. The Twins are No. 1 in baseball in home runs this season and have not cooled off with a 134 wRC+ over the past two weeks. The Braves aren’t so bad themselves. Sanchez doesn’t provide enough upside to warrant a start next week.
- Agrazal has an 11.5% strikeout rate and a 5.7% swinging-strike rate. If he qualified, he would rank last in MLB just behind Brett Anderson in strikeout rate. Whatever you need next week in your lineup, you won’t find it with Agrazal. Look elsewhere.
- Both Quantrill and Wacha have the honor of braving Coors Field next week. Obviously, they should be benched for those starts. Unfortunately, both should also be sat in daily leagues where they are faced with the Cubs and Brewers, respectively. Quantrill is coming off of two straight eight-earned run outings, while Wacha went just two innings on Wednesday night. He’s gone more than five innings once in his past six starts.
- If you want a chuckle, go take a peek at Blach’s FanGraphs player page. His strikeout minus walk rate is 0.8%! He’s giving up more than two home runs per nine innings and sports an ERA north of 10. The Tigers are terrible, but he Dodgers will put up crooked numbers against Blach. Steer clear.
- You didn’t think there would be two options below Blach, did you? Well, here we are. Gonzalez is lucky (unlucky) enough to have a two-step at home. We are all smart enough to know even the skilled pitchers can be had by Coors Field. Chi Chi is anything but a good pitcher. He’s not an option next week. Jackson finally managed to get his ERA below 10 (currently 9.16). His cutter that he throws 27.5% of the time might be one of the worst pitches in baseball. Hitters have an OPS of 1.208 with a wRC+ of 227 against it! Yikes, stop throwing that Edwin! Just say no.
(Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire)