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. This is it! The final week of the regular season. If you’re reading this, congratulations on making your league’s H2H final or competing until the very end in your roto league. You know the deal with the final week of the season. Probable pitchers are often skipped or shut down early after only a few innings. We need to be careful with who we decide to start and who we decide to sit because it’s now or never. I’ll try my best to help you push through to victory next week. Thank you to all the loyal Pitcher List readers and good luck next week!
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Gerrit Cole (@SEA, @LAA)
Max Scherzer (PHI, CLE)
Sonny Gray (MIL, @PIT)
Patrick Corbin (PHI, CLE)
Jake Odorizzi (@DET, @KCR)
Aaron Nola (@WSH, MIA)
Blake Snell (BOS, @TOR)
Noah Syndergaard (MIA, ATL)
Eduardo Rodriguez (@TEX, BAL)
- My number one rule for the final week is no different than any other week. START YOUR ACES. Depending on the team’s situation or the player’s condition, these pitchers may or may not receive a second start. Or, the second start could be cut short to avoid injury, save the pitcher’s arm for the postseason, etc. Either way, one start from an ace is better than anything on the waiver wire, so don’t overthink it.
- Gerrit Cole has great matchups but at this point, it doesn’t matter who he opposes, he dominates. He shouldn’t have any problems striking out more than 10 batters in Seattle but I’d expect a shorter outing in LA in preparation for the playoffs. He should still provide elite ratios and plenty of punchouts.
- The Nationals aren’t catching the Braves, but will very likely be in the Wild Card game. My guess is they will preserve Max Scherzer for that game unless he’s needed to qualify for one of the two wild card slots. Patrick Corbin is very likely to receive two starts as the Nationals have a seven-game week and he’s scheduled for Monday and Saturday. Any way you slice it, lock and load your Nationals next week.
- Not many starters have been as consistent or successful as Sonny Gray in the second half. He’s earned six straight quality starts and has a 1.56 ERA with 69 strikeouts since August 1st. He’s earned this spot.
- You’ve trusted Jake Odorizzi all season, so why stop now when he’s slated to start against two of the worst offensive clubs in the Majors? Still, need a reason? OK, he hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any start in the last two months and has an 11.77 K/9 since the beginning of August.
- Aaron Nola has not been the ace we expected but does draw the Marlins for his final start of the week. He’s been inconsistent but his strikeout rate remains strong. I’m deploying Nola in my leagues. Ditto for Noah Syndergaard. He also draws the Marlins and if he twirls two gems, you’re going to be kicking yourself if you decided to bench him.
- Yup, Eduardo Rodriguez has earned this spot. He’s been on fire striking out eight, nine, and 12 batters in his last three starts. He’s also held opponents to one run or fewer in those outings. E-Rod for the win! Blake Snell is no longer Still ILL. You know he will pile up strikeouts but likely won’t qualify for a win against the Red Sox. The Rays want him stretched out for the postseason, so I could see him reaching the sixth inning in Toronto versus a young Blue Jays club.
Dinelson Lamet (LAD, @ARI)
Marcus Stroman (MIA, ATL)
Lance Lynn (BOS, NYY)
Ross Stripling (@SDP, @SFG)
Jeff Samardzija (COL, LAD)
Caleb Smith (@NYM, @PHI)
Sandy Alcantara (@NYM, @PHI)
Adam Wainwright (@ARI, CHC)
Aaron Civale (@CHW, @WSH)
Zach Eflin (@WSH, MIA)
- Maybe starting a pitcher against the Dodgers will make you a little queasy but as a team, they have managed just a 70 wRC+ over the last two weeks. Dinelson Lamet is coming off of a 14 strikeout performance against the Brewers and since his return has a near-elite 31.2% CSW. The only reason he’s not in the top tier is that his control issues could hurt your WHIP, but otherwise I’m all in here.
- Marcus Stroman, the worm killer, draws the Marlins and Braves at home in his two-step. His home run rate remains low and his strikeout rate has seen a boost of over three percent. He’s punched out at least six batters in each of his last five outings. There are fewer safe options than Stroman next week but he could provide some upside as well. The matchups look like Lance Lynn is walking into hell next week, but perception is not reality. While the Yankees remain hot, the Red Sox have the lowest wRC+ over the last two weeks. They are out of the playoff picture and performing like it. Lock and load Lynn next week.
- Jeff Samardzija is back in the circle of trust, as weird as that sounds. At age-34, he no longer induces many whiffs but the increased usage of his cutter has masked some of his inefficiencies. He draws two home starts against the Road Rockies and the Dodgers who will likely be resting their studs as they prepare for the postseason.
- My hesitation with Caleb Smith is due to his decreased velocity. He’s posted swinging strike rates in the single-digits each of his last two starts (13.0% SwStr rate on the season). His teammate, Sandy Alcantara has found success in the second half with his sinker. His strikeout rate has jumped as a result but sputtered in his most recent outing in Arizona. Both Marlin starters draw the Mets and Phillies away from Marlins Park, so there’s some risk. I’ve ranked Smith over Alcantara based on his track record of success. Trust the better pitcher.
- The last three have been pitching well of late, so in a sense, I’m riding the hot hand. Adam Wainwright has turned back the clock in 2019 with a 3.83 ERA which ranks 31st among qualified starters. Three of his last four outings have totaled zero earned runs so I’m going to continue to “trust” the veteran. Aaron Civale and Zach Eflin are pitching well above their peripherals but have succeeded in recent outings. Neither will compile many strikeouts but each has one good matchup which should be enough to help your club down the stretch.
Jon Lester (@PIT, @STL)
Mitch Keller (CHC, CIN)
Alex Young (STL, SDP)
Dylan Bundy (@TOR, @BOS)
Brett Anderson (@LAA, @SEA,)
Adrian Houser (@CIN, @COL)
- What happened to you, Jon Lester? The Cardinals have had his number this year and the Pirates blew the doors of Lester the last time they faced off. He’s a big-game pitcher so I’m inclined to let it ride next week unless you’re protecting ratios but could provide a PQS. He’s far too hittable these days, so tread lightly.
- My guy Mitch Keller came away with a decent start this week and draws the Cubs and Reds at home in his two-step. His FIP is down to 3.38 and has a 28.6% strikeout rate. The start against the Cubs is a concern because they’ve been raking but the Reds are a bottom tier offense over the last month, so I like him there. Alex Young is a daily moves play against the Padres at the end of the week. I don’t want any part of him against a charging Cardinals team. The same goes for Dylan Bundy. He’s away from Camden Yards which is a plus and could pile up strikeouts against a young Blue Jays lineup. I’m more leery of a blow-up in Boston however.
- Brett Anderson owns the lowest strikeout rate among qualifies starters at 12%. So, why is he in this tier? Well, he’s scheduled to face an Angels team without Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani and a Mariners team who has struck out over 28% of the time over the last two weeks. He typically goes five innings and should have a high probability of at least one win next week.
- Adrian Houser is a sit in many weekly leagues. You simply can’t risk one start in Coors Field. In daily leagues, I will definitely throw him out there against the Reds. His groundball tendencies have limited the longball and the Reds have mailed it in with a 76 wRC+ over the last 14 days.
Marco Gonzales (HOU, OAK)
Spencer Turnbull (MIN, @CHW)
Clay Buchholz (BAL, TBR)
Jhoulys Chacin (@TBR, BAL)
Dillon Peters (OAK, HOU)
Tim Melville (@SFG, MIL)
Ross Detwiler (CLE, DET)
- If you’re looking to win your league next week, please refrain from starting these pitchers. Marco Gonzales will be at home but has a tough draw. With limited upside in terms of strikeouts and a low probability to earn a win, I’m passing here.
- Spencer Turnbull is coming off a great start against the Indians but has been brutal in the second half with a 7.23 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP. I’m not willing to risk my season for these two starts against divisional opponents.
- Clay Buchholz is averaging under 90 mph on his fastball for the first time in his career. At age-35, it’s no surprise that his strikeout rate is a scant 13.6%. His matchups don’t scream sit but his ratios do. Chacin will do what Jhoulys expect. His slider is still a decent pitch and he’s slinging it nearly 50% of the time. Even still, he can’t mask arguably the worst fastball (-3.60 pVAL/100) in the league. I’m not expecting any success from Chacin, are you?
- I don’t like Dillon Peters‘ chances of earning a win in either start next week. He’s only gone more than five innings once in his last six outings. Here’s a fun fact, Peters has given up more earned runs over his last three starts than he’s earned strikeouts. Hard pass.
- All it takes in one start in Coors Field to land in the bench tier for Tim Melville. The 29-year-old journeyman is carrying a 7.17 FIP and a 2.86 HR/9! To be fair, almost 100% of the damage has been at home so in weekly leagues, he’s a must-sit. In very deep leagues, I could see a scenario where I’d stream him in Oracle Park against the Giants, however.
- The opponents are not my concern with Ross Detwiler. His 5.8% K-BB rate and 1.72 WHIP are my concerns. Veteran pitchers like Detwiler have no chance in today’s era. He provides owners zero value, so he belongs on the wire as the season comes to a close.
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