Welcome back, Pitcher List community! I hope this segment helps you formulate your pitching staff each week. Each Friday, I look at every projected two-start pitcher for the week ahead and summarize my thoughts to help you set your rosters. There are four tiers: Definitely, Probably, Questionable, Bench. Definitely Start features starters that are no doubters for the week ahead, followed by Probably Start which includes pitchers that 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. We have an ace-filled group of pitchers next week. This is when pitching gets back on track.
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through the week. These are subject to change.
Jacob deGrom (@SDP, MIA)
Gerrit Cole (KCR, TEX)
Max Scherzer (@MIL, @LAD)
Jose Berrios (@TOR, DET)
Stephen Strasburg (@MIL, @LAD)
Matt Boyd (LAA, @MIN)
Blake Snell (ARI, NYY)
Charlie Morton (ARI, NYY)
Jameson Taillon (TEX, @STL)
Caleb Smith (@CHC, @NYM)
Masahiro Tanaka (SEA, @TBR)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (ATL, WSH)
- Never fear, Jacob deGrom appears to be back as he ripped through the Reds lineup with 30 CSW. He was throwing 97-plus mph with his fastball, generating 13 swinging strikes on the pitch. Start with confidence. Gerrit Cole gets two starts at home next week. Kansas City shouldn’t pose any issues, and Texas is tough but will strike out quite a bit. Max Scherzer has two difficult starts on the road, but he’s Max Scherzer — he’ll be fine.
- Jose Berrios has a couple of juicy matchups next week, and while Stephen Strasburg has two difficult road starts, he should be just fine. His K-BB% is currently 25.2% and his swinging-strike rate is at a career-high 15%. When he’s healthy, he’s one of the top 10 pitchers in the game.
- I had Matt Boyd in the top tier back in Week 3 and haven’t looked back. He rocking a CSW rate of an impressive 33.4% and is fifth among qualified starters with a 15.6% swinging-strike rate. Yeah, Boyyyyyyyyd! He’s for real.
- Blake Snell misses one start because of a minor toe injury and goes from the best pitcher in baseball to whatever the hell he was versus the Royals. Come on, man! Luckily, he and teammate Charlie Morton are slated for two home starts against the Diamondbacks and Yankees. I’m not panicking with Snell, and of course, Morton is a go as he’s been on fire of late.
- Caleb Smith, oh my goodness! Three plus pitches, a 16.8% swinging-strike rate, and a pristine 26.9% K-BB rate. I would prefer if these starts were in Miami, but I won’t complain. You can feel good about Smith next week.
Madison Bumgarner (@COL, CIN)
Walker Buehler (ATL, WSH)
Cole Hamels (MIA, MIL)
Jon Lester (MIA, MIL)
Max Fried (@LAD, @ARI)
Collin McHugh (KCR, TEX)
Marcus Stroman (MIN, CHW)
Tyler Mahle (@OAK, @SFG)
Robbie Ray (@TBR, ATL)
Mike Foltynewicz (@LAD, @ARI)
- Two big names, one decorated veteran, and one young stud find themselves at the top of the second tier. Here’s the thing: Both pitchers are missing bats at below-average clips and have sub-29% CSW rates. Walker Buehler isn’t fooling hitters and has been hit hard this year. Still, he’s been better than his ERA indicates, so he should be fine; I don’t expect great strikeout numbers. Mad Bum has been getting the most out of his current abilities, but his start is Colorado will be tough to swallow. I still love him at home against the Reds.
- What’s up with Collin McHugh? One start he strikes out nine, the next he nets just two punchouts? The Rangers laid it to him the last time they faced off, but this one is at home and the Royals aren’t all that scary. You’re starting McHugh this week. Marcus Stroman is a different pitcher this year, in a good way. If you own him, you’re starting him next week.
- Talk about a group of volatile pitchers from Tyler Mahle through Mike Foltynewicz, where you don’t know what the hell you’re going to get. Mahle leads this group because of his easy matchups. The Giants have the worst offense in the majors with just a .267 wOBA, and the Athletics are ranked 24th offensively at home. I’m kind of a believer, and Mahle is pitching in very favorable parks next week. With Robbie Ray, you could get six walks and four earned runs or 10 strikeouts with one earned run, I just don’t know. The matchups are not great, but if you need starts next week, you have to put him in there for the upside. Folty just came off the IL, and it’s as though he’s Still ILL. Two difficult starts but expect better results from Folty than his last outing against the Padres.
Martin Perez (@TOR, DET)
Merrill Kelly (@TBR, ATL)
Vince Velasquez (@STL, @KCR)
C.C. Sabathia (SEA, @TBR)
Aaron Sanchez (MIN, CHW)
Miles Mikolas (PHI, PIT)
Felix Pena (@DET, @BAL)
Anthony DeSclafani (SFG, @SFG)
Jakob Junis (@HOU, PHI)
Drew Pomeranz (@CIN, CIN)
- I don’t blame anyone for rolling with Martin Perez for both starts next week. He’s been impressive this season. He’s throwing 95-96 mph, and his cutter has been devastating with .129 wOBA against. I don’t completely trust his low home run rate, and walks have been an issue. I’d lean toward sitting him in his start versus the Blue Jays on the road, but he’s a must-start at home versus the Tigers.
- Congratulations to Mr. 3,000 C.C. Sabathia, who reached the milestone in his most recent start in Arizona. He’s had quite a career and is likely headed for the Hall of Fame, but he’s not a pitcher I’m seeking in fantasy. He has a knack for outperforming his peripherals, but there just isn’t much upside.
- Aaron Sanchez was just lit up by the Angels, and I’d stay away from the hot-hitting Twins. He’s worth a spot start against the White Sox, who have a tendency to strike out at a high clip. Miles Mikolas is basically the same guy he was last year except he can’t get hitters to chase and balls are flying out at a record rate. I would not start him against the Phillies, but the Pirates are in the bottom five in wOBA and have been worse over the past two weeks, so I’d give him a shot.
- A 24.6% strikeout rate is very nice, but a home run rate over two per nine? Not so much. That’s Felix Pena; he’s missing bats but giving up some extremely loud contact. Given the deep dimensions in Comerica Park, you can ride him versus the Tigers but not in homer-friendly Camden Yards (BAL).
- If there’s a week to start Tony Disco twice, it’s next week. How about Drew Pomeranz? Both pitchers have added some velocity, and their strikeout rates have improved. I tend to trust DeSclafani over Pomeranz, so if you’re feeling lucky give him both starts this week.
- Sorry Jakob Junis owners, he draws two tough matchups next week. If you absolutely need him, try him out against the Phillies at home.
Marco Gonzales (@NYY, @BOS)
Felix Hernandez (@NYY, @BOS)
Jholuys Chacin (WSH, @CHC)
Lucas Giolito (@CLE, @TOR)
Andrew Cashner (BOS, LAA)
Dakota Hudson (PHI, PIT)
Ivan Nova (@CLE, @TOR)
Sandy Alcantara (@CHC, @NYM)
Daniel Norris (LAA, @MIN)
Aaron Brooks (CIN, CLE)
Adrian Sampson (@PIT, @HOU)
Antonio Senzatela (SFG, SDP)
- This tier is pretty self-explanatory. Most of these guys aren’t great pitchers and/or have difficult matchups. Marco Gonzales does not belong in this tier in terms of talent, but two road starts on the East Coast against the Red Sox and Yankees will keep him on my bench next week. Despite a solid start to the season, same goes for Prince Felix. Chacin will do well when Jhoulyst expect it. I do not expect positive results from Chacin, and he’ll be on my bench (or waivers) next week, so take that for what it’s worth.
- Let’s go ahead and keep Lucas Giolito on the bench for both of his road starts next week. Andrew Cashner has actually been a little better of late, increasing his strikeout rate by throwing his changeup more. I’m not completely sold on it yet (hence his spot in the bottom tier), but it’s something to monitor going forward.
- Two straight games without giving a home run — way to go Dakota Hudson! I still don’t trust his fastball-heavy arsenal even against the Phillies or the Pirates, for what it’s worth. Sandy Alcantara is another young pitcher with a good fastball. It hasn’t translated just yet, and I think he needs to improve his secondaries. There are better options than Sandy against the Cubs and Mets on the road.
- Ivan Nova does not belong in the American League. Even in the weak AL Central, he can’t seem to get on track. Don’t roll him out there next week or any week really.
- I wanna talk to Sampson! I may be showing my age here. Hopefully, someone gets this reference. He just went 5.2 shutout innings against the Pirates, so I don’t blame you if you want to give him a shot in Pittsburgh. In weekly leagues, you can’t put him in knowing he’s on the road against Houston, right?
(Photo by Juan Salas/Icon Sportswire)