by Ray Kuhn
Let’s take a look at some of the options for those looking to capitalize on pitchers making two starts this week as the season begins to wind down.
Studs that never should be benched:
- Madison Bumgarner – vs. Colorado and vs. San Diego.
- Cliff Lee – @ New York Mets and vs. Atlanta.
- Tim Lincecum – vs. Colorado and vs. San Diego.
- Jordan Zimmerman – vs. Los Angeles Dodgers and vs. Milwaukee.
Five Pitchers that should be starting in every format:
Max Scherzer – vs. Oakland and vs. Minnesota. Getting 2 starts out of Scherzer at this point in the season could really do wonders for your strikeout totals. Over his last 11 starts, Scherzer has struck out at least 7 in every start but more importantly he has expanded his value by getting wins in 6 of his last 7 starts. He has a 16-6 record and has lowered his ERA to a very robust 3.77. While he has been mowing down hitters, Scherzer has also been successful limiting walks as in his last 7 starts he has given up no more than 2 in a start. It is getting to the point with him where you can capitalize on his strikeouts without much risk.
Ryan Dempster – @ Los Angeles Angels and @ Seattle. Dempster’s last 5 starts in which he has allowed no more than 2 runs in each of those starts are proving to very valuable both for fantasy owners and for the Rangers. He takes the hill twice this week, and both times on the road which will also help his cause. The way he is pitching this year there is not much risk involved with Dempster, especially compared to the other options this week, and the strikeouts he will provide will be helpful as well.
Kyle Lohse – vs. Houston and @ Chicago Cubs. For the season Lohse has become a very useful fantasy pitcher. He just seems to have a knack for winning as he is 14-3. And he has racks up innings (192 so far) all he does is help keep your ratios down with an ERA of 2.81 and WHIP of 1.09. Granted with only 124 strikeouts this season, there is no value there, but with him making 2 starts this week at least he will not be a liability in that category. At this point in the season there are not many opponents that would be better for Lohse to face. Also if you are looking to gain ground in strikeouts, you can take a chance with a more volatile option and ease the risk with Lohse’s reliability.
AJ Burnett – vs. Milwaukee and @ Houston. After starting the season on fire, Burnett has come back down to earth some. He has not been striking as many batters out and in his last 5 starts his ERA was 4.25 which is almost a run higher than his ERA for the season of 3.66. Also the Pirates bats have been slumping and providing Burnett with as much run support as earlier in the season. Despite that, his record is still 15-7 and is not enough to keep him out of your starting lineup this week. At this point in the season, even if Burnett continues with his 4.25 ERA, unless your ERA race is very tightly contested, there will not be much adverse effect. And with his strikeout capability and still the potential for wins, especially pitching against Houston, Burnett could prove to a valuable pitcher this week.
Jeremy Hellickson – vs. Boston and vs. Toronto. Try not to overly concern yourself with the fact that he has not won in a month, as that is the hardest pitching category to predict. However, he has not looked incredibly sharp having issues with home runs and only having quality starts in 4 of his last 7 outings. He is not pitching too deep into games, but a 3.30 ERA he still can be left out of your lineup. Eventually he will notch a win or two, and by pitching twice this week he will hinder your strikeout totals.
Five That Must be Debated Based on Your Situation:
AJ Griffin – @ Detroit and @ New York Yankees. Based purely on his credentials, Griffin should totally be a must start option. He is 6-0 with a 1.94 ERA and 9 quality starts out of 11 this season. The one question mark here, is his matchups as he is facing 2 dangerous offenses this week. But he did face the Yankees a few starts ago and weathered the storm just fine pitching 6 innings and giving up only 2 runs. The other question mark you could have about Griffin is that he pitching on the road for both starts but that is easily dealt with as his road ERA this season is 1.15. For a young pitcher his WHIP of .91 might even be more impressive than his ERA. And the fact that he has struck out 53 batters in 65 innings only helps to enhance his value. As with any young pitcher there is some risk involved here, but at this point it is risk worth taking.
Marco Estrada – @ Pittsburgh and @ Washington. Estrada does not have much name recognition, but at this point in the season especially, it is all about performance. He has been pitching well for the Brewers out of the rotation as 4 of his last 5 starts have been quality. He pay not pitch deep into the game but he is still a pitcher making 2 starts this week with a 3.77 ERA and 1.16 WHIP which should automatically put him on your radar. The fact that he has struck out 125 batters over 119.1 innings cements the fact that he is one of the more attractive pitchers making two starts this week and should probably be started.
Miguel Gonzalez – @ Seattle and @ Boston. Gonzalez overall has been a solid starter for the Orioles with his with 3.57 ERA this season in 12 starts. One of the problems with his performance is the fact that his WHIP is 1.27 while he has walked 31 batters while striking out only 66 in 85.2 innings. Also in past few starts he has been alternating good starts with bad but by making two starts this week you can at least balance out the two. But he is also capable of limiting the damage and shutting down opposing teams. As the Orioles are battling for the division lead, there is the good chance for a win as well.
Mike Leake – @ Chicago Cubs and vs. Los Angeles Dodgers. Leake is the epitome of inconsistency, and the question here is how much risk do you want to take. He can pitch a complete game giving up only one run, or he can pitch 2.1 innings giving up 6 runs and then follow that up with a 7 inning performance giving up 3 runs. But overall there has been more bad than good with Leake and his 8-9 record and his 4.69 ERA and 1.36 WHIP. He does not strike many batters out (112 over 167 innings) and also does not pitch deep into games. There is some risk here with not much reward.
Aaron Harang – @ Washington and @ Cinncinnati. Harang has been a pretty good starter this season for the Dodgers. He has a 3.79 ERA but he has also been a victim of poor run support as he only has a 9-9 record over 28 starts this season. Additionally he is not pitching deep into games as for the season he has only pitched 164 innings and in his last 7 starts the most innings he has pitched was 6.2. Over his last 4 starts he has not pitched more than 5.2 innings. The main reason for this, is that despite his low ERA, his WHIP is 1.41. At this point depending on your options I am not sure that there is enough reason not to start Harang this week and the 2 starts he is making might be too much to pass up.
Three for Thought:
Travis Wood – vs. Pittsburgh and vs. St. Louis. Wood is on a nice little run as of late as he has been able to locate his pitches. In his last 5 starts, he has a 2.43 ERA and a 2-2 record but more importantly he has a 23 to 6 strikeout to walk ratio. At this point in the season, Wood could be a good option for those looking to bulk up on starts for the season. For the season he has a respectable 4.23 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP and there could be some value to be had.
Gavin Floyd – vs. Detroit and @ Los Angeles. Floyd comes with some name recognition and some level of expectation attached to entering this season, but his performance likely sent him to the waiver wire in many leagues. But for this week where his making two starts, he could potentially return some value. In his last 3 starts he has not gotten out of the fifth inning in any of them. Prior to that, he did have a stretch where 3 of his 4 starts were quality. His ERA of 4.59 is on par with that of a pitcher whose ceiling is essentially a quality start but his WHIP of 1.41 shows that things can get ugly in a hurry. With 121 strikeouts in 143 innings pitched, there is not too much value attached there either. Unless you really are chasing wins or are lacking options, Floyd does not generate too much excitement for me.
Ricky Romero – @ New York Yankees and @ Tampa Bay. Romero has just had an ugly season. His ERA is a frightening 5.87 ERA and his WHIP might be even worse at 1.62. He has shown promise at times with 3 outings of 7 innings each where he gave up 1, 3, and 2 runs respectively. But at the same point based on how his season has gone, there might just be too much risk here. At this point in the season, I would stay away.
What are your thoughts on these options? Anybody else you have your eye on that could be a sneaky play this week?