Two-Start Pitchers: Week 3 (April 15 – 21): Who To Start, Who To Sit & Who To Avoid

by Ray Kuhn

In leagues where there are no innings limits, it is important to maximize your innings though you do not want to do that at the expense of poor performance.  Quality is better than quantity.

Each week during the season we will break down all of the pitchers scheduled to make two starts in the upcoming week.  Just like when assembling your rotation, we will break the pitchers down by tier.  In all formats every pitcher within the first two tiers should be owned, no questions asked.  Pitchers in the third and fourth tiers are likely owned in all formats, but some could be borderline starting decisions depending on the league structure and your roster composition.  The fifth tier has pitchers who will likely be available in most, if not all, leagues and could be either the deepest of sleepers or do the most damage to your ratios.  Within each tier, the pitchers are also ranked.  Starting decisions should be made accordingly.

Here are the Week 3 Two Start Pitchers:

Tier Pitcher Opponent #1 Opponent #2
Tier 1 Cliff Lee @ CIN vs. STL
Tier 2 Jordan Zimmermann @ MIA @ NYM
  Kris Medlen vs. KC @ PIT
  Derek Holland @ CHC vs. SEA
  Homer Bailey vs. PHI vs. MIA
Tier 3 Josh Johnson vs. CHW vs. NYY
  Lance Lynn @ PIT @ PHI
  James McDonald vs. STL vs. ATL
  Barry Zito @ MIL vs. SD
  Jeremy Hellickson @ BOS vs. OAK
  Ryan Dempster vs. TB vs. KC
  Jeremy Guthrie @ ATL @ BOS
  Tommy Milone vs. HOU @ TB
Tier 4 Travis Wood vs. TEX @ MIL
  Chad Billingsley vs. SD @ BAL
  Gavin Floyd @ TOR vs. MIN
  Andy Pettitte vs. ARI @ TOR
  Mark Buehrle vs. CHW vs. NYY
  Rick Porcello @ SEA @ LAA
  Jake Westbrook @ PIT @ PHI
  Wily Peralta vs. SF vs. CHC
  Bronson Arroyo vs. PHI vs. MIA
  Kyle Kendrick @ CIN vs. STL
  Brandon McCarthy @ NYY @ COL
Tier 5 Eric Stults @ LAD @ SF
  Juan Nicasio vs. NYM vs. ARI
  Joe Blanton @ MIN vs. DET
  Erik Bedard @ OAK vs. CLE
  Wade LeBlanc vs. WAS @ CIN
  Brett Myers vs. BOS @ HOU
  Jake Arrieta vs. TB vs. LAD
  Alfredo Aceves @ CLE vs. KC
  Jeff Francis vs. NYM vs. ARI
  Dylan Axelrod @ TOR vs. MIN
  Mike Pelfrey vs. LAA @ CHW
  Jeremy Hefner @ COL vs. WAS
  Alex Sanabia vs. WAS @ CIN
  Jonathan Sanchez vs. STL vs. ATL
  Blake Beavan vs. DET @ TEX
  Roberto Hernandez @ BOS vs. OAK
  Aaron Laffey @ COL vs. WAS


Thoughts:

  • There really is not much going on here this week.  You could say the list is top heavy, but that’s only because the candidates are just not very good.  So this week, even more than others, proceed with caution.  Performances and standings are just too volatile at this point in the season to go chasing stats while putting your ratios at severe risk.
  • In any other week I’m not sure that Homer Bailey would be included in the second tier.  Bailey’s first start of the season against the Nationals saw him continue the scoreless streak and success that began at the end of 2012.  The Cardinals then roughed up Bailey a bit in his last start, obviously making his initial 2013 stats look ugly.  In reality, Bailey was strong in the first four innings of his start and the damage was done in the fifth and sixth innings.  It is not likely that he is available in your league, but Bailey is one of the better options.
  • After the first seven games of the season, it certainly looked like any starter against the Astros would be a good option.  After the last few games, Houston’s bats have clearly woken up.  Neither home runs nor stringing together rallies have been an issue of late.  It is unclear how long this will continue, but you must proceed with some level of caution.  Tommy Milone is certainly a solid starter, but he will give up some runs and base runners, as well as not strike many out.  Facing Tampa is also a good matchup for the lefty as they have not been able to get the bats going yet this season.
  • While Barry Zito is not the same pitcher he was in Oakland, it appears that he is someone who can be counted from a fantasy perspective going forward.  To start off the season Zito has pitched seven innings in both starts, not giving up a run in either and also recording two wins.  You could start him with confidence this week.
  • What a surprise, the Cardinals have a soft tossing starter who is getting results that exceed his talent.  Jake Westbrook has not given up a run in either of starts this season, going the complete nine against the Reds in his last start.  You can’t expect him to keep that up all season, but he usually is able to keep the damage to a minimum.  The one drawback against Westbrook is that he does not strike many hitters out (4 in 15.2 innings this season), but making two starts will make that less of a liability. 
  • Jeremy Hellickson is someone that should be better than he actually is.  So far this season he has been less than dominating and is not economical with his pitches.  He is a pitcher that should be starting in all formats, but you do need to temper your expectations somewhat.
  • Thanks to his back spasms, Andy Pettitte is now making two starts this coming week (hopefully).  While the health injuries are something to watch out for, the veteran is still a better candidate than a lot of other options this week.  At least there is a track record and a level of consistency there, which you cannot say for a lot of the other options.
  • Perhaps Jeremy Guthrie is for real.  Things were not really going well for him in the first half of last season.  After finishing 2012 strong, Guthrie has kept that going in his first two starts this season.  As long as he limits the walks, he should be ok.  The key for Guthrie here is to limit the base runners and to get ahead of hitters, and it seems he has figured that out.
  • Chasing wins can really get you in trouble.  Especially this early in the season, that is not something that you want to get caught up.  Reliability is what you should be looking for in your starting pitchers.  If the strikeouts are not there, keep in mind that you are getting two starts from your pitchers, so that limits the liability.  If you are not really getting an advantage with strikeouts, then you have to consider whether it really is a risk worth taking for a possible win.
Week 3 Hitting Primer (April 15-21): Breaking Down The Schedules, Picking Sleepers, Injury Notes & More
Around The Majors: April 13: Johnny Cueto Hurt, Several Aces Rebound, Matt Harvey Dazzles and More

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