by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
This week isn’t full of elite options, though there are many intriguing ones that are viable depending on where you currently stand. Do you need to take a risk? Are you better off playing it safe? The answers to those questions is going to be paramount as you sort through the potential options.
Here’s a quick breakdown of the tiers (and remember, the pitchers are also ranked within each tier):
- Tier 1 – The Elite
- Tier 2 – Not quite elite, but among the better options
- Tier 3 – Solid options
- Tier 4 – Borderline options only usable under the right circumstance
- Tier 5 – Options worth avoiding
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the week ahead:
- Zack Greinke – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. CHC, vs. SD
- Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies – at NYM, at CHC
- James Shields – Kansas City Royals – at Min, at Tor
- Anibal Sanchez – Detroit Tigers – vs. Oak, vs. Cle
- Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers – vs. Oak, vs. Cle
- Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners – vs. Tex, at Hou
- C.J. Wilson – Los Angeles Angels – at TB, at Mil
- Kyle Lohse – Milwaukee Brewers – at Pit, vs. LAA
- Jonathan Niese – New York Mets – vs. Phi, at Was
- R.A. Dickey – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. NYY, vs. KC
- Zack Wheeler – New York Mets – vs. Phi, at Was
- Alex Wood – Atlanta Braves – vs. Cle, vs. Mia
- Felix Doubront – Boston Red Sox – vs. Bal, vs. CWS
- Kyle Kendrick – Philadelphia Phillies – at NYM, at CHC
- A.J. Griffin – Oakland A’s – at Det, vs. TB
- Tyson Ross – San Diego Padres – at Ari, at LAD
- Mike Leake – Cincinnati Reds – at Stl, at Col
- Jeremy Hellickson – Tampa Bay Rays – at KC, at Oak
- Brandon McCarthy – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. SD, vs. SF
- Jeff Locke – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Mil, vs. Stl
- Jeremy Guthrie – Kansas City Royals – vs. TB, at Tor
- Andre Rienzo – Chicago White Sox – vs. Hou, at Bos
- Brett Oberholtzer – Houston Astros – at CWS, vs. Sea
- Sonny Gray – Oakland A’s – at Det, vs, TB
- Danny Salazar – Cleveland Indians – at Atl, at Det
- Miguel Gonzalez – Baltimore Orioles – at Bos, at NYY
- Phil Hughes – New York Yankees – at Tor, vs. Bal
- Nate Eovaldi – Miami Marlins – at Was, at Atl
- Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs – at LAD, vs. Phi
- Kevin Correia – Minnesota Twins – vs. KC, at Tex
- Joe Saunders – Seattle Mariners – vs. Tex, at Hou
- Juan Nicasio – Colorado Rockies – vs. SF, vs. Cin
- Ross Ohlendorf – Washington Nationals – vs. Mia, vs. NYM
- Tyler Lyons – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Cin, at Pit
- Barry Zito – San Francisco Giants – at Col, at Ari
- J.A. Happ – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. NYY, vs. KC
- Travis Blackley – Texas Rangers – at Sea, vs. Min
- While wins have been tough to come by for James Shields, he still owns a 3.22 ERA and 1.27 WHIP and has two favorable matchups for the coming week. There is some risk involved, as the line drive rate is up (21.7%), his strikeouts are down (7.18 K/9) and he has been unable to match last season’s groundball rate (43.1% vs. 52.3%). In the second half the numbers have been worse, with the strikeouts nearly nonexistent (5.55 K/9). He’s obviously a good option, but the risk of regression keeps him out of the top tier.
- Would anyone have predicted Justin Verlander would ever be anything but a Tier 1 option this season?
- C.J. Wilson is a solid pitcher, but he has two starts on the road. Considering his current split of 2.25 ERA at home and 4.37 on the road, it’s worth being at least a little bit skeptical. He’s obviously a viable option, but be aware of his potential to struggle.
- We all want to consider Zack Wheeler a must start option, don’t we? He’s been pitching extremely well, with a 2.73 ERA in July and 3.38 ERA thus far in August. He’s also seemingly figured out his control as he’s gone along, including a 3.38 BB/9 in August (vs. a 9.75 K/9). That said, we all know rookie pitchers have the potential to be inconsistent. At this point in the season team needs is going to determine how risky you want to be. With the way he’s pitching we are going to include him in Tier 3, but if you don’t need any undue risk then don’t roll the dice.
- As a starting pitcher Alex Wood owns a 2.56 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, with a 9.31 K/9 and 2.56 BB/9. He’s a young pitcher, which is risky (it seems to be a trend here), but given his matchups he’s well worth the risk.
- Tyson Ross, as a starting pitcher, owns an 8.94 K/9 (after a 6.39 mark as a reliever) to go along with good enough control (3.64 BB/9) and a great groundball rate (53.7%). The matchups certainly keep him from must start status, but depending on your needs he could be worth rolling the dice on.
- Thus far the Astros’ Brett Oberholtzer has kept the ball in the ballpark, but with a 49.5% fly ball rate that’s hardly a guarantee to continue. He’s viable, but be extremely cautious.