by Ray Kuhn
To say that you have options this week would be an understatement. Depending on the format of your team and league, this could mean multiple things.
For starters, you truly have bad luck if you don’t have a few options to choose from. In a season long league it will ultimately even out in the end, so don’t panic and go with a subpar option just to get two starts. I know that everyone preaches it is early in the season, and you must resist the urge to read too much into the standings, but at the same time May is approaching and you don’t want to lose too much ground.
While it may sound like a cop out, the solution ultimately is just to go with the best pitchers depending on their matchup(s) and expected performance. Do not try to over think things. Also don’t go dropping an early season disappointment for a mediocre, at best, streaming option.
With that being said, here is the plethora of options available to you:
|Pitcher||Opponent #1||Opponent #2|
|Justin Verlander||vs. Chicago White Sox||at Minnesota|
|Felix Hernandez||vs. Houston||vs. Texas|
|Yu Darvish||at Oakland||at Seattle|
|Chris Sale||at Detroit||vs. Tampa Bay|
|Adam Wainwright||at NY Mets||vs. Pittsburgh|
|Cliff Lee||at LA Dodgers||at Arizona|
|Mashiro Tanaka||at Boston||vs. LA Angels|
|James Shields||at Cleveland||at Baltimore|
|Anibal Sanchez||vs. Chicago White Sox||at Minnesota|
|Andrew Cashner||at Milwaukee||at Washington|
|Jullio Teheran||vs. Miami||vs. Cincinnati|
|Jon Lester||vs. NY Yankees||at Toronto|
|Johnny Cueto||at Pittsburgh||at Atlanta|
|Hyun-Jin Ryu||vs. Philadelphia||vs. Colorado|
|Francisco Liriano||vs. Cincinnati||at St. Louis|
|Clay Buchholz||vs. Baltimore||at Toronto|
|Dan Straily||vs. Texas||at Houston|
|A.J. Burnett||at LA Dodgers||at Arizona|
|Garrett Richards||at Washington||at NY Yankees|
|Danny Salazar||vs. Kansas City||at San Francisco|
|Wily Peralta||vs. San Diego||vs. Chicago Cubs|
|Ian Kennedy||at Milwaukee||at Washington|
|R.A. Dickey||vs. Baltimore||vs. Boston|
|Jason Hammel||vs. Arizona||at Milwaukee|
|Dillon Gee||vs. St. Louis||vs. Miami|
|Zach McAllister||vs. Kansas City||at San Francisco|
|Scott Feldman||at Seattle||vs. Oakland|
|Mike Leake||at Pittsburgh||at Atlanta|
|Travis Wood||vs. Arizona||at Milwaukee|
|Edinson Volquez||vs. Cincinnati||at St. Louis|
|Jenry Mejia||vs. St. Louis||vs. Miami|
|Jake Odorizzi||vs. Minnesota||at Chicago White Sox|
|Wei-Yin Chen||at Boston||vs. Kansas City|
|Kyle Gibson||at Tampa Bay||vs. Detroit|
|Tom Koehler||at Atlanta||at NY Mets|
|Jeremy Guthrie||at Cleveland||at Baltimore|
|Tanner Roark||vs. LA Angels||vs. San Diego|
|Jorge De La Rosa||vs. San Francisco||at LA Dodgers|
|Tommy Milone||vs. Texas||at Houston|
|John Danks||at Detroit||vs. Tampa Bay|
|Miguel Gonzalez||at Toronto||vs. Kansas City|
|Taylor Jordan||vs. LA Angels||vs. San Diego|
|Brandon McCarthy||at Chicago Cubs||vs. Philadelphia|
|Bronson Arroyo||at Chicago Cubs||vs. Philadelphia|
|Ryan Vogelsong||at Colorado||vs. Cleveland|
|Paul Maholm||vs. Philadelphia||vs. Colorado|
|Dallas Keuchel||at Seattle||vs. Oakland|
- Alright, at this point I think we can say that Masahiro Tanaka is for real. So far in his three starts he has 28 strikeouts in 22 innings to go along with a 2-0 record, ERA of 2.05 and 0.77 WHIP. It really doesn’t get any better than that. This week Tanaka starts twice, which makes him even more of desirable option. One of Tanaka’s starts is in Boston, so I could see that going either way. Even though the Red Sox haven’t had a great amount of offensive success it still could be a tough start, but that doesn’t change the fact that Tanaka is a must start.
- If he can keep this up and stay healthy all season, Andrew Cashner is well on his way to becoming a fantasy ace. It is always better when he starts at home, but this week he takes the mound twice on the road, in Milwaukee and Washington. Cashner is keeping the ball on the ground and keeping baserunners at a minimum, all while striking out just under a batter an inning (27 in 28.1). That makes the right-hander very close to joining the top tier.
- R.A. Dickey was someone I had high hopes for this season. While I didn’t expect to see him return to Cy Young form, I thought we would see some improvement from last season. However, once again, he has struggled to start the year. In four starts Dickey has a 6.26 ERA and a 1.65 WHIP. That isn’t good for any pitcher, let alone one that required some level of investment on draft day. As it always is, command has been an issue so far in 2014. In his two road starts he allowed five and six runs, respectively, while he also shut out the Yankees over 6.2 innings at home. In his other home start Dickey gave up five runs to the Astros, who had an advantage as their radio announcer, former knuckleballer Steve Sparks, threw them batting practice prior to the game. This week Dickey faces the Orioles and Red Sox, both at home, and I would give him a shot as the command will likely improve pitching in Toronto. Plus, it gives Dickey a chance to make up for the early season damage he has done to your ratios.
- Another starter not living up to expectations is Danny Salazar. If you have other options benching him this week is certainly understandable, but there are a few things that will likely cause him to make his way into my lineup. First of all, in a daily league, I would be more apt to bench him while he turns it around, but in a weekly league that could cause you to miss two good starts, not just one. Also, even though he has been struggling, Salazar is still striking batters out with 17 in 14 innings. Anytime you see an ERA over seven, you have every reason to be frightened. The other issue is that based on where you likely had to draft Salazar, your other options might have just as many question marks. Even if he struggles Salazar still could pick up 15 strikeouts on the week, so that would sway me in weekly leagues.
- What do we make of Kyle Gibson? The one time top prospect has had his share of struggles so far at the major league level, but this year is different. In three starts he has allowed just two runs in 19.1 innings. In his most recent start, Gibson shut out the Blue Jays over eight innings while only walking one batter. Control has troubled him over his career and strikeouts are not his forte, with only 10 this season. In deeper leagues, Gibson is a decent lower end option as he pitches in Tampa this week and faces the Tigers at home. The Rays are a pesky offense and it could be a tough start for Gibson if his control is off. I would tread carefully, as I need to see a little more.
- Tommy Milone isn’t an exciting option, but he is most likely an available one. His first start of the week is in the comfort of his home ballpark against the Rangers and he then pitches in Houston against the woeful Astros. Early this season, the Astros are proving to be an offense that you can pick on, and Milone has had some success in the past. He also has been a product of pitching at home and he has had limited success by avoiding walks, only two in 11 innings this season. The Rangers offense is not what they used to be, so I think Milone makes a very usable lower end option this week. The fact that he doesn’t strike many batters out shouldn’t be too much of a detriment as most of the other pitchers in his tier do not neither.