Two-Start Pitchers 2014: August 25-31: Are There Any Gambles Worth Taking?

by Ray Kuhn (aka The Rotoprofessor)

It feels like the season just started, doesn’t it?  Yet we have a mere few weeks left and it’s time for fantasy owners to either put up or shut up.  This week could yield ample opportunities to roll the dice, depending on your risk tolerance.  For instance:

Jake Peavy is not an exciting option, but he is a veteran who is owned in just 51% of CBS leagues who is making two starts this week under favorable conditions. Both of his starts come in his pitcher friendly home park against two offenses that do not provide much in the way of a threat. The Rockies are missing their two best hitters in Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki, plus they are away from Coors Field. While the Brewers do have some offensive firepower, Peavy should be able to tame them at home. Under other circumstances there might be too much risk involved, but Peavy is also coming off back to back starts of seven innings each, allowing three runs. Any owners in head to head or points leagues would certainly sign up for two starts just like that, and if you are looking to chase wins you can do worse. As head to head leagues begin their playoffs, the value of getting two starts from even just an average pitcher like Peavy cannot be overstated as volume without overwhelming risk is important.

Where else could there be value?  Let’s take a look at the rankings:

Pitcher Opponent #1 Opponent #2
Tier 1    
Madison Bumgarner vs. Colorado vs. Milwaukee
Johnny Cueto vs. Chicago Cubs at Pittsburgh
James Shields vs. NY Yankees vs. Cleveland
Alex Cobb at Baltimore vs. Boston
     
Tier 2    
Lance Lynn at Pittsburgh vs. Chicago Cubs
Rick Porcello vs. NY Yankees at Chicago White Sox
Alex Wood at NY Mets vs. Miami
Jeff Samardzjia at Houston at LA Angels
     
Tier 3    
Tanner Roark at Philadelphia at Seattle
John Lackey at Pittsburgh vs. Chicago Cubs
Jake Odorizzi at Baltimore vs. Boston
Dallas Keuchel vs. Oakland vs. Texas
Michael Pineda at Kansas City at Toronto
Chris Tillman vs. Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota
Brandon McCarthy at Detroit at Toronto
Matt Shoemaker vs. Miami vs. Oakland
     
Tier 4    
Danny Duffy vs. Minnesota vs. Cleveland
Wei-Yin Chen vs. Tampa Bay vs. Minnesota
Jose Quintana vs. Cleveland vs. Detroit
Francisco Liriano vs. St. Louis vs. Cincinnati
Jimmy Nelson at San Diego at San Francisco
Jake Peavy vs. Colorado vs. Milwaukee
     
Tier 5    
Jason Hammel at Houston at LA Angels
Jorge De La Rosa at San Francisco at Arizona
Clay Buchholz at Toronto at Tampa Bay
Dillon Gee vs. Atlanta vs. Philadelphia
A.J. Burnett vs. Washington at NY Mets
Jarred Cosart at LA Angels at Atlanta
Roenis Elias vs. Texas vs. Washington
Scott Feldman vs. Oakland vs. Texas
Travis Wood at Cincinnati at St. Louis
     
Tier 6    
J.A. Happ vs. Boston vs. NY Yankees
Eric Stults vs. Milwaukee vs. LA Dodgers
Hector Noesi vs. Cleveland vs. Detroit
Edwin Jackson at Cincinnati at St. Louis
Tyler Matzek at San Francisco at Arizona
Ricky Nolasco at Kansas City at Baltimore
T.J. House at Chicago White Sox at Kansas City
Nick Martinez at Seattle at Houston
Miles Mikolas at Seattle at Houston

 

Thoughts:

  • At the time in the season where most pitchers are starting to slow down and feel the effects of their 2014 workload, Michael Pineda’s just rounding his way back into shape. After missing the majority of the year (after getting off to a good start), the right-hander has made two starts seeing his pitch count increase from 67 to 89. In those two starts he pitched five and six innings, respectively, allowing three earned runs six hits and one walk while striking out seven batters. It was clear that as the game progressed Pineda’s stuff became less sharp, but he was still able to limit the damage and he should continue to improve in each subsequent start. At first glance his matchups are not the best, but despite Kansas City’s success their offense is not incredibly imposing and shouldn’t pose a threat to him. Edwin Encarnacion is still rounding back into form, and while Toronto’s offense is still very good it is not an offense you have to avoid right now either.
  • Staying with the Yankees, Brandon McCarthy is another option worthy of starting consideration. There are still 23% of CBS leagues in which McCarthy is unowned, so it is possible that he could be a shrewd waiver wire addition for your team. In most cases pitchers suffer when they make the move from the National League to the American League, but that has not been the case here. While his ERA still sits and 4.08 on the season, McCarthy has lowered it by more than a run since being traded. The main reason why is that he is now allowed to once again be a complete pitcher and use his entire repertoire. After being essentially unable to throw his sinker in Arizona, which was a large part of why the Yankees acquired him and were able to do so at a discounted price, McCarthy has been a different pitcher. In his last start against the Astros, he threw a complete game shutout and has allowed just 10 earned runs in his last seven starts (including four in one start). On the season he has allowed just 27 walks in 161.2 innings while striking out 144 batters. He also pitches against the Blue Jays this week while making his other start in Detroit in the pitcher friendly Comercia Park.
  • James Paxton is another potential filled young starter who missed a majority of the season due to injury. He is still building up his innings and pitch count, and his last start against Phillies he was his own worst enemy. A defensive miscue limited him to just four innings and 88 pitches causing him to allow four runs (only one of which were earned). With a young pitcher, especially one returning from injury, you have to allow for an adjustment period and some struggles, but the fact that Paxton has allowed only five earned runs in 20.2 innings since his return has to make you feel good about using him for the rest of this season. The fact that he is making both of his starts at home this week is also another plus in his corner. Texas’ offense is not nearly as prolific as we have come to expect so it should be a relatively stress free start for Paxton that also puts him in good position for a victory. In his other start Paxton faces the red-hot Nationals, but it is still a calculated risk I would take if you are looking to maximize innings out of your starting pitchers.
  • After allowing just one hit in last start, Matt Shoemaker is quickly becoming a very valuable starter for the Angels. With the season ending injury to Garrett Richards that rings even more true, and with Shoemaker owned in just 65% of CBS leagues he could be a worthy addition to your fantasy team in general, or more specifically as a replacement for Richards. It is certainly hard to argue with a 3.56 ERA and 1.12 WHIP being potentially available on your waiver wire, but after taking a deeper look at Shoemaker you have to feel even better about him. Shoemaker has a FIP of 3.43 to go with an xFIP of 3.13 so there certainly is validity to his performance. The fact that Shoemaker is striking out 8.86 batters per nine innings while walking just 1.65 batters per nine just solidifies the case that he is a must own at this point. This week he takes the mound twice, both at home, against the Marlins and A’s, which for me also makes him a must start.
  • Do not get fooled by Nick Martinez. Yes everyone was expecting the Marlins to beat up on him in his last start and that did not happen, but with five weeks left in the season I am not hanging my hat on Martinez having another start where he goes six innings and allows just two runs for the win. That was Martinez’s only quality start out of his last six, and he also has not eclipsed more than six innings in a start over the same period. Yes Martinez is making two starts this week under conditions that can be perceived as favorable, but he is still not worth a flier. Pitching in Safeco Field usually means good things for a pitcher, but the Mariners offense has been hitting pretty well and the fact that they are stacked with left-handed hitters is not a good thing for the right-handed Martinez who then makes his second start of the week in Houston. We know that the Astros strike out a lot, but they have also shown an ability to do some damage with the bats. If you are not convinced yet to stay away, Martinez has a 5.13 ERA to go along with a 1.59 WHIP and has 57 strikeouts this season against 43 walks.

Make sure to check out all of our Rest of Season Rankings:

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2 comments

  1. Barry B. says:

    In a standard points league, do you like a two-start Burnett over a one-start (@HOU) Sonny Gray?

    Thanks!

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