Two-Start Pitchers 2015: April 13-19: Are There Any Gambles Worth Taking?

by Ray Kuhn

Last week we had more aces than we knew what to do with. This week, as teams start to get into their rotations, we have more of a mixed bag of options. However, that doesn’t mean we are without options of varying skill levels, quality, and ownership.

Let’s jump right into how the options rank for this week.

Tier 1:

  1. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Milwaukee; vs. Cincinnati
  2. Jordan Zimmermann – Washington Nationals – at Boston; vs. Philadelphia
  3. Matt Harvey – New York Mets – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Miami
  4. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – at Boston; vs. Philadelphia
  5. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs – vs. Cincinnati; vs. San Diego

Tier 2:

  1. Anibal Sanchez –  Detroit Tigers – at Pittsburgh; vs. Chicago White Sox
  2. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – vs. Philadelphia’ vs. Miami
  3. Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Detroit; vs. Milwaukee

Tier 3:

  1. Scott Kazmir – Oakland A’s – at Houston; at Kansas City
  2. Michael Pineda – New York Yankees – at Baltimore; at Tampa Bay
  3. Jake Odorizzi – Tampa Bay Rays – at Toronto; vs. New York Yankees
  4. Matt Shoemaker – LA Angels – at Texas; at Houston
  5. Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – vs. Washington; vs. Baltimore
  6. James Paxton – Seattle Mariners – at LA Dodgers; vs. Texas
  7. Shane Greene – Detroit Tigers – at Pittsburgh; vs. Chicago White Sox
  8. Andrew Cashner – San Diego Padres – vs. Arizona; at Chicago Cubs
  9. RA Dickey – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Atlanta

Tier 4:

  1. Shelby Miller – Atlanta Braves – vs. Miami; at Toronto
  2. Brandon McCarthy – LA Dodgers – vs. Seattle; vs. Colorado
  3. Daniel Norris – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Atlanta
  4. Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals – at Minnesota; vs. Oakland
  5. Mat Latos – Miami Marlins – at Atlanta; at NY Mets
  6. Tim Hudson – San Francisco Giants – vs. Colorado; vs. Arizona
  7. Matt Garza – Milwaukee Brewers – at St. Louis; at Pittsburgh
  8. Mike Leake – Cincinnati Reds – at Chicago Cubs; at St. Louis
  9. Wei-Yin Chen – Baltimore Orioles – vs. NY Yankees; at Boston
  10. Aaron Harang – Philadelphia Phillies – at NY Mets; at Washington

Tier 5:

  1. Tom Koehler – Miami Marlins – at Atlanta; at NY Mets
  2. Scott Feldman – Houston Astros – vs. Oakland; vs. LA Angels
  3. Rubby De La Rosa – Arizona Diamondbacks – at San Diego; at San Francisco
  4. Jeremy Hellickson – Arizona Diambondbacks – at San Diego; at San Francisco
  5. Eddie Butler – Colorado Rockies – at San Francisco; at LA Dodgers
  6. Chris Heston – San Francisco Giants – vs. Colorado; vs. Arizona
  7. David Buchanan – Philadelphia Phillies – at NY Mets; at Washington
  8. Ross Detwiler – Texas Rangers – vs. LA Angels; at Seattle

Notes:

  • After watching Matt Harvey make his season debut with six scoreless innings against Washington, it is hard to contain the excitement. Of course we can’t write him as the starting pitcher for the 2015 All-Star game just yet. The Nationals were missing a few key hitters (like Anthony Rendon, Denard Span and Jayson Werth), but once Harvey got going it really didn’t matter who he was facing.  He struck out Bryce Harper for three of his nine strikeouts while allowing just four hits and one walk. This week Harvey faces the Phillies, and their lack of offensive firepower, and the Marlins, who struggled in their opening series against Atlanta. Every start from Harvey will likely not be as good as this, but at the risk of hyperbole, there doesn’t appear to be anything to worry about. The only knock on early in the season will be that he is on a pitch count.
  • So far so good for Scott Kazmir. The one time top prospect had a quick and steep fall from grace, but it appears he has now found a nice comfort zone. In his season debut against Texas the left-hander struck out 10 in seven scoreless innings. For his first start of the week he gets the Houston Astros, and at this point their propensity for striking out is not a secret. Both starts are on the road, the other one is in Kansas City, but he is still a solid option this week.
  • Don’t let your shock and dismay over Rick Porcello’s recent contract extension cloud your judgement about his fantasy value. At the same time, don’t expect a $20 million a year performance either. The right-hander is still a solid, middle of the road option whose value increases when he takes the mound twice. He put up a “quality start” in his debut in Philadelphia. After allowing just three hits in the first five innings he ran into some trouble in the sixth inning, giving up a three home run to leave his ERA at 4.50. The right-hander will not strike many batters out, just four along with two walks, but that is minimized when he takes the hill twice. This week he faces the Nationals and Orioles, both at home, which makes him a serviceable option.
  • I would have liked to see Shelby Miller make it through more than five innings in his season debut, but it is hard to argue with the result. He struck out four while allowing four hits and two walks. He gets the Marlins for a second time this week and then faces the Blue Jays in Toronto. That will be a tougher matchup, but he should be able somewhat neutralize their right-handed power bats. Miller had an uneven performance last season, but the hard thrower is still just 24-years old and is a pitcher on the upswing.
  • If you look at the box score Daniel Norris had a 4.76 ERA in 5.2 innings against the Yankees. In reality he didn’t have much of a problem for his first five innings before allowing two solo home runs in the sixth. Norris struck out five batters and walked two. You might not get more than five or six quality innings in the early months of the season as he does have some adjustments to make, but he does know how to pitch.
  • Jeremy Hellickson is an enigma. After struggling in Tampa, the Rays sent him packing to Arizona this winter. In his first start he did not endear himself to his new organization as he left with a 6.23 ERA. There is no world in which that is a quality stat line, but that is what happens when you allow three runs and don’t get out of the fifth inning. The problem is that he allowed nine hits and two walks while striking out just two batters. This week he makes both of his starts in pitcher’s parks, San Diego and San Francisco, which makes him a decent back end of the rotation option. Although, it is perfectly understandable if you don’t see him as being worth the risk this early in the season.

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