Two-Start Pitchers 2016: May 16 – 22: Are There Any Gambles Worth Taking?

by Ray Kuhn

It doesn’t get any better than some of this week’s top tier options. Clayton Kerhshaw, Max Scherzer or Madison Bumgarner can make your week, or break it if you are going against them, but fear not if you don’t have one of the big three.  There are still some very worthy options out there. Let’s take a look at them and how we have them ranked.

Tier One:

  1. Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers – vs. LA Angels; at San Diego
  2. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants – at San Diego; vs. Chicago Cubs
  3. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – at NY Mets; at Miami
  4. Noah Syndergaard – NY Mets – vs. Washington; vs. Milwaukee
  5. David Price – Boston Red Sox – at Kansas City; vs. Cleveland
  6. Marcus Stroman – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Tampa Bay; at Minnesota
  7. Danny Salazar – Cleveland Indians – vs. Cincinnati; at Boston

Tier Two:

  1. Jordan Zimmermann – Detroit Tigers – vs. Minnesota; vs. Tampa Bay
  2. Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros – at Chicago White Sox; vs. Texas
  3. Kenta Maeda – LA Dodgers – vs. LA Angels; at San Diego

Tier Three:

  1. Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – at Kansas City; vs. Cleveland
  2. Jamie Garcia – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Colorado; vs. Arizona
  3. Drew Smyly – Tampa Bay Rays – at Toronto; at Detroit
  4. Adam Conley – Miami Marlins – at Philadelphia; vs. Washington
  5. Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs – at Milwaukee; at San Francisco
  6. JA Happ – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Tampa Bay; at Minnesota

Tier Four:

  1. Carlos Rodon – Chicago White Sox – vs. Houston; vs. Kansas City
  2. Juan Nicasio – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Atlanta; vs. Colorado
  3. Michael Pineda – NY Yankees – at Arizona; at Oakland

Tier Five:

  1. Yordano Ventura – Kansas City Royals – vs. Boston; at Chicago White Sox
  2. Nathan Eovaldi – NY Yankees – at Arizona; at Oakland
  3. Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins – at Detroit; vs. Toronto
  4. Jared Eickhoff – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Miami; vs. Atlanta
  5. Wade Miley – Seattle Mariners – at Baltimore; at Cincinnati
  6. Colin Rea – San Diego Padres – vs. San Francisco; vs. LA Dodgers
  7. Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. NY Yankees; at St. Louis
  8. Tyler Wilson – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Seattle; at LA Angels
  9. Aaron Blair – Atlanta Braves – at Pittsburgh; at Philadelphia
  10. John Lamb – Cincinnati Reds – at Cleveland; vs. Seattle
  11. Williams Perez – Atlanta Braves – at Pittsburgh; at Philadelphia

Tier Six:

  1. Jon Niese – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Atlanta; vs. Colorado
  2. Derek Holland – Texas Rangers – at Oakland; at Houston
  3. Jared Weaver – LA Angels – at LA Dodgers; vs. Baltimore
  4. Phil Hughes – Minnesota Twins – at Detroit; vs. Toronto
  5. Alfredo Simon – Cincinnati Reds – at Cleveland; vs. Seattle
  6. Sean Manaea – Oakland A’s – vs. Texas; vs. NY Yankees
  7. Chase Anderson – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Chicago Cubs; at NY Mets
  8. Matt Shoemaker – LA Angels – at LA Dodgers; vs. Baltimore\
  9. Cody Anderson – Cleveland Indians – vs. Cincinnati; at Boston
  10. Chris Rusin – Colorado Rockies – at St. Louis; at Pittsburgh


  • It is, and was, way too early to give up on David Price. Granted the expectations couldn’t be much higher after his big money contract this off-season and his track record of success, but six starts is way too small of a sample size. Price has been so bad that even after holding the Astros to one run in 6.2 innings, his ERA over his past three starts is 6.38 with an ERA of 6.00 on the season, but there are a few factors that keep Price in the top tier for few. Most prominently he noticed a mechanical issue prior to his last start, and the initial corrections appeared to work. Also, with an ERA as bad as Price’s you would expect him to have a WHIP worse than 1.33; not like that is anything to be excited about. It is also hard not to like his 12.19 strikeouts per nine innings. Aside from that, if you are looking for signs that he will turn it around, look no further than the advanced metrics. You can pick which one you want to use; his 2.53 FIP, .379 BABIP or 57.7% strand rate.
  • Entering the season there was some level of skepticism surrounding Kenta Maeda. Initially that seemed to be unfounded, but that has changed over his past few starts. How worried should we really be? After his first four starts a “regression” was inevitable, considering he allowed just one earned run 25.1 innings. It came in the form of 10 earned runs in his next 17.2 innings. On the season Maeda has continued to keep runners off the bases (he has a WHIP of 1.02) and owns a respectable 38 strikeouts in 43 innings. However he has been helped by a .237 BABIP and has a 4.09 FIP, which is almost two runs higher than his ERA of 2.30. This week you still have to like his outlook as he faces a reeling Angels team and Padres lineup he dispatched with ease earlier this season.
  • I guess J.A. Happ could survive outside Pittsburgh and his second half last season was legit. At least for seven starts this season Toronto looks pretty smart for signing the left-hander. Can we really expect him to continue the pace he is on with a 2.05 ERA? His 3.92 FIP says no and his 89.9% strand rate points to the same conclusion. You aren’t going to get many strikeouts, 5.59 per nine innings, regardless of he performs otherwise. Happ has five victories so far this season and you have to like his chances for victory once again this week as faces Tampa Bay and Minnesota. That can help to make up for an extra earned run or two that he may allow this week.
  • What do we make of Yordano Ventura? We know how talented he is and how hard he throws, but that is the problem. Even when he struggles, we always expect more out of the right-hander. If you want to look at average velocity per Fangraphs, Ventura’s fastball velocity is down just .6 miles per hour from 95.6 to 95, but his two-seam fastball velocity has dropped from 96.2 to 94.8. However, looking at his BABIP of .236 and FIP of 5.45, we can actually expect to see his ERA rise from its current 4.62. He also has two tough match-ups this week, the Red Sox and White Sox, and I would avoid him if possible.
  • Another right-hander with potential that is better left on your bench this week is Michaal Pineda. To say that Pineda is inconsistent would be an understatement, but better days might on the way for the right-hander. Out of his seven starts so far this season he has four in which he has allowed two earned runs each, while the other three have been disasters (19 earned runs in 15.2 innings). Pineda still has yet to pitch past the sixth inning this season, but with a .360 BABIP things should likely get better. His ERA is an unsightly 6.24 and his FIP of 5.24 isn’t much better, however his xFIP of 3.92 is cause for some optimism. The strikeouts will continue to be there and perhaps a start in Oakland will help to get him on track this week.

Make sure to check out all of Rotoprofessor’s Preseason Top 10 Prospect Lists:

AL East
AL Central
AL West
Baltimore OriolesChicago White SoxHouston Astros
Boston Red SoxCleveland IndiansLos Angeles Angels
New York YankeesDetroit TigersOakland A's
Tampa Bay RaysKansas City RoyalsSeattle Mariners
Toronto Blue JaysMinnesota TwinsTexas Rangers
NL EastNL CentralNL West
Atlanta BravesChicago CubsArizona Diamondbacks
Miami MarlinsCincinnati RedsColorado Rockies
New York MetsMilwaukee BrewersLos Angeles Dodgers
Philadelphia PhilliesPittsburgh PiratesSan Diego Padres
Washington NationalsSt. Louis CardinalsSan Francisco Giants

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