Two-Start Pitchers 2017: May 8-14: Are There Any Gambles Worth Taking?

by Ray Kuhn

This week it’s really Max Scherzer and then everyone else. While there are some other early round draft choices making two starts, Scherzer is heads and shoulders above them all. Of course we are also at that point in the season,where you have really have to begin forgetting about where you drafted a player when making a roster decision(both positively and negatively).  With that in mind let’s take a look at how those pitchers taking the mound twice this week rank:

Tier One:

  1. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – at Baltimore; vs. Philadelphia

Tier Two:

  1. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers – at Arizona; at Los Angeles Angels
  2. Masahiro Tanaka – New York Yankees – at Cincinnati; vs. Houston
  3. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians – at Toronto; vs. Minnesota
  4. Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals – at Miami; vs. Chicago Cubs
  5. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – vs. San Francisco; at Milwaukee
  6. Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs – at Colorado; at St. Louis

Tier Three:

  1. Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals – at Baltimore; vs. Philadelphia
  2. Ivan Nova – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Los Angeles Dodgers; at Arizona
  3. Marcus Stroman – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Cleveland; vs. Seattle
  4. Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – at New York Mets; vs. Cincinnati
  5. Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Detroit; vs. Pittsburgh

Tier Four:

  1. Drew Pomeranz – Boston Red Sox – at Milwaukee; vs. Tampa Bay
  2. Hisashi Iwakuma – Seattle Mariners – at Philadelphia; at Toronto
  3. Julio Urias – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. Pittsburgh; at Colorado
  4. Matt Moore – San Francisco Giants – at New York Mets; vs. Cincinnati

Tier Five:

  1. Matt Andriese – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Kansas City; at Boston
  2. A.J. Griffin – Texas Rangers – at San Diego; vs. Oakland
  3. Hector Santiago – Minnesota Twins – at Chicago White Sox; at Cleveland
  4. Antonio Senzatela – Colorado Rockies – vs. Chicago Cubs; vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Charlie Morton – Houston Astros – vs. Atlanta; at New York Yankees
  6. Alex Wood – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. Pittsburgh; at Colorado
  7. Kyle Freeland – Colorado Rockies; vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
  8. Jameson Taillon – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Los Angeles Dodgers; at Arizona
  9. Kendall Graveman – Oakland A’s – vs. Los Angels Angels; at Texas
  10. Jerad Eickhoff – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Seattle; at Washington
  11. Nate Karns – Kansas City Royals – at Tampa Bay; vs. Baltimore
  12. Ricky Nolasco – Los Angeles Angels – at Oakland; vs. Detroit
  13. Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Kansas City; at Boston
  14. Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Washington; at Kansas City
  15. Wily Peralta – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Boston; vs. New York Mets

Tier Six:

  1. Luis Perdomo – San Diego Padres – vs. Texas; at Chicago White Sox
  2. Nick Martinez – Texas Rangers – at San Diego; vs. Oakland
  3. Adam Conley – Miami Marlins – vs. St. Louis; vs. Atlanta
  4. Rookie Davis – Cincinnati Reds – vs. New York Yankees; at San Francisco
  5. Alex Meyer – Los Angels Angels – at Oakland; vs. Detroit
  6. Mike Pelfrey – Chicago White Sox – vs. Minnesota; vs. San Diego
  7. Jered Weaver – San Diego Padres – vs. Texas; at Chicago White Sox

Notes:

  • Entering the season feelings were mixed on Jake Arrieta. So far those who doubted the right-hander are likely feeling confident in their choice, but there could be an opportunity to buy low. I would just wait until after he pitches in Coors Field this week. So far this season he has a 4.63 ERA and 1.29 WHIP, but over his last three starts he is sporting a 6.61 ERA. All has not been lost, even in that recent stretch, as he has struck out 20 batters in 16.1 innings. That span was hindered by a start in Fenway Park in which Arrieta allowed five runs on 10 hits in just 4.1 innings, but aside from six shutout innings in his first start of the season he hasn’t allowed less than three runs in his other five starts. After benefiting from a .241 BABIP last season, it was .246 in 2015 and .276 in 2014, Arrieta’s BABIP is .333 so far this season. There is also some improvement coming based on his 3.78 FIP and 3.16 xFIP and he does have 41 strikeouts against nine walks in 35 innings. I’m not all in on Arrieta for this week, but he should right the ship in relatively short order.
  • So far in 2017 Robbie Ray is pretty much who we thought he would be. It is a wonder, and testament to his abilities, that his WHIP is only 1.27. I understand that sentence might not make the most sense, but when you put in context with his 18 walks in 36.1 innings, it is more reasonable. Ray has been able to avoid trouble this season, his ERA is 3.47, and his FIP of 3.26 and 3.01 xFIP also back up the claim that he is having an overall good season (with the exception of the walks). It is always a concern that the walks will come back to bite Ray, and negatively impact your WHIP, but so far, so good. His strand rate of 76.7% isn’t that much higher than the league average, so we shouldn’t expect much regression.  Then there is biggest benefit of all; Ray’s 49 strikeouts in 36.1 innings.
  • Talk about a disparity. Jeff Samardzjia is taking a 5.03 ERA into this week but it is counteracted by a FIP of 3.67. Despite the fact that he is 0-4, things haven’t been as bad as they seem for the right-hander. After allowing six runs in his first start Samardzjia has fired four quality starts, with the exception being the seven runs he allowed in Coors Field. Over his last two starts he has given up just two runs over 15 innings which includes eight shutout innings in Los Angeles against the Dodgers in his last start. In 39.1 innings, Samardzjia has 46 strikeouts and he is due for his first victory of the season. It will likely come this week as he faces the Mets on the road followed by the Reds in San Francisco.
  • Blake Snell was a top prospect, and he was (and still is) very talented and filled with expectation and potential. The time is not just yet, at least in fantasy leagues. Snell still has major control problems, and it is a risk to start the southpaw until they are under control. His control problems have made a mess of his WHIP, 1.53, and have limited him to just 31.1 innings in six starts. Snell has been able to limit the damage, 3.45 ERA, but his .265 BABIP has helped. If you still are willing to roll the dice, with one of his starts comes in Fenway Park against the Red Sox, his 4.98 FIP and 5.17 xFIP should help to change your mind. That doesn’t mean he should be on your waiver either as Snell is available in 43% of CBS leagues.
  • If you are looking to really dig deep into your waiver wire for a streaming option, the lowest I’m willing to go based on ownership is Kyle Freeland. Owned in just 26% of CBS leagues, Freeland is something I’m not necessarily accustomed to, a Coors Field pitcher. Both of his starts come at home this week, and while he is not a perfect option there are also some things to like. Over his last three starts his ERA is 0.93 and for the season it is 2.65 to go along with a 1.32 WHIP. That is bound to rise, based on his FIP of 3.65 and xFIP of 4.34, the question is just by how much. Freeland is not a strikeout pitcher, 20 K in 34 innings, and the walks (14) are a concern, but there are two things that work in his favor. So far this season he has allowed just 0.26 home runs per nine innings and he also has a 64.2 ground ball rate. It is very hard not to like those two stats.

Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:

Position
Posted
CatcherApril 25
First BaseApril 26
Second BaseMay 1
Third BaseMay 4
ShortstopMay 8
Outfield--
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--

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