Two-Start Pitchers 2017: May 22-28: Are There Any Gambles Worth Taking?

by Ray Kuhn

What a surprise, there are more questions than answers among the pitchers who are taking the mound twice this week. After all, it does make sense considering the state that starting pitching is in so far this season due to injuries and ineffectiveness. However, that doesn’t mean we are without strong pitching choices and some sleeper and streaming options with potential. And of course, it doesn’t hurt that Clayton Kershaw gets two starts this week. Let’s take a look at how all of the pitchers rank:

Tier One:

  1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. St. Louis; vs. Chicago Cubs

Tier Two:

  1. Lance McCullers – Houston Astros – vs. Detroit; vs. Baltimore
  2. Johnny Cueto – San Francisco Giants – at Chicago Cubs; vs. Atlanta
  3. Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Milwaukee
  4. Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Atlanta; vs. New York Mets
  5. Carlos Carrasco – Cleveland Indians – at Cincinnati; vs. Kansas City

Tier Three:

  1. Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals – at New York Yankees; at Cleveland
  2. Michael Fulmer – Detroit Tigers – at Houston; at Chicago White Sox
  3. Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – vs. Texas; vs. Seattle
  4. Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs – vs. San Francisco; at Los Angeles Dodgers
  5. Michael Pineda – New York Yankees – vs. Kansas City; vs. Oakland
  6. Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves – vs. Pittsburgh; at San Francisco
  7. Alex Cobb – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Los Angeles Angels; at Minnesota
  8. Lance Lynn – St. Louis Cardinals – at Los Angeles Dodgers; at Colorado

Tier Four:

  1. Jake Odorizzi – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Los Angeles Angels; at Minnesota
  2. Matt Harvey – New York Mets – vs. San Diego; at Pittsburgh
  3. John Lackey – Chicago Cubs – vs San Francisco; at Los Angeles Dodgers
  4. Matt Shoemaker – Los Angeles Angels – at Tampa Bay; at Miami
  5. Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins – at Baltimore; vs. Tampa Bay Rays
  6. Jason Vargas – Kansas City Royals – at New York Yankees; at Cleveland

Tier Five:

  1. JC Ramirez – Los Angeles Angels – at Tampa Bay; at Miami
  2. Jimmy Nelson – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Toronto; vs. Arizona
  3. Scott Feldman – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Cleveland; at Philadelphia
  4. Jerad Eickhoff – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Colorado; vs. Cincinnati
  5. Jordan Montgomery – New York Yankees – vs. Kansas City; vs. Oakland
  6. German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – at Philadelphia; vs. St. Louis
  7. Josh Tomlin – Cleveland Indians – at Cincinnati; vs. Kansas City
  8. Daniel Norris – Detroit Tigers – at Houston; at Chicago White Sox
  9. Tyler Chatwood – Colorado Rockies – at Philadelphia; vs. St. Louis
  10. Jhoulys Chacin – San Diego Padres – at New York Mets; at Washington
  11. Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – at Oakland; vs. Los Angeles Angels
  12. Patrick Corbin – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Milwaukee
  13. Amir Garrett – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Cleveland; at Philadelphia

Tier Six:

  1. Andrew Cashner – Texas Rangers – at Boston; at Toronto
  2. Mike Foltynewicz – Atlanta Braves – vs. Pittsburgh; at San Francisco
  3. Tyler Glasnow – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Atlanta; vs. New York Mets
  4. Christian Bergman – Seattle Mariners – at Washington; at Boston
  5. Ty Blach – San Francisco Giants – at Chicago Cubs; vs. Atlanta
  6. Miguel Gonzalez – Chicago White Sox – at Arizona; vs. Detroit
  7. Jordan Zimmermann – Detroit Tigers – at Houston; at Chicago White Sox
  8. Jacob Turner- Washington Nationals – vs. Seattle; vs. San Diego
  9. Zach Eflin – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Colorado; vs. Cincinnati
  10. Ubaldo Jimenez – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Minnesota; at Houston
  11. Dylan Covey – Chicago White Sox – at Arizona; vs. Detroit

Notes:

  • Ervin Santana is a solid starting pitcher who should be owned in all fantasy leagues. However his performance to start the season is not sustainable (not even close in fact). Of course you knew that, or at least I hope you did. While we can expect to see him regress it doesn’t mean he will lose his fantasy value, we just need to adjust our expectations moving forward. Entering his start against the Rockies on Thursday, Santana was walking 3.5 batters per nine innings yet his his WHIP was just 0.81. That is thanks to a BABIP of just .143, which leads to a FIP of 4.37 compared to his 2.07 ERA. He has 15 walks over his last four starts (26 innings), and that will ultimately become a problem. This is not enough to stop me from using him this week, but his start in Baltimore does give me some cause for concern.
  • After an inconsistent start to his career in 2015 and 2016, Lance McCullers seems to be putting things together in 2017. He didn’t have the smoothest of starts to the season, but that is also in comparison to the groove in which he is currently in. Over his last three starts, one of which came in Yankee Stadium, he hasn’t allowed a run in 19 innings. In that stretch the right-hander struck out 14 batters against just 4 walks and has 60 strikeouts in 54.1 innings this season. While every start is not going to be this smooth, McCullers appears to have found a balance where he relies on his curveball less and is beginning to put a greater emphasis on his fastball and change-up. Essentially McCullers, with the help of Brian McCann, is becoming more of a complete pitcher. The improvement has tangible effects as his ERA is 2.65 with a WHIP of 1.09 and a 2.69 xFIP.
  • As much as you may want to run, hide, and lock the door, don’t stray from Matt Harvey this week. Yes, I do understand how crazy that sounds, after all he has an 8.04 ERA in his last three starts, but he needs to be in your starting lineup. And no, I didn’t forget how much of a dumpster fire and comedy of errors this season has been in his return from a second major surgery. On the season his ERA is 5.56 ERA to go along with a 1.48 WHIP with an xFIP of 4.97, but there have been some good moments. Out of his eight starts Harvey has three quality starts, a combined six earned runs in 19.2 innings, and there have been three starts to forget (17 runs in 14.2 innings). After those last three starts he bounced back, to some degree, allowing three runs in 5.1 innings, but perhaps there is a silver lining. Harvey expressed some confidence after the game in getting back his release point and mechanics, but we won’t know for sure until we see him take the mound again. This week he gets the Padres at home in a favorable match-up and then another one in Pittsburgh, with a chance to fix some of the damage he has done to your fantasy team.
  • In the last two seasons Matt Garza was barely, if at all, fantasy worthy (and that was just in deep leagues or as a streaming option). After getting a late start to the season due to injury he has gotten 2017 off on the right foot, and in the process put himself firmly on fantasy radars. Despite his success fantasy owners are still not buying, as evidenced by his 28% ownership on CBS as of Thursday night. With Garza taking the mound twice this week, at home against Toronto and Arizona, he is worth a look. In five starts Garza is 2-0 with 2.43 ERA (3.48 FIP/3.81 xFIP) and 22 strikeouts against six walks in 29.2 innings. At this point it is a pretty safe bet to assume that everyone needs to fill at least one starting pitcher spot due to injury, so for this week he can be that pitcher.
  • There is some risk involved with German Marquez, but he has also shown that there is a great deal of reward. In two home starts this season he allowed 13 runs in just 10 innings, but then we saw the other side of the right-hander. He threw a combined 14 innings of shutout ball (in Arizona and at home against the Cubs), in which he struck out 16 batters. His most recent start came in Minnesota where Marquez held the Twins to one run in five innings of work. This week he makes his first start in Philadelphia before facing the Cardinals at home, and with an ERA of 4.34 (3.32 FIP) he is a risk worth taking.
  • Do we believe in Andrew Cashner? First let’s take the fact that the Rangers gave him $10 million this off-season out of the equation. Nex, we need to put his 1.89 ERA (nine strikeouts and five walks) over his last three starts into context. In seven starts so far this season he does have a 2.45 ERA, but his WHIP is 1.28 and he has just 19 strikeouts in 40.1 innings to go along with 21 walks. Cashner’s FIP is 5.10, with an xFIP of 5.48, and regardless of how good you might think he has looked I would stay away and leave the right-hander on the waiver wire.

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--

6 comments

  1. Larry k says:

    Someone cut Amed Rosario …… is he worth claiming on waivers and waiting on … I’m in second place in a 12 league team ….. when do u think he’s coming up

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      He may not be up until September (though chances are it’ll be around July-ish but unlikely before)

  2. Homer Hosmer says:

    Why is Berrios on the list? Thought he pitches Wednesday..?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      There may have been talk about bumping people up at one point, but with Kyle Gibson returning that’s obviously not the case. Berrios isn’t expected to go twice

  3. Chucky says:

    Can only start 2 of my three start pitchers because Im not gonna bench Max, Sale or Nola, or should I? Duffy, Vargas
    and JC Ramirez are my 2 start options. Suggestions?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Duffy is worth starting. Vargas is a regression candidate and Ramirez is hard to trust. If I had to sit one it would be Ramirez, but I don’t love either

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *