Two-Start Pitchers 2017: June 5-11: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Masahiro Tanaka & More)

by Ray Kuhn

Things are getting real, as it is June and it is make or break time. When it comes to making a move, either as a buyer or a seller, there is an advantage to being the first to act. With that being said, depending on what your objective is regarding the pitching categories utilizing pitchers who are taking the mound twice in a given week could certainly help. Let’s take a look at how those options rank for the coming week, and if there are any risks worth taking:

Tier One:

  1. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – at Los Angeles Dodgers; vs. Texas
  2. Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals – at Cincinnati; vs. Philadelphia
  3. Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs – vs. Miami; vs. Colorado
  4. Chris Archer – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Oakland

Tier Two:

  1. James Paxton – Seattle Mariners – vs. Minnesota; vs. Toronto
  2. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – at Texas; at Atlanta

Tier Three:

  1. Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. San Diego; vs. Milwaukee
  2. Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – at Milwaukee; vs. Minnesota
  3. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals – at Cincinnati; vs. Philadelphia
  4. Ivan Nova – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Baltimore; vs. Miami

Tier Four:

  1. Sean Manaea – Oakland A’s – vs. Toronto; at Tampa Bay
  2. Drew Pomeranz – Boston Red Sox – at New York Yankees; vs. Detroit
  3. Jose Quintana – Chicago White Sox – at Tampa Bay; at Cleveland
  4. Dan Straily – Miami Marlins – at Chicago Cubs; at Pittsburgh
  5. Chase Anderson – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. San Francisco; at Arizona
  6. Junior Guerra – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. San Francisco; at Arizona
  7. Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals – at Los Angeles Dodgers; vs. Texas

Tier Five:

  1. Masahiro Tanaka – New York Yankees – vs. Boston; vs. Baltimore
  2. Dinelson Lamet – San Diego Padres – at Arizona; vs. Kansas City
  3. Jamie Garcia – Atlanta Braves – vs. Philadelphia; vs. New York Mets
  4. Antonio Senzatela – Colorado Rockies – vs. Cleveland; at Chicago Cubs
  5. Mike Foltynewicz – Atlanta Braves – vs. Philadelphia; vs. New York Mets
  6. J.A. Happ – Toronto Blue Jays – at Oakland; at Seattle
  7. Joe Musgrove – Houston Astros – at Kansas City; vs. Los Angeles Angels
  8. Kevin Gausman – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Pittsburgh; at New York Yankees
  9. Mike Fiers – Houston Astros – at Kansas City; vs. Los Angeles Angels
  10. Jeff Locke – Miami Marlins – at Chicago Cubs; at Pittsburgh
  11. Hyun-Jin Ryu – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. Washington; vs. Cincinnati
  12. Hector Santiago – Minnesota Twins – at Seattle; at San Francisco
  13. Ian Kennedy – Kansas City Royals – vs. Houston; at San Diego
  14. Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – at Atlanta; at St. Louis
  15. Daniel Norris – Detroit Tigers – vs. Los Angeles Angels; at Boston
  16. Tim Adleman – Cincinnati Reds – vs. St. Louis; at Los Angeles Dodgers

Tier Six:

  1. Matt Cain – San Francisco Giants – at Milwaukee; vs. Minnesota
  2. Jharel Cotton – Oakland A’s – vs. Toronto; at Tampa Bay
  3. Bartolo Colon – Atlanta Braves – vs. Philadelphia; vs. New York Mets
  4. Jesse Chavez – Los Angeles Angels – at Detroit; at Houston
  5. Eddie Butler – Chicago Cubs – vs. Miami; vs. Colorado
  6. Asher Wojciechowski – Cincinnati Reds – vs. St. Louis; at Los Angeles Dodgers

Notes:

  • It is safe to say that the Mets’ pitching rotation has been an unmitigated disaster this season. There have been varying levels of disappointment, though you could say that Jacob deGrom has had the best season. Is that really saying much? After being the first Mets starting pitcher to even pitch into the ninth inning two starts ago, deGrom struggled against Milwaukee in his most recent outing. The right-hander clearly didn’t have his best stuff, but the Mets got all they could as he allowed seven runs in four innings. Control was an issue, as he walked five while allowing eight hits, although he did strike out six. It was his worst start of the season, but for the most part he hasn’t been especially dominating; a 3.97 ERA and an especially troubling 1.37 WHIP thanks to 3.84 BB/9. deGrom has struck out 92 batters in 68 innings, so he is at least providing fantasy owners with a legitimate commodity. I wouldn’t let his ratios, or his last start, scare you off as his .338 BABIP will recover and his results should begin to match his 3.06 xFIP.
  • There is one New York starter I’m not gambling on as Masahiro Tanaka has not shown many signs of life. Tanaka hasn’t missed any time or submitted to any medical tests that we are aware of, so health is not an issue for the right-hander. However something is clearly wrong, because to say that he is struggling would be a vast understatement. Tanaka’s ERA so far this season, despite a few dominate outings, is 6.52 and he has allowed 11.21 hits per nine innings (which has lead to an equally horrific 1.52 WHIP). He just does not look like himself and has not been able to put together any consistency or sustained success. While the metrics do show that Tanaka’s performance should improve at some point this season (.339 BABIP, 68.1% strand rate, 5.17 FIP, 4.06 xFIP) I’m still staying away until we see multiple good starts.
  • The good thing about rebuilding teams,is that they provide young, potentially unknown, players with an opportunity. That is what brought us Dinelson Lamet as the right-hander, who began the season off just about everyone’s radars, is now part of San Diego’s rotation. He was a quick riser as he began last season in High-A and ended it in Triple-A after posting a 12-10 record with a 3.00 ERA and 158 strikeouts in 150 innings. In eight starts prior to his promotion he had 50 strikeouts in 39 innings, along with a 3.23 ERA. San Diego is being less aggressive with Lamet now that he has reached the Majors, as he has pitched five innings in each of his two starts. Lamet picked up victories in both starts after allowing one run in New York against the Mets prior to giving up two runs to the Cubs at home. He hasn’t been in too much trouble as he has allowed eight hits and three walks in 10 innings, while striking out eight batters in each start. While he isn’t going to dominate the opposition, Lamet has strikeout potential and makes another start at home against Kansas City. His first start comes in Arizona, and while it’s not an ideal situation there likely isn’t enough there to prevent me from using him in most leagues.
  • Did the Braves get it right with one of their veteran pitchers? Jamie Garcia has always been an intriguing pitcher, but staying healthy hasn’t been easy. So far this season he has been able to take the mound every five days and with a 0.42 ERA in his last three starts, Garcia has had a recent stretch of success. He is averaging just over seven innings in those starts and has 15 strikeouts with just five walks, helping to lower his ERA to 3.18. Garcia hasn’t been particularly dominant, his WHIP is 1.25, but you can’t afford to ignore any reliable options given the current state of starting pitching. He makes both of his starts at home, against the Phillies and the Mets, where he has a 1.88 ERA in 14.1 innings.
  • Entering the season Kevin Gausman was a popular sleeper option as an ascending young pitcher, but after two months that has not been the case. We are left with a pitcher who has a 5.92 ERA to go along with a 1.84 WHIP, is averaging just under five innings per start and only has 42 strikeouts in 59.2 innings. In his last three starts he has averaged six innings with a respectable 3.00 ERA. With a .356 BABIP,some form of correction was inevitable, but Gausman’s 5.29 FIP and 5.19 xFIP doesn’t lend itself to all that much optimism. Despite the recent stretch, I still need to see more.
  • After beginning the season on the DL Jeff Locke has one 2017 start under his belt. He made his debut last week and allowed just one run on three hits in 5.2 innings against Arizona. The southpaw didn’t walk a batter while striking out seven, but things likely won’t come that easy this week. After making the All-Star team in 2013 and finishing the season with a 3.52 ERA, Locke’s ERA has risen each season and was 5.44 last year. In a full season he has never struck out more than 6.9 strikeouts per nine innings and I need to see more than one start before I’m truly buying. A speculative add, especially in deeper leagues, is warranted, but I wouldn’t go much further just yet.
  • I know Robbie Ray has a 0.00 ERA in his last three stats. As a whole he has dominated with 84 strikeouts in 69 innings, but at home things have been different for the southpaw. Compared to a 0.64 ERA on the road, Ray’s ERA at home sits at 6.75. That is what is keeping his ranking down, even though the sample size is small (26.2 innings).

Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:

Position
Posted
CatcherJune 1
First BaseJune 3
Second BaseJune 5
Third Base--
Shortstop--
Outfield--
Starting Pitcher--
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