Two-Start Pitchers 2017: August 28-September 3: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Godley, Weaver & More)

by Ray Kuhn

This week brings us right into the last month of the season, so the time is now. Head-to-head leagues are beginning their playoffs shortly and we are entering crunch time in standard rotisserie leagues. As you would expect, some of the options are less than exciting and come with more risk than reward, but there are also some aces who could be difference makers. Let’s take a look at how they rank:

Tier 1:

  1. Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox – at Toronto; at New York Yankees
  2. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians – at New York Yankees; at Detroit
  3. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – vs. Miami; at Milwaukee
  4. Jake Arrieta – Chicago Cubs – vs. Pittsburgh; vs. Atlanta

Tier 2:

  1. Ervin Santana – Minnesota Twins – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Kansas City
  2. Luis Severino – New York Yankees – vs. Cleveland; vs. Boston
  3. Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians – at New York Yankees; at Detroit
  4. Rich Hill – Los Angeles Dodgers – at Arizona; at San Diego

Tier 3:

  1. Drew Pomeranz – Boston Red Sox – at Toronto; at New York Yankees
  2. Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – at San Diego; vs. St. Louis
  3. Michael Fulmer – Detroit Tigers – at Colorado; vs. Cleveland

Tier 4:

  1. Hyun-Jin Ryu – Los Angeles Dodgers – at Arizona; at San Diego
  2. Luke Weaver – St. Louis Cardinals – at Milwaukee; at San Francisco
  3. Zack Godley – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Los Angeles; at Colorado
  4. Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Atlanta Braves; at Miami
  5. Matt Moore – San Francisco Giants – at San Diego; vs. St. Louis

Tier 5:

  1. Jhoulys Chacin – San Diego Padres – vs. San Francisco; vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
  2. Mike Fiers – Houston Astros – vs. Texas; vs. New York Mets
  3. Mike Montgomery – Chicago Cubs – vs. Pittsburgh; vs. Atlanta
  4. Ian Kennedy – Kansas City Royals – vs. Tampa Bay; at Minnesota
  5. Jamie Garcia – New York Yankees – vs. Cleveland; at Chicago Cubs
  6. Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – at Washington; vs. Philadelphia
  7. Edwin Jackson – Washington Nationals – vs. Miami; at Milwaukee
  8. R.A. Dickey – Atlanta Braves – at Philadelphia; at Chicago Cubs
  9. Mark Leiter  – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Atlanta; at Miami
  10. Andrew Cashner – Texas Rangers – at Houston; vs. Los Angeles Angels
  11. James Shields – Chicago White Sox – at Minnesota; vs. Tampa Bay
  12. Luis Perdomo – San Diego Padres – vs. San Francisco; vs. Los Angeles Dodgers
  13. Chris Flexen – New York Mets – at Cincinnati; at Houston

Tier 6:

  1. Lucas Sims – Atlanta Braves – at Philadelphia; at Chicago Cubs
  2. Trevor Williams – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Chicago Cubs; vs. Cincinnati
  3. Sal Romano – Cincinnati Reds – vs. New York Mets; at Pittsburgh
  4. Tom Koehler – Miami Marlins – vs. Boston; at Baltimore
  5. Antonio Senzatela – Colorado Rockies – vs. Detroit; vs. Arizona
  6. Jordan Zimmermann – Detroit Tigers – at Colorado; vs. Cleveland
  7. Marco Gonzales – Seattle Mariners – at Baltimore; vs. Oakland
  8. Andrew Heaney – Los Angeles Angels – vs. Oakland; at Texas
  9. Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Seattle; vs. Toronto
  10. Matt Garza – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. St. Louis; vs. Washington
  11. Austin Pruitt – Tampa Bay Rays – at Kansas City; at Chicago White Sox
  12. Daniel Gossett – Oakland A’s – at Los Angeles Angels; at Seattle
  13. Vance Worley – Miami Marlins – at Washington; vs. Philadelphia

Notes:

  • Yes Chris Sale’s ERA in his last three starts is 5.82, but the Indians appear to have the southpaw’s number. Over his last five starts his ERA has gone from 2.37 to 2.88, so perhaps you should be a little concerned. This isn’t the first time he has had a rough go of it in the second half of the season, but he does have 24 strikeouts against six walks (17 innings) in his last three starts so it’s not all bad. Despite Sale’s 5.40 ERA this month, hitters are only hitting .235 against him. By no stretch can you bench Sale, in fact the idea of it is laughable, but I would think twice before dealing for him to help you down the stretch or using him in DFS until we see him work through his recent struggles.
  • Zack Godley was a very useful waiver addition earlier in the season, but is he starting to wear down. He has lost his last three starts and his control has started to betray him. Overall the right-hander has walked 40 batters in 117 innings this season, but 10 of those have come in his last 16 innings. With both a FIP and xFIP of 3.27, Godley has pitched pretty close to his actual ERA of 3.15, and he has been aided by a 55.6% ground ball rate. That will also come in handy this week as he makes one of his starts in Coors Field. With a combined 145 innings this season he is getting close to the 156 innings he pitched last year, but for the purposes of this week there is no cause for concern.
  • With all of the focus on that other left-hander in Boston, Drew Pomeranz has been able to fly under the radar to some degree. That is not to say he has been a dominant fantasy starter, but it is hard to complain about a 13-4 record and an ERA of 3.18. Pomeranz is not without warts, as he is only averaging about five and half innings per start and he sports a WHIP of 1.34. That really is what you need to get past, because he is striking out more than a batter an inning (145 strikeouts in 136 innings). When you see a pitcher allowing base runners to the degree he is you have to be concerned about luck, but in fact it is working in the other direction. Pomeranz has a .315 BABIP this season, compared to a career mark of .285, though his 3.62 FIP does provide a little room for regression.
  • Matt Moore has been a disappointment for most of the season. In fact, that is the case for the majority of the Giants other than Buster Posey. However, in his last three starts Moore has a 2.21 ERA and you have to wonder if he is turning a corner. It can’t get any worse than the 8.88 ERA he posted in June, likely what sent his original fantasy owners over the edge, but despite his recent success Moore’s August ERA is still 4.02. When it comes to batting average against it really has been a tale of two halves, as after opponents hit .302 against him in the first half of the season he is holding hitters to a .228 average in the second half. Pitching on the road has also proven to problematic, 6.71 ERA, but his one start on the road this week is in San Diego. I would try, it will be hard, to look past his 5.38 ERA and 1.51 WHIP as he is a talented pitcher who could have some value this week.
  • After giving Luke Weaver a shot towards the end of last season for eight starts, St. Louis went back to the right-hander with Adam Wainwright sidelined. Weaver was impressive at times last year as he struck out 11.15 batters per nine innings but also put up 5.70 ERA (3.34 xFIP). He is back at it again this season, and in his last start he struck out 10 batters in seven innings of work against the Padres while allowing just three hits and a walk. Overall Weaver has a 2.31 ERA in six games, three starts, and is striking out 10.03 batters per nine innings. He has benefited from a .268 BABIP and 86.2% strand rate, so I would resist the urge to invest too highly, but he is certainly someone I would feel comfortable starting. Both of Weaver’s starts come on the road, but the Brewers and Giants provide limited threats.
  • At any point in the season, but now in particular, any young pitcher that show flashes of success are going to warrant attention. The question is, do they warrant enough attention to earn a spot in your starting lineup. In the case of Lucas Sims I’m likely staying away, because in two starts there is a lot of damage he could do to your ratios. He does have a 3.31 ERA in his last starts, but in five starts overall he has a 4.13 ERA with a 1.34 WHIP. He hasn’t gone more than six innings in a start, and despite shutting the Mariners out in his last outing and allowing just five base runners I just don’t have that level of comfort. In 28.3 innings he has only struck out 15 batters. The former first round pick has struggled in the past, and was almost forgotten about with the other prospects Atlanta has, but in 20 Triple-A games, 19 starts, prior to his promotion Sims did have a 3.75 ERA. However, this after he had a 7.56 ERA in 11 Double-A games, 10 starts last season; although his xFIP was 4.48. Based on his up and down track record as a prospect, and his 5.50 xFIP this season, I could be a little hard on Sims but caution is in order.

3 comments

  1. Mitch says:

    Hey Roto professor I have an important question, it’s my fantasy playoffs, should i start Castllo, or Tanaka who only have one start or should I start Moore with 2 starts.

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