by Ray Kuhn
After a short off-season, although it felt far too long, we are back for another season and that brings with it another batch of our weekly look into two-start pitchers. While this will certainly help you maximize your innings pitched, strikeouts and chances for wins or quality starts, there are also some risks involved in the process. Each league is different, but you need to be aware of your rules regarding innings minimums, maximums and transactions. The bigger problem is what digging deep for two start options could do to your ratios.
This early in the season we don’t have much current data to go on, and we also want to avoid putting too much stock in small sample sizes. That applies more to opposing teams, though as some of the pitchers taking the mound twice this week will be making their 2018 debuts. Therefore we are left wanting more. With that being said, let’s take a look at our options:
- Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – at NY Mets; vs. Miami
- Charlie Morton – Houston Astros – vs. Baltimore; vs. San Diego
- Chase Anderson – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. St. Louis; vs. Chicago Cubs
- Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves – vs. Washington; at Colorado
- Cole Hamels – Texas Rangers – at Oakland; vs. Toronto
- Mike Clevinger – Cleveland Indians – at LA Angels; vs. Kansas City
- Tanner Roark – Washington Nationals – at Atlanta; vs. NY Mets
- Jameson Taillon – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Minnesota; vs. Cincinnati
- Jordan Montgomery – New York Yankees – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Baltimore
- Zach Davies -Milwaukee Brewers – vs. St. Louis; vs. Chicago Cubs
- Matt Harvey – New York Mets – vs. Philadelphia; at Washington
- Lance Lynn – Minnesota Twins – at Pittsburgh; vs. Seattle
- Taijuan Walker – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. LA Dodgers; at St. Louis
- Tyler Chatwood – Chicago Cubs – at Cincinnati; at Milwaukee
- Jack Flaherty – St. Louis Cardinals – at Milwaukee; vs. Arizona
- Jake Junis – Kansas City Royals – at Detroit; at Cleveland
- Tyler Mahle – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Chicago Cubs; at Pittsburgh
- Hyun-Jin Ryu – LA Dodgers – at Arizona; at San Francisco
- Marco Gonzales – Seattle Mariners – at San Francisco; at Minnesota
- Bryan Mitchell – San Diego Padres – vs. Colorado; at Houston
- Sean Newcomb – Atlanta Braves – vs. Washington; at Colorado
- Kendall Graveman – Oakland A’s – vs. Texas; at LA Angels
- Ty Blach – San Francisco Giants – vs. Seattle; vs. LA Dodgers
- JC Ramirez – LA Angels – vs. Cleveland; vs. Oakland
- Andrew Triggs – Oakland A’s – vs. Texas; at LA Angels
- Chad Bettis – Colorado Rockies – at San Diego; vs. Atlanta
- Ben Lively – Philadelphia Phillies – at NY Mets; vs. Miami
- Jamie Garcia – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Texas
- Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles – at Houston; at NY Yankees
- Miguel Gonzalez – Chicago White Sox – at Toronto; vs. Detroit
- Kyle Freeland – Colorado Rockies – at San Diego; vs. Atlanta
- Mike Wright – Baltimore Orioles – at Houston; at NY Yankees
- Bartolo Colon – Texas Rangers – at Oakland; vs. Toronto
- No, I didn’t cut off the top of this list and yes, Charlie Morton is the second best option. Gabe Kapler’s folly of lifting Aaron Nola too early on Opening Day is the only reason why Morton isn’t first on this list. It’s not an ideal way to kick off the first installment of this column for 2018, but that is where we stand. The move to Houston certainly agreed with Morton last season while he was also able to stay healthy for the majority of the season and log 163 innings while winning 14 games. He picked up the last out of the season for the Astros and he will throw the first pitch of their 2018 home season on Monday. Both of his startswill come at home, against the Orioles and Padres, as the right-hander looks to build on his 3.62 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Perhaps more attractive to fantasy owners is the 163 strikeouts he had last season in 146.2 innings.
- It’s not easy to look at Tyler Chatwood’s overall numbers from last season. While the right-hander’s statistical profile isn’t exactly ideal, 4.69 walks per nine innings, there is some value to be had from Chicago’s new fifth starter. Overall he had a 4.64 ERA last season, with a 4.27 xFIP, but half of his starts did come in Coors Field. That is where we see two vastly different performances. In 70.1 innings at home he put up a 6.01 ERA with a .299 batting average against, but in 77 innings on the road things he held opposing hitters to a .197 batting average while putting up a 3.49 ERA. The one problem is that the control wasn’t any better on the road; 37 walks compared to 40. He won’t overwhelm you with strikeouts, 7.3 per nine innings, but the he is a solid option.
- Alright I’m going to do it. The bucket of cold water is hereby dumped on Ty Blach. Yes the southpaw did shut the Dodgers out over five innings while picking up the victory on Opening Day, but I’m still not impressed. The Giants lifted Blach quickly, and he struck out just three batters while walking three. This week he makes both of his starts at home; against Seattle and once again against the Dodgers. Last season he had his share of success against Los Angeles as he held them to a 3.20 ERA over 25.1 innings, but given the skill set I’m not willing to bet on a repeat. Last season he logged 163.2 innings and put up a 4.78 ERA (5.01 xFIP) while striking out just 4.01 batters nine innings. It’s just not worth taking the chance.
- If we are going to roll the dice on someone this week it should be Matt Harvey. Last season was just a disaster for the right-hander from a health perspective, and all indications are that he is coming into this season with all systems firing. I wouldn’t expect to see the same version we saw of Harvey in his Dark Knight days, but there is no reason why he can’t be a reliable option. In 20 innings this spring he struck out 18 batters, while walking six, and even despite his struggles last season his career numbers look pretty good. Last season he had just 6.51 strikeouts per nine innings, but for his career he is at 8.70 with 2.44 walks (compared to 4.56 last season). The right-hander also struggled with the long ball last season, 2.04 per nine innings, but throughout his career it hasn’t been a problem (0.87). I still need to see more before I’m a true believer, but there’s no reason not to roll with him this week. It also helps that both of his starts come in the cold, Philadelphia at home and at Washington, as that should help to suppress some offense.
- As far as low owned options this week, Taylor Mahle is where I’m directing my attention. Owned in just 21% of CBS leagues, the prospect certainly has earned his spot in Cincinnati’s rotation. He was good all spring, 2.75 ERA and 0.66 WHIP with 19 strikeouts in 15.2 innings, but struggled to close out the spring. I wouldn’t be too concerned, as Mahle had his share of success last season as he moved from Double-A to Triple-A. In 84 innings at Double-A, he had a 1.59 ERA prior to a 2.73 mark in 59.1 innings at Triple-A. Mahle throws hard and had a 20 inning cup of coffee with the Reds to close out 2017, so that should help as he makes his 2018 debut this week.
Make sure to check out all of our 2018 Preseason Rankings:
|Starting Pitchers||1-20: 03/24/18|