by Ray Kuhn
Here we are for another week, and while there are a multitude of options, there is also some risk (despite the top two tiers seemingly being loaded with options). Who can we trust? Who should we avoid? Are there any gambles worth taking? Let’s take a look at how our choices rank:
- Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers – vs. Arizona; vs. Cincinnati
- Carlos Martinez – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Minnesota; at San Diego
- Luis Severino – NY Yankees – vs. Boston; vs. Oakland
- Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – at San Diego; at Arizona
- Jacob de Grom – New York Mets – at Cincinnati; at Philadelphia
- Aaron Nola – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. San Francisco; vs. NY Mets
- Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros – at Oakland; vs. Texas
- James Paxton – Seattle Mariners – at Toronto; at Detroit
- Sean Manaea – Oakland A’s – vs. Houston; at NY Yankees
- Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs – vs. Miami; vs. Chicago White Sox
- Zack Godley – Arizona Diamondbacks – at LA Dodgers; vs. Washington
- Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Atlanta; at Baltimore
- Michael Fulmer – Detroit Tigers – at Texas; vs. Seattle
- Sean Newcomb – Atlanta Braves – at Tampa Bay; at Miami
- Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies – vs. LA Angels; vs. Milwaukee
- Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Kansas City; vs. Tampa Bay
- Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – at Philadelphia; at Pittsburgh
- Marcus Stroman – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Seattle; vs. Boston
- Tyson Ross – San Diego Padres – vs. Washington; vs. St. Louis
- Jeremy Hellickson – Washington Nationals – at San Diego; at Arizona
- Jarlin Garcia – Miami Marlins – at Chicago Cubs; vs. Atlanta
- Fernando Romero – Minnesota Twins – at St. Louis; at LA Angels
- Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds – vs. NY Mets; at LA Dodgers
- Drew Pomeranz – Boston Red Sox – at NY Yankees; at Toronto
- Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals – at Baltimore; at Cleveland
- Daniel Mengden – Oakland A’s – vs. Houston; at NY Yankees
- Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – at Chicago; vs. Atlanta
- Homer Bailey – Cincinnati Reds – vs. NY Mets; at LA Dodgers
- Zach Eflin – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. San Francisco; vs. NY Mets
- Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Kansas City; vs. Tampa Bay
- Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox – vs. Pittsburgh; at Chicago Cubs
- Wade Miley – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Cleveland; at Colorado
- Matt Moore – Texas Rangers – vs. Detroit; at Houston
- Derek Holland – San Francisco Giants – at Philadelphia; at Pittsburgh
- Clayton Richard – San Diego Padres – vs. Washington; vs. St. Louis
- If there were any questions about Severino being a true ace, the right-hander has answered them so far this season. The Astros have been struggling on offense, but you can’t diminish what Severino did in Houston last week as he went the distance while striking out 10 and allowing just five hits and one walk. What was even more impressive is that 83 of his 110 pitches were strikes, 27 of the 33 batters he faced got first pitch strikes and there were 17 swinging strikes. Overall Severino has been victorious in five of his seven starts while striking out 52 batters in 47 innings. He has been dominant this season, and he is sporting a 2.11 ERA and 0.85 WHIP and really has had just one bad start; five runs in Fenway while giving up just six runs in his other six starts. While he is benefiting from a .236 BABIP, his 2.36 FIP, and even his 3.05 xFIP, pave the path for continued success.
- Limit the walks. After walking 5.13 batters per nine innings last year with a 9.72 K/9, that was the mantra for Sean Newcomb entering this season. Through 34.2 innings so far this season the southpaw has taken a step in the right direction. Newcomb’s walks are down to 3.89 per nine innings while his strikeouts are up to 10.90. The left-hander is also forcing more ground balls, 48.9% up from 43.8% last season, and his 3.38 ERA (along with a 3.19 FIP) is proof that we can count on him moving forward this season. In facing Tampa Bay and Miami this week, you also have to like his match-ups.
- At a quick glance Marcus Stroman is not someone who you are going to be eager to get into your starting lineup. After all the right-hander’s ERA in his last three starts is 7.13. The problem is that he likely did that damage to your ERA while in your starting lineup so it might be in your best interest, and you might not have many better options. to give him a shot at reversing the course. All hasn’t been lost as he is striking out 8.45 batters per nine innings and is generating a ground ball rate of 60.8%, but that is where the good vibes end. Despite walking just 2.51 batters per nine innings over his career, Stroman’s rate so far this season is 4.45 and that is contributing to his struggles. Luck is also coming into play as his 50.6% strand rate is sure to improve and perhaps his ERA will fall more in line with his 4.43 FIP and 3.80 xFIP. Stroman isn’t an ideal pitching option, but there is enough here to like and for him to remain in your starting lineup.
- After throwing 5.2 shutout innings in his major league debut against the Blue Jays, things are going to get a little more difficult for Fernando Romero this week. The top prospect gets to make both his starts on the road against the Cardinals and Angels as we get to really see what he can do. Despite his pedigree, it might be best to add the southpaw and then let him sit on your bench for a week. In his debut Romero allowed four hits and three walks while striking out five. He spent all of his 2017 in Double-A, and in 125 innings he had a 3.53 ERA while striking out 8.64 batters per nine innings, and prior to his promotion he had a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings at Triple-A. There is real value, but I still want to see more at the major league level.
- We are barely a month into season and we are being forced to look for starting pitcher everywhere possible, even if it brings us to Jeremy Hellickson. In his four starts he has a 3.00 ERA and 1.05 WHIP through 21 innings. The right-hander has walked just four batters while striking out 18, and pitching for Washington means that he will receive run support (even though he has yet to register a decision). Hellickson isn’t going to rack up the strikeouts, just 13, but in a two-start week, that liability is mitigated. Despite struggling last season, a 5.43 ERA, he did have a 3.71 ERA in 2016 and there is some value in the right situation; as long as you can stomach some risk.
- It really couldn’t have gotten any worse for Zach Eflin than it did last season. He made 11 starts, and in 64.1 innings he struggled to a 6.16 ERA and struck out just 4.90 batters in nine innings. Prior to his promotion he had a 4.57 ERA, but his FIP was 3.80 so there was was promise. Before he got the call this season Eflin put up a 4.05 ERA in four starts at Triple-A, but he did have a FIP of 2.98. Before you rush out and grab him for his two start week, you might want to pause for a minute. Yes he did limit the Marlins to just one run and three hits over six innings and threw 14 first pitch strikes (he struck out just four), but it might be his best start of the 2018 season. If you are really desperate, neither the Giants nor the Mets have shown that they are an offense to truly fear, although there is some risk involved.
Missed our Top 100 prospect rankings? Make sure to check it out by clicking here.