Two-Start Pitchers 2018: September 24-30: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy

by Ray Kuhn

After a long season, we have finally reached the last week of the 2018 regular season and now is not the time to let up. The problem is that most MLB teams have as they are either getting ready for next season or for the postseason. That makes it especially difficult to track and project pitching as two-start pitchers are often subject to change. You also don’t know what lineup you will get across the field. With that being said, let’s take a look at your options among the pitchers who are currently scheduled to take the mound twice this week:

Tier One:

  1. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians – at Chicago White Sox; at Kansas City
  2. Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers – at Arizona; at San Francisco
  3. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – vs. Miami; at Colorado
  4. Luis Severino – NY Yankees – at Tampa Bay; at Boston

Tier Two:

  1. Jameson Taillon – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Chicago Cubs; at Cincinnati
  2. Robbie Ray – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. LA Dodgers; at San Diego
  3. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – vs. Miami; at Colorado
  4. Noah Syndergaard – NY Mets – vs. Atlanta; vs. Miami
  5. Masahiro Tanaka – NY Yankees – at Tampa Bay; at Boston

Tier Three:

  1. Dallas Keuchel – Houston Astros – at Toronto; at Baltimore
  2. Chris Archer – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Chicago Cubs; at Cincinnati
  3. Chase Anderson – Milwaukee Brewers – at St. Louis; vs. Detroit

Tier Four:

  1. Cole Hamels – Chicago Cubs – vs. Pittsburgh; vs. St. Louis
  2. Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Washington
  3. Jack Flaherty – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Milwaukee; at Chicago Cubs
  4. Derek Holland – San Francisco Giants – vs. San Diego; vs. LA Dodgers
  5. Tyler Anderson – Colorado Rockies – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Washington

Tier Five:

  1. Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles – at Boston; vs. Houston
  2. Mike Montgomery – Chicago Cubs – vs. Pittsburgh; vs. St. Louis
  3. Felix Pena – LA Angels – vs. Texas; vs. Oakland
  4. Zach Eflin – Philadelphia Phillies – at Colorado; vs. Atlanta
  5. Mike Leake – Seattle Mariners – vs. Oakland; vs. Texas
  6. Sandy Alcantara – Miami Marlins – at Washington; at NY Mets
  7. Sean Newcomb – Atlanta Braves – at NY Mets; at Philadelphia
  8. Marco Estrada – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Houston; at Tampa Bay
  9. Edwin Jackson – Oakland A’s – at Seattle; at LA Angels
  10. Dylan Covey – Chicago White Sox – vs. Cleveland; at Minnesota
  11. Bryan Mitchell – San Diego Padres – at San Francisco; vs. Arizona
  12. Vince Velasquez – Philadelphia Phillies – at Colorado; vs. Atlanta

Tier Six:

  1. Adrian Sampson – Texas Rangers – at LA Angels; at Seattle
  2. Brett Anderson – Oakland A’s – at Seattle; at LA Angels
  3. James Shields – Chicago White Sox – vs. Cleveland; at Minnesota
  4. Spencer Turnbull – Detroit Tigers – at Minnesota; at Milwaukee

Notes:

  • In his last start Noah Syndergaard clearly didn’t have it and he was lifted after allowing three runs in four innings of work. He only threw 54 strikes out of 89 pitches, as he allowed two home runs and walked three batters; although he did strike out six. In his last three starts the right-hander has walked 11 batters in 17.2 innings while striking out 16. Not exactly his most efficient work, but Syndergaard will look to finish the season strong. Overall, he has a 3.36 ERA in 23 starts, but it’s the WHIP of 1.27 that has caused some trouble. He does have 144 strikeouts in 139.1 innings and will close out the year with two starts at home; against the Braves and Marlins.
  • As he gears up for the postseason Dallas Keuchel will look to take some positive momentum with him. He certainly needs to do better than two of his last three starts, as the left-hander gave up five runs in Fenway Park before allowing five runs at home against the Mariners two starts later. While it hasn’t been a Cy Young type campaign , he has produced solid numbers with 3.71 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. The good thing for this week is that both of his starts come against teams who shouldn’t offer up much in the way of resistance in Toronto and Baltimore.
  • If it’s a strikeout boost you are looking for Robbie Ray could be the answer. After a stint on the disabled list earlier in the year he hasn’t gone more than 6.1 innings in any of his last six starts, but he also has allowed a combined six earned runs in that stretch. Within that span Ray has seen his ERA drop from 4.91 to 3.92. Walks are going to be an issue, 62 in 114.2 innings, but Ray helps to make up for that with 150 strikeouts. His first start of the week, against the Dodgers, will be a lot more competitive than his second (he faces the Padres), but as long as you get past the walks things have been going pretty well for the left-hander.
  • Despite a solid overall season Derek Holland is still available in just over half of leagues. The left-hander has 165 strikeouts in 163.2 innings, and at this point in the season each and every strikeout counts. Holland does pitch with traffic on the bases, a 1.26 WHIP, but his 3.57 does suggest that he can avoid too much in the way of trouble. At this point we are really just looking for results, and Holland has produced. In fact we have seen Holland’s ERA drop from 3.83 to 3.57 in his last six starts with just one start in which he allowed more than two runs.
  • If only he can work on that control. In his last three starts Sandy Alcantara has walked 11 batters in 18 innings, but the rookie has also shown the ability to pitch out of trouble. Alcantara has a 2.50 ERA over that stretch while striking out 15 batters as he looks to earn a rotation spot for next season. Overall he has made four starts with the Marlins while allowing a total of six runs. The thing you have to watch out for is the propensity to struggle with his control and to clog the bases. Thus far he hasn’t let that effect him, but he did only make it through four innings in his last start.
  • Should you really be feeling risky, Adrian Sampson is owned in just 2% of CBS leagues. After making two major league starts the young right-hander is currently slated to make two starts this week to close out the season, but there is the possibility that Texas shuts him down after he faces the Angles on Monday. In those two starts, Sampson has pitched 5.0 and 5.2 innings respectively, while allowing three runs on eight hits and two walks. With just four combined strikeouts there is limited upside. The lack of strikeouts shouldn’t come as a surprise, 6.04 per nine innings in Triple-A this season, with a 3.77 ERA. This really an option more for deeper leagues if you just want to rack up as many innings as possible.

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