Two-Start Pitchers 2019: April 29 – May 5: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Rodriguez, Wheeler, Montas & More)

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And just like that this week brings us into May. That means one month is in the books, but there are five long months to go. While you have to be at least aware of the standings, perhaps more so in dynasty and keeper leagues where you have to have a long term plan, I would still keep them at a distance. At this point we can now identify areas of both strength and weakness, but the majority of the data has yet to be compiled. So while conclusions can be drawn, you still have to trust your instincts and resist the inclination to overreact.

One area where that comes into play is when it comes to managing your pitching staff. Sometimes you do have to minimize your risk. With that in mind let’s take a look at how our options rank for this week when it comes to those pitchers who are taking the mound twice:

Tier One:

  1. Justin Verlander – Houston Astros – at Minnesota; at LA Angels
  2. Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians – at Miami; vs. Seattle
  3. Patrick Corbin – Washington Nationals – vs. St. Louis; at Philadelphia
  4. Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – at Kansas City; at Baltimore
  5. Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds – at NY Mets; vs. San Francisco
  6. German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – at Milwaukee; vs. Arizona

Tier Two:

  1. Zack Wheeler – New York Mets – vs. Cincinnati; at Milwaukee
  2. Chris Paddack – San Diego Padres – at Atlanta; vs. LA Dodgers

Tier Three:

  1. Frankie Montas – Oakland A’s – at Boston; at Pittsburgh
  2. Eduardo Rodriguez – Boston Red Sox – vs. Oakland; at Chicago White Sox
  3. Kenta Maeda – Los Angeles Dodgers – at San Francisco; at San Diego

Tier Four:

  1. Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – vs. Oakland; at Chicago White Sox
  2. Brad Keller – Kansas City Royals – vs. Tampa Bay; at Detroit
  3. Mike Soroka – Atlanta Braves – vs. San Diego; at Miami
  4. Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – vs. LA Dodgers; at Cincinnati
  5. Tanner Roark – Cincinnati Reds – at NY Mets; vs. San Francisco
  6. Julio Teheran – Atlanta Braves – vs. San Diego; at Miami
  7. Yonny Chirinos – Tampa Bay Rays – at Kansas City; at Baltimore

Tier Five:

  1. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals – at Washington; at Chicago Cubs
  2. Zach Davies – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Colorado; at Chicago White Sox
  3. Nick Margevicius – San Diego Padres – at Atlanta; vs. LA Dodgers
  4. Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins – vs. Houston; at NY Yankees
  5. Anibal Sanchez – Washington Nationals – vs. St. Louis; at Philadelphia
  6. Spencer Turnbull – Detroit Tigers – at Philadelphia; vs. Kansas City
  7. Michael Pineda – Minnesota Twins – vs. Houston; at NY Yankees
  8. Jake Junis – Kansas City Royals – vs. Tampa Bay; at Detroit
  9. Jhoulys Chacin – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Colorado; at Chicago White Sox
  10. Clay Buchholz – Toronto Blue Jays – at LA Angels; at Texas
  11. Manny Banuelos – Chicago White Sox – vs. Baltimore; vs. Boston

Tier Six:

  1. John Means – Baltimore Orioles – at Chicago White Sox; vs. Tampa Bay
  2. Ivan Nova – Chicago White Sox – vs. Baltimore; vs. Boston
  3. Chad Bettis – Colorado Rockies – at Milwaukee; vs. Arizona
  4. Jason Vargas – NY Mets – vs. Cincinnati; at Milwaukee

Notes:

  • For five months of 2018 Luis Castillo was a disappointment. Then September came and the right-hander put up a 1.09 ERA while striking out 34 batters in 33 innings. After he put up a 3.12 ERA in 2017, big things were expected and it appears that he has picked up right where he left off last season. Through six starts he is 3-1 with a 1.23 ERA (2.51 FIP and 3.30 xFIP) while striking out 10.55 batters per nine innings. So far one of the biggest areas of improvement has been with regards to the long ball, just 0.25 per nine innings after allowing 1.49 last season. Castillo’s .241 BABIP is likely due for some regression and he isn’t going to have a 90.2% strand rate all season, but what the Reds’ right-hander is doing does deserves your attention.
  • While things aren’t going so smoothly for the Mets’ two biggest aces, the same can’t be said for Zack Wheeler. The future free agent is, at least so far this season, showing that he is immune to the pressure of his impending contract. Wheeler allowed nine runs to the Nationals in his first two starts of the season, but since then has given up just five runs over 20 innings in his last three starts. The right-hander has seen his ERA drop from 10.24 to 4.85 while striking out 24 batters against six walks. In fact Wheeler’s 3.61 FIP says that even more success is on the horizon.
  • Starting pitching for Oakland hasn’t gone according to plan, but one bright spot has been Frankie Montas. Formerly a top prospect, Montas really didn’t find his groove until last season when he posted a 3.88 ERA in 65 innings. The right-hander has continued that success through five starts this year with a 3.10 ERA and four victories. With 8.07 strikeouts per nine innings, rolling with him for two starts will give you an advantage in that department and his 2.48 walks per nine innings helps to limit the damage. It is also a nice development to see his ground ball rate rise from 43.7% last season to 57.8% this year. While you aren’t going to get length, each of his starts have been between 5.0 and 6.1 innings, he has been consistent from start to start allowing no more than three runs. This week he faces a Boston offense that has yet to truly get going followed by the Pirates.
  • In fact, Montas’ counterpart in his first start of the week is a pitcher who has made it back onto our radars. After logging just eight innings in his first two starts, and allowing 11 runs, Eduardo Rodriguez has looked like a different pitcher in his last three outings. While his ERA for the season still sits at 5.88, it has dropped a long way from the 12.38 after his second start. After allowing a home run in each of his first starts, Rodriguez finally kept the ball in the park in his last start with six innings of one run ball in which he scattered two hits and three walks while striking out seven. With a 4.22 FIP we can expect to see his ERA to drop even further, and as he is striking out over a batter an inning, so that will help establish his value for this week.
  • At 44% ownership Jeff Samardzjia is still flying under the radar in the majority of leagues, but he is a solid option. The first match-up of the week, in Los Angeles against the Dodgers, is a little rough but the right-hander should be able to navigate both that and his start against the Reds. With eight strikeouts per nine innings that helps to establish the floor, but there has to be some concern with his 4.73 xFIP. This comes on the heels of a 6.25 ERA last season, but prior to that he established himself as a solid, back end of the rotation option.
  • What should we make of Spencer Turnbull? At 22% ownership he is likely available in your league, but that doesn’t mean you need to pursue him. If we are going to go based on his second start of the week, at Kansas City, then I’d feel better but facing the Phillies could be a little risky. While Turnbull is striking out a batter an inning and has a 2.77 ERA, he also has a 1.31 WHIP and is walking close to four batters per nine innings. A 4.48 xFIP isn’t exactly going to be a source of comfort either, and the right-hander should be due for a blow up. Just don’t let it happen in your starting lineup.

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