Two-Start Pitchers 2019: July 1-7: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Gallen, Allen, Mengden & More)

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Just like that we have one more week and then we head into the All-Star break. Call me crazy, and you certainly will not be the first, but it feels like the first half of the season really has flown by. Having the mid-season respite is always a good time to take a step back from the daily grind and give your teams a good, hard look as you set forth on the second half of the season. Before we get there there is still one more week left to play, so let’s take a look at how our options rank among those pitchers who are taking the mound twice:

Tier One:

  1. Chris Sale – Boston Red Sox – at Toronto; at Detroit
  2. Patrick Corbin – Washington Nationals – vs. Miami; vs. Kansas City
  3. Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians – at Kansas City; at Cincinnati

Tier Two:

  1. Charlie Morton – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Baltimore; vs. NY Yankees
  2. Mike Minor – Texas Rangers – vs. LA Angels; at Minnesota
  3. David Price – Boston Red Sox – at Toronto; at Detroit
  4. James Paxton – NY Yankees – at NY Mets; at Tampa Bay

Tier Three:

  1. Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins – at Oakland; vs. Texas
  2. Matthew Boyd – Detroit Tigers – at Chicago White Sox; vs. Boston
  3. Ross Stripling – LA Dodgers – vs. Arizona; vs. San Diego

Tier Four:

  1. Dallas Keuchel – Atlanta Braves – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Miami
  2. Joe Musgrove – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Chicago Cubs; vs. Milwaukee
  3. Griffin Canning – LA Angels – at Texas; at Houston
  4. Jack Flaherty – St. Louis Cardinals – at Seattle; at San Francisco
  5. Zac Gallen – Miami Marlins – at Washington; at Atlanta
  6. Logan Allen – San Diego Padres – vs. San Francisco; at LA Dodgers
  7. Yu Darvish – Chicago Cubs – at Pittsburgh; at Chicago White Sox

Tier Five:

  1. Daniel Mengden – Oakland A’s – vs. Minnesota; at Seattle
  2. Nick Pivetta- Philadelphia Phillies – at Atlanta; at NY Mets
  3. Jason Vargas – NY Mets – vs. NY Yankees; vs. Philadelphia
  4. Trevor Williams – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Chicago Cubs; vs. Milwaukee
  5. Chase Anderson – Milwaukee Brewers – at Cincinnati; at Pittsburgh
  6. Tyler Mahle – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Milwaukee; vs. Cleveland
  7. Trent Thornton – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Boston; vs. Baltimore
  8. Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – at San Diego; vs. St. Louis
  9. Matt Strahm – San Diego Padres – vs. San Francisco; at LA Dodgers
  10. Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles – at Tampa Bay; at Toronto
  11. Ariel Jurado – Texas Rangers – vs. LA Angels; at Minnesota
  12. Jake Junis – Kansas City Royals – vs. Cleveland; at Washington
  13. Reynaldo Lopez – Chicago White Sox – vs. Detroit; vs. Chicago Cubs

Tier Six:

  1. Adrian Houser – Milwaukee Brewers – at Cincinnati; at Pittsburgh
  2. Wade LeBlanc – Seattle Mariners – vs. St. Louis; vs. Oakland
  3. Clayton Richard – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Kansas City; vs. Baltimore
  4. Glenn Sparkman – Kansas City Royals – at Toronto; at Washington

Notes:

  • Trevor Bauer is far from a conventional pitcher, and a divisive one, but the right-hander generates results. Thanks to his strikeout ability, 134 in 119 innings for the season and 25 in his last three starts, you get a true advantage when he takes the mound twice. In his last start Bauer faced the Royals, who are also his next opponent, and was able to limit them to one run over 6.2 innings as he rebounded from a less than stellar outing against the Tigers (five runs on 10 hits in four innings). That is what is keeping Bauer from being a true elite option, as there have been a few rough outings to contend with. The overall body of work, 3.55 ERA and 1.14 WHIP, is more than respectable. While it won’t stop me from using him without question, his increased walk rate (3.55 per nine innings) and .254 BABIP do reside in the back of my mind.
  • Stop me if you have heard this story before, but a pitcher was done in by his propensity to give up the home run. That was the case for Matthew Boyd in his last start as Texas hit three home runs off the left-hander. So far this season he and his 3.72 ERA have been a nice source of value, but having problems with the long ball is nothing new. So far this season Boyd has allowed 1.50 home runs per nine innings, and that is right in line with his 1.54 career mark. What truly has made the difference is the strikeouts. After striking out 8.40 batters per nine innings last season he is at 11.42 in 2019 while also reducing his walk rate from 2.69 to 1.77 and bringing his ground ball rate from 29% to 35.8%. As for adjustments, aside from just natural improvement, he has reduced usage of his curveball while putting a greater emphasis on his fastball (along with an extra mile per hour) and slider. Overall, things are looking good for Boyd who faces both the White Sox and Red Sox this week.
  • Zac Gallen was promoted with a lot of fan fare after a great deal of success in Triple-A. In 14 starts he had a 1.77 ERA while striking out 11.04 batters per innings and walking just 1.68. Overall hitters just weren’t able to do much of anything against the former Cardinals’ prospect threw, as he looks to continue that success at the major league level. Gallen now has two starts under his belt with the Marlins and has gone five innings in each of them allowing a combined four runs while striking out 14. It’s clear that Marlins are going to be careful with their young pitcher, and after facing the Cardinals followed by the Nationals in his first two starts things aren’t going to get any easier as he takes on Washington again before facing the Braves. You are going to want to insert the “shiny new toy” into your starting lineup, as well you should, but just consider all your options as this week could be a little rough.
  • Another young pitcher who takes the mound twice this in Logan Allen, and he warrants some attention as well. Allen hasn’t gotten as much as Gallen, his ownership in CBS leagues is 15% less (75% compared to 60%), and his two starts have gone better. In each of his two starts Allen has been victorious as he has allowed a combined two runs in 13 innings of work. It was hard to ask for a better debut than what we saw, as he threw seven shutout innings at home against the Brewers while scattering three hits. Allen has struck out five batters and walked two in each of his starts as he is pitching a lot better than he did in Triple-A (5.15 ERA). With about a strikeout per inning in the minor leagues that aspect of Allen’s game should be fine, and we have a mixed bag of opponents this week for the rookie. Things start off nice and easy against the Giants, but then they progress as he faces the Dodgers (although being a left-hander, he does hold a slight advantage). He isn’t going to be as good as he has been thus far, but he does have a future at the major league level and starting him this week wouldn’t be the worst decision.
  • He may be erratic at times, and we know the Red Sox can hit (but they will be returning from London) and the two straight 13 run games aside, the Orioles are still the Orioles. That is why Trent Thornton is a worthy option for your starting lineup this week. Thornton’s 21% ownership does represent his variability, but with 91 strikeouts in 86 innings there is a reasonable floor. It doesn’t take much effort to find the issue in Thornton’s game, as he has walked 40 batters so far this season. With a 4.61 ERA and 1.45 WHIP he generally gives a solid start, but he doesn’t get deep into games. There is risk here, but that is with pitching in general this season and at least you will leave with some strikeouts.
  • I feel like at least once a season we end up digging into Daniel Mengden. Currently the right-hander is coming off six shutout innings against the Cardinals in which he allowed four hits and one walk while striking out five. It was his first appearance in about three weeks and just his fourth start of the season, as he brought his ERA down to 4.03. That is right in line with 4.05 ERA that the right-hander posted last season in 115.2 innings, nothing wrong with that, but his control has taken an ugly turn. After walking 26 batters all of last season he is already up to 16 walks this year, which has led to his 1.48 WHIP. If he can get his walks under control, as he did in his last start, I would feel a lot better about Mengden despite the fact that for his career he has struck out just 6.79 batters per nine innings. A look at his FIP (3.63) and xFIP (5.40) tell vastly different stories, and his starts this week against the Twins and Mariners can go either way. If it is wins you are after, you could do worse.

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