Two-Start Pitchers 2019: June 17-23: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Mikolas, Yamamoto, Plesac & More)

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Another month is halfway over and things just haven’t gotten clearer. All we have to do is keep on plugging along each week, and doing everything we can to inch towards the top of the standings. This is a good week, as we kick off the list with a few aces. Let’s take a look at how our options rank for among pitchers who are taking the mound twice:

Tier One:

  1. Justin Verlander – Houston Astros – at Cincinnati; at NY Yankees
  2. Jacob deGrom – NY Mets – at Atlanta; at Chicago Cubs
  3. Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers – vs. San Francisco; vs. Colorado

Tier Two:

  1. Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins – vs. Boston; at Kansas City
  2. Mike Clevinger – Cleveland Indians – at Texas; vs. Detroit
  3. Cole Hamels – Chicago Cubs – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. NY Mets
  4. Patrick Corbin – Washington Nationals – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Atlanta
  5. Jack Flaherty – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Miami; vs. LA Angels

Tier Three:

  1. Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Houston; at Milwaukee
  2. Masahiro Tanaka – NY Yankees – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Houston
  3. Mike Soroka – Atlanta Braves – vs. NY Mets; at Washington
  4. Zach Eflin – Philadelphia Phillies – at Washington; vs. Miami
  5. Kenta Maeda – LA Dodgers – vs. San Francisco; vs. Colorado
  6. Yonny Chirinos – Tampa Bay Rays – at NY Yankees; at Oakland
  7. Joey Lucchesi – San Diego Padres – vs. Milwaukee; at Pittsburgh

Tier Four:

  1. Wade Miley – Houston Astros – at Cincinnati; at NY Yankees
  2. Zack Wheeler – NY Mets – at Atlanta; at Chicago Cubs
  3. J.A. Happ – NY Yankees – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Houston
  4. Brandon Woodruff – Milwaukee Brewers – at San Diego; vs. Cincinnati
  5. Lance Lynn – Texas Rangers – vs. Cleveland; vs. Chicago White Sox
  6. Miles Mikolas – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Miami; vs. LA Angels
  7. Merrill Kelly – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Colorado; vs. San Francisco
  8. Jake Arrieta – Philadelphia Phillies – at Washington; vs. Miami
  9. Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – at Minnesota; vs. Toronto

Tier Five:

  1. Adrian Sampson – Texas Rangers – vs. Cleveland; vs. Chicago White Sox
  2. Michael Pineda – Minnesota Twins – vs. Boston; vs. Kansas City
  3. Tyler Skaggs – LA Angels – at Toronto; at St. Louis
  4. Anthony DeSclafani – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Houston; at Milwaukee
  5. Marcus Stroman – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. LA Angels; at Boston
  6. Yusei Kikuchi – Seattle Mariners – vs. Kansas City; vs. Baltimore
  7. Zach Plesac – Cleveland Indians – at Texas; vs. Detroit
  8. Mike Fiers – Oakland A’s – vs. Baltimore; vs. Tampa Bay
  9. Brett Anderson – Oakland A’s – vs. Baltimore; vs. Tampa Bay
  10. Jordan Yamamoto – Miami Marlins – at St. Louis; at Philadelphia
  11. Felix Pena – LA Angels – at Toronto; at St. Louis
  12. Jhoulys Chacin – Milwaukee Brewers – at San Diego; vs. Cincinnati
  13. Danny Duffy – Kansas City Royals – at Seattle; vs. Minnesota
  14. Shaun Anderson – San Francisco Giants – at LA Dodgers; at Arizona
  15. Andrew Cashner – Baltimore Orioles – at Oakland; at Seattle
  16. Eileser Hernandez – Miami Marlins – at St. Louis; at Philadelphia
  17. Erick Fedde – Washington Nationals – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Atlanta
  18. Gabriel Ynoa – Baltimore Orioles – at Oakland; at Seattle

Tier Six:

  1. Daniel Norris – Detroit Tigers – at Pittsburgh; at Cleveland
  2. Homer Bailey – Kansas City Royals – at Seattle; vs. Minnesota
  3. Tommy Milone – Seattle Mariners – vs. Kansas City; vs. Baltimore
  4. Antonio Senzatela – Colorado Rockies – at Arizona; at LA Dodgers
  5. Tyler Beede – San Francisco Giants – at LA Dodgers; at Arizona
  6. Edwin Jackson – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. LA Angels; at Boston

Notes:

  • There aren’t many better pitchers than Jacob deGrom, if you aren’t looking for victories that is. The problem is that sometimes this season the right-hander has struggled with Wilson Ramos behind the plate. That wasn’t the case in his last start, we can’t forecast who will be behind the plate for him this week, and his overall numbers are pretty solid overall. In his last three starts he has a 2.29 ERA with 25 strikeouts, against just two walks, in 19.2 innings. Overall deGrom has certainly taken a step back from his 1.70 ERA last season, but a regression down to a 3.38 ERA could be worse. Just keep in mind that he only has three wins in 14 starts, but in leagues that count quality starts there is no need to worry.
  • It’s going to be hard for Luis Castillo to repeat the 1.56 ERA he has in his last three starts as the competition gets pretty difficult; at home against the Astros and then in Milwaukee. What causes some concern is the fact that he walked 10 batters in that stretch and has 4.19 walks per nine innings so far this season. In spite of that Castillo’s ERA is 2.20 due to two key factors. The right-hander has seen a large spike to his strikeout rate, 8.75 to 10.58, while also improving his ground ball rate (45.9% to 56.8%). At the same time he has benefited from a .239 BABIP and an 85.5% strand rate. With that being said it is pretty impressive to see Castillo’s FIP come in at just 3.50. Along with the increase in ground balls, the right-hander has also seen his hard hit rate decrease from 38.4% to 33%. Castillo is clearly a talented pitcher, but the walks also have to cause some concern.
  • I keep on waiting for Zach Eflin to take a step back, but so far it hasn’t happened. The right-hander even spent a short stint on the Injured List and he returned last week with a strong start against the Diamondbacks. Despite taking the loss Eflin allowed just two runs in eight innings of work while striking out nine. However he is striking out just 7.43 batters per nine innings, with a FIP (4.12) and xFIP (4.68) that are concerning. At the same time though these stats are useful in evaluating pitchers the eye test also works too. So far there hasn’t been much to scare us away from Eflin, who only has two starts of more than four earned runs. The last time he faced Washington this season Eflin limited the Nationals to one run in seven innings of work, and I wouldn’t expect him to have much trouble against the Marlins to close out the week.
  • Things haven’t been going so well for Miles Mikolas as of late, but this might be the week for him to get right as he faces the Marlins and Angels. In his last three starts Mikolas has a 5.06 ERA while striking out just 11 batters in 16 innings. The lack of strikeouts shouldn’t exactly be a surprise, with just 6.55 per nine innings (both this season and last season) he leaves you wanting more. It does work in Mikolas’ favor that he limits the walks, 1.72 per nine innings, and also gets about half his outs on the ground. The problem this season is the long ball as he has allowed 1.61 per nine innings. That has played a large part in his 4.83 ERA, but as we look for that to correct itself Mikolas has a 4.18 xFIP and presents as a buy-low candidate.
  • Entering the season Zach Plesac wasn’t exactly on many radars, but he has emerged with success through his first four starts. In 24.2 innings of work he has a 2.92 ERA and 0.97 WHIP to go along with 20 strikeouts. He did run into a bit of a problem against the Reds in his last start as he allowed three home runs (all solo HR). The fact that he has five walks so far helps. While Plesac does have minor league success under his belt, he was also never a dominating pitcher. Thanks to his .222 BABIP it’s hard to expect Plesac to maintain this level of success, and his 4.78 ERA certainly illustrates that as well. In his second start of the week against the Tigers he is set up for success, but in facing the Rangers to start the week things can go either way.
  • Jordan Yamamoto couldn’t have asked for a better debut, seven shutout innings with just three hits and two walks while striking out five, and he gets two chances to build upon it this week. The right-hander gets to face the same Cardinals again to start, and then he follows that up by facing the Phillies. There’s a lot to like in his performance in the minor leagues since being acquired from the Brewers as part of the Christian Yelich trade. We didn’t see it on display in his debut, but Yamamoto has previously struck out about a batter per inning. Don’t over react to his first start, but if you are in need of innings there are certainly worse options.

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