Two-Start Pitchers 2019: May 27 – June 2: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Lyles, Kershaw & More)

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At the top of the list this week we have a few aces and worthy options, but there are also a great deal of questions. So essentially it is like every other week this season when it comes to pitching. All that means is you have to be that much more careful, or have the stomach to take on risk when filling out your starting lineup. With that being said let’s take a look at how our options rank:

Tier One:

  1. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – vs. Miami; at Cincinnati
  2. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – at Atlanta; at Cincinnati
  3. Jacob deGrom – NY Mets – at LA Dodgers; at Cincinnati
  4. Gerrit Cole – Houston Astros – vs. Chicago Cubs; at Oakland
  5. Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers – vs. NY Mets; vs. Philadelphia

Tier Two:

  1. Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Pittsburgh; vs. Washington
  2. Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks – at Colorado; vs. NY Mets

Tier Three:

  1. Masahiro Tanaka – NY Yankees – vs. San Diego; vs. San Diego
  2. Cole Hamels – Chicago Cubs – at Houston; at. St. Louis
  3. Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – vs. Cleveland; at NY Yankees
  4. Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox – vs. Kansas City; vs Cleveland

Tier Four:

  1. Rich Hill – LA Dodgers – vs. NY Mets; vs. Philadelphia
  2. Matt Strahm – San Diego Padres – at NY Yankees; vs. Miami
  3. Jordan Lyles – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Cincinnati; vs. Milwaukee
  4. Chris Bassitt – Oakland A’s – vs. LA Angels; vs. Houston
  5. Marco Gonzales – Seattle Mariners – vs. Texas; vs. LA Angels
  6. Sonny Gray – Cincinnati Reds – vs. Pittsburgh; vs. Washington
  7. Steven Matz – NY Mets – at LA Dodgers; at Arizona
  8. Gio Gonzalez – Milwaukee Brewers – at Minnesota; at Pittsburgh
  9. Lance Lynn – Texas Rangers – at Seattle; vs. Kansas City

Tier Five:

  1. Michael Pineda – Minnesota Twins – vs. Milwaukee; at Tampa Bay
  2. Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – at Miami; at Baltimore
  3. Jose Urena – Miami Marlins – at Washington; at San Diego
  4. Ryan Yarbrough – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Toronto; vs. Minnesota
  5. Jon Gray – Colorado Rockies – vs. Arizona; vs. Toronto
  6. Trevor Richards – Miami Marlins – vs. San Francisco; at San Diego
  7. Adam Wainwright – St. Louis Cardinals – at Philadelphia; vs. Chicago Cubs
  8. Daniel Norris – Detroit Tigers – at Baltimore; at Atlanta
  9. Merrill Kelly – Arizona Diamondbacks – at Colorado; vs. NY Mets
  10. Aaron Sanchez – Toronto Blue Jays – at Tampa Bay; at Colorado
  11. Jefry Rodriguez – Cleveland Indians – at Boston; at Chicago White Sox
  12. Adam Plutko – Cleveland Indians – at Boston; at Chicago White Sox

Tier Six:

  1. Ivan Nova – Chicago White Sox – vs. Kansas City; vs. Cleveland
  2. Trevor Cahill – LA Angels – at Oakland; at Seattle
  3. Adrian Sampson – Texas Rangers – at Seattle; vs. Kansas City
  4. Homer Bailey – Kansas City Royals – at Chicago White Sox; at Texas
  5. Matt Harvey – LA Angels – at Oakland; at Seattle
  6. Antonio Senzatela – Colorado Rockies – vs. Arizona; vs. Toronto

Notes:

  • All in all it has been a pretty seamless return to action for Clayton Kershaw. The southpaw now has seven starts under his belt, with a record of 4-0. The strikeouts are there, 44 in 46 innings, as has been the control with eight walks. He might not be the same pitcher he once was, but he is still doing a pretty good job of commanding the strike zone. Only the one start where he allowed four runs over 6.2 innings of work, has the left-hander not registered a quality start as he sports a 3.33 ERA with a WHIP of just 0.98. With a 55.6% ground ball rate Kershaw is at a career high level. However, we do have to keep an eye on his 42.4% hard hit rate as that is higher than we are used to seeing from him. Overall as long as you don’t expect Kershaw circa 2015, you aren’t going to find much to complain about.
  • Limit the walks… It sounds pretty obvious and easy, but not every pitcher can do it. While Cole Hamels does have a 3.38 ERA, probably better than we would have expected at this point in the season, with a 1.26 WHIP we do have to have some concern. However, with 3.38 walks per nine innings he is exactly where he has been since 2016. For starters his FIP of 3.82 suggests just a slight regression, but it is also a reminder that we need to take the good with the bad. Sending him to the bench on a week when he takes the mound twice isn’t going to happen, why else would he be owned? We have seen some improvement in the ground ball department as his rate has increased from 45% to 54.9%, and that helped with his continued success. Facing the Astros and the Cardinals will be tough, but Hamels should be up to the task as he strikes out 9.20 batters per nine innings.
  • From opportunity comes potential success, and Jordan Lyles is currently taking advantage. Entering the season the right-hander wasn’t on many fantasy radars, but a few injuries later and there he is in Pittsburgh’s rotation. Lyles has won each of his last three starts while putting up a 3.86 ERA and striking out 24 batters in 18.2 innings. Striking out a batter an inning has helped to maintain his value, but his 2.81 ERA and 1.09 WHIP have propelled it. He did give up six runs in his last start, but prior to that he has allowed a combined five runs in his four previous starts. We have seen flashes of success before, but the right-hander has yet to truly sustain it. A look at Lyles’ xFIP brings us to 3.84, but even that wouldn’t bring with it many complaints. One change we have noticed is that he has increased his fastball usage by about nine percent. He is also pitching smarter as his velocity has decreased by about two miles per hour. Against the Reds, on the road, and the Brewers (at home which is more favorable for Lyles), we should continue to feel comfortable rolling with the right-hander.
  • He did sign late into the season, but we shouldn’t let that diminish our feelings on Gio Gonzalez. With 63% ownership in CBS leagues he is better than a lot of other waiver wire candidates, and in five starts he is 2-1. With just 26.1 innings under his belt the Brewers aren’t asking much of Gonzales, but with a 2.39 ERA and 1.10 WHIP he is delivering. Each of his five starts have been between five and 5.2 innings, and only in his last start (three) has Gonzalez allowed more than two runs in a start. For his career he has struck out 8.64 batters per nine innings, but with just 6.49 so far this season that part of his game has been slow to present itself. However, with such a small sample size it shouldn’t take much to seen an improvement. While both his FIP (3.05) and xFIP (4.08) point to a regression, Gonzalez is still a solid option. While the Twins’ home run power certainly has been on display this season, as far as opponents go it’s still not holding me back from rolling with Gonzalez if it is wins I’m after as he ends his week facing the Pirates.
  • Maybe we can feel comfortable with Lance Lynn? Based on his last three starts that is certainly the case. Lynn has 24 strikeouts, but more impressively just three walks in 21 innings with a 2.57 ERA and a 2-1 record. If he is a player you tend to ignore from a fantasy perspective that is reasonable, but it’s also hard to look past those strikeouts. Perhaps more importantly it is a good sign that he is facing a Mariners team whose offense isn’t as strong as it was to start the season, and then a week hitting Royals team. However, a look at his overall numbers (4.67 ERA and 1.36 WHIP) will dissuade you some. We should see some regression from Lynn’s .335 BABIP, and that is illustrated in his 3.48 FIP.

8 COMMENTS

  1. Hey Prof, I see Privetta is making his return to the Phillies staff this week. Would you suggest a pick up or wait and see. He was the one I thought would do well as a mid-level starter and obviously bombed that. Do you think he can live up to his preseason ranking?

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