Two-Start Pitchers 2019: May 6-12: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Caleb Smith, Anthony Desclafani & More)

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While things are never truly normal, and each season has it’s own special beast, we are starting to see some things come back down to earth. It is clear that 2019 is going to be a year filled with power production, and from some unexpected sources, but we now have a good idea as to what we are dealing with. However I’m not sure that will make things easier when attempting to navigate the fantasy season. All we can do is take it one day at a time. So for this week let’s take a look at how our options rank among those pitchers who are taking the mound twice:

Tier One:

  1. Max Scherzer – Washington Nationals – at Milwaukee; at LA Dodgers
  2. Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Oakland
  3. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – at San Diego; vs. Miami
  4. Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – at Milwaukee; at LA Dodgers
  5. Gerrit Cole – Houston Astros – vs. Kansas City; vs. Texas

Tier Two:

  1. Walker Buehler – LA Dodgers – vs. Atlanta; vs. Washington
  2. Blake Snell – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Arizona; vs. NY Yankees
  3. Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins – at Toronto; vs. Detroit
  4. Hyun-Jin Ryu – LA Dodgers – vs. Atlanta; vs. Washington

Tier Three:

  1. Cole Hamels – Chicago Cubs – vs. Miami; vs. Milwaukee
  2. Masahiro Tanaka – NY Yankees – vs. Seattle; at Tampa Bay
  3. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs – vs. Miami; vs. Milwaukee
  4. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants – at Colorado; vs. Cincinnati
  5. Marcus Stroman – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Minnesota; vs. Chicago White Sox
  6. Miles Mikolas – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Pittsburgh
  7. Caleb Smith – Miami Marlins – at Chicago Cubs; at NY Mets

Tier Four:

  1. Marco Gonzales – Seattle Mariners – at NY Yankees; at Boston
  2. Max Fried – Atlanta Braves – at LA Dodgers; at Arizona
  3. Anthony DeSclafani – Cincinnati Reds – vs. San Francisco; at San Francisco
  4. Vince Velasquez – Philadelphia Phillies – at St. Louis; at Kansas City
  5. Martin Perez – Minnesota Twins – at Toronto; vs. Detroit
  6. Mike Foltynewicz – Atlanta Braves – at LA Dodgers; at Arizona
  7. Aaron Sanchez – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Minnesota; vs. Chicago White Sox
  8. Merrill Kelly – Arizona Diamondbacks – at Tampa Bay; vs. Atlanta
  9. CC Sabathia – NY Yankees – vs. Seattle; at Tampa Bay

Tier Five:

  1. Dakota Hudson – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Philadelphia; vs. Pittsburgh
  2. Jhoulys Chacin – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Washington; at Chicago Cubs
  3. Collin McHugh – Houston Astros – vs. Kansas City; vs. Texas
  4. Jake Junis – Kansas City Royals – at Houston; vs. Philadelphia
  5. Drew Pomeranz – San Francisco Giants – at Cincinnati; vs. Cincinnati
  6. Griffin Canning – LA Angels – at Detroit; at Baltimore
  7. Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox – at Cleveland; at Toronto
  8. Felix Hernandez – Seattle Mariners – at NY Yankees; at Boston
  9. Daniel Norris – Detroit Tigers – vs. LA Angels; at Minnesota
  10. Tyler Mahle – Cincinnati Reds – at Oakland; at San Francisco
  11. Jefry Rodriguez – Cleveland Indians – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Oakland
  12. Sandy Alcantara – Miami Marlins – at Chicago Cubs; at NY Mets
  13. Antonio Senzatela – Colorado Rockies – vs. San Francisco; vs. San Diego

Tier Six:

  1. Ivan Nova – Chicago White Sox – at Cleveland; at Toronto
  2. Aaron Brooks – Oakland A’s – vs. Cincinnati; vs. Cleveland
  3. David Hess – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Boston; vs. LA Angels
  4. Adrian Sampson – Texas Rangers – at Pittsburgh; at Houston

Notes:

  • One pitcher who has had a rough go of things this season, but hasn’t seem to have gotten much attention for it, is Gerrit Cole. It hasn’t seemed to impact the Astros, and with the way pitching has gone in 2019 do we really want to be that picky? Are we truly going to consider a 3.95 ERA and 1.04 WHIP as struggling? If you take a look at his last three starts, a 4.91 ERA and nine walks in 18.1 innings isn’t all that great but it’s really just one out of seven that hasn’t gone well. Taking out the eight runs Cole gave up to the Rangers a few starts ago goes a long way towards painting a favorable picture. That start caused Cole’s ERA to rise by about two runs, and with 65 strikeouts in 43.1 innings there is a lot of value to be had.. He enters this week on the heels of seven shutout innings against the Twins, allowing one hit and three walks while striking out 11. There is no reason why he can’t continue that success against the Royals, and then again at home in a do-over performance against Texas.
  • I’ll admit it, this one seems to be on me. One pitcher who I seemingly fail to give respect to is Hyun-Jin Ryu. The main problem is the fact that he usually ends up sidelined due injury at least once in a season. That time isn’t now and Ryu is dominating his way through the National League. In six starts, including one that was just 1.2 innings, he has allowed two runs four times and one run twice, so that equates to an elite level ERA of 2.55. Not only that, his control is on point as he has walked just two batters while striking out 39 in 35.1 innings. With a 2.49 xFIP we can feel good about Ryu’s success continuing this season, as long as he can stay healthy that is.
  • The Marlins are not a good team, and that is putting it kindly, but Caleb Smith needs your attention. At this point he is owned in 93% of CBS leagues so I feel good about that, and he is backing that up with his performance. In his last three starts the left-hander has an impressive 1.42 ERA with 24 strikeouts and three walks in 19 innings. Through six starts he has three victories to go along with a 2.00 ERA and 0.83 WHIP. With an average of six innings per start, and 45 strikeouts, Smith cruising through the early part of this season. His worst start qualifies as a quality start, and his 2.81 FIP backs up the success. However I am keeping my eyes open as he has a ground ball rate of 32.9% and has benefited from a .224 BABIP while walking 2.25 batters per nine innings. At the same time that is partly due to the fact that he is just not allowing hitters to square up the ball on him.
  • Maybe it’s too soon to throw in the towel on Jon Lester, as things have gone well so far this season. Through five starts he is striking out a batter an inning while pitching to an ERA of 1.73 and WHIP of 0.96. Lester appears to be fully recovered from his early season hamstring injury, and he has been consistently successful all season. While he may no longer be the steady 200-plus inning pitcher he once was, he has settled in at 180 mark in each of the past two seasons. It doesn’t change anything for this week, but the fact that Lester’s ground ball rate has dropped down to 39.7% is something to keep in mind. While you have to keep him firmly planted in your starting lineup, even more so if he takes the mound twice, this is likely the best you are going to see. To say that he has benefited from a .231 BABIP and 96.2% strand rate would be an understatement, so keep an eye out but a regression to his 3.35 FIP wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
  • We heard talk and speculation about some improvements Martin Perez made this off-season, and we saw the proof of that in his last few starts. He opened in the rotation, but once he was moved to the rotation he has allowed six runs in 26 innings (four starts). If you take away the four runs he gave up to the Orioles, then we are talking about four runs in 20 innings. A 3.44 FIP, along with other favorable metrics (.320 BABIP, 75.8% strand rate) and about eight strikeouts per nine innings also gives us some comfort for continuing this success. As far as those off-season changes go, the left-hander’s fastball velocity has gone up from 92.7 miles per hour to 94.7. Additionally he has now incorporated a cutter into his pitch mix, which he now throws 35.1% of the time. Facing the Blue Jays and Tigers also works in his favor.
  • This week is going to be a little predictable for Anthony DeSclafani as he faces Drew Pomeranz and the Giants in each of his starts. The Reds’ southpaw is currently owned in 42% of CBS leagues, and based on his match-ups this week as well as his recent success he is certainly worth a look as a waiver wire addition. With 36 K, 3.48 ERA and 1.16 WHIP over in 31 innings he is on the way towards rectifying the 4.93 ERA he had last season. With a 4.25 FIP there’s no reason not to expect a quality start as a worst case scenario. Facing the weak hitting Giants should allow him to build on his last two starts that saw him throw 11.2 scoreless innings.

6 COMMENTS

  1. Even though I harbor my own doubts about him, I am surprised to see McHugh ranked so low given the low quality of his opponents. Thoughts?

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