Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 8/13

Hey everyone,

Another Friday means another installment of my two-start pitcher notes! Below are my thoughts on 12 projected two-start pitchers for next week. Be sure to listen to today’s podcast as Mike and Cory will run through all of these guys.

-Zach

Matt Harrison  (@NYY, @TOR)

A few weeks ago, who would have thought that Harrison would be a questionable call as a two-start pitcher? The Rangers’ lefty has been very inconsistent of late, recording just one quality start in his last four outings and registering a 5.55 ERA during this span. I’d play it safe and bench Harrison next week as he’ll face the Yankees and Blue Jays, who rank 3rd and 4th in the AL respectively in runs scored. The risk here outweighs the reward. Ditch.

Ryan Dempster  (@NYY, @TOR)

It was nice to see Dempster bounce back after getting bombed by the Angels in his AL debut, but the jury is still out as to how well the career-long National Leaguer can adjust to the Junior Circuit, and by pitching him next week you’re simply playing with fire. Dempster still deserves a roster spot in most mixed leagues, but even in a 12-teamer I wouldn’t feel comfortable starting him. These are two very difficult matchups.

Mike Fiers  (@COL, vs. PHI)

Fiers’ recent pitching can best be described by one word: dominant. The numbers jump off the page. He’s allowed a combined seven earned runs over his last nine starts while notching 61 strikeouts in 61 innings. The Phillies rank 13th in the NL in runs scored since the All-Star break and although Coors Field is always a tough place to pitch, keep in mind that Fiers is doing an excellent job limiting the longball, as he’s allowed just three homers in 80 total innings this season. Pitch.

Chad Billingsley  (@PIT, @ATL)

This guy is so frustrating to own on a start-to-start basis but the overall numbers are solid and the career-low walk rate cannot be overlooked. The matchups here aren’t overly favorable but note that Billingsley has been a lot more effective on the road this year, as he sports a 3.57 ERA and 1.19 WHIP away from Dodger Stadium as opposed to a 4.12 ERA and 1.47 WHIP at home. And we know the strikeouts will be there. Look, he’s always a gamble, but this time he’s a worthy gamble.

Josh Beckett  (@BAL, @NYY)

Let me start out by saying that from a fantasy standpoint, I’ve always felt that Beckett was overrated. We all know about the injury issues as it seems like he spends part of every season on the DL, but then there’s the consistency factor. Did you know that the last time Beckett posted a sub-4.00 ERA in back-to-back seasons was 2004-2005? And this is a pitcher who routinely gets drafted in the early rounds. Anyway, he’s been a big-time bust this year and I don’t like these matchups one bit. The Yankees roughed him up pretty good in the series right before the All-Star break and the Orioles’ lineup is no pushover. Chances are at least one of these starts will be disastrous. Ditch.

Wei-Yin Chen  (vs. BOS, @DET)

Having allowed just seven earned runs combined over his first five starts since the All-Star break, Chen got torched by the Royals on Thursday. This will be a tough task as the Red Sox and Tigers are two of the best offenses in baseball, but Chen has had success against both teams this year. Still, I see little upside and a whole lot of downside in pitching him next week. Ditch.

Jeff Samardzija  (vs. HOU, @CIN)

Samardzija has rebounded nicely from an awful month of June, posting a 2.58 ERA and 45-to-15 K/BB ratio since the beginning of July. I love the vs. HOU matchup and though the @CIN matchup scares me, Samardzija was lights out in his start at Great American Ballpark earlier this season (7 2/3 IP, 1 ER, 7 K). This one is a real toss-up as Samardzija is prone to the disaster start from time to time, so I think the choice really depends on where you stand in the ERA and WHIP categories. In 12-team mixed leagues, I’d lean towards pitching him, but if you want to sit this out I’m fine with that too.

Justin Masterson  (@LAA, @OAK)

Masterson is so unpredictable but he is coming off a stellar performance at home vs. the Twins. That said, he’s a ditch for next week, and I wouldn’t think twice about it. The Angels are the hottest offense in the AL right now and while the @OAK matchup looks great on paper, the A’s rank 2nd in the Junior Circuit in home runs since the All-Star break. Not to mention Masterson’s extreme home/road splits this season, as he holds a 3.27 ERA at home as opposed to a 6.68 ERA on the road. Ditch.

Bartolo Colon  (@KC, vs. CLE)

3-0 with a 0.00 ERA. These are Colon’s numbers over his last three starts, so why would you want to jump ship now? Sure, he’s bound to give up a run sooner or later, but I fully expect him to do well next week. The Indians are a sub-par offense and although the Royals’ lineup is decent, Colon was exceptional in his only other start against them this season (7 IP, 2 ER). Pitch.

Aaron Harang  (@PIT, @ATL)

I’ve been recommending Harang a lot for two-start weeks as he’s always a safe bet to post a quality start and keep his team in the game. I’m not that high on him for next week, however. He’s 1-2 with a mediocre 4.75 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break, the Pirates are an OK but not great matchup and the Braves rank 2nd in the NL in runs scored this season. Harang is a viable start in NL-only leagues and a decent choice in deeper mixed formats. But in 12-team mixed leagues, I’m keeping him benched.

Clayton Richard  (@ATL, vs. SF)

Fresh off a five-hit shutout vs. the Cubs, Richard might not even be available in your 12-team mixed league. But if he’s still on the wire, I’d definitely pick him up for this two-start week. In three starts since getting rocked by the Giants back on July 23rd, Richard has gone 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. These aren’t the easiest of matchups as the Braves can put up runs and Richard has struggled against the Giants this season (0-3, 7.64 ERA in three starts), but Clayton is red-hot, and that’s the single most important reason why I’d pitch him.

Joe Kelly  (vs. ARI, vs. PIT)

Kelly was emerging as a viable Pitch or Ditch option but he’s been terrible over his last two starts, allowing a combined seven earned runs and 19 hits in just 10 2/3 innings. For the time being, Kelly is strictly an NL-only play.

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