Archer @ Jimenez – tough matchup for both, big upside for both
Harang @ Correia – Harang coming off a shutout, great K/BB, great matchup. Why not?
Verlander @ Hammel – Hammel’s been mostly solid this year
Quintana @ Straily – Straily getting on a roll
Shields @ Tepesch – vs. Royals almost a must-start these days
Doubront @ Hughes – could be 3-2, could be 10-9
Norris @ J. Williams
Fiers @ Cloyd – keep an eye on both, though…
Greinke @ Chacin
McHugh @ J. Fernandez – bad time for Niese to get a sore shoulder!
G. Gonzalez @ T. Hudson
Kennedy @ Samardzija
Leake @ Liriano – gambling on Liriano vs. tough offense
Bumgarner @ Wainwright – NICE
Buehrle @ Richard
Hellickson @ McAllister – can’t trust Hellickson here
Porcello @ Gausman – can’t trust either here
TBD (SEA) @ Diamond
Big Erv @ Darvish – can’t trust Big Erv here due to HR risk
Lyles @ Wilson
Sale @ Parker
Buchholz @ Kuroda
Harvey @ Slowey
Karns @ Maholm
W. Peralta @ Lee
Latos @ Gomez
Gaudin @ Lyons
Corbin @ Jackson
Ryu @ De La Rosa
Morrow @ Volquez – sitting it out on Morrow ‘til he shows some signs of life
Masterson @ Pettitte
Bedard @ Blanton
Danks @ Saunders – yep, pitch Saundo at home vs. weak offenses
Koehler @ Kendrick – tempting on Koehler, but not in Philly
Burnett @ Medlen
Chatwood @ Arroyo
Milone @ Estrada – not using Milone on the road
Cahill @ Lynn
Stults @ Capuano – why not, right?
By now you should be fully aware that Friday = two-start pitcher notes, so without further adieu, let’s get to it. I’ve chosen 10 pitchers who I feel are particularly tough calls, and I’m mainly gearing my decisions towards standard 12-team mixed leagues.
Tim Lincecum (vs. TOR, @ARI)
Check this out:
Lincecum 2012: 10-15, 186 IP, 183 H, 90 BB, 190 K, 5.18 ERA, 1.47 WHIP
Lincecum 2013 On Pace: 9-15, 195 IP, 195 H, 93 BB, 204 K, 5.12 ERA, 1.48 WHIP
Eerily similar, right? At this point, we all need to give up on the hope that Tiny Tim will recapture his pre-2012 Cy Young form. That said, he still carries mixed league value thanks to the high K rate and at least the possibility that he can perform at a more consistent level. The problem though is that it’s extremely difficult to trust him right now, and these matchups aren’t exactly ideal. Even though the Blue Jays’ lineup has been ravaged by injuries this season, Toronto still ranks in the top-5 in the AL in home runs, runs and batting average in the month of May. Chase Field is always a tough place to pitch, and Lincecum did not fare well when he faced the D-Backs in Arizona earlier in the year (5 IP, 10 H, 5 ER). In mixed leagues, I’m ditching. You just never know which Lincecum you’re going to get.
Tommy Milone (@MIL, @CHW)
Coming off yet another mediocre road outing, Milone should be treated as strictly a pitch at home/ditch on the road guy. This year’s splits are drastic and last year’s splits were just as drastic. With two road matchups on tap, Milone is a ditch, despite the fact that he’ll be facing a pair of scuffling lineups.
Chris Tillman (@HOU, @TB)
Tillman’s ugly performance vs. the Nats on Wednesday in which he served up four homers in just 4 2/3 innings can’t inspire too much confidence, but he had been pitching fairly well before that start. The longball has been a major problem for him this season, as he’s served up a whopping 14 homers through 63 1/3 innings (11 starts). But if he can make strides in that area, his overall stat line will improve significantly. The @TB matchup is a little scary as the Rays actually rank 1st in the AL in runs scored this month, but they’re only a mid-level home run hitting team (8th in AL this season). And you’ve got to like the @HOU matchup. In deeper mixed leagues, I’ll take a chance on Tillman.
Brandon McCarthy (@STL, vs. SF)
Just when you thought McCarthy had turned the corner, posting a 1.19 ERA over a four-start stretch, he puts up a stinker @TEX (I know it’s a tough matchup but still…) to raise his season ERA to 5.00. Cory remains a big-time McCarthy supporter, but I’m just not a fan. The low walk rate is nice but he’s giving up way too many hits this year while posting a strikeout rate that is mediocre at best. Even in a two-start week, I wouldn’t feel comfortable pitching B-Mac unless both matchups are favorable, and the @STL game could be a disaster. I want no part of this. Ditch.
John Danks (@SEA, vs. OAK)
Danks registered a quality start in his season debut at home vs. the lowly Marlins, but he really struggled on Wednesday at Wrigley, and while he’s a guy who I’m going to monitor closely going forward, he can’t be trusted in mixed leagues yet. AL-only owners should probably take a flier on him next week though, as these matchups are promising. But like I said, mixed leaguers are better off following a wait and see approach.
David Phelps (vs. CLE, @SEA)
I’m willing to give Phelps a mulligan after the beating he took from the Mets, as he was on a nice roll heading into that start. Overall, I’ve been very impressed with the 26-year-old, who has managed to post a strong strikeout rate while limiting the longball and keeping his walk rate under control. Phelps did a fine job against a quality Indians lineup a couple weeks ago and the @SEA matchup certainly has upside potential. Pitch.
Jonathan Pettibone (vs. MIA, @MIL)
Pettibone’s mediocre performance vs. the Red Sox on Thursday night, the first time he has given up more than three earned runs in a start this season, put somewhat of a damper on what has so far been a solid rookie campaign for the 22-year-old. On one hand, Pettibone sports a stellar 3.64 ERA and 3.06 BB/9 rate. On the other, he’s allowed well over a hit per inning and isn’t a strikeout pitcher. There’s not a whole lot of upside here, but these are decent matchups, so there’s not much downside either. If you’re short of worthy one-start options in a deep mixed league, Pettibone isn’t a bad guy to gamble on for the two-start week.
Juan Nicasio (@CIN, vs. SD)
Nicasio looked like a strong two-start play for next week until he struggled against a weak Astros team on Thursday night. If he can’t even handle the Astros, how will he fare on the road against a high-powered Reds’ lineup? I don’t care that the vs. SD matchup seems like a favorable one. His entire week could be ruined by the time he takes the mound for that start. Keep an eye on Nicasio though, as he could re-emerge as a legitimate mixed league option, but I’m staying away for next week.
Tyler Chatwood (@CIN, vs. SD)
Chatwood has exactly the same matchups as Nicasio but I’m a tad more confident in him. The way Chatwood is pitching right now, there’s pretty much zero chance that he’ll be removed from the Rockies’ rotation even after Jeff Francis returns. He’s allowed two earned runs or less in each of his last four starts and is coming off a dominant 10 K performance against the Astros. His shaky track record would scare me off in mixed leagues, but I like him a lot as an NL-only waiver wire pickup. Keep in mind that he’s still just 23, so one would think that he will only get better.
Eric Stults (@LAD, @COL)
This guy is hard to figure out. He’s capable of tossing a gem on any given day but far too often puts up a mediocre stat line. The good news is that he’s been pitching more gems of late and is coming off a superb performance vs. the Mariners (8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 12 K). The bad news is that the historically fly-ball oriented pitcher will head into Coors Field next week. This worries me. This worries me a lot. I’m ditching Stults in mixed leagues but will group him with Nicasio and Chatwood as guys who deserve NL-only consideration.
Miley @ Garza – Miley hasn’t been great, but it’s the Cubs
Lester @ Sabathia
Cueto @ Wandy – tough matchup for Wandy but he’s been solid this year
Scherzer @ M. Gonzalez
Gallardo @ Hamels – rhetorical question: how much longer do we go with YoGo?
Moore @ Kluber
Marcum @ Turner – coming off 12 K’s, have to!
Strasburg @ Teheran – Teheran is hearing graduation music…
W. Davis @ Holland
Iwakuma @ Pelfrey
Cain @ S. Miller
Kershaw @ Garland
Axelrod @ Colon
Keuchel @ Hanson – good matchup for Hanson’s return
Jenkins @ Marquis
McCarthy @ Grimm
Peavy @ Wood
King Felix @ Cashner
Griffin @ Zito
Morales @ Pettibone
Bailey @ Kazmir
Fister @ Locke – riding Locke as long as it lasts
Gee @ Nuno – you read that right. Vidal Nuno!
Haren @ F. Garcia – no idea what Haren will do so I’ll ditch
Colome @ Nolasco – Nolasco OK in deep leagues but I’m off that bus
Dickey @ Minor – maybe the return to the NL will help Dickey?
Lohse @ Walters – good matchup for Lohse
Guthrie @ Wacha – great matchup for Wacha’s debut, but Guthrie is struggling
Harrell @ Nicasio – Nicasio worth the gamble at home vs. whiff-prone Astros
Lilly @ Vargas – your call but I want no part of this
Danks @ Feldman
An. Sanchez @ Burnett
R. Hernandez @ Koehler – you read that right on Koehler. I like his stuff.
Estrada @ Deduno
Capuano @ Weaver – perfect matchup for Weaver’s return
Lackey @ Kendrick – bad time for Kendrick to regress, vs. Red Sox
Hefner @ Phelps
Rogers @ Medlen
Mendoza @ Lynn
Saunders @ Stults
Arroyo @ Masterson
Zimmermann @ Tillman
McCarthy @ Grimm – playing it safe on McCarthy despite recent success
Bedard @ Chatwood
Milone @ Lincecum – don’t like Milone on the road
Maholm @ Morrow – Not trusting Morrow outside of very favorable matchups…this isn’t one of them
De La Rosa @ Lyles – Great matchup for DLR
Gomez @ Porcello – Porcello not a terrible play here but I’m just not a fan
Lee @ Dempster – Ditch on the struggling Dempster
Slowey @ Hellickson – I’m off the Slowey bandwagon
Jackson @ Sale – E-Jax is DTM for the time being
Lyons @ Big Erv
Kickham @ Parker – Parker on a nice roll now
Volquez @ Maurer
Kuroda @ Harvey
Gausman @ TBD (WAS) – Gausman showed me enough in his debut that I can trust him here
McAllister @ Latos – Not a good matchup for McAllister
Diamond @ Figaro
Blanton @ Ryu
F. Garcia @ Dickey – Dickey is rounding into form
Kazmir @ Lester – looks like the Kazmir experiment has already ended badly
TBD (LAA) @ Guthrie
Correia @ Fister
Sabathia @ Moore
Nolasco @ Peavy – Nolasco worth a look in deeper leagues, though
Griffin @ Harrell
Holland @ King Felix
Nicasio @ Zito – Nicasio still risky despite impressive outing last time
Locke @ Fiers
Wood @ Bailey
Gast @ Lilly
Pettibone @ Haren – Haren’s unpredictability making him unusable
Minor @ Gee – Gee is much better at home but starting him still takes #want
Cashner @ Miley
M. Gonzalez @ Jenkins
Pelfrey @ Scherzer
Kluber @ Doubront
Hughes @ Cobb – still OK with using Hughes on the road
Sanabia @ Axelrod – Axelrod worth a look in deep and AL-only leagues
J. Williams @ W. Davis
Colon @ Keuchel
Tepesch @ Iwakuma
Garza @ Cueto
Hamels @ Strasburg – NICE
Wandy @ Gallardo – tough draw for Wandy but he’s been solid as usual
Garland @ Cain
S. Miller @ Kershaw – sell high on Miller. Just sayin’
Marquis @ Corbin
Teheran @ Marcum
Liriano @ Verlander – true test of Liriano’s hot start
Wainwright @ Shields
Chacin @ Norris
J. Fernandez @ Odorizzi – 2017 All-Star Game starters preview?
Bumgarner @ Straily – your call on Straily, I’ll pass
Volquez @ Harang
T. Hudson @ Buehrle – Hudson too hittable of late, I’ll pass
Cloyd @ Buchholz
Samardzija @ Quintana
Hammel @ G. Gonzalez – Nationals are struggling so go for it on Hammel
Jimenez @ Leake – toss-up on both, I’ll play it safe
TBD (MIN) @ Burgos
Darvish @ Kennedy (Gm 1 of doubleheader)
Nuno @ Niese – Niese seems to be turning it around and is at home
Wilson @ Greinke
Perez @ Cahill (Gm 2 of doubleheader)
It’s Friday, so you know what that means! Time for another dose of my weekly two-start pitcher notes. As always, remember that these are geared towards standard, 12-team 5×5 mixed leagues. And of course, be sure to listen to today’s podcast, as Cory and JB will be joined by Todd “Lord” Zola of Mastersball to talk about some of these two-start pitcher options while answering a bunch of listener questions.
Ervin Santana (vs. STL, @TEX)
This is a very tough test for Big Erv, who is fresh off a mediocre performance versus the Angels in which he allowed four home runs. But the strikeouts are still there and his walk rate is at a career-low level. With Erv, it basically boils down to whether the longballs he serves up will be solo shots or multi-run homers. Despite the scary matchups, I think he’s pitched well enough this year to earn our trust in a two-start week.
Brandon Morrow (vs. ATL, @SD)
More often than not, Morrow has disappointed this season. On any given day, he could either throw a two-hitter or allow six runs in three innings. This makes him incredibly frustrating to own. While the @SD matchup is enticing, in a 12-team mixed league I’m not going anywhere near him for the vs. ATL outing. The Braves rank 1st in the NL in homers and 5th in runs. No thanks. Ditch.
Francisco Liriano (@DET, vs. CIN)
Check out Liriano’s stats so far this year. They’re pretty good. The problem is that it’s only been three starts, and Liriano has teased us before. The other problem is that these matchups are flat-out frightening, with the Tigers leading the AL in runs and the Reds being the second-highest scoring team in the Senior Circuit. In an NFBC-style mixed league, maybe you want to take a chance on him due to the upside, particularly in the strikeout department. But in a standard sized mixed, you’re probably better off playing it safe and ditching.
Ubaldo Jimenez (@CIN, vs. TB)
Ubaldo, Ubaldo, Ubaldo. Just when we started to think (or hope) that he had turned the corner, he goes out and puts up a stinker. It was against the Tigers, so let’s give him a bit of a break. But the bottom line is that you just can’t trust this guy. And I’m not a fan of these matchups. At all. I view Jimenez as a lot like Liriano. High risk/high reward but to me, the high risk outweighs the high reward. I’ll pass.
Phil Hughes (@NYM, vs. BOS)
This is an interesting one considering that Hughes is coming off a strong showing vs. the Orioles and the @NYM matchup is rather tasty. But the Red Sox game has disaster written all over it and let’s not conveniently forget that Hughes had allowed a combined 13 earned runs over his previous two starts (6 1/3 IP) against a pair of weak offenses in the Mariners and Royals. Hughes, who currently sports an ugly 5.51 ERA and 1.50 WHIP through nine starts this season, still has a ways to go before I can feel comfortable pitching him, even in a two-start week.
Jarrod Parker (vs. SF, vs. CHW)
Finally, Parker seems to have righted the ship, with three straight quality starts. The overall stat line is still tough to look at, but I’m still a Parker fan thanks to his excellent rookie campaign last year. He’ll get a couple of home starts next week, one versus a White Sox offense that ranks dead last in the AL in runs scored and second to last in batting average and the other a Giants’ lineup that has surprisingly hit well so far but is still no one’s idea of Murderers’ Row. I’ll pitch on Parker.
Kevin Slowey (@TB, vs. NYM)
Just when it looked like Slowey was turning back into a pumpkin, he redeemed himself in his most recent start, but being that his only quality season came back in ’08, I remain skeptical. If you have him on your roster, you might as well pitch him, as the vs. NYM start is an enticing one, but generally speaking, he’s not someone I plan on owning anytime soon because, well, he’ll probably turn back into a pumpkin.
Edwin Jackson (@CHW, vs. ARI)
I expected better from E-Jax this season. I didn’t quite expect him to duplicate his performance from last year, but at the same time I didn’t expect him to be this erratic. Come on, a 6.11 ERA and 1.57 WHIP through 10 starts? The only positive is that he’s striking out a shade under a batter per inning, so at least he offers K’s in a two-start week. While I have yet to lose all faith in him, my patience is wearing very thin, and these are pretty bad matchups. In a 12-team mixed, I’m ditching until he shows some signs of righting the ship. But in deeper mixed leagues, rolling the dice on Jackson isn’t a terrible move if you’re chasing K’s.
Mike Leake (vs. CLE, @PIT)
Leake is hard to trust in general, but guess what his ERA is over his last two starts, spanning 13 2/3 innings? Yep, 0.00. The bad news is that the Indians’ lineup ranks 2nd in the AL in runs scored and is tied for 1st in homers, which makes this a tough call. But I do like the @PIT matchup, and Leake has been pitching well enough lately that I’m willing to take the risk. Plus, he’s backed by a strong offense, so chances are you’ll get at least one W.
Jose Quintana (vs. CHC, @OAK)
Although Quintana has had a few mediocre outings this season, on the whole he’s done a solid job. He doesn’t hurt himself with walks and has even shown considerable improvement in the strikeout department. Oh yeah, and he’s only 24. I’m a huge Quintana supporter, and next week is as good a time as any to roll him out there, as he’ll be facing two sub-par offenses. Pitch!
Kendrick @ Zimmermann
Medlen @ Hefner
Phelps @ R. Hernandez – why isn’t there more love for Phelps? Stats don’t lie
Milone @ Bedard – not starting Milone on the road
Lynn @ Capuano
Tillman @ Nolin
Feldman @ Arroyo – have to ride Feldman, even if the ride gets a little scary at times
Vargas @ Mendoza
Burnett @ Estrada
Grimm @ Saunders – yep, Saunders is a “pitch” at home, even vs. Texas
Deduno @ An. Sanchez
Masterson @ Lackey
Koehler @ Danks – keep an eye on Koehler in favorable matchups, though…
Stults @ McCarthy
Chatwood @ Lincecum