Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 5/13
Here’s this week’s installment of my two-start pitcher notes. Not a whole lot of appealing options for next week so don’t bench a clearly superior pitcher who will be making only one start in favor of one of these guys. There will be plenty of time to chase strikeouts and wins later. But as for this group, Hector Santiago is the one pitcher who I would make sure to grab.
And of course, be sure to listen to today’s podcast as we’ll have the usual two-start pitcher segment.
Barry Zito (@TOR, @COL)
Zito has been a pleasant surprise this season, both for the Giants and for his fantasy owners. Yeah, he’s had a couple of blowup starts, but in five of his seven outings, he’s allowed either one or zero runs and has pitched at least seven innings in four of those games. Still, I just have a bad feeling about next week. One would think that a stat correction is inevitable, and in five career starts at Rogers Centre, Zito is 1-3 with a 4.91 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. His career numbers at Coors Field are actually very good (3-1, 3.25 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) but pitching any low-strikeout guy in Colorado is playing with fire. On last Friday’s podcast, Ron Shandler explained that he takes a conservative approach with two-start pitchers as one poor performance can ruin the entire week, and I think that the chances of Zito struggling in at least one of these starts are pretty high. Ditch.
Josh Beckett (vs. WAS, @ATL)
Like Zito, Beckett faces two tough matchups, and despite some strong performances, he’s been far from consistent thus far, allowing the opposition to bat .294 against him while allowing eight homers in seven starts. In a deep mixed league, maybe it will pay off to throw him out there for the strikeout upside. But in a 12-teamer, I’m passing.
Jake Westbrook (vs. NYM, vs. MIL)
Westbrook is the type of pitcher who can throw a gem in one start and then get pounded in the next. If his sinker isn’t working right, it can get very ugly very fast. Despite the sparkling 1.62 ERA, I’m not liking the 1.46 WHIP, and Jake has always been a pitch to contact guy, so he doesn’t really have the ability to work himself out of jams via the strikeout. And of course, one of the main reasons to pick up two-start pitchers is to gain ground in strikeouts. To me, the downside here outweighs the upside. Ditch.
Justin Grimm (@OAK, vs. DET)
The stat correction finally came for Grimm in his latest start and while the strikeouts are nice, the vs. DET matchup isn’t so nice. Oh yeah, and the A’s actually rank 3rd in the AL in runs scored at home. The bottom line is that Grimm is too unproven to trust in a two-start week unless both matchups are favorable. If you’re chasing strikeouts and aren’t concerned about ERA and WHIP, maybe he’s worth a try, but I’m holding off in a 12-team mixed until I see a little more. Keep an eye on Grimm going forward though.
Bud Norris (@DET, @PIT)
Norris’ strikeout ability and solid 3.40 ERA surely makes him a must-start for next week, right? Not really. The key here is that Bud will be on the road for both of these starts, and the road has not been too kind to him. Last season, Norris pitched to a 6.94 ERA away from Minute Maid Park. This season, his road ERA is 5.93 through three starts. Plus, there it is, that dreaded @DET matchup. Sorry for being such a downer, but I’m ditching on Norris as well.
Jeff Locke (vs. MIL, vs. HOU)
That’s now four straight starts with 3 ER or less for Locke, whose spot in the Pirates’ rotation appears secure for the foreseeable future. This is a little risky, but I’ll say pitch, albeit with some trepidation. Despite their surprisingly decent start to the season, the Astros’ lineup is still worth picking on and the Brewers’ offense has struggled to score on the road. Let’s just hope that Locke can ride this hot streak for a little while longer!
Hector Santiago (@MIN, @LAA)
Here’s a guy who I’m pitching with confidence next week. This year, Santiago has maintained his high strikeout rate while displaying much improved control. Thanks to Gavin Floyd’s injury, he now gets the opportunity to prove that his stellar pitching out of the bullpen can translate to the starting rotation. And I think he’s up for the task. Fresh off a dominant performance vs. the Mets and a decent outing on the road against the Rangers, Santiago gets two matchups that aren’t too scary. Both the Twins and Angels rank in the bottom half in the AL in runs scored at home and the Angels’ lineup has had a tough time vs. left-handed pitching. I like Santiago a lot for next week.
Chris Tillman (vs. SD, vs. TB)
Although we’re still seeing some inconsistency from Tillman and you would like the strikeout rate to be a little higher, the young righty has now posted four straight quality starts. These matchups aren’t great and Tillman has pitched a lot better on the road than at home this season, but I’ve been very impressed by him of late and there’s a point where recent performance trumps split stats. With Tillman, I think we’re at that point. I’ll roll the dice and pitch.