Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 8/26
You know the drill by now. Another Friday, another installment of my two-start pitcher notes. Today’s special guest was Lawr Michaels of Mastersball, so be sure to listen to that segment when the podcast comes out later today. Trust me, it’s a great listen. Oh, and the rest of the podcast is pretty good too.
Jonathon Niese (vs. PHI, @WAS)
In three starts since coming off the DL earlier this month, Niese has gone 2-0 with a 2.84 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 23-to-5 K/BB ratio over 19 innings. Pretty good. The Phillies have been an erratic offensive team all season and while the Nationals’ lineup has shown a great deal of improvement lately, they’re still struggling vs. lefties. The bottom line though is that Niese is on a roll, and his solid track record suggests that he’s closer to the pitcher we’re seeing in August than the one who was mediocre at best in May and June. Maybe he was just playing hurt. It could be as simple as that. Pitch.
Sonny Gray (@DET, vs. TB)
As impressive as Gray has been over his first five big league appearances (three starts), I tend to shy away from taking too many risks this late in the season. And to me, this is a risk. The Tigers’ lineup is arguably the scariest lineup in baseball, even without the suspended Jhonny Peralta, and the Rays are no slouch either. If you’re chasing counting stats (though good luck chasing wins against these two clubs) and play in a deep mixed league, maybe you take a chance on Gray. But I’m very leery of these matchups from an ERA/WHIP perspective. Ditch.
Phil Hughes (@TOR, vs. BAL)
Hughes is about as close to DTM as a pitcher can get without actually being DTM. The guy is just so maddeningly inconsistent that I honestly don’t trust him against anyone, let alone two teams that rank in the top-5 in the AL in runs scored and rank first and second in the Majors in homers. Don’t be swayed by the strikeout upside. This is a rather easy one. Ditch.
Brandon McCarthy (vs. SD, vs. SF)
Cory made a good point on the show today that if these matchups were both on the road, McCarthy might be worth consideration in deeper leagues. But the reality is that they’re not. The other reality is that McCarthy is coming off a horrific outing @CIN which was preceded by a shaky performance @PIT. In mixed leagues, McCarthy is a ditch.
Felix Doubront (vs. BAL, vs. CHW)
Although Doubront often tests my patience, he’s pitched pretty well since the All-Star break and has done a fine job in the free pass department, lowering his walk rate from 3.91 in the first half to 3.29. Add in the fact that he’s always a good bet for a decent number of strikeouts, and I’d feel fairly comfortable pitching Doubront next week. The vs. BAL start is a little scary but you’ve got to like the vs. CHW start. All in all, this is a risk worth taking. Pitch.
Tyson Ross (@ARI, @ LAD)
Take a look at Ross’ season numbers and you might fall over in shock. I mean, a 2.85 ERA and 1.17 WHIP to go along with 76 strikeouts in 85 1/3 innings? Are you kidding me? I’m not buying this, but if you’re desperate for strikeouts in a deep mixed league, maybe you want to take a shot. But I’m sitting on the sidelines for this one.
A.J. Griffin (@DET, vs. TB)
Very quietly, Griffin is putting together a quality season. But a number of things concern me about next week. First, he faces the Tigers on the road. The Tigers at home would be tough enough, but being that Griffin’s road ERA is more than a half-run higher than his home mark, that start could get very ugly very fast. Then there’s the fact that his ERA since the All-Star break is more than a half-run higher than his first half mark. And for good measure, the Rays are a pretty formidable offense in their own right. I don’t like this one bit. Ditch.
Danny Salazar (@ATL, @DET)
Salazar is a real toss-up. These matchups are as challenging as they come yet the young righty has already shown that he can pitch well against some of the league’s better lineups (Tigers, Blue Jays). Ultimately, this comes down to category needs. If you need strikeouts, Salazar is your guy. But if you’re in a tight ERA and WHIP race, you’re probably better off looking elsewhere.