Sticking with the simple three and three format, let’s get to it.
Matt Garza (vs. MIN, @PIT)
I was very high on Garza heading into this season, fully convinced that a return to the NL would result in a stat line closer to the one he posted before his mid-season trade to Texas last year (6-1, 3.17 ERA, 1.14 WHIP) than after it (4-5, 4.38 ERA, 1.32 WHIP). Not quite. Through 11 starts with the Brewers, Garza’s ERA is even higher than it was with the Rangers last year. The good news for Garza is that he’s coming off a strong performance against the Orioles in which he struck out a season-high nine batters and the Twins and Pirates rank in the bottom half in the Majors in both runs scored and batting average. But most of all, Garza carries enough of a track record to suggest that better times are ahead. And he’s probably on many 12-team mixed league waiver wires.
Bartolo Colon (@PHI, @SF)
Currently sporting a 4.73 ERA to go along with nine homers allowed over his first ten starts (he allowed only 14 in 30 starts last year), the Mets’ 20 million dollar off-season investment hasn’t exactly given the club what they paid for. At 41 years of age, maybe Father Time has finally caught up to Bartolo. On the other hand, Colon has looked a lot better of late. With a combined two earned runs over his last two starts, spanning 15 1/3 innings. The Phillies rank 26th in the Majors in runs scored in the month of May while the Giants are a mid-pack offense.
Henderson Alvarez (vs. TB, @CHC)
As I mentioned in the Pitch or Ditch post below, Alvarez isn’t a guy who you can rely on for strikeouts. That said, he’s usually a strong bet for a quality outing, and the fact that he keeps walks to a minimum (2.16 BB/9 this season) certainly helps matters. The Rays rank last in the AL in both runs scored and batting average on the road (also mentioned in the Pitch or Ditch post below) and the Cubs are a bottom-tier offense overall. Oh, and Alvarez has tossed 12 shutout innings over his last two starts.
Justin Masterson (vs. BOS, @TEX)
Listen, I’m still a Masterson fan, and I’m fairly certain that he will snap out of his season-long funk. But outside of AL-only leagues, it’s awfully hard to justify pitching him next week. I know the Red Sox lineup has underachieved so far, but it’s liable to catch fire at any moment, and @TEX is a terrible matchup for any struggling pitcher. Masterson is a ditch, but he’s still a hold in all mixed leagues of 12 teams or more.
Jorge De La Rosa (vs. ARI, vs. LAD)
De La Rosa has suffered from the “Rockies Pitcher Stigma” throughout his entire career, meaning that he’s a lot better than the average fan realizes. And he’s off to an impressive start this year. The crazy thing is that his ERA at home (2.49) is more than two full runs lower than his road mark (4.54). In fact, De La Rosa holds a very respectable 4.10 career ERA at Coors Field. Still, for 12-team mixed league purposes, I simply cannot bring myself to recommend him, especially with one of his starts coming against the Dodgers. It’s just too risky.
David Phelps (vs. SEA, @KC)
Phelps is more of a deep mixed/AL-only league special as opposed to someone I’d seriously consider using in a 12-team mixed. He’s allowed three runs or less in four of his five starts this season and is finally beginning to pitch deeper into games. The Mariners and Royals are both bottom tier offenses in the AL. Again, I’d take the conservative route and pass on Phelps in 12-team mixed leagues, but he’s definitely someone to keep tabs on going forward.
Correia @ Tanaka
TBD (KC) @ Hutchison – Hutchison a decent gamble in deeper leagues though.
T. Ross @ Rienzo – Appealing matchup for Rienzo, who has been mostly solid this year.
Morales @ Bauer – Going for it with Bauer despite struggles in his last start.
Tillman @ Keuchel – Can’t fully trust Tillman right now, and Astros are hitting.
Odorizzi @ R. De La Rosa – Not a good matchup for Odorizzi.
Skaggs @ Milone – Scary matchup for Skaggs but I like what I’ve seen from him so far. Milone at home is almost always a pitch.
Smyly @ Young – Smyly has been inconsistent but he’s worth a try here.
Tepesch @ Fister – Tepesch 3 ER or less in each of his first three starts this year and Nats offense has been sub-par.
Cain @ Wacha
deGrom @ Kendrick – Kendrick an OK deep league option but Mets have been hitting well on the road.
Hammel @ Peralta
Big Erv @ Turner
Cumpton @ Ryu
Cueto @ McCarthy – McCarthy coming off poor outing vs. weak SD lineup.
Chacin @ Tomlin
Hughes @ Whitley – Hughes + Yankee Stadium = Ditch. Nice matchup for Whitley.
Guthrie @ Buehrle – Buehrle just continues to get it done.
Bedard @ Lester
Stults @ Sale
W. Chen @ Feldman – Chen has struggled lately and Astros no longer a team to pick on.
Weaver @ Gray
Scherzer @ Elias – Tough to trust Elias right now outside of ultra-favorable matchups.
Harang @ Eovaldi
Darvish @ Roark
Niese @ Hamels
Samardzija @ Lohse – Not a big Lohse fan but you can’t argue with the results.
Hudson @ Lynn
Simon @ Miley – Jumping off the Simon bandwagon before it crashes. Not overly confident in Miley but I’ll chance it.
Volquez @ Greinke
Lackey @ Masterson – Scary matchup for struggling Masterson.
King Felix @ Phelps – Phelps worth a look in deep mixed/AL-only leagues.
Colon @ R. Hernandez – Colon seems to be back on track.
Cobb @ Wolf
Gibson @ Garza – Sticking with Garza in favorable matchup.
Duffy @ Miller – Not giving up on Duffy but this isn’t the spot to start him.
Quintana @ Kershaw
Morton @ Stauffer – Great matchup for Morton. Continue to keep an eye on Stauffer but Wednesday’s blowup has scared me off for now.
Nicasio @ Kluber
Nolasco @ Nuno
Vargas @ Happ
Price @ Workman – hard to imagine benching Price if he’s healthy
M. Gonzalez @ Oberholtzer
Kennedy @ Danks – Danks has upside but is too erratic to trust
Richards @ Pomeranz – nice matchup but tough matchups for both
Verlander @ Iwakuma
Lewis @ Strasburg
Montero @ Burnett
Teheran @ Koehler – Koehler will regress eventually but home stats are outstanding
T. Wood @ Estrada – don’t like this matchup for Wood
Bumgarner @ Wainwright
Leake @ Arroyo – toss-up on both; I’ll play it safe
Liriano @ Beckett
***ZACH SAYS “I’d ditch on Koehler. He seems to be turning back into a pumpkin and is coming off a brutal home start. Agree on rest.”
Martinez @ Deduno – Deduno’s been throwing well but I don’t like this matchup
Porcello @ Chavez – Chavez due for some regression vs. tough offense, but can’t bench him yet
Shields @ Dickey
Minor @ Peavy – Peavy has not been sharp for quite a while
Jimenez @ Peacock – Astros are a top-10 offense in May…no kidding
Shoemaker @ Maurer
Wheeler @ Buchanan
Vogelsong @ J. Garcia – guessing both are available in a great many daily leagues
Cingrani @ Collmenter – Cingrani pitching for his job with Latos back soon
Cole @ Haren
Cosart @ Duffy – Duffy coming off ugly outing but I’ll give him a shot.
Archer @ Hendriks – Archer’s last two starts have been solid but this matchup worries me.
Floyd @ Lackey
House @ Noesi
Saunders @ Gibson
An. Sanchez @ Kazmir
Wilson @ King Felix
Morton @ Colon – Morton very quietly putting together a strong season. Colon has a 3.15 ERA at home.
Jackson @ Lincecum – Could be 2-1 or 10-9. No thanks.
Koehler @ Zimmermann – Koehler turning back into a pumpkin?
Lyles @ R. Hernandez – Lyles not a bad gamble in deeper leagues though. I’m just not sold on him.
Norris @ Gallardo – Benching Gallardo in shallower formats is understandable.
Kuroda @ S. Miller
Stauffer @ C. Anderson – Keep an eye on Stauffer but I’m not a fan of this matchup.
Bailey @ Kershaw – Bailey far from an automatic pitch.
Cobb @ Buehrle – Buehrle due for a blowup so not an automatic pitch in shallower formats, but it’s hard to bench him right now.
Masterson @ Sale – I’ll take a break from Masterson.
McHugh @ Guthrie – Not trusting McHugh.
Darvish @ Hughes – Not sold on Hughes yet.
Scherzer @ Gray
Weaver @ Elias – Elias a little inconsistent lately but I’ll give it a shot.
Lester @ Harang – Harang, like Buehrle, is due for a blowup, but he was even shaky his last time out.
Alvarez @ Treinen – Alvarez coming off strong rebound performance.
De La Rosa @ Hamels
Volquez @ Niese
W. Chen @ Garza – Rolling the dice on Garza. Chen a decent option in deeper formats but not a whole lot of upside in starting him.
Phelps @ Lynn
Stults @ Miley – Miley has struggled at home but the Padres certainly qualify as an offense to pick on.
Simon @ Greinke
Arrieta @ Hudson
Zach back with you,
Next week is chock full of intriguing two-start options who could very well be available in your league. In fact, it’s so chock full that a strong case could even be made to pitch my two ditches. Let’s take a look.
Wade Miley (vs. SD, vs. CIN)
Miley has been an incredibly frustrating pitcher to own this year, as he’s had a few dominant outings mixed in with a few stinkers and has posted back-to-back quality starts just once. The optimist can point to his solid 1.30 WHIP and .251 BAA while the pessimist can focus on the 4.85 ERA through 11 starts, which has been fueled by a whopping ten home runs allowed. The biggest reason why Miley is a risky play for next week is his 7.14 home ERA. But he will be facing a Padres club that ranks dead last in the Majors in both runs scored and batting average followed by a Reds lineup that has vastly underperformed, with injuries being partly to blame. Although I’m not ultra-confident about Miley for 12-team mixed league purposes, I’d give it a shot.
Brandon McCarthy (vs. SD, vs. CIN)
McCarthy’s overall stat line looks fairly similar to Miley’s, but after getting off to a rough beginning to the season (7.78 ERA over his first three starts), Brandon has settled down nicely, allowing three runs or less in six of his last seven starts, and his 1.75 BB/9 rate for the season is exceptional. Aided by the same favorable matchups as Miley, McCarthy makes for a strong two-start option.
Tyler Skaggs (@SEA, @OAK)
With four quality starts in his last six outings to go along with an overall WHIP of 1.13 and a miniscule 2.15 BB/9 rate, Skaggs has emerged onto the mixed league radar. The @SEA matchup is a promising one, as the Mariners are tied for last in the Majors in runs scored at home. The A’s are the highest scoring team in the AL, but their offense hasn’t been quite as good at home. Throw in Skaggs’ 1.57 road ERA and I’m liking him for next week.
Wei-Yin Chen (@MIL, @HOU)
Chen is a true borderline call as he is coming off a shaky performance last night. But prior to that, he had allowed three runs or less in six straight starts, and I do like these matchups. The Brewers lineup has struggled in the month of May, ranking 26th in the Majors in both runs scored and batting average, and we all know how fun it is to pick on the Astros! Although Chen is more of a last resort in a 12-team mixed league, he’s a worthwhile option in deeper formats.
Phil Hughes (vs. TEX, @NYY)
I’ll admit it. I completely gave up on Hughes after his first three starts (7.20 ERA, 1.67 WHIP). Fed up by his continued mediocrity, I decided to drop him in my Tout Wars league. Bad decision, but how could I have possibly predicted that he would go 5-0 over his next six starts while posting a 1.60 ERA and 1.02 WHIP? Hughes will be tested next week, and I’m especially concerned about the @NYY matchup, as we all know that the new Yankee Stadium hasn’t exactly been kind to him. Hughes might be worth the risk in deeper mixed leagues, but in a 12-teamer, I’d play it safe and bench him. If he gets through next week unscathed, I’ll seriously consider hopping onto the bandwagon.
Jacob deGrom (vs. PIT, @PHI)
Although deGrom has done a fine job through his first two big league starts, I still need to see a bit more before I can comfortably start him in 12-team mixed leagues. He was fortunate to post a quality start in his most recent outing, as all three of the home runs he allowed were of the solo variety. The Pirates offense has really picked it up in the month of May, ranking 4th in the NL in runs scored and 2nd in batting average. The Phillies lineup has been erratic this season but Citizens Bank Park is never an easy place to pitch. Just like in the case of Hughes, in a 12-team mixed, I’ll hold off on converting into a true believer for a little while longer.
Kluber @ Jimenez – Kluber really getting his act together.
Chavez @ Dickey – Dickey much better of late but A’s offense too tough.
Nuno @ Danks – Playing it safe on both.
Martinez @ Porcello – Never been a fan of Porcello but he’s putting together quite a season so far.
Peavy @ Price – Sticking with Peavy.
Shields @ Shoemaker
Keuchel @ Maurer – Keuchel on a roll and this is a promising matchup.
Haren @ Buchanan
Nicasio @ Minor
Collmenter @ Wheeler – Not giving up on Wheeler.
Peralta @ Turner
J. Garcia @ Cingrani – Keeping an eye on Garcia though.
Strasburg @ Cole
Nolasco @ Vogelsong – Vogelsong a solid play here.
T. Wood @ Roach – Great matchup for Wood.
Pomeranz @ Happ – Too dangerous of a matchup for Pomeranz.
Lewis @ Verlander – Ditto for Lewis.
Bauer @ M. Gonzalez – Bauer could be in big leagues for good now.
TBD (BOS) @ Odorizzi
Tanaka @ Rienzo
Vargas @ Richards
Feldman @ Iwakuma
Arroyo @ Montero – Giving Montero another chance.
Gallardo @ Wolf – Gallardo fading though.
Beckett @ Burnett – We’ve seen more good than bad from Beckett this year.
Fister @ Liriano
Deduno @ Bumgarner
Hammel @ Kennedy
Morales @ Teheran
Wainwright @ Leake
Tomlin @ Quintana
Tepesch @ Correia
Scherzer @ Milone – Milone has a 1.80 ERA at home this season.
Skaggs @ Young – Skaggs has a 1.57 ERA on the road this season.
Bedard @ Hutchison
Feldman @ Ventura
Buchholz @ Big Erv
Cumpton @ deGrom – deGrom a decent choice in deeper formats though.
Eovaldi @ Roark – Roark has bounced back following blowup @PHI.
Tillman @ Lohse
Whitley @ Wacha
Samardzija @ Cain – Cain might not make this start.
Chacin @ Kendrick
Cueto @ Ryu
T. Ross @ McCarthy – Favorable matchup for McCarthy.
House @ Norris
Kazmir @ Hendriks
Baker @ An. Sanchez
Lackey @ Archer – both teams are ice-cold but Archer has been shaky
Kuroda @ Noesi – hanging with Kuroda
Duffy @ Wilson
Peacock @ King Felix – Peacock can be shaky but I’ll gamble on the matchup
Kershaw @ R. Hernandez
Zimmermann @ Morton
Miller @ Bailey – hang with ‘em on Homer
C. Anderson @ Colon
Estrada @ Koehler
Lyles @ Floyd
Jackson @ Stauffer – E-Jax on a nice run and Padres are ice-cold
Gibson @ Lincecum
Darvish @ Ray – I like Ray but not the matchup
Buehrle @ Lester – this won’t last forever but have to roll with Buehrle for now
Gray @ Cobb – tough return for Cobb, but he’s good enough
Tomlin @ W. Chen
Phelps @ Sale – tough return for Sale, but he’s a must-start
Cosart @ Elias
Hamels @ Alvarez
Hudson @ De La Rosa – scary for Hudson coming off injury, but he’s been lights-out so far
Treinen @ Volquez
Garza @ Harang – tough to trust Garza right now
Greinke @ Niese
Miley @ Lynn
Arrieta @ Stults
***ZACH SAYS “I’ll continue to take the conservative approach with Buehrle and bench him for particularly tough matchups. Facing the Red Sox at Fenway qualifies as just that. When the regression does come, it’ll be ugly. Elias has faded of late, but I think you have to roll the dice on him vs. the Astros. Agree on rest.”