Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 6/9
I’m kind of liking this three pitch/three ditch format, so here we go.
Francisco Liriano (vs. CHC, @MIA)
Back in March, Liriano was viewed by many as a solid mid-rotation fantasy starter, at the very least. Coming off a dominant bounce back season in 2013, that seemed like a more than reasonable expectation. But he’s been a lot more hittable this season and has battled control issues (4.67 BB/9). The good news is that he’s continuing to strike out more than a batter per inning and sports a 3.45 ERA over his last three starts. The Cubs are a sub-par offensive team and while the Marlins are no pushover, at least that start will come on the road, where Liriano boasts a 2.84 ERA and 1.20 WHIP. Owners who drafted Liriano this year are probably so fed up with his erratic performance that I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s currently sitting on the waiver wire in the vast majority of 12-team mixed leagues. He’s risky of course, as he’s always been prone to the disaster outing, but the Pirates lefty could be a risk worth taking for next week.
Ryan Vogelsong (vs. WAS, vs. COL)
Following two straight stellar seasons in 2011 and 2012, Vogelsong was a colossal bust in an injury-plagued 2013 campaign, finishing with a 5.73 ERA and 1.56 WHIP. And he got off to a shaky start this year (7.71 ERA over his first four starts). But something has clicked since, as he’s rattled off six quality starts in eight tries, with the two non-quality outings being of the not so terrible 6+ IP, 4 ER variety. Both of his matchups next week are at home, where he’s 2-1 with a 2.15 ERA through six starts. The Nationals rank 13th in the NL in runs scored on the road and the Rockies lineup is far less dangerous away from Coors Field.
Travis Wood (@PIT, @PHI)
Wood is really nothing special, and his overall stat line this season isn’t pretty. That said, his 5.04 ERA is skewed by a pair of disaster outings. The Pirates and Phillies are both middle of the pack offenses at best and Wood has allowed three earned runs or less in eight of his 12 starts this season. Again, he’s nothing special, and maybe he isn’t quite special enough to use in a 12-team mixed league. But owners in deeper formats should think about it.
Chris Tillman (vs. BOS, vs. TOR)
I really expected better from Tillman. This is a guy who went 25-10 with a 3.48 ERA and 1.17 WHIP over 48 starts spanning from 2012-2013, so I didn’t see this coming at all. Most of his struggles have come recently though, as he’s allowed at least five earned runs in three of his last four starts. But I’m not giving up on Tillman just yet, and I wouldn’t drop him in mixed leagues of 12 teams or more. Would I start him next week? Absolutely not. I don’t think you can comfortably start any non-elite pitcher against the Blue Jays right now, and while the Red Sox offense has underperformed this year, there’s still a lot of talent in that lineup. Tillman needs to be benched in all mixed leagues.
Jake Peavy (@BAL, vs. CLE)
Although Peavy has turned in a few dominant performances this year, the consistency just hasn’t been there, as he’s allowed at least five earned runs in five of his 12 starts while registering a career-low 1.83 K/BB ratio. As in the case of Tillman, I’m not giving up on Peavy, as the track record suggests that improvement should be expected. Then again, maybe this is a sign that the end is drawing near. Regardless, I’d play it safe and bench him next week in all mixed leagues. These aren’t exactly easy matchups either.
Mike Leake (vs. LAD, @MIL)
The owner of a 3.29 ERA and 1.11 WHIP through 12 starts this year, Leake is certainly proving that last season’s breakout campaign was no fluke. However, he is coming off his worst performance of 2014 (5 IP, 8 H, 5 ER vs. SF), and the fact that he’s not a big strikeout pitcher limits his upside to the point where he needs to consistently excel in the ERA and WHIP departments to maintain mixed league value. And he might. But with a tough pair of matchups on tap for next week, I’d lean towards benching him in favor of a more exciting two-start, or even one-start, alternative. In deeper mixed leagues, it’s entirely possible that you don’t have a more exciting alternative. But in a 12-team mixed, you probably do.