Zach’s Two-Start Pitcher Notes – Week of 8/15
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It’s another Friday, and it’s another blog-only week for my two-start pitcher series. Let’s get to it.
Standard mixed leagues
Jeff Samardzija (vs. PIT, vs. NYM)
Heading into the season, who would’ve thought that pitching Samardzija in a two-start week in August would be far from a no-brainer? Well, the veteran righty has been far from consistent during his first season with the Giants. Samardzija’s recent results are particularly troubling, as he’s notched just one quality start across his last nine outings. Also of concern is his strikeout rate, which has steadily declined over the past few years. But Samardzija is coming off a stellar performance on Wednesday in which he held the Marlins scoreless over 5 2/3 innings, and next week’s matchups are promising. The Mets and Pirates rank among the bottom three teams in the NL in both runs scored and OPS since the All-Star break. Starting Samardzija next week is a risk worth taking.
Bartolo Colon (@ARI, @SF)
The usually reliable Colon struggled in July, registering a 5.51 ERA and 1.35 WHIP over six starts. August has been a different story, however, as the ageless righty has allowed a combined two runs through two starts this month spanning 13 2/3 innings. Next week, Colon will face the same Diamondbacks squad that he dominated on Wednesday (7 IP, 1 ER, 8 K) before traveling to San Francisco to pitch against a Giants team that ranks 14th in the NL in runs scored since the All-Star break. Owners should not hesitate to start him.
Robbie Ray (vs. NYM, @SD)
Although Ray has been a consistent source of strikeouts this season (11.0 K/9), his overall performance from one start to the next has been entirely unpredictable. But the Diamondbacks southpaw is coming off a very impressive outing against the Mets on Wednesday (7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER) and will get to face the Mets again next week. As for his matchup on the road against the Padres, San Diego ranks 12th in the NL in OPS and Ray’s road ERA is 3.80, this compared to his 5.40 ERA at home.
Deeper mixed leagues
Drew Smyly (vs. SD, vs. TEX)
Like Ray, Smyly has had little difficulty posting high strikeout totals this year (9.0 K/9). But the Rays lefty owns a disappointing 5.04 ERA through 22 starts, allowing more than a hit per inning in the process. On the bright side, however, Smyly boasts a 2.52 ERA and 1.08 WHIP over his last four starts, so perhaps he has finally found his groove. Next week’s matchup against the Rangers is a dangerous one, as Texas ranks 4th in the AL in runs scored this season. And the Rangers recently beefed up their offense with the trade deadline additions of Carlos Beltran and Jonathan Lucroy. But the upgraded lineup ranks only 7th in the AL in runs scored so far in August. The Padres, meanwhile, rank 24th in the Majors in OPS this season. Smyly is certainly an intriguing two-start option for those in deeper formats.
Brandon Finnegan (vs. MIA, vs. LAD)
While Finnegan still has plenty of work to do in the control department (4.5 BB/9 this season), the 23-year-old is fresh off his third straight quality start. The Marlins and Dodgers both rank among the top eight teams in the Majors in runs scored since the All-Star break, so Finnegan will be challenged next week. But his strong recent pitching should not be discounted, and Finnegan limited the Dodgers to just one run over eight innings in a May 23rd outing in Los Angeles.