Here’s installment #3 of my weekly two-start pitcher notes. Be sure to catch today’s podcast as Jason Collette joins Cory and JB to talk about a number of these options plus much more.
Justin Masterson (@CWS, @KC)
I honestly don’t know what to make of Masterson. After getting off to a brilliant start to the season (3-0, 0.41 ERA through his first three starts), the Indians’ righty was roughed up a bit by the Red Sox on Wednesday. Last year, Masterson was a far better pitcher at home than on the road, so the fact that both of these matchups are on the road isn’t exactly comforting, as is the fact that he was mediocre vs. the White Sox (1-1, 4.18 ERA, 1.68 WHIP) and flat-out awful vs. the Royals (0-2, 8.25 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). If you’re convinced that he’s an improved pitcher, go ahead and start him. But I’m playing it safe and ditching.
Dan Haren (vs. STL, vs. CIN)
This one is painful as I’ve always been a huge Haren fan. But the bottom line is that he hasn’t shown us anything so far to make us think that he will be a reliable fantasy option this year. The good news is that he’s still striking out guys and he’s still walking very few. The bad news is that he’s giving up way too many hits and throwing way too many pitches per inning. We classified Haren as a Pitch or Ditch guy on our recently released Pitch or Ditch category chart and even in a two-start week, I’ll pass. These are two scary matchups and Haren has a lot of work to do before my confidence in him can be restored.
Derek Holland (@LAA, @MIN)
A 411 favorite heading into this season, Holland has so far even outperformed our expectations. While he pitched to a quality 3.65 ERA on the road last year, he struggled at home, but that hasn’t been a problem this time around as he’s allowed a combined four runs over his first two home starts. He gets a pair of road starts next week, one against a sub-par Twins’ offense and the other against an Angels’ lineup that he already dominated this year (7 IP, 2 ER). Pitch with confidence!
Tony Cingrani (vs. CHC, @WAS)
Cingrani pitched fairly well in his big league debut on Thursday, though 102 pitches in five innings is way too many. But the 8 K’s were nice. I like the vs. CHC matchup but I’m a little wary of the @WAS one, so if you’re in a shallower league you might want to bench him. But in mixed leagues of 12 teams or more, I think I’d take a chance on him. He’s a big-time prospect and at least you know the strikeouts will be there.
Ross Detwiler (vs. STL, vs. CIN)
Three starts, 20 innings pitched, two earned runs. Detwiler is on a major roll to open the season and two of his three matchups (@CIN, vs. ATL) were tough ones. These upcoming two matchups worry me somewhat, but both are at home, where Detwiler went 8-2 with a 2.59 ERA last season. In deeper mixed leagues and of course in NL-only formats, he’s a pitch.
Patrick Corbin (@SF, vs. COL)
Corbin pitched to mediocre results as a rookie last year, but his sophomore campaign has been a different story. Two earned runs or less in each of his first three outings and although the Giants and Rockies haven’t had much trouble putting runs on the board thus far, I’m throwing Corbin out there in mixed leagues of 12 teams or more. These matchups aren’t scary enough to convince me otherwise.
Jose Quintana (vs. CLE, vs. TB)
One poor outing followed by two exceptional ones. The 17 strikeouts in 17 2/3 innings should be taken with a grain of salt considering that his strikeout rate last season was mediocre, but I am intrigued by his low walk rate and relatively low home run allowed rate. These matchups aren’t terrible but they’re not great either. A real toss-up, but I’ll take a chance on him. Who knows, maybe the strikeout uptick is real.
Wade Davis (@DET, vs. CLE)
12 scoreless innings with 13 strikeouts over his last two starts has placed Davis firmly on the mixed league radar. After putting up exceptional numbers while pitching out of the bullpen for the Rays last year, Davis has made a seamless transition back into a starting role and generally speaking, I’m buying into him. But not next week. This is a situation where one bad start @DET could ruin whatever good he does in his vs. CLE outing. I need to see more before I can trust him against offensive juggernauts. Ditch.
Jason Vargas (vs. TEX, @SEA)
Vargas proved to be a capable spot-starter last year but he’s battled inconsistency thus far in 2013 and is coming off two straight brutal performances, both against less than intimidating lineups. The @SEA start might be decent but facing the Rangers, even at home, will be a challenge. I don’t want any part of this. Ditch.
Miguel Gonzalez (vs. TOR, @OAK)
After making a strong impression during his 2012 rookie campaign, Gonzalez has been OK but not great this season. Don’t expect a lot of strikeouts but he does seem to have a knack for stringing together quality starts. These are decent matchups, so pitch.
Ricky Nolasco (@MIN, vs. CHC)
One of the more frustrating starting pitchers to own, Nolasco has registered a respectable 3.86 ERA through four starts to go along with a stellar 1.24 WHIP and 15-to-6 K/BB ratio. You just never know when Ricky is going to blow up but I really like these matchups and I’ll always be tempted by his consistently low walk rate.
Bartolo Colon (@BOS, vs. BAL)
Speaking of low walk rates, Colon has yet to issue a free pass through 19 innings this year. The problem is that he’s allowed more than a hit per inning and has historically been extremely home run prone. Bartolo’s current 3.32 ERA and 1.05 WHIP is due for a stat correction, and that might happen during his start at Fenway. And even though his second start will be at home, the Orioles can hit. In 12-team mixed leagues, I’ll take the conservative route and ditch. Feel free to pitch him in deeper mixed leagues though.
T. Hudson @ Wandy – playing it safe on Wandy off hamstring issue and vs. red-hot Braves offense
Ryu @ Hammel
J. Garcia @ Halladay – tough call on both for various reasons, but I’m going for it
Pettitte @ Morrow
Shields @ Buchholz – not buying Buchholz, but ride the wave
Slowey @ Latos
Anderson @ Cobb
Strasburg @ Harvey – appointment viewing
Saunders @ Darvish
Samardzija @ Estrada
Myers @ Harrell – still don’t trust Myers regardless of what he did last time
Worley @ Peavy
Kennedy @ Chacin – tough matchup for Kennedy, but I’ll take a shot
An. Sanchez @ Hanson – would’ve liked Hanson a lot better vs. the Twins
Volquez @ Bumgarner
The inaugural 2013 Pitch or Ditch category chart has arrived! Click on the link below to download the PDF.
A reminder as to how the chart works:
We’ve divided all of the current starting rotation pitchers in the Majors into five groups: Aces, Grads (pitchers who should not be dropped and can be started almost all the time), Pitch or Ditch (guys who you should be picking up to start in favorable matchups but do not deserve a regular roster spot), DTMs (guys who we are fed up with and would not start under any circumstances for the time being) and Indifferents (guys who we don’t feel any ill-will towards but who just aren’t that good). Keep in mind that we’re basing this on a standard 12-team mixed league.
Feel free to post your questions and/or comments.
W. Davis @ Minor
Norris @ Colon – Norris pitching well but not a good road start (yet)
Miley @ Sabathia
Aceves @ Masterson – gotta roll with Masterson while he’s hot
S. Miller @ Burnett
Moore @ Tillman
Quintana @ Happ
Lannan @ Leake
Detwiler @ Nolasco – taking a shot on Nolasco while he’s hot
Grimm @ Villanueva
Hanson @ Worley – taking a shot on Hanson in the favorable matchup
Vogelsong @ Lohse
TBD (NYM) @ Garland
Scherzer @ King Felix – FWIW, The King’s velocity continues to drop…
Ross @ Kershaw
McCarthy @ Nova – bench but don’t cut McCarthy… stuff is there, results will come
Doubront @ Jimenez
R. Hernandez @ Arrieta
Axelrod @ Johnson
Vargas @ Pelfrey
Peacock @ Griffin
Fister @ Harang
Westbrook @ J. Sanchez – Westbrook not “this good”, but on a roll, and great matchup
Kendrick @ Bailey – reverse the home/away and I’d start both
Haren @ Sanabia – if you can’t start Haren vs. the Marlins you shouldn’t have him on your roster
Zito @ W. Peralta – Zito has earned it, no?
Gee @ Nicasio (Gm 1 of doubleheader)
Laffey @ Francis (Gm 2 of doubleheader)
Marquis @ Capuano
Guthrie @ Medlen – Guthrie pitching well with Royals, but awful matchup
Holland @ Wood
***ZACH SAYS “I’d take a chance on Capuano for the K potential and favorable matchup. Agree on rest.”
Harvey @ Diamond – Harvey has all the marks of a top-10 starter, right now!
Price @ Lester – impressive turnaround for Lester in the early going
Sale @ McAllister
Hammel @ Kuroda
Verlander @ Anderson
Dickey @ Shields – only two starts, hang with ‘em
Harrell @ Richards
Ogando @ Saunders
Bumgarner @ Samardzija
Hudson @ Strasburg
Gallardo @ Wainwright – Gallardo a slow starter who struggles vs. STL so OK to bench if you have a better option
Cueto @ Locke
Hamels @ Fernandez – let’s see what Fernandez does against a better offense…
Ryu @ Kennedy – let’s see what Ryu does against a better offense…
Chacin @ Volquez – Padres may be missing their three best hitters (Headley, Grandal, Quentin)
Gee @ Correia – bench Gee on the road for now
Peavy @ Myers
Hellickson @ Buchholz
Morrow @ Big Erv
Humber @ Wilson
An. Sanchez @ Parker – Parker’s stuff was fine last time out, but command has been awful… monitor this closely…
Tepesch @ Maurer
W. Chen @ Pettitte
Halladay @ Slowey
Maholm @ G. Gonzalez – play it safe with Maholm on the road vs. a top offense
Latos @ Wandy – Wandy might not start due to a sore hammy
Estrada @ J. Garcia
Lincecum @ Jackson – your call on Lincecum
De La Rosa @ Richard – always start Richard at home
Beckett @ Cahill
R. Hernandez @ Dempster – your call on Dempster; I’ll pass
Floyd @ Buehrle
Blanton @ Pelfrey
Bedard @ Milone
Lee @ Arroyo – your call on Arroyo; I’ll pass
Lynn @ McDonald
Zimmermann @ LeBlanc
Hefner @ Nicasio
Stults @ Billingsley
Here’s the second installment of my two-start pitcher notes. Keep in mind that I’ve chosen only the pitchers who I consider to be tough calls. And be sure to listen to today’s podcast, as Cory and Joe will share their thoughts on many of these guys.
James McDonald (vs. STL, vs. ATL)
We’ve seen one outstanding performance and one mediocre outing from McDonald so far, and while I do like him as a bounce back candidate this year after a brutal second half last season, this is not the week to take a gamble. Both the Cardinals and Braves boast top-notch lineups, and although McDonald will be at home, where he pitched to a 2.73 ERA last year, this is just too dangerous until we see more consistency from him. Ditch.
Homer Bailey (vs. PHI, vs. MIA)
Despite enjoying a breakthrough 2012 campaign, Bailey continued to struggle at Great American Ballpark (4-8, 5.16 ERA). The vs. MIA matchup is tempting but the vs. PHI one has disaster written all over it, especially considering that he’s coming off a 5 IP, 7 ER performance vs. the Cards…and that was on the road! Ditch.
Kyle Kendrick (@CIN, vs. STL)
Cory’s a Kendrick believer and even he says to ditch him for next week. I’m not as high on him in general, so you know where I stand. These are both brutal matchups. No thanks.
Brandon McCarthy (@NYY, @COL)
Another Cory favorite, B-Mac has gotten off to a shaky start this season. He’s simply giving up way too many hits and doesn’t possess the strikeout ability to escape jams, although he does sort of make up for this by inducing a ton of ground balls. The bottom line is that you can’t feel comfortable trotting him out there next week, particularly in mixed leagues. But definitely monitor him over the next month or so, as he could emerge as a viable option once his schedule lightens up a bit.
Gavin Floyd (@TOR, vs. MIN)
Over the past few years, I’ve had a hard time figuring this guy out. Matchups just don’t seem to matter to him. He could just as easily get lit up by a light-hitting offense as he could dominate a strong lineup. I view Floyd as someone who you should just start regardless of the matchup or avoid entirely on draft day. He’s so frustrating to own. That said, I like the vs. MIN matchup so much that I’d be willing to gamble on the possibility of at least a QS @TOR. Pitch, but don’t be surprised if he throws a shutout at Toronto and then gets roughed up by the Twins!
Chad Billingsley (vs. SD, @BAL)
A quality season debut has me back on the Billingsley bandwagon. Gotta love the vs. SD matchup and while the Orioles can hit, I see Billingsley’s upside as being the highest of any other pitcher on this list. If you own him, start him.
Mark Buehrle (vs. CWS, vs. NYY)
While I appreciate Buehrle’s consistency and believe him to be a vastly underrated pitcher, he’s now thrown two stinkers to kick off the season and this pair of matchups is far from favorable, especially at the homer-friendly Rogers Centre. I haven’t given up on Buehrle, but like McCarthy, let’s be patient.
Wily Peralta (vs. SF, vs. CHC)
Two intriguing matchups here and I do like how Peralta rebounded his second time out after a shaky season debut. In deeper mixed leagues, I’d take a shot on the former top prospect. You know he’ll give you some strikeouts and I doubt that either of these outings will be of the disaster variety.
M.Gonzalez @ Sabathia
Quintana @ Masterson – Masterson has pitched well his first two times, roll with it… Quintana is a strikeout-upside pick
Cobb @ Doubront
Happ @ Mendoza
Scherzer @ Colon
Norris @ Hanson – take a shot on Hanson at home vs. weak (recent games notwithstanding) Astros offense
Darvish @ Iwakuma
Cain @ Villanueva
Teheran @ Detwiler – one bad start has me not trusting Teheran all over again
Leake @ Burnett – Leake is much better on the road and Pirates scuffling offensively
Lannan @ Nolasco
Lohse @ S.Miller
Kershaw @ Corbin
Garland @ Ross
Niese @ Worley