Hutchison @ Jimenez – Hutchison is inconsistent but can dominate when he’s on
Pineda @ Odorizzi - these guys will be popular “sleepers” next year
Bassitt @ Hendriks
Porcello @ Nolasco
Kluber @ Tropeano
Elias @ Rasmus
Tepesch @ Kazmir
Ranaudo @ Morton – Morton is excellent at home, but matchup and injury recovery make him risky
Roark @ Harang
Eovaldi @ Colon – sticking with Bartolo at home vs. Giancarless Marlins
Peralta @ Lynn – Peralta is hot and cold, let your categories guide you
Cueto @ Arrieta
Haren @ Matzek
Peavy @ Collmenter – red-hot Collmenter a must-start at home right now
Burnett @ Kennedy – risky tandem, but great matchup for both
Jarred Cosart (@NYM, vs. WAS)
Cosart has made quite an impression with his new club, as he’s 4-2 with a 1.93 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in seven starts since being traded to the Marlins. I’d be very surprised if he has trouble against the Mets at Citi Field, as the Amazins rank next to last in the Majors in runs scored at home and last in batting average. The vs. WAS matchup is a challenging one but Cosart did pitch well against the Nats earlier this year (6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 6 K). I’d start him in all mixed leagues of 12 teams or more.
Ryan Vogelsong (@ARI, @SD)
Vogelsong has been far from a sure thing this year, but through 29 starts, he’s had only two disaster outings (defined by giving up more runs than innings pitched) and both of them came at Coors Field. But we all knew to ditch him there, right? His mediocre outing at Chase Field back in June (5 IP, 4 ER) certainly tempers our enthusiasm for the @ARI start. But keep in mind that overall, Vogelsong has pitched reasonably well against the Diamondbacks this season, posting a 3.91 ERA and 1.26 WHIP across four starts. Regardless, the @ARI risk is far outweighed by the @SD matchup, as he will get to face the lowest scoring offense in baseball in an extreme pitcher’s park.
Vance Worley (vs. BOS, vs. MIL)
I remain skeptical about Worley, as after a dominant start to his season, he hasn’t been quite as sharp lately. That said, both of Worley’s starts next week will come at home, where he’s 4-2 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in six starts. Amazingly enough, the Red Sox have scored the second fewest runs in the AL this season, and while the vs. MIL matchup might seem scary, the Brewers have been a middle of the pack offense since the All-Star break. In a 12-team mixed league, he’s a true borderline call, but I’d lean towards pitching him so long as your ERA and WHIP are in decent shape.
Dan Haren (@COL, @CHC)
Haren has been on quite a roll of late, having allowed two earned runs or less in six of his last seven outings, but this is about as bad as it gets from a matchups perspective. The longball continues to be Haren’s chief nemesis, as he’s served up 25 of them in his 29 starts, so Coors Field isn’t exactly a good fit. Oh, and then there’s the fact that in his only other start at Coors this year, he gave up eight runs on ten hits over 5 1/3 innings. As for his road date against the Cubs, Wrigley Field is another home run friendly park and Haren posted an ugly 4 1/3 IP, 8 H, 6 ER line when he faced the Cubs at Dodger Stadium on August 1st. In mixed leagues, you’re better off playing it safe here.
Wade Miley (vs. SF, @COL)
So let’s see, Miley is 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA and 1.47 WHIP at home and is fresh off a terrible performance on the road against the Giants. He actually pitched very well at Coors Field earlier this season (8 IP, 2 ER) but it’s still hard to trust any non-elite pitcher in that environment and the Rockies are the highest scoring team in the Majors at home by a wide margin. There’s absolutely no way I’m pitching Miley next week in any mixed league, and I’d even think twice about starting him in an NL-only.
A.J. Burnett (@SD, @OAK)
Yeah, Burnett’s first start next week will be in Petco Park against the worst offense in the Majors while his second start will be in another pitcher-friendly park versus an A’s offense that just hasn’t been the same since dealing away Yoenis Cespedes. But think about this. Burnett hasn’t posted back-to-back quality starts in over two months. That kind of inconsistency is what scares me off. If you’re purely chasing strikeouts and have little to lose in ERA and WHIP, go ahead and pitch A.J. Otherwise, forget about it.
Greene @ M. Gonzalez – Gonzalez since All-Star break (8 starts): 5-2, 1.86 ERA.
Teheran @ Baker
Hellickson @ Dickey – I’m wary of Hellickson here. Pitch only if you’re chasing wins and strikeouts.
Salazar @ Lobstein – I’d rather be safe than sorry with Salazar.
Milone @ Carroll
R. De La Rosa @ Guthrie – Rubby too erratic lately to trust.
Feldman @ Weaver
Gray @ King Felix
Hand @ Kendrick – Marlins offense a lot less scary without Stanton, making Kendrick a viable deep mixed/NL-only play if you’re willing to take the risk.
Doubront @ Locke – Not a big fan of Locke but Cubs lineup is mediocre at best. If you’re really feeling lucky, Doubront is tempting.
Holmberg @ Gallardo
Fister @ Wheeler
Morales @ Miller – Great matchup for Miller, who has been much more consistent lately.
T. Ross @ C. Anderson – Gotta love the matchup for Anderson too.
Greinke @ Hudson
Archer @ Stroman
Bauer @ Verlander – Bauer always capable of dominating but I’d rather not chance it here. If you want to sit Verlander as well, I don’t have a problem with it.
May @ Noesi
Kelly @ Vargas – Vargas far from a slam dunk but the matchup is decent enough. Kelly an intriguing deep league option.
Minor @ Lewis
Keuchel @ Santiago – Santiago a little risky but I’m a big believer in him.
Lester @ Young – Young fading a bit lately but he’s 8-3 with a 2.35 ERA at home this year.
Kuroda @ Tillman
Zimmermann @ Niese
Koehler @ Buchanan – Taking a shot with Koehler. Buchanan is tempting too.
Turner @ Volquez – Volquez is still DTM.
Leake @ Garza – Leake has been solid for the most part but this matchup isn’t a favorable one.
Lyles @ Gonzales
Kershaw @ Petit – Not liking this matchup for Petit.
Despaigne @ Cahill – Despaigne is 1-5 with a 5.40 ERA on the road.
Stroman @ W. Chen – Chen very quietly turning in a fine season.
Capuano @ Colome
Danks @ Shields
Scherzer @ Swarzak
McAllister @ McHugh
Iwakuma @ Shoemaker
Strasburg @ Big Erv – Erv scuffling of late and Nats lineup is tough, so if you’re in ERA/WHIP protect mode, it’s fine to ditch him.
Cosart @ deGrom
Simon @ T. Wood – Simon coming off strong bounce back outing.
R. Hernandez @ Bergman
Vogelsong @ Miley – Miley awful on the road against these same Giants his last time out and he’s 2-7 with a 6.08 ERA at home. Vogelsong a toss-up.
Williams @ Cashner
McCarthy @ Gausman (Gm 1) – tough matchup for McCarthy but he’s earned the trust
Mitchell @ Norris (Gm 2) – Norris having a solid year, and Yankees’ offense is scuffling
Karns @ Happ
Carrasco @ Price
A. Wood @ Holland – Holland was very sharp last time, though
Hughes @ Quintana
Webster @ Ventura
Oberholtzer @ Wilson – Wilson has a 5.53 ERA since All-Star
Hammel @ Paxton - Hammel appears to be over his post-trade yips
Alvarez @ Hamels
Wada @ Cole – not fully sold on Wada, but a 2.95 ERA in 10 starts with only one blowup…
G. Gonzalez @ Gee
Latos @ Lohse – thus assuring me of a combined 11 earned runs and two no-decisions in NFBC
J. De La Rosa @ Wainwright
Stults @ Nuno – blue-plate special!
Ryu @ Bumgarner – this one’s worth staying up late for
***ZACH SAYS “Holland has been very impressive since his return and gets to face a Braves team that ranks next to last in the Majors in runs scored this year, ahead of only the Padres. I’d definitely pitch him. Agree on rest.”
Gibson @ Kluber (Gm 1)
Nolasco @ House (Gm 2)
Kazmir @ Sale – Kazmir 5.96 ERA since the break, and bad matchup… play it safe
Cobb @ Pineda
Rasmus @ Martinez
Buchholz @ Hendriks
Lynn @ Cueto
Delgado @ Peavy
Liriano @ Burnett
Roark @ Colon – tempting on Colon, but the Nationals are locked in now
Eovaldi @ Fiers
There was no way we were going to let the 2014 season come to an end without posting one final update to our Pitch or Ditch category chart!
For those of you who are unfamiliar with the chart, this is something we started doing a few years ago (special shout out to longtime 411 fan Big Barry for the framework of the idea) to help guide you not only in your Pitch or Ditch decisions but also in knowing whether or not dropping a certain pitcher would be a mistake.
We’ve divided all of the current starting rotation pitchers into five groups: Aces, Grads, PoD, DTM and Indifferent.
Aces: Fairly straightforward. Elite starting pitchers with the track record to prove it.
Grads: Not ace-caliber but also not worth dropping under any circumstances. Grads should always be started, regardless of the matchup.
PoD: These pitchers do not quite deserve a permanent roster spot but should be picked up and started in favorable matchups. If their next matchup is not so favorable, feel free to drop them. Some PoD guys could earn Grad status if they string together several consecutive strong outings.
DTM: An old 411 acronym for “dead to me”, DTM pitchers are guys that we might have once liked but have repeatedly let us down to the point where we’ve had enough of them. It takes a lot to become DTM, but once you become DTM, it’s very tough to escape that category!
Indifferent: Pitchers who are just not that good and should not be rostered.
***Note that this chart is geared towards standard 12-team mixed leagues.
Here are the changes we’ve made since our last version from late-July.
Kluber grad to ace
McCarthy PoD to grad
Porcello PoD to grad
Duffy PoD to grad
Hughes PoD to grad
Shoemaker PoD to grad
Keuchel PoD to grad
McHugh PoD to grad
Wheeler PoD to grad
deGrom PoD to grad
Roark PoD to grad
Liriano PoD to grad
Nuno indifferent to PoD
Buehrle grad to PoD
Burnett grad to PoD
Nolasco PoD to DTM
W. Chen @ Workman
Shields @ Porcello
Gibson @ House
Odorizzi @ Capuano
Hendricks @ Hutchison – tough matchup for Hendricks but the results don’t lie
Shoemaker @ Tepesch
Samardzija @ Bassitt
Tropeano @ Iwakuma
Harang @ Strasburg
Worley @ Williams – Worley may be fading, but play the matchup
Lackey @ Simon – Simon 1-7, 5.27 ERA since All-Star
Matzek @ Montero – have to roll Matzek again after the shutout last time
Cosart @ Peralta – not trusting Cosart though, much tougher matchup
Collmenter @ Vogelsong
Kennedy @ Haren – risk/reward on both, play it based on your categories
***ZACH SAYS “Kennedy is a toss-up but I’d definitely pitch Haren. He’s 4-2 with a 3.18 ERA since the beginning of August and the Padres are the worst offense in baseball. Agree on rest.”
May @ Bauer – Bauer has been very volatile; pitch if your categories warrant aggressiveness
Archer @ Kuroda
Arrieta @ Buehrle
Vargas @ Scherzer - solid year for Vargas, but a very unfavorable matchup
Tillman @ Ranaudo
Santiago @ Lewis – has anyone looked at the Rangers’ lineup lately?
Lester @ Danks
McHugh @ Elias
Big Erv @ Zimmermann
Volquez @ Buchanan – I’ll let you know when I’m ready to trust Volquez again
Wacha @ Leake
Bergman @ deGrom
Koehler @ Garza – very tempting on Koehler, though…
Cashner @ R. Hernandez
Miley @ Petit – blue-plate special for risk-reward hunters
***ZACH SAYS “I’d absolutely go for it with Miley, who is 5-3 with a 2.55 ERA on the road this year. Agree on rest.”
Shelby Miller (@CIN, vs. COL)
Fresh off an exceptional rookie campaign, Miller hasn’t been anything close to the same pitcher this season. He’s rarely terrible, but 11 quality starts in 27 tries simply doesn’t cut it. That said, three of those quality starts have come in his last three tries. The Reds have scored the fewest runs of any team in the Majors since the All-Star break while the Rockies rank next to last in the Majors in both runs scored and batting average on the road, ahead of only the Padres. Miller is certainly worth a pickup if he’s available in your 12-team mixed league, which is a distinct possibility.
Miguel Gonzalez (@BOS, vs. NYY)
At first glance, Gonzalez’s matchups might not seem great. That is until you realize that the Yankees and Red Sox rank 12th and 15th respectively in the AL in runs scored. Oh, and Gonzalez sports a 2.11 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in seven starts since the All-Star break and has a pretty good offense supporting him. He’s a strong play in any mixed league of 12 teams or more.
Marcus Stroman (vs. CHC, vs. TB)
Although the consistency hasn’t quite been there, Stroman has managed to piece together a number of dominant performances in his rookie season. The stat that impresses me the most is his exceptional 89-to-26 K/BB ratio. Both of Stroman’s starts next week will be at home, where he’s 6-2 with a 2.97 ERA. The Cubs and Rays each rank in the bottom third in the Majors in runs scored.
Jason Vargas (@DET, vs. BOS)
Very quietly, Vargas is putting together quite a season. The strikeout rate will never be great and he has allowed more hits than innings pitched. But his 1.8 BB/9 more than makes up for the mediocre hit rate, and Vargas does a fine job keeping the ball in the park (15 HR allowed in 169 IP). The @DET matchup is a challenging one, as the Tigers have now surpassed Oakland as the highest scoring team in the Majors, so Vargas is probably more of a deep mixed league option. But keep in mind that he boasts a 2.12 ERA and 1.21 WHIP in 12 road starts this season. As for the Red Sox, I’ve already alluded to their offensive futility.
Justin Verlander (vs. KC, vs. CLE)
Like I mentioned in the Pitch or Ditch post, Verlander continues to be an enigma. Every time you think he has turned the corner, he takes a step backward, the latest example being Wednesday’s 6 ER outing against the Indians. So now he gets to face the very same Indians squad followed by a Royals team that has given him problems this year (1-2, 5.68 ERA, 1.50 WHIP). If you’re chasing wins and strikeouts, feel free to trot him out there. But personally, I just can’t deal with this guy anymore.
Hector Santiago (@TEX, vs. HOU)
I’m still a big believer in Santiago, and he’s proven to be a very useful spot-start option in deeper mixed leagues this year. But his most recent start, on the road against the Twins, was mediocre at best. The Rangers have had a hard time scoring runs this season, but this start will be on the road, where Santiago’s ERA is more than a full run higher than it is at home, and in a hitter’s park. What about the Astros? To tell you the truth, their offense is flat out scary these days. Since the All-Star break, Houston ranks 4th in the AL in runs and 2nd in homers. This is a close call, but in a 12-team mixed league, I’d lean towards ditching.
Gausman @ Smyly – I’ll give Gausman a shot versus bottom tier Rays lineup.
Bumgarner @ Price
Duffy @ McCarthy
Feldman @ Kazmir – Kazmir coming off two straight blowups but both were against high-powered Angels offense.
Quintana @ Kluber
Happ @ R. De La Rosa – Still a fan of Rubby but this matchup scares me.
Rasmus @ Hughes – Rasmus not a bad PoD play in AL-only leagues though.
Young @ Martinez – Young really struggling right now. I’ll play it safe.
Liriano @ Doubront – Doubront worth a look in NL-only leagues.
Gee @ Cueto
Burnett @ Roark – Burnett can’t be trusted when facing the better lineups
Al. Wood @ Eovaldi
Lynn @ Lohse
T. Ross @ J. De La Rosa – DLR at home (9-2, 3.19 ERA) against worst offense in the Majors.
C. Anderson @ Greinke
Ventura @ Greene – Tough to have any confidence in Greene coming off disaster outing vs. BOS.
Noesi @ Carrasco – Carrasco just 3 ER over his last five starts (30 IP) with 34 K’s.
Dickey @ Kelly
Norris @ Hellickson – Norris a toss-up. Let your league’s standings make the decision for you. Not a good matchup for the struggling Hellickson.
Wilson @ TBD (MIN) – Wilson far from an automatic pitch though.
Paxton @ Holland – Holland has already returned to vintage form.
Keuchel @ Hammel – Hammel’s last two starts: 1.20 ERA, 0.53 WHIP.
Hudson @ Lobstein
Wheeler @ Latos
Teheran @ TBD (MIA) – Alvarez unlikely to make this start for Marlins.
Hamels @ G. Gonzalez
Wainwright @ Nelson
Cole @ T. Wood
Cahill @ Ryu
Despaigne @ Morales – Despaigne pitching well but I’ll sit this one out at Coors.
Weaver @ Salazar – Salazar is red-hot.
Guthrie @ Verlander – Your guess is as good as mine with Verlander.
Turner @ Stroman – Stroman – Stroman a bit risky though.
M. Gonzalez @ Kelly – Tough to sit Gonzalez right now.
Gray @ Noesi
Peacock @ King Felix
Minor @ Fister
Locke @ Kendrick – Kendrick a decent deep league play.
Miller @ Axelrod – Shelby looking to build on three straight quality starts.
Lyles @ Niese
Penny @ Gallardo
Despaigne @ Kershaw