Workman @ Tillman
Correia @ Happ
Wainwright @ Odorizzi – not trusting Jake yet vs. any decent offense
Koehler @ Lewis
Verlander @ Danks – not trusting Danks vs. elite offenses yet
Kluber @ Vargas
Pomeranz @ Santiago
Nuno @ Iwakuma
Peacock @ Arroyo – Peacock’s control is improving and K rate is rising…
Kennedy @ Burnett
T. Wood @ Liriano – just. Say. NO!
Beckett @ Leake
Estrada @ Matsuzaka
Minor @ Nicasio
Fister @ Bumgarner
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.
Miller @ Buehrle – Shelby struggling lately and this is a rough matchup.
Feldman @ Gibson – Picking on Astros no longer a good idea.
Tomlin @ Tepesch
Elias @ Cobb – Elias coming off CG SHO and Rays lineup is underperforming.
Gray @ M. Gonzalez
Lester @ Scherzer
Phelps @ Duffy – Duffy a decent gamble in deeper leagues though.
Sale @ Shoemaker
Wolf @ Samardzija
Garza @ Volquez – Garza starting to right the ship.
R. Hernandez @ Simon – Simon fading a bit but still worth using here.
Greinke @ Chacin
Colon @ Hudson
Treinen @ Cashner – Returning Cashner might be on a pitch count though.
Big Erv @ Miley – Miley has a 6.43 ERA at home this year.
J. Garcia @ Hutchison – Keep an eye on Garcia going forward but this isn’t a good spot to pitch him.
Kazmir @ Jimenez – This one could get ugly in a hurry for Ubaldo.
King Felix @ Archer – Archer finding his groove.
Kuroda @ Shields
McHugh @ Deduno – Very favorable matchup for McHugh, who has to be taken seriously at this point.
Masterson @ Saunders – Not giving up on Masterson but this is a scary matchup.
Quintana @ Wilson – Expect Wilson to bounce back from disaster outing.
Lackey @ An. Sanchez
Buchanan @ Bailey – Homer showing signs of life.
Gallardo @ Morton – Could be 2-1 or 10-9. I’ll chance it.
Alvarez @ Arrieta – Alvarez 21 IP, 0 ER over his last three starts.
Wheeler @ Lincecum – Lincecum is DTM.
Zimmermann @ Stults
Kershaw @ J. De La Rosa
Harang @ C. Anderson
TBD (SEA) @ Price – Eventually, Price’s exceptional K rate and K/BB will be reflected in his ERA.
Peavy @ Norris
Nolasco @ Dickey – Dickey has been very inconsistent this season but I do like the matchup.
House @ Martinez
Porcello @ Noesi – Still not sold on Porcello but he’s been solid for the most part.
Nuno @ Vargas – Vargas has a 1.77 ERA over his last three starts and Yankees have had trouble scoring runs on a consistent basis.
Chavez @ Richards
Haren @ Cingrani
Jackson @ Morton
Floyd @ Bergman
Cosart @ Collmenter
Strasburg @ Vogelsong – Vogelsong quietly regaining ’11 and ’12 form.
Milone @ W. Chen – still don’t like Milone on the road
Lynn @ Stroman
R. De La Rosa @ Smyly
Young @ Bedard – neither team can score right now, so why not?
Bauer @ Darvish
Whitley @ Guthrie
Keuchel @ Hughes – who’da thunk it??
Rienzo @ Weaver
Eovaldi @ Hammel
Lohse @ Cumpton
Hamels @ Cueto
Ryu @ Butler – Butler is one to watch
Teheran @ McCarthy – K rates and GB can’t make up for McCarthy’s hittability
Roark @ T. Ross
Niese @ Cain
***ZACH SAYS “I’m ditching Smyly. I know the Red Sox offense has struggled for much of the year but there’s still talent on that roster and Smyly has simply been too inconsistent to trust. I’d absolutely pitch Eovaldi. He hasn’t been quite as sharp lately but the guy still owns a 3.24 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 61-to-14 K/BB. That’s good enough for me. Agree on rest.”
Pomeranz @ Tanaka – not entirely sold yet on Pomeranz but have to roll with him
Happ @ Verlander
Turner @ Odorizzi – Rays are utterly lifeless right now… go for it on Turner
Skaggs @ Peacock – risk/reward on both but I’ll chase the K’s
M. Gonzalez @ Lewis
Wacha @ Ventura
Peralta @ Correia
Bumgarner @ Leake
Kendrick @ Fister
deGrom @ T. Wood – not sold yet on deGrom either, but that K rate…
Arroyo @ Nicasio
It’s Pitch or Ditch category chart time! Click on the link below to view our latest version, which happens to be our first update of the 2014 season.
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-April.
Buehrle PoD to grad
Beckett PoD to grad
Kennedy PoD to grad
T. Ross PoD to grad
Kluber PoD to grad
Hammel PoD to grad
Peralta PoD to grad
Keuchel indifferent to PoD
McHugh indifferent to PoD
Rienzo indifferent to PoD
Young indifferent to PoD
Peacock indifferent to PoD
Nicasio indifferent to PoD
Vogelsong indifferent to PoD
Zimmermann ace to grad
Liriano grad to PoD
Wheeler grad to PoD
Archer grad to PoD
As always, your questions and comments are welcome!
Chavez @ Nuno
Workman @ Kluber
Dickey @ Porcello – Dickey has been too erratic to use vs. top offenses
Koehler @ Price
Norris @ Martinez
Wainwright @ Vargas
Estrada @ Nolasco
Richards @ Cosart
Iwakuma @ Minor
Liriano @ Kennedy – if you wanna risk Liriano vs. a weak offense that’s up to you
Burnett @ Strasburg – A.J. was terrible in May but so were Nationals… your call
Vogelsong @ Cingrani – Cingrani hasn’t been great, but not terrible either
Matsuzaka @ Jackson – coin flip on E-Jax vs. weak-hitting Mets
Collmenter @ Lyles
Danks @ Beckett
Peavy @ House – Peavy much better last time but very risky
Kazmir @ Kuroda
Hutchison @ An. Sanchez
Jimenez @ Saunders – does anyone have any clue with Ubaldo will do in any given start?
Wilson @ McHugh
Buchanan @ Zimmermann
E. Ramirez @ Floyd – Floyd a very pleasant surprise so far
Lincecum @ Bailey – Lincecum was somewhat better in May, and still hangin’ with Homer…
Archer @ Alvarez
Shields @ J. Garcia – Garcia very sharp since return
Wheeler @ Arrieta
Deduno @ Gallardo
C. Anderson @ De La Rosa
Noesi @ Haren
Cole @ Hahn
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.