We know that pitching has been bad this year, but how does it compare to this point last year?
Heading into Thursday, there were:
- 44 pitchers with a sub-4 ERA
- 28 pitchers with a K/9 over 9
- 11 pitchers who have allowed 20 or more home runs
- 37 pitchers who have thrown at least 110 innings
- 30 pitchers with a sub-1.20 WHIP
Just by eyeing all of those trends, they seem far different than previous years. But let’s see how much — if at all — the landscape has changed from just one season ago.
From 2018’s Opening Day to July 18, 2018, there were:
- 42 pitchers with a sub-4 ERA
- 27 pitchers with a K/9 over 9
- 4 pitchers who allowed 20 or more home runs
- 36 pitchers who threw at least 110 innings
- 27 pitchers with a sub-1.20 WHIP
The biggest noticeable difference is the rise in home runs, which is only a shocker for those living under a rock. Power is up, and we know that. With that, we have to expect more home runs allowed per start.
I have Twitter notifications on for @MLBHR, and my wife thinks I’m popular because my phone will buzz about 50 times per evening. Not popular, dear. It’s just another homer-filled night.
So when you’re streaming pitchers, expect bad performances more often than not. Expect more home runs allowed which, in turn, will lead to more runs, fewer quality starts, and higher ERAs than in the past. If that leads you to make more of an investment in pitchers during draft season, so be it.
Like I do every week, I’ll break down the two-start pitchers into six categories:
- Don’t Think Twice – These are your aces that you start no matter what.
- Widely Owned Options – Players rostered in the majority of leagues who should provide a positive return.
- In the Danger Zone – It’s a dice roll to start them given matchups or other factors.
- Streamers Rostered in Under 50% of Leagues – These guys should live on the waiver wire, but you can start them this week.
- Streamers Rostered in Under 25% of Leagues – Same as above, but applied to deeper leagues.
- Not Unless You’re Desperate – I don’t recommend these guys unless you’re swinging for the fences.
Let’s take a look at those pitchers scheduled to make two starts for the upcoming week, as projected by ESPN and CBS as of Friday morning.
Import your team to My Playbook for instant Waiver Wire advice >>
Don’t Think Twice
Stephen Strasburg (7/23 vs. COL, 7/28 vs. LAD)
Trevor Bauer (7/23 @TOR, 7/28 @KC)
Gerrit Cole (7/22 vs. OAK, 7/27 @STL)
Chris Sale (7/23 @TB, 7/28 vs. NYY)
Mike Clevinger (7/22 @TOR, 7/27 @KC)
Chris Paddack (7/23 @NYM, 7/28 vs. SF)
Widely Owned Options
Domingo German (7/23 @MIN, 7/28 @BOS)
German has been great for fantasy managers so far as the Yankees’ de facto ace this year. While there are innings concerns and regression likely on the horizon, it doesn’t mean that you should look to trade him. He’s a must-start pitcher each week, but he gets bumped down a tier because of the matchups. While it’s unlikely you are benching him, lower expectations a bit for him next week with Minnesota and Boston on the schedule.
Robbie Ray (7/22 vs. BAL, 7/28 @MIA)
Ray has many caveats, but the biggest one right now is that he’s emerged as a coveted arm as the trade deadline approaches. For fans of contending teams, you’re hoping for him to get moved. But for fantasy managers, you want Ray to make these two starts before getting dealt. It doesn’t get better than having the Orioles and Marlins on the schedule. He also gets a bumped down a little bit in quality start leagues, but there’s no reason you aren’t running him out this week. He’d be in the top tier if not for the trade concerns.
In the Danger Zone
Eduardo Rodriguez (7/22 @TB, 7/27 vs. NYY)
Start to start, week to week, day to day … we have no idea what we are going to get from Rodriguez. He’s been on a roll lately, but would it surprise anyone if he went out next week – in two minus matchups – and g0t shelled again?
Eno Sarris pointed out some recent changes, though, that have to excite anyone with shares of Rodriguez:
Since May 26th, Eduardo Rodriguez has:
*stopped throwing the slider
*and/or found a cutter with more movement
*and featured the changeup more.
Since then, he’s got a 3.16 ERA with just under a K/IP & just over 2 BB/9.
Just glad I wasn’t crazy for thinking he had this in him.
– Eno Sarris (@enosarris) July 18, 2019
Yonny Chirinos (7/23 vs. BOS, 7/28 @TOR)
Chirinos was in a show-and-prove spot last year for a 2019 rotation spot. He’s taken the ball and ran with it as one of the more dependable options in a bad year for pitchers.
The Boston matchup makes me nervous, but I like him to return plus value with Toronto on the schedule. He’s a top-30 pitcher in points leagues with his relief-pitcher eligibility.
Jon Gray (7/23 @WAS, 7/28 @CIN)
Is Gray the ace of the Rockies again? Yes, yes he is. He’s still hard to trust week to week with Coors as his home park, even though he oddly has better numbers at home.
He brings his 4.29 road ERA to Washington and Cincinnati this week. I’m starting him if I need the strikeouts and innings, but benching him if I need to protect my ratios.
Yu Darvish (7/23 @SF, 7/28 @MIL)
Darvish has gotten better with the walks, but to say I trust him would be a stretch. Although the matchup in San Francisco makes it likely that I roll him out, pitching in Milwaukee could negate any positives from the Giants start.
Sonny Gray (7/22 @MIL, 7/28 vs. COL)
Gray has quietly been really good and consistent this year. He gets the Rockies at home, which is a great matchup for anyone. But, like Darvish, he has Miller Park hanging over his head. He’s earned my trust to start him each week, especially in two-start weeks.
Kyle Gibson (7/23 vs. NYY, 7/28 @CHW)
Gibson has cooled off after his hot start to the season. The Twins are still a powerhouse, which will help elevate any pitcher. He’s removed himself from a near-automatic start each week and is more of a guy you are starting depending on the matchups. Like the other pitchers in this section, Gibson has one good and one bad opponent lined up. He’s a start in points leagues and a likely sit in category leagues because of the Yankees matchup.
Chris Archer (7/23 vs. STL, 7/28 @NYM)
Is Archer back? Hardly, but it’s nice to see improvements with him not throwing that horrible sinker the Pirates insist on their pitchers using. Pitching Coach Ray Searage is living off of his reclamation projects with A.J. Burnett and Francisco Liriano from years ago.
Archer has put together back-to-back quality starts, but both resulted in six innings and three earned runs allowed. The strikeouts are back up, though, with eight and 10 in those past two outings. I like his matchups next week, so I’m good rolling him out.
Mike Fiers (7/23 @HOU, 7/28 vs. TEX)
I’m including Fiers here because his rostered rate is greater than 50 percent. I know the results have been there, but only five qualified starters have a higher SIERA than his 5.26 mark. Compare that to his 3.61 ERA, and everything is going to crumble soon as Fiers returns to the below-average pitcher he’s been in his career. This week against Houston and Texas could be the start of the regression we’ve been waiting for.
Wade Miley (7/23 vs. OAK, 7/28 @STL)
He hasn’t quite been Lance Lynn, but Miley has been fantastic for fantasy managers. While the upside is obviously limited, he pitches deep into games and hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs in a start all season. He’s only given up more than three runs once. Old and boring isn’t always bad.
Streamers Rostered in Under 50% of Leagues
Dakota Hudson (7/23 @PIT, 7/28 vs. HOU)
Marco Gonzales (7/22 vs. TEX, 7/27 vs. DET)
Martin Perez (7/22 vs. NYY, 7/27 @CHW)
CC Sabathia (7/22 @MIN, 7/27 @BOS)
Daniel Ponce de Leon (7/22 @PIT, 7/27 vs. HOU)
Yeah, so, I don’t love any of these matchups. If I have to pick one, even with the tough opponents, it’s Sabathia. Like Miley, he doesn’t have a high upside, but he’s yet to really hurt you this year either. The matchups are less than ideal, but he’s earned trust in a two-start week.
Streamers Rostered in Under 25% of Leagues
Chase Anderson (7/22 vs. CIN, 7/28 vs. CHC)
Homer Bailey (7/22 @HOU, 7/27 vs. TEX)
Danny Duffy (7/23 @ATL, 7/28 vs. CLE)
Trevor Richards (7/22 @CHW, 7/28 vs. ARI)
Jason Vargas (7/23 vs. SD, 7/28 vs. PIT)
Man, Richards has really let fantasy managers down over the past month. He’d usually be my favorite here, but I have to pass on him for Duffy instead. Yeah, that Danny Duffy. He’s been good in above-average matchups, and while Atlanta is one of the best offenses in the game and Cleveland has been better of late, he’s the guy I’m picking from this group to return positive value.
Not Unless You’re Desperate
Spencer Turnbull (7/23 vs. PHI, 7/28 @SEA)
Jesse Chavez (7/22 @SEA, 7/27 @OAK)
Shaun Anderson (7/22 vs. CHC, 7/28 @SD)
Aaron Sanchez (7/22 vs. CLE, 7/28 vs. TB)
Ivan Nova (7/22 vs. MIA, 7/27 vs. MIN)
Dario Agrazal (7/22 vs. STL, 7/27 @NYM)
Austin Voth (7/22 vs. COL, 7/27 vs. LAD)
Peter Lambert (7/22 @WAS, 7/27 @CIN)
Matt Harvey (7/23 @LAD, 7/28 vs. BAL)
Aaron Brooks (7/22 @ARI, 7/27 @LAA)
Dylan Covey (7/23 vs. MIA, 7/28 vs. MIN)
Get free start/sit and waiver wire advice for your fantasy team >>
Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Google Play | SoundCloud | Stitcher | TuneIn
Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.