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Two-Start Pitchers: Week of July 3, 2017

Happy Independence Day Weekend to everyone out there! I hope you are having a safe and relaxing holiday weekend and, if possible, taking in a baseball game or two! With all of the festivities, family get-togethers, and vacation commitments, don’t forget to set your fantasy roster. It has been known to happen to the best of us during busy summer weekends like these!

This week doesn’t give us many sure thing two-start pitchers, but we are afforded an abundance of good options in the middle tiers. In fact, the least desirable options are one of the shortest lists of any week this year. This should result in a week with some very close fantasy matchups, especially in head-to-head leagues. To help differentiate your pitching options, be sure to pay close attention to those matchups against struggling offensive teams like the Giants, Padres, Phillies, and Royals. All of which are in the bottom of most offensive categories thus far in 2017. In some cases, the advantage against these teams can upgrade an average pitcher to a great pitcher.

These projected starts are subject to change due to rain outs, injury, performance issues, or managerial whims. I only offer my the opinion on the matchups; there are no guarantees on the actual starts.

Only Two Aces Going This Week…

  • Stephen Strasburg – (7/3 vs. NYM-Steven Matz; 7/8 vs. ATL-Julio Teheran)
  • Yu Darvish – (7/3 vs. BOS-Rick Porcello; 7/9 vs. LAA-Alex Meyer)

It is becoming increasingly hard to truly determine whether a pitcher is worth the “ace” moniker. Stephen Strasburg definitely qualifies when he can stay healthy. He has been dominant this year, sporting a 3.51 ERA and 1.101 WHIP with 122 strikeouts in 102.2 innings pitched. He has stayed relatively healthy, though he did complain of back tightness after his last start.  That is not expected to keep him from taking the mound on his next turn, but it is worth monitoring. Yu Darvish continues to rack up the strikeouts with 115 in 107 innings. He too has put up a good season, though his win-loss record (6-6) does not quite reflect it. His 3.11 ERA and 1.08 WHIP are still very much ace-worthy.

Pretty Deep List To Make Up For Lack of Aces…

  • Masahiro Tanaka – (7/3 vs. TOR-Marcus Stroman; 7/9 vs. MIL-Jimmy Nelson)
  • David Price – (7/4 @ TEX-Andrew Cashner; 7/8 @ TB-Blake Snell)
  • Lance Lynn – (7/4 vs. MIA-Jose Urena; 7/9 vs. NYM-Steven Matz)
  • Jameson Taillon – (7/4 @ PHI-Mark Leiter; 7/9 @ CHC-John Lackey)
  • Jimmy Nelson – (7/4 vs. BAL-Ubaldo Jimenez; 7/9 @ NYY-Masahiro Tanaka)
  • Aaron Nola – (7/3 vs. PIT-Ivan Nova; 7/8 vs. SD-TBD)
  • Jeff Hoffman- (7/3 vs. CIN-Luis Castillo; 7/8 vs. CHW-Jose Quintana)
  • Marcus Stroman – (7/3 @ NYY-Masahiro Tanaka; 7/8 vs. HOU-Mike Fiers)
  • Ivan Nova – (7/3 @ PHI-Aaron Nola; 7/8 @ CHC-Jake Arrieta)
  • Steven Matz – (7/3 @ WAS-Stephen Strasburg; 7/9 @ STL-Lance Lynn)

Last week I mentioned how Philadelphia Phillies’ pitchers are rarely a sought-after commodity. Aaron Nola should start getting some recognition soon. The 24-year-old righty started the season on a lackluster note, but he has pitched well in his last two starts. He has gone 14.1 innings with 17 strikeouts while only allowing three earned runs. This week he is facing two pretty impotent lineups in the Pirates and Padres, which should have fantasy owners excited to get him in their lineup. Steven Matz missed the first two months of the season with an elbow injury, but he has gone at least six innings in all four starts thus far, averaging 104 pitches per outing. He currently holds a 2.67 ERA and 1.07 WHIP in those starts. Keep your fingers crossed that Matz can stay healthy and continue to take the ball every fifth day.

Several Names Here Worth A Look…

  • Felix Hernandez – (7/3 vs. KC-Ian Kennedy; 7/8 vs. OAK-Jesse Hahn)
  • Ian Kennedy – (7/3 @ SEA-Felix Hernandez; 7/9 @ LAD-Hyun-Jin Ryu)
  • J.A. Happ – (7/4 @ NYY Luis Cessa; 7/9 vs. HOU-David Paulino)
  • Adam Wainwright – (7/3 vs. MIA-Jeff Locke; 7/8 vs. NYM-TBD)
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu – (7/4 vs. ARI-Zack Godley; 7/9 vs. KC-Ian Kennedy)
  • Sean Newcomb – (7/4 vs. HOU-David Paulino; 7/9 @ WAS-Joe Ross)
  • Jose Urena – (7/4 @ STL-Lance Lynn; 7/9 @ SF-Matt Cain)
  • Joe Ross – (7/4 vs. NYM-Seth Lugo; 7/9 vs. ATL-Sean Newcomb)
  • Zack Godley – (7/4 @ LAD-Hyun-Jin Ryu; 7/9 vs. CIN-Homer Bailey)

I am beginning to really enjoy this third tier. The first two are relatively easy to identify, but we can take some chances here in this group and attempt to discover a value pick or two. Very little gets written about Jose Urena or Zack Godley, but both have been pitching very well. Urena came into the year without a rotation spot until injuries necessitated his move into the role. In his last five starts, he has allowed only nine earned runs and struck out 20 in 25 innings. His season ERA sits at 3.42 with a 1.23 WHIP to go along with it. I like the matchup with the Cardinals and Giants this week. Godley draws a little tougher opponent in the hot-hitting Dodgers on Independence Day, but he does get to follow that up against the Reds at home. His 2.67 ERA and 0.96 WHIP have to be a pleasant surprise to fantasy owners wise enough to pick him up off waivers.

Meh, If I Had To, I Wouldn’t Be Afraid To Take A Chance…

  • John Lackey – (7/4 vs. TB-Blake Snell; 7/9 vs. PIT-Jameson Taillon)
  • Ubaldo Jimenez – (7/4 @ MIL-Jimmy Nelson; 7/9 @ MIN-Kyle Gibson)
  • Luis Perdomo – (7/4 @ CLE-Trevor Bauer; 7/9 @ PHI-Mark Leiter)
  • Alex Meyer – (7/3 @ MIN-Adalberto Mejia; 7/9 @ TEX-Yu Darvish)
  • Adalberto Mejia – (7/3 vs. LAA-Alex Meyer; 7/8 vs. BAL-Wade Miley)
  • Daniel Gossett – (7/4 vs. CHW-James Shields; 7/9 @ SEA-TBD)
  • Kyle Freeland – (7/4 vs. CIN-Homer Bailey; 7/9 vs. CHW-Carlos Rodon)
  • David Paulino – (7/4 @ ATL-Sean Newcomb; 7/9 @ TOR-J.A. Happ)
  • Luis Castillo – (7/3 @ COL-Jeff Hoffman; 7/8 @ ARI-Taijuan Walker)
  • Carlos Rodon – (7/3 @ OAK-Jesse Hahn; 7/9 @ COL-Kyle Freeland)

Not all pitchers in this tier are longshots. You should be able to find some value here to round out a rotation if you have a spot to fill. Adalberto Mejia has proven to be useful pitcher in certain situations. He gets both games at home this week, though his last two successful starts came on the road. He did not allow a run in either game and registered strikeouts. It was a bit frustrating that he didn’t get past the sixth inning in either contest, though. I have not often been an advocate of starting Ubaldo Jimenez. His inconsistency has been the stuff of legend the past few seasons. That said, he tossed eight shutout innings of two-hit ball with eight whiffs against the Blue Jays his last time out. He should be able to build off those punchouts against a Brewers team that’s highly susceptible to the strikeout.

Some Recognizable Names, But 2017 Dumpster Fires…

  • Rick Porcello – (7/3 @ TEX-Yu Darvish; 7/8 @ TB-Alex Cobb)
  • Kyle Gibson- (7/4 vs. LAA-J.C. Ramirez; 7/9 vs. BAL-Ubaldo Jimenez)
  • Jesse Hahn – (7/3 vs. CHW-Carlos Rodon; 7/8 @ SEA-Felix Hernandez)
  • Wade Miley – (7/3 @ MIL-TBD; 7/8 @ MIN-Adalberto Mejia)
  • Jeff Locke – (7/3 @ STL-Adam Wainwright; 7/8 @ SF-Jeff Samardzija)
  • Matt Cain – (7/4 @ DET-Michael Fulmer; 7/9 vs. MIA-Jose Urena)
  • Homer Bailey – (7/4 @ COL-Kyle Freeland; 7/9 @ ARI-Zack Godley)
  • Blake Snell – (7/4 @ CHC-John Lackey; 7/9 vs. BOS-David Price)
  • Daniel Norris – (7/4 vs. SF-Matt Cain, 7/9 @ CLE-Trevor Bauer)

The names on this list have been pretty awful here in 2017. Not surprisingly, Rick Porcello has really struggled to repeat his Cy Young performance of last year. In his last three starts, he has allowed 14 earned runs and 24 hits in 18 innings. The silver lining is that he somehow struck out 17 in those 18 frames. His season ERA now stands at 5.06 to go along with a 1.51 WHIP. If ever there were a player who could use the All Star break to regroup, Porcello has to be the leading candidate this year.

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