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Fantasy Baseball 2017: Two Start Pitchers Week 4

Welcome to Two Start Pitchers Week 4, where we breakdown and rank the two start pitchers from April 24th-April 30th. As opposed to week’s past, this week we have a lot of high-quality, top-end talent, highlighted by one of baseball’s best pitching rivalries of this millennium (which also happens to pit my number one and number two ranked two start pitchers this week). Hopefully you have some of these top names rostered, but in case you do not, some available names below will produce solid two start numbers this upcoming week. So get your notepads ready, and let’s breakdown some starting pitching matchups.

Update @ 1:00pm on April 24th: The Washington Nationals have placed Stephen Strasburg on paternity leave due to the birth of his second child (congrats Steve!), so he will likely miss his first scheduled start April 25th in Colorado. Since he will no longer make two starts, everyone gets a bump up (congrats to these guys too!).

Update @ 11:00pm on April 22nd: Kids, this is exactly why I stay away from deep sea diving, motorcycles, skydiving, parachuting, mountain climbing or any other activity that has a small percentage chance of death or serious injury. Yesterday afternoon Madison Bumgarner injured his ribs and left (pitching) shoulder that will cost him the next 6 to 8 weeks of his season. This comes as shocking and difficult news for the Giants, but even more so for those of you who invested an early draft pick in an ace starting pitcher. No one pitcher can replace this man’s dominance and overpowering, nasty stuff, so keeping up to date on pitcher streamer articles like this will probably be the best way to replace your stud. As for this week, The Giants will replace Bumgarner with two starter Ty Blach. A lefty like Bumgarner, Blach has no other attributes remotely similar to the perennial ace. Something about Kershaw vs. Blach just sounds kind of…blah (pun intended). Obviously remove Bumgarner from his slotted #2 ranking, shift every other pitcher up one spot, and slot Blach as the first pitcher in the Please No designation as this start is coming on too short notice (and against the best pitcher in the game) and I am unsure if he can pitch the minimum innings required (5) for a decision in either start. 

Never a Doubt

  1. Clayton Kershaw, LAD (@SF, vs. PHI)
  2. Madison Bumgarner, SF (vs. LAD, vs. SD)

Well look what we have here. Arguably the two best lefties and the two best pitchers in the game, Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner, will square off Tuesday night in San Francisco at AT&T Park. Looking at the matchup, you might assume that Bumgarner has the advantage pitching at home, but with the Giants offense currently scuffling and Kershaw pitching as dominant as ever, I will give the slight edge to Kershaw. In their careers, these bonafide aces have squared off 10 times, each team winning five games, with Bumgarner (4-3) holding the better win/loss record over Kershaw (3-4). However, Kershaw holds the statistical and peripheral metrics advantage over Bumgarner during their duels (just as he does with everyone else), with a higher K/BB ratio and lower ERA. All I know is that this is the definition of must-see TV. So get your popcorn and baseball glove ready and enjoy two of the very best pitchers of our generation at the very top of their respective games.

Borderline Aces

  1. Dallas Keuchel, HOU (@CLE, vs. OAK)
  2. Stephen Strasburg, WSH (@COL, vs. NYM)
  3. Chris Archer, TB (@BAL, @TOR)
  4. Zack Greinke, ARI (vs. SD, vs. COL)

You might call it too soon, but I am officially ready to call Dallas Keuchel “back.” Through four starts, Keuchel is 3-0 with a minuscule 0.96 ERA and 0.79 WHIP. Now obviously his FIP does not support such a start due to the torrid ground ball and left-on-base rates he currently exhibits, but a 3.03 FIP and 2.89 xFIP suggests that he found something that he did not have last year, which if you ask me, is simply health. In any event, I am looking forward to see what the 2015 American League Cy Young winner has in store for my fantasy team the rest of the season. I would love to place Stephen Strasburg in that top tier, but his career stats in Coors Field leave much to be desired (1-3 in his career, 7.20 ERA, 16 ER in 20 IP). On the other hand, he sports a cool 3.00 ERA in this early 2017 season with 19 strikeouts in 21IP. With matchups slated to be against Chad Rusin and Robert Gsellman, wins and strikeouts will most definitely be in play for both of his starts against these two free-swinging teams.

Very Good

  1. Rick Porcello, BOS (vs. NYY, vs. CHC)
  2. Julio Teheran, ATL (@NYM, @MIL)
  3. Amir Garrett, CIN (@MIL, @STL)
  4. Wei-Yin Chen, MIA (@PHI, vs. PIT)
  5. Hyun-Jin Ryu, LAD (@SF, vs. PHI)
  6. Marco Estrada, TOR (@STL, vs. TB)
  7. Patrick Corbin, ARI (vs. SD, vs. COL)
  8. Michael Wacha, STL (vs. TOR, vs. CIN)
  9. Luis Severino, NYY (@BOS, vs. BAL)
  10. Francisco Liriano, TOR (@LAA, vs. TB)
  11. Felix Hernandez, SEA (@DET, @CLE)
  12. Jason Vargas, KC (@CWS, vs. MIN)

I had a tough time ranking this group here. There are far more talented pitchers in this group than the two listed at #10 (Wei-Yin Chen) and #11 (Hyun-Jin Ryu), but you cannot ignore their plus matchups. For example, Michael Wacha looks like he is trying to regain that 2013-2015 form, posting a 2.41 ERA and a very welcoming 8.2 strikeouts per 9 innings pitched ratio. However, his offense limits his abilities to pick up wins, and the bullpen situation somewhat concerns me due to Seung-Hwan Oh’s early-season troubles. Luis Severino might have the most long-term upside and talent among this group, having struck out 27 batters in 20 innings and amassing a microscopic 0.80 WHIP and .189 batting average against. But a road date with Boston and a home date in the hitter-friendly confines of Yankee Stadium against the free swinging, home run powered Orioles gives me cause for concern for his two start week. I think we need to talk about Amir Garrett. What a start to his Major League career. Garrett stands at 2-1, with the one loss coming in his most recent gem, a 7 inning masterpiece where he walked just one batter and struck out 12 on the evening. Through 19.2IP, Garrett has compiled 21 strikeouts and allowed only a .203 batting average against. I do not believe the Reds are for real, so I think he will be capped in his win total somewhere around 12 for the year (not to mention a potential innings cap as well), but he has two good starts this week against free-swinging teams and his peripherals are off the charts right now, with the supporting metrics to back his current ERA (2.05 FIP).

Some Upside Here

  1. Matt Cain, SF (vs. LAD, vs. SD)
  2. Jordan Zimmermann, DET (vs. SEA, vs. CWS)
  3. Martin Perez, TEX (vs. MIN, vs. LAA)
  4. Kendall Graveman, OAK (@LAA, @HOU)
  5. Miguel Gonzalez, CWS (vs. KC, @DET)
  6. Matt Shoemaker, LAA (vs. OAK, @TEX)
  7. Joe Ross, WSH (@COL, vs. NYM)
  8. Chad Kuhl, PIT (vs. CHC, @MIA)
  9. Robert Gsellman, NYM (vs. ATL, @WSH)
  10. Brett Anderson, CHC (@PIT, @BOS)
  11. Vince Velasquez, PHI (vs. MIA, @LAD)

People forget Matt Cain’s yearly dominance and consistency from when he first entered the league in 2005 until 2012. During that time, he posted an ERA above 3.80 only once (his first full season in 2006) and posted three sub 3.00 ERA’s. It has been rough the past few years watching him deteriorate into the pitcher he is today but he is off to a good start (3.31 ERA in 16.1IP) this year and I am hoping he keeps it up (all while I turn a blind eye this week to his 5.31 FIP, low K rate, high walk rate and ABSURDLY high left-on-base percentage). The Coors start horrifies me, and he does not pitch well against the Mets, but soon-to-be fantasy superstar Joe Ross dazzled in his first start back in the majors on Wednesday going 7 strong, allowing only 6 hits and striking out 7. While he may not be the play this week due to his difficult matchups, look for him to rise quickly in the rankings in the coming weeks and scoop him up now before it’s too late.

Cross Your Fingers and Pray

  1. Ubaldo Jiminez, BAL (vs. TB, @NYY)
  2. Matt Garza, MIL (vs. CIN, vs. ATL)
  3. Trevor Bauer, CLE (vs. HOU, vs. SEA)
  4. Tyler Anderson, COL (vs. WSH, @ARI)

Let’s group two young arms together that cannot seem to get it together right now. Both Trevor Bauer (26 years old) and Tyler Anderson (27 years old) have the stuff to not only make it in the big leagues but excel. Last year, we saw that from both pitchers as Anderson dazzled in his rookie campaign posting a 3.54 ERA in the Coors Fields launching pad and Bauer, who had his struggles at times, posted a respectable American League 4.26 ERA with 168 strikeouts. However, neither can seem to get things right this year, with each struggling with the home run ball and posting batting averages against over .300 and OPS’s over .960 (for reference, it is as if each pitcher faces the 2016 version of Freddie Freeman or Miguel Cabrera every time up, which is kind of frightening). While there is promise here for both of these pitchers long term, I will wait to see some results before suggesting sticking with them for multiple starts in a week.

Please No

  1. Clayton Richard, SD (@ARI, @SF)
  2. Chad Rusin, COL (vs. WSH, @ARI)
  3. Jhoulys Chacin, SD (@ARI, @SF)
  4. Adalberto Mejia, MIN (@TEX, @KC)
  5. JC Ramirez, LAA (vs. TOR, @TEX)

This is like déjà vu all over again! In my first two start pitcher article, the pitchers I ranked second to last (#42) and last (#43) were, respectively, Clayton Richard and Jhoulys Chacin. How they have grown since then! While they no longer rank at the bottom of this article, they are still in my final ‘Please No’ designation as they, to put it lightly, stink. In two of his starts this year, Chacin is 2-0 with a 0.00 ERA in 14.2IP. Unfortunately, he made two other starts this year and is 0-2 with a 12.96 ERA in 8.1IP. We can make a similar comparison for Richard who twirled 8 scoreless in his first start. Since then, however, Richard is 0-2 with 6.00 ERA and one more strikeout (5) than home runs allowed (4) during those starts. You can do far better than these San Diego-ites…or San Diego-ins…or San Diego-ons…or San Diegans.

Come back to Roto Street Journal every Friday to see the two start ranks and how to best build your rotation for success. Good luck navigating the week, and happy streaming!

To contact me with any questions or general fantasy baseball discussion, please email me at redsocker45@gmail.com or tweet me @AJGamballer.

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