I was a big Spencer Turnbull believer at the beginning of the season — but now I’m not too sure. And unfortunately, he has no one to blame but himself. He’s got the highest BB/9 in the league with a 5.97 mark. Yee-ikes! How bad is that number? Well since 2000 the worst BB/9 was Matt Clement’s 5.49 in 2000. He ended the season with a 5.14 ERA. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1994 to find someone with a worse BB/9 than Turnbull right now. A young man by the name of Todd Van Poppel of the Oakland Athletics had a 6.87 BB/9. His ERA at the end of that year was 6.09. The Brewers shouldn’t be a tough team — they have the 3rd worst OPS vs righties in the league. However, he faced them his last start and — you guessed it — walked way too many guys (5 in 5 IP) and allowed 5 ERs. He’s never had the best control — but almost 6 per game is unprecedented. In the minors, he hovered around a 3.5 BB/9 mark. Right now he’s at the bottom of his tier and looking down because if you look through some of his previous starts this season when he keeps the walks below 4 he can have some success — but unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. 


For this week I’ve had to swap the format a little bit because there really weren’t four tiers worth of two-start pitchers. So this week your tiers are ranked like you’re going to a highlighter party in college! What’s a highlighter party you ask? Well you wear different neon colors and they represent different levels of openness to being flirted with. If you wear green it means you are good to go and ready to be hit on. If you wear red — it means you are either in a relationship or you just don’t want to be bothered by anyone flirting with you. Yellow? Well, I was honestly never sure what yellow meant. Proceed with caution? Prepare to stop? I don’t do anything past second base? 


Green Highlighter:

These guys are DTF and DTDTOROWTA (Down To Dominate Their Opponents Regardless Of Who They Are!) What does DTF mean? Go ask your teenage children. 


Rank Name Team L/R ERA OPP1 OPS vL/vR OPP2 OPS vL/vR
1 Zac Gallen ARI R 1.80 @SF 0.759 SEA 0.726
2 Sonny Gray CIN R 3.19 @CHC 0.787 @STL 0.753
3 Mike Clevinger SDP R 3.14 COL 0.733 SF 0.759
4 Lance Lynn TEX R 2.67 LAA 0.781 OAK 0.736
5 Max Scherzer WAS R 3.95 TBR 0.774 ATL 0.826
6 Dinelson Lamet SDP R 2.62 COL 0.733 SF 0.759
7 Zack Wheeler PHI R 2.20 @NYM 0.810 @MIA 0.688
8 Hyun-Jin Ryu TOR L 2.72 NYY 0.691 NYM 0.801
9 Zach Plesac CLE R 1.33 KC 0.694 @MIN 0.750
10 Kyle Hendricks CHC R 3.78 STL 0.753 @MIL 0.639
11 Ian Anderson ATL R 2.25 MIA 0.688 @WAS 0.727


  • Zac Gallen: Over-exaggeration by putting him #1 this week? Nope – not for me. He hasn’t allowed more than 2 ERs in a start this entire season. He’s already faced the Giants twice this year in back to back starts and allowed only 2 ERs over 13 IP. Gallen lacks the top-tier K/rate of some of the other aces on this list, but he’s keeping runners off the bases in his own way by limiting the hard contact (7th lowest in the league.) The 3.56 FIP compared to his 1.80 ERA does make me a little nervous — but against the Giants and Mariners this week I’m not too worried. 
  • Max Scherzer: Earlier this season I said to a friend that I thought Scherzer was going to be one of the biggest busts of the 2020 season and I was met with scoffs. Scoffs! Here we are in September and Scherzer is looking down the barrel of his worst ERA since 2011. Bust might be a little strong — it’s just that in this small sample sizes there are times when Scherzer has looked decidedly human which we’re all not used to seeing just yet. I don’t think Scherzer every really completely healed from last season’s injuries that hit him at the end of the season. This week he’s got two tough match-ups at home where he has a worse ERA (4.42 vs. 3.60.) The Rays have the 7th best wRC+ against righties and the Braves have the 4th best. He’s still got that elite 12+ K/9 though. 
  • Ian Anderson: In his first major league start Ian Anderson made what’s left of the New York Yankees look like a bunch of fools (6 IP, 3 baserunners, 1 ER, 6 K’s.) But that was enough for him — he then decided to shred through the Boston Red Sox (6 IP, 7 baserunners, 2 ERs, 8 K’s.) So I don’t think I’m out of line putting Anderson in the top tier when he’s facing the Marlins who are 27th in the league in OPS vs righties or the Nationals who are 18th. Count on two more quality starts. 


Yellow Highlighter:

These guys have one good match-up and one eeehhhh match-up that makes me go eeehhhh. That’s kind of like Master P.’s “Make ‘Em Say Uuuunnghhhhhhh”– but BAD. 


Rank Name Team L/R ERA OPP1 OPS vL/vR OPP2 OPS vL/vR
12 Triston McKenzie CLE R 1.69 KC 0.694 @MIN 0.750
13 Sixto Sanchez MIA R 2.37 @ATL 0.826 PHI 0.785
14 Cristian Javier HOU R 3.35 @OAK 0.736 @LAD 0.840
15 Kevin Gausman SFG R 4.43 ARI 0.692 @SD 0.832
16 Spencer Turnbull DET R 3.89 MIL 0.639 @CHW 0.753


  • Triston McKenzie and Sixto Sanchez are both under-24 right-handed pitchers, former top-25 prospects, and both made their major league debuts on August 22nd. How awesome is it going to be to watch these two for the next 15 years? Both also face their toughest match-ups this week. McKenzie has held the Tigers, Cardinals and Royals in check so far — but now gets the NL Central-leading Twins. Sixto has pitched well against the Nationals, Rays and Blue Jays, but will now get the Braves and Phillies who are both top-10 offenses against RHP. I wouldn’t judge anyone who chose to be cautious and bench the young neophytes in their tougher starts this week. 
  • Cristian Javier: I keep wanting to doubt Javier — he was never on any top prospect lists — but taking a closer look maybe we are the fools. Over 377 minor league innings he has a 2.22 ERA and a 12.2 K/9. Let me be clear though — I’m not starting him in LA. But against Oakland? I think he can find some success despite the 3 HRs he allowed off them back in early August. 


Red Highlighter:

Oh my. Oh me, oh my. There’s Spencer Turnbull — then there’s 50 feet of excrement — then these guys. I’ll try to polish up some of these turds as best as I can for one-start opportunities, but you’re in trouble if you think you’re going to get two good starts out of any of them. 


Rank Name Team L/R ERA OPP1 OPS vL/vR OPP2 OPS vL/vR
17 Chris Bassitt OAK R 3.72 HOU 0.726 @TEX 0.619
18 Zach Eflin PHI R 4.45 BOS 0.722 @MIA 0.688
19 Mike Fiers OAK R 4.86 @HOU 0.726 @TEX 0.619
20 Kolby Allard TEX L 5.40 @SEA 0.583 OAK 0.712
21 J.A. Happ NYY L 4.68 @TOR 0.757 BAL 0.837
22 John Means BAL L 8.10 @NYM 0.801 @NYY 0.691
23 Trevor Richards TBR R 4.91 @WAS 0.727 BOS 0.722
24 Luke Weaver ARI R 7.44 LAD 0.840 SEA 0.726
25 Jordan Montgomery NYY L 5.76 @TOR 0.757 BAL 0.837
26 Alec Mills CHC R 5.50 CIN 0.726 @MIL 0.639
27 Julio Teheran LAA R 7.94 @TEX 0.619 @COL 0.733
28 Michael Fulmer DET R 7.27 @MIN 0.750 @CHW 0.753
29 Jose Urena MIA R 0.00 @ATL 0.826 PHI 0.785
30 Vincent Velasquez PHI R 6.60 BOS 0.722 @MIA 0.688
31 Michael Wacha NYM R 7.20 PHI 0.785 @TOR 0.744
32 Logan Webb SFG R 4.71 SEA 0.726 @SD 0.832
33 Robbie Erlin ATL L 6.95 MIA 0.704 @WAS 0.892
34 Matt Harvey KCR R 14.09 @CLE 0.715 PIT 0.589
35 Johan Oviedo STL R 4.30 @CHC 0.787 CIN 0.726


There’s not much to choose from here from a two-start perspective, but if you’re looking to pick and choose for one starts here’s how I rank the guys in tier 3:

  1. Chris Bassitt (@TEX): 
  2. Zach Eflin (@MIA)
  3. Mike Fiers (@TEX) 
  4. Kolby Allard (@SEA)
  5. Trevor Richards (BOS)
  6. Alec Mills (@MIL)
  7. Julio Teheran (@TEX)
  8. Vince Velasquez (@MIA)