Well, let’s try this again, shall we? At this time last week we expected Stephen Strasburg to debut Tuesday and get two starts, but instead he got pushed back to Wednesday and blew up for five runs in four innings. What a treat! Like a bombsicle on the Fourth of July, I tell ya. So THIS week, supposedly, he lines up twice against the Phillies and Brewers. I’ve got him in Tier 3 as a non-must-start. If you have him you’re probably starting him, but he’s liable to give you a queasy feeling like when you hit the Taco Bell drive through at 3AM. Overall, the options are pretty sparse this week, which is rough news for those of you needing help in your H2H leagues. Some off days and back ends of the rotations turning twice make for a pretty thin group. Guys like Cole Hamels and Jon Gray make up the bulk of Tier 2, and Tier 3 is short and iffy. Tier 4 is where it’s at this week, with a thick, meaty array of guys that’ll make you shrug and go “Meh, it can’t be any worse than yesterday when Janet from accounting rejected my offer to take her to Red Lobster”. Guys like Lance Lynn and Sam Gaviglio inhabit that Tier with great matchups, but, you know, they’re Lance Lynn and Sam Gaviglio. You can’t expect too much. Tier 5 is about as short as it has been all season, and with some rotations in flux, it’s hard to nail down any more options right now. However, if you play in a reverse league or are for some reason actively trying to lose your matchup, James Shields against the Yankees and BoSox is just about as big a gas can as you can muster to throw on your team.

Tier 1
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Carlos Carrasco MIN 13th 21.5 TB 19th 22.1
Patrick Corbin (L) @SF 25th 21.4 @LAD 23rd 22.2
Noah Syndergaard @CHC 6th 20.9 @SF 26th 23.9
  • Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – Thor hasn’t been very ace-like in August, with a 4.50 ERA over 32 innings and a mere 7.88 K/9. The low K-rate and inability to hold baserunners on first have contributed to a strand rate down at 64%. His FIP is still 2.75 over that span, but his tendency to catch too much of the plate and lackluster defense have always led him to keep a high BABIP. Because of that I’m not sure I buy him pitching near that FIP moving forward, but some positive regression is to be expected. Regardless of a bad month, he’s friggin Thor, and you’re starting him with the stinky Giants offense on the docket.

Tier 2
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Charlie Morton OAK 7th 21.7 LAA 5th 20.6
Cole Hamels (L) NYM 29th 25.5 @PHI 20th 23
Jon Gray @LAA 5th 20.6 @SD 30th 25.8
  • Cole Hamels (CHC) – It’s crazy. With seemingly the snap of a finger, the Cubs acquired Hamels and his velocity jumped up a full mile per hour. He opened the season tossing 90 MPH, and he has averaged 93 on the fastball in August. This has helped his changeup play up, and he’s earned a 0.89 ERA in August (since he joined the Cubs). His ground ball rate is up, and his hard contact is way down from 48% in July to 28% in AugustThat helps legitimize his surface stats. The Mets and Phillies aren’t too intimidating, so roll him out with confidence. Also, never forget that his spoonerism name is Hole Camels, which is terrific.

Tier 3
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Masahiro Tanaka CHW 23rd 25.7 DET 29th 22.1
Stephen Strasburg @PHI 22nd 25.4 MIL 12th 25
Julio Teheran TB 19th 22.1 PIT 18th 19.7
Kyle Gibson @CLE 3rd 19 @TEX 10th 24.8
Trevor Cahill @HOU 11th 20.1 SEA 14th 20.2
  • Masahiro Tanaka (NYY) – I very nearly pushed Tanaka into Tier 2 in a week like this, but I just couldn’t bring myself to do it. He’s got some gravy matchups against poor AL Central opponents. Unfortunately, they’re both in New York where he has a 1.5 HR/9 since the start of last season. You’ve gotta play him with these matchups anyway, but I’m not convinced one of them doesn’t go south because of gopheritis. Hopefully he can be your playoff Masa-hero.

Tier 4
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Jon Lester (L) NYM 29th 25.5 @PHI 20th 23
Carlos Rodon (L) @NYY 2nd 23.2 BOS 14th 23.2
Lance Lynn CHW 23rd 25.7 DET 29th 22.1
Clay Buchholz @SF 26th 23.9 @LAD 2nd 22.5
Hyun-Jin Ryu (L) @TEX 12th 23.3 ARI 6th 23.1
Zach Eflin WSH 9th 20 CHC 6th 20.9
Edwin Jackson @HOU 11th 20.1 SEA 14th 20.2
Junior Guerra @CIN 16th 21.5 @WSH 9th 20
Marco Gonzales (L) @SD 21st 24 @OAK 10th 22.7
Sam Gaviglio @BAL 24th 23.8 @MIA 28th 22.5
  • Carlos Rodon (CHW) – “Dokken?! What the hell, bro? Don’t you know Rodon has a 1.75 ERA since the friggin start of July, bro? Do you even lift?” OK, first of all, don’t worry about my lifting, made up John Q. Public individual. Second, yes! I realize how good Rodon has been, and I’m not buying it. Not completely, at least. His FIP is 3.61 over that span, with just a 7.5 K/9 and 3.7 BB/9. Add in two brutal matchups with the Yanks and BoSox and you have me looking for other options. Please Ro-don’t.

Tier 5
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Ivan Nova @STL 17th 21.8 @ATL 15th 20.3
James Shields @NYY 4th 22.5 BOS 1st 18.6
Jacob Nix SEA 14th 20.2 COL 21st 23.8
Francisco Liriano (L) @KC 28th 23.9 @NYY 2nd 23.2
Odisramer Despaigne COL 21st 23.8 @HOU 11th 20.1
David Hess TOR 8th 22.6 @KC 27th 20.2
Sal Romano MIL 12th 25 @STL 17th 21.8
  • Ivan Nova (PIT) – I guess the best thing you can say about Nova is that his matchups are OK. There isn’t much else to look at here in Tier 5, and Nova has a tendency to impress you in between clunkers. He actually has a decent 3.57 ERA in August, but a 5.16 K/9 to go with it. The lack of strikeouts is consistent and really limits his ceiling. If you’re in a points league and just need sheer innings, however, Nova isn’t a bad option. That’s also Paul Scheer’s favorite format, from what I’ve heard.

*All pitchers are probable for two starts as of Friday evening.



You can find Dokken on Twitter @NathanDokken

  1. johnnyhobbes says:

    I didn’t not pretend I have been insight to any of this anymore… But do you have an inkling as to why SON loves Jake Junis and Lance Lynn…. Other than the possible algorithm to seek out alliteration in names of starters

    • Dokken

      Dokken says:

      @johnnyhobbes: Junis is only slated for one start, but it’s a great matchup. Lynn has a pair of nice matchups, but like I said in the intro this week, he’s still Lance Lynn. He might toss 14 shutout innings but he might give up 10 runs in 10 innings too.

      • johnnyhobbes says:

        @Dokken: wow my bad I misread the start dates … And LOL on the Lynn analysis. Spot on. Also sad

  2. johnnyhobbes says:

    No love for Junis I take it?

  3. Al says:

    Where would Matt Boyd go in this since he now has two starts (@kc, @nyy)??

    • Dokken

      Dokken says:

      @Al: Yeah I’d drop him into Tier 4. I’d consider him for Tier 3 but that Yankees start can go sideways in a hurry.

  4. Harley Earl says:

    Might want to add Jack Flaherty to this list and put him in that top tier. He gets Pittsburgh on Tuesday and Cincinnati on Sunday. The Cardinals are on fire and he’s been their best pitcher. Love the kid, saw him several times in Triple-A at Memphis. Very calm, very poised, never emotional. Always under control. Kid thinks and plays like a pro.

    • Dokken

      Dokken says:

      @Harley Earl: This is one of the rotations I wasn’t sure what to do with on Friday. It looked like maybe Wacha would be back this weekend, but that doesn’t look like the case. Loooove me some Flaherty. Gotta start him everywhere right now.

      • Harley Earl says:

        @Dokken: Exactly!!! Haha!

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