And just like that, we enter the cluster**** that is September baseball. Rotations change early and often now with expanded rosters, moving rotation regulars around here and there for extra rest in lieu of spot starters. On top of that, we’ve still got the Rays working their Opener angle, which I’m pretty sure they’re doing just to give me gray hairs (but not Grey’s hairs). Expect to see fewer double dippers the rest of the way because of this. Even this first week is a bit light on two start action, but what we do have is surprisingly acceptable, like hitting on your supervisor after five shots of Jager at the company Christmas party.


Tier 1 is a scant duo of NY Cy Young candidates, but Tier 2 is full of several guys you may well have picked up on waivers this season. Foltynewicz, Clevinger, and Mikolas have all vaulted their values in a huge way this season, and they all have at least one strong matchup this week. Cole Hamels arrives in Tier 3, although given how excellent he’s been since his trade to the Cubs, he could really be in Tier 2. Two Phillies starters Jake Arrieta and Nick Pivetta each have solid matchups against the Mets and Marlins, earning spots in Tier 3 as well. The fourth tier has rising names like Zack Godley and Reynaldo Lopez, offset by riskier names like Michael Fulmer and Freddy Peralta. Tier 5 is the usual unwashed filth, with Jose Urena being probably the least ugly of the bunch, or maybe Jake Junis, if you’re into that sort of thing (who really is?).

Tier 1
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Max Scherzer STL 18th 21.9 CHC 5th 21
Jacob DeGrom @LAD 2nd 22.5 PHI 19th 25.1
  • If you’re not starting either of these guys, you’re either in a reverse league or you need to be psychoanalyzed by Hannibal Lecter.

Tier 2
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Mike Clevinger KC 26th 20.3 @TOR 8th 22.6
Mike Foltynewicz BOS 1st 18.7 @ARI 25th 23.8
Madison Bumgarner (L) @COL 4th 21.3 @MIL 13th 20.3
Miles Mikolas @WSH 9th 20.1 @DET 29th 22.3
Alex Wood (L) NYM 29th 24.9 @COL 4th 21.3
  • Alex Wood (LAD) – Wood has given many of his owners wood of their own, pitching to a 1.87 ERA over 33.2 innings since the All-Star break. He does have some regression coming, with a .245 BABIP over that span, an 84.1% strand rate, and a highly elevated 4.01 BB/9. He doesn’t induce many whiffs, which will make it nearly impossible for him to keep up a strand rate anywhere near that high. He does have a date in Coors on the docket as well, and I did consider dropping him to Tier 3 because of it. In the end, I think that his uber-plus matchup with the floundering Mets will still make him worthy of a start in almost every weekly league. Of course, the Dodgers are one of those teams that like to shuffle their rotation frequently, so keep an extra eye (like you don’t have an extra eye lying around, come on) on his two-start status heading into the week.

Tier 3
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Cole Hamels @MIL 11th 25.1 @WSH 9th 20.1
Jake Arrieta @MIA 28th 22.4 @NYM 22nd 21.7
Nick Pivetta @MIA 28th 22.4 @NYM 22nd 21.7
Dallas Keuchel (L) MIN 24th 23.6 @BOS 12th 23
Sean Newcomb (L) BOS 12th 23 @ARI 9th 23.1
CC Sabathia (L) @OAK 10th 22.2 @SEA 20th 20.3
Trevor Cahill NYY 3rd 22.5 TEX 10th 24.6
  • Trevor Cahill (OAK) – An astute (and persistent) commenter has been sure to let me know of Cahill’s home/road splits over the recent weeks. Well, this one’s for you! Both matchups are technically negative, but both of them come with Cahill at home in Oakland. I have to admit, his home/road splits are as absurd as you are ever likely to see: 0.85 ERA at home, 7.02 on the road. That’s not a super small sample either, with 52.2 innings tossed at home and 42.1 on the road. I’m not of the mind that home/road splits generally mean much outside of Coors pitchers. In this case though, with such a stark contrast and such little season left, it’s worth keeping in mind at the very least. He’s still far from a sure thing, but without a ton of two start options, he should be started in most formats.

Tier 4
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Zack Godley SD 30th 26 ATL 17th 20.3
Trevor Williams CIN 13th 21.6 MIA 28th 22.4
Freddy Peralta CHC 5th 21 SF 27th 23.7
Joey Lucchesi (L) @ARI 9th 23.1 @CIN 5th 20.8
Michael Fulmer @CHW 23rd 25.5 STL 18th 21.9
Reynaldo Lopez DET 29th 22.3 LAA 6th 20.9
Matt Harvey @PIT 20th 19.8 SD 30th 26
John Gant @WSH 9th 20.1 @DET 29th 22.3
  • Michael Fulmer (DET) – I really got my hopes up that Fulmer could return to his 2017 form after he tossed 4.2 scoreless innings in his return from the DL. So, naturally, he gave up seven runs to the Royals over 3.2 innings in his next start. Yee haw. His changeup just isn’t changeupping this year like it has in the past. In 2016 it earned a 2.60 pVal, and this season it has earned a negative value of -1.16. He at least has the free-swinging White Sox this week, and St. Louis can be handled. The question is if Fulmer will do the proper handling. My sources point to no. There is also little chance he nets a win, since the Tigers offense could be renamed the Kittens. Someone toss some yarn in that dugout.

Tier 5
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Jake Junis @CLE 4th 18.9 @MIN 15th 21.7
Cody Reed (L) @PIT 14th 21.8 SD 23rd 24.3
Ryan Borucki TB 16th 22.1 CLE 4th 18.9
Adam Plutko KC 26th 20.3 @TOR 8th 22.6
Jose Urena PHI 19th 25.1 @PIT 20th 19.8
Kohl Stewart @HOU 12th 20 KC 26th 20.3
Thomas Pannone TB 16th 22.1 CLE 4th 18.9
  • Cody Reed (CIN) – It’s tough to truly recommend anyone from the ol’ Tier 5, but if I had to do it I’d go with the fella that gets the Padres. San Diego is a bit less awful against lefties than righties on the year, but they’re still a plus matchup. Things could still go south of course, since the matchup is at Great American Ballpark and Reed can and will get bit by the long ball (1.91 career HR/9). He also has only made one start this year, pitching mostly out of the bullpen, so neither of his starts are likely to be very long. Come to think of it, just start Jose Urena and hope he doesn’t plunk a hitter again for no other reason than being good at his job.

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

You can find Dokken on Twitter @NathanDokken

  1. Josh Freeman says:

    Where would you rate Velasquez? He has 2 starts on the road against the Fish and the Mets. Thanks.

    • Dokken

      Dokken says:

      @Josh Freeman: Yeah they shifted things around after this posted. Just replace Pivetta with VV in the third tier.

  2. Jeremy says:

    How’d you rank Stroman? Word is he’s back Monday and I’m pretty sure they have a full week of games

    • Dokken

      Dokken says:

      @Jeremy: He just got smoked so this is easier to say now, but he’d be a Tier 5 guy. Long injury layoff to take into account in the first start and then the Indians in his second, woof.

  3. Grey Matter(s) says:

    You missed Flaherty

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