Welcome folks, to the final 2018 version of Two Startapalooza! Hopefully you’ve enjoyed the format, and with any luck I’ve been able to help you out in some way with these posts. The best of times are probably in the past, sadly, because if you need two start pitcher help here in the final week of the season, you’re in tough shape. Not only are a solid chunk of these guys probably going to get shuffled out of their second start, most of the pitchers that are widely available with two starts this week are…not good. Tiers 1 and 2 are where the action is at, but those guys are already owned, so just smoke ’em if you got ’em. Tier 3 does have some names that could be lower owned, like Cole Hamels, Kevin Gausman, or Derek Holland. Tier 4 is about as bad as it’s been all season, and at this point I don’t have to describe Tier 5 other than just to say: mucky muck. As with last week, keep a keen eye on the rotations up until the final minute, because they are apt to change quite a bit. Good luck this week!!
As with last week, the wOBA rankings are team second half splits against left-handed or right-handed pitching.
- Noah Syndergaard (NYM) – Thor gets the Marlins boost here, which is the only reason he’s not in Tier 2. Can you imagine a movie where Thor is just beating the hell out of a bunch of marlins with that giant hammer? Superhero work dried up and he had to get a gig at Chicken Of The Sea. Terrifying. Thor hasn’t really been himself over the second half, with a 3.75 ERA and an 8.40 K/9. Those numbers aren’t bad of course, but that’s not the ace that we have come to know and love. There is no velocity drop here, nor is there a huge shift in pitch mix. He has traded some sinkers for more fourseamers in September, but there isn’t a big difference in results there. I’m not quite sure what has him thrown off, but you’re starting him here regardless, and I’m still in for 2019 assuming there’s an injury discount baked into his ADP.
- Jameson Taillon (PIT) – Taillon has taken a huge step forward this year thanks to the implementation of that slider. Even better, he’s done it relatively under the radar. Hopefully it stays that way during the 2019 preseason. The Cubs aren’t really thought of as a favorable matchup, but the numbers do tell us they’re an offense not to be feared over the second half. The Reds are punchless in general, and Taillon is great at limiting the long ball, making his start in Cinci appear plenty favorable. Fire him up in all formats, and buy in next year.
- Chris Archer (PIT) – Well lookee here, another Pirate! Yarr!! This Pirate is a bit less desirable than the prior Pirate, however. Not due to a peg leg or a touch of scurvy (just a touch), but rather because he is a lesser pitcher! What does piracy have to do with pitching? Everything, ye scalawag! Who would have thought at the outset of the season that Taillon would be the far superior option to Archer in September? Archer has posted an ugly 4.78 ERA over the second half, though all is not lost. His FIP says he should be more like a 3.89 pitcher, and his strikeout rate is huge at 10.34 K/9 with a 2.78 BB/9. He’s dealt with under-performing his FIP for years, of course, so it’s hard to say he’ll suddenly stop allowing so much hard contact, which feeds into the elevated BABIP. He’s worth the gamble this week with nice matchups, but don’t get your hopes up too high.
- Ryan Yarbrough (TB) – Is there a more ridiculous pitching line this year than Yarbrough’s 139.1 innings with just six games started…and 15 wins?! He hasn’t even been bad overall, with a 3.88 ERA / 1.28 WHIP. The strikeout rate is roughly league average, so that combined with an iffy date in Washington keeps him down in Tier 4. Still, he’s a very interesting story from 2018, and it makes me wonder where these “primary pitchers” are going to be drafted in 2019. Baseball is getting weird, and I like it.
- Brett Anderson (OAK) – Lots of lefties in this Tier this week for some random reason, and among them I shall crown Anderson my favorite. He’s pitching for a surprisingly good team in the A’s, and has decent matchups against the slumping offenses of the Mariners and Angels. His ceiling is low because of an extreme adversity to strikeouts (4.68 K/9 on the season), but he also limits the free passes and the long ball. His 3.96 ERA and 3.92 FIP tell us results-wise he is a capable enough option. If strikeouts are a category in your matchup, he clearly becomes less attractive. And hey, stop streaming pitchers based on their looks! This isn’t a meat market!
*All starters are projected for two starts as of Friday evening.
You can find Dokken on Twitter @NathanDokken