Welcome to Week 5 as we scurry along and try to figure out which low-to-mid tier pitchers are actually good and which ones are all smoke and mirrors. You’d think we would have come up with an updated phrase for “smoke and mirrors”. Nobody has really used smoke and mirrors since, like, 1920. I have no idea if that’s accurate. In any case, there is plenty of two-start action to go around this week. Here they are, tiered for your pleasure. Let’s have a gander at some of the more interesting options as we go through those tiers as well, shall we?


Tier 1
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Max Scherzer PIT 18th 20.1 PHI 21st 27.5
Clayton Kershaw (L) @ARI 9th 25.9 @SD 22nd 27.1
Chris Sale (L) KC 16th 25.4 @TEX 21st 23.8
Justin Verlander NYY 2nd 23.2 @ARI 19th 25.5


  • Tier 1 is as no-brainer as no-brainers get this week. You don’t even need a brain to start these guys!! Take out your brain and just let it rest on a comfortable pillow for awhile. It’s been working hard. Give it a break. I shall choose to place my brain on my wife’s pillow, which cost well over $100 but contains some sort of self-cooling sorcery that keeps your head cool for 8 hours. You no longer need to search for the other side of your pillow to remain cool throughout the darkness of night.


Tier 2
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Jake Arrieta @MIA 30th 25.5 @WSH 7th 20
Charlie Morton NYY 2nd 23.2 @ARI 19th 25.5
Zack Greinke LAD 15th 21.9 HOU 6th 23.1
Trevor Bauer TEX 22nd 24.4 @NYY 2nd 23.2
Eduardo Rodriguez (L) KC 16th 25.4 @TEX 21st 23.8


  • Eduardo Rodriguez – Rodriguez weasels his way into Tier 2 this week thanks to a pair of favorable dates with the Royals and Rangers. E-Rod has posted a 24.5% K% himself through 22.1 innings, and with these whiff-heavy opponents you should easily get yourself a strikeout per inning this week. He’s also been limiting opposing batters to 27% hard contact and getting more ground balls (49.2%) than ever. He still doesn’t have plus control and he nibbles too much so he doesn’t ever go too deep into games, but if you can get 5-6 innings from him in each start, that could be a pair of wins.


Tier 3
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Tanner Roark PIT 18th 20.1 PHI 21st 27.5
Chris Archer @DET 12th 18.7 TOR 10th 25.5
Jon Lester (L) COL 4th 27.4 @STL 18th 24%
Rich Hill (L) @ARI 9th 25.9 @SD 22nd 27.1
Aaron Sanchez @MIN 17th 24.2 @TB 11th 22.2
Jameson Taillon @WSH 7th 20.4 @MIL 14th 23.4
Kyle Gibson TOR 10th 25.5 @CHW 9th 24.1
Chase Anderson @CIN 29th 22.5 PIT 18th 20.1


  • Tanner Roark – I really considered Roark for Tier 2 with a pair of friendly matchups against the Pirates and Phillies, but I just couldn’t do it. He’s too middle-of-the-road to not be in Tier 3. He’s the Tier 3-iest pitcher I can imagine. He’s just good enough to roster everywhere and at the same time just not good enough to really be a difference maker. Give him the nod this week as the most average pitcher in existence.
  • Chase Anderson – Anderson gives me the heebie jeebies. You might say he’s Chase-ing me away. If you’ve been starting him you’ve been rewarded with a 2.86 ERA and 1.01 WHIP over 34.2 IP, and you’re loving life. Take the money and run, friend – he’s the ultimate sell high. His K% is down 6.5% from his breakout 2017, his whiffs are gone (7.1% SwStr%), and he’s not getting any reaches out of the zone (25.7%). It’s going to be mighty hard to maintain that just ever so slightly elevated 95.9% strand rate with a well below-average strikeout rate. He’s got friendly matchups this week so maybe you can get away with using him for a couple more starts, but be warned that the correction could hit hard.


Tier 4
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Sean Newcomb (L) @NYM 29th 27.4 SF 27th 25.4
Marco Estrada @MIN 17th 24.2 @TB 11th 22.2
Michael Wacha CHW 9th 24.1 CHC 4th 21
Jacob Faria @DET 12th 18.7 TOR 10th 25.2
Mike Clevinger TEX 22nd 24.4 @NYY 2nd 23.2
Jordan Montgomery (L) @HOU 7th 24 CLE 25th 18.5
Felix Hernandez OAK 3rd 22.4 LAA 13th 19.3
Jhoulys Chacin @CIN 29th 22.5 PIT 18th 20.1
Jake Junis @BOS 1st 17.4 DET 12th 18.7
Andrew Triggs @SEA 20th 20.6 BAL 27th 26.4
Cole Hamels (L) @CLE 25th 18.5 BOS 30th 23.8
Matt Boyd (L) TB 14th 25.2 @KC 16th 25.4
Sonny Gray @HOU 6th 23.1 CLE 24th 24.3
Jarlin Garcia (L) PHI 11th 23.5 @CIN 8th 23.3


  • Sean Newcomb – Man, I’ve been using this crusty old hair comb for so long now, I really need a …well hello there, Sean Newcomb! What are the chances I’d run into you here. Not only can you help organize my flowing golden locks, perhaps you can assist my fantasy teams as well. I’ve never actually been particularly infatuated with Newcomb due to the awful control. However, this week his strikeout upside pairs with two favorable matchups to suck me in. If he didn’t have such blow up potential because of the walks (4.55 BB/9) I’d toss him up to Tier 3. Maybe I should have anyway.
  • Cole Hamels – Hole Camels…sorry, Cole Hamels (I can’t stop doing that) is nowhere near the pitcher he once was. He’s getting smoked for a 45.9% hard contact rate, and he’s lost about two ticks off his fastball. Even his changeup has a negative pitch value on the season. He’s no more than a back-end starter at this point, but this week he gets the Indians and Red Sox. Both are strong offenses, but both have struggled against lefties here in the first month of action. He’s a sneaky option here in Tier 4.


Tier 5
Player Opp #1 Rank vs L/R Opp K% Opp #2 Rank vs L/R Opp K%
Alex Cobb @LAA 13th 19.3 @OAK 3rd 22.4
Kyle Freeland @CHC 4th 21 @NYM 16th 22.4
Matt Moore @CLE 24th 24.3 BOS 1st 17.4
Lance Lynn TOR 10th 25.2 @CHW 9th 24.1
Chad Kuhl @WSH 7th 20.4 @MIL 14th 23.4
Eric Lauer (L) @SF 27th 25.4 LAD 26th 23.4
James Shields @STL 5th 22.6 MIN 17th 24.2
Steven Matz (L) ATL 1st 17.3 COL 4th 27.4
Jason Hammel @BOS 1st 17.4 DET 12th 18.7
Matt Koch LAD 15th 21.9 HOU 6th 23.1
Jordan Zimmermann TB 11th 22.2 @KC 25th 16.1
Brandon Finnegan (L) MIL 23rd 21.6 MIA 12th 21.5


  • Now this…this is ugly. Unless you’re in a points league where you get big rewards just for getting as many innings as possible, you should avoid everyone in this tier. Avoid it like a spider’s nest. No one likes spiders, and if you say you do, you’re lying. Even Spider Man creeps me out a bit just because he makes me think of spiders. *shudders*

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



You can find Dokken on Twitter @NathanDokken