Which Pitchers to Start Today 9/29/15 by Alex Chamberlain September 29, 2015 Yesterday, Mike Podhorzer gave you 10 pitchers to start for yesterday (and yesterday only). Indeed, the well of relevant advice has run dry save a few drops here and there, yet it’s too early to look forward to offseason chatter. You all liked Pod’s idea, though; you just needed the advice in advance. Still, continuing this pattern leaves us without any names for today. Perhaps you’re in a league where you can make moves prior to the day’s first game. If that’s the case, then I hope this helps! You have about 45 minutes until day games start. Games are ordered by start time per ESPN. And, for your convenience, here’s some color-coded goodness: No-Brainer, Maybe, Sit (or a desperate deep-league play) Rick Porcello @ Michael Pineda I don’t know if deploying Porcello against a lineup comprised almost entirely of lefties is what I typically consider a good idea. However, Porcello does control the zone well enough that if he can avoid the long ball, he can serve you a gem. The Yankees’ wRC+ over the last two weeks is baseball’s fifth-worst, so there’s hope yet. A proper gamble for strikeouts and a win for those tossing ratios to the wind. Pineda also gives up his fair share of home runs, mostly at home. I’m starting him in a weekly league, as it should be a fairly tame matchup, but if you run any significant risk of losing points in ERA, think twice. Marcus Stroman @ Miguel Gonzalez Stroman is due for all sorts of regression, positive and negative alike. But for the time being, Stroman is a groundball machine facing the league’s worst wRC+ over the last two weeks. Remember when this guy was allegedly a sleeper Cy Young candidate? That was only, like, half a year ago. The Blue Jays can make you regret anything. Bartolo Colon @ David Buchanan The Phillies have struck out more than 27 percent of the time the last two weeks. Colon may not throw more than five innings and he may have the “B” squad backing him up, so all potential impacts may be suppressed a bit. But W’s don’t care how many innings you throw as long as you complete the 5th. I’m curious to know how many pitchers have sported ratios worse than Buchanan’s 7.96 ERA and 1.94 WHIP through 60-plus innings. Michael Wacha @ Charlie Morton If you will it, Dude, it is no dream. Perhaps willpower will propel to an improbable string of victories that leads to the Pirates’ capture of the NL Central, but it’s not enough of a threat to keep you from starting Wacha. Morton isn’t a bad play, but the Cardinals’ lefties feast on righties, and Morton’s not an exceptional one. But, again, perhaps this fabled Pittsburgh Willpower I just coined is enough to coerce a good start and some run support. A marginal play. Kyle Gibson @ Cody Anderson A weak play at best, Gibson simply doesn’t offer a lot of upside on the road. He’s a Hail Mary play if you strictly need the W. Anderson isn’t especially strong, either, but the Twins have hit horribly both on the road and versus righties. He’s a Hail Mary in his own right, but perhaps with a little more room for error. Regardless, neither pitcher will provide a lot in terms of strikeouts, and you’re hoping the BABIP gods smile down on you if you want ratio help. Tanner Roark @ Matthew Wisler The Tanner Roark of old (aka of 2014) appears to be long gone. Still, a matchup against the league’s softest offense provides him as much wiggle room as possible. There’s not much upside here, but I understand if you want to exploit the weak Atlanta lineup. Wisler should be a good pitcher one day, but that day is probably not today. Like Gibson, there’s not a lot of upside for Wisler except for the non-zero chance that the Nats sit many of their regulars. Dan Haren @ Josh Smith Start Haren if you feel like braving a 2.13 HR/9 rate in the home run haven that is Great American Ball Park. Once again, there’s not enough upside here. Might as well be John Doe. Smith is doing his best Buchanan impression for the time being. Pass. Adam Conley (Edit, 3:50 pm: will start tomorrow; downgraded) @ Matt Moore Now here’s a sneaky play I like. Despite a low long-term ceiling, Conley has struck out almost three times more batters than he has walked. I’m bullish on him but only because he’s barely owned. The only downside is the Rays actually hit lefties fairly adequately. He’s a risk, but he’s a risk I’d rather take over, say, the “established” Dan Haren. Moore has pitched better at home — he likes to give away first base like free candy — but has struggled mightily with the long ball. Fortunately, the Marlins have wilted against righties all year, providing a somewhat safe opportunity to accrue some K’s and additional ERA help. Edit (12:33 pm EST): Right, so he’s not a righty. Marlins fare much better versus lefties. Really not a fan of this play, but to each his own. Daniel Norris @ Cole Hamels The Rangers don’t swing it particularly well on the road nor versus lefties. Unfortunately, Norris has thrown more than 84 pitches only once since his return August 2, average 55 pitches his last two starts. It’s not a worthwhile spot start. The Tigers terrorize lefties, but it’s hard to back away from a Hamels start at home. He has only served up two home runs in his last eight starts, so try to suppress all thoughts of of J.D. Martinez capitalizing on a mistake. Johnny Cueto @ Jeff Samardzija Cueto has given up seven home runs to the Orioles and 13 to not the Orioles. The White Sox are not the Orioles, so Cueto stands to avoid extensive damage on that front. Moreover, Cueto’s run of bad pitching dating back to August 21 coincides with a whopping .390 BABIP. Bad pitching, or bad luck? Deploy with confidence versus the Sox. Of course, despite having his worst season to date, Samardjisjza finally reached the coveted double digits in wins. Unfortunately, all it took was a complete evaporation of strikeouts and a massive decline in his ground ball rate, priming him for plenty of mistakes found on the other side of outfield walls. The Royals don’t hit hard, but they hit well; he’s a fringe play despite household recognition. Christian Bergman @ Robbie Ray Bergman has the platoon advantage, but that’s about it. If you’re looking for strikeouts, stream a reliever instead. According to FanGraphs, the Rockies are, bar none, the worst-hitting team on the road and versus lefties. I would stream me versus the Rockies today. Better yet, Ray sports the seventh-best K/9 rate at home among today’s starters. Chris Bassitt @ Nicholas Tropeano Your use of Bassitt depends on how much you trust home/road splits: he’s excellent at home, but hardly so at home. And those splits trickle down deep into the peripherals. He’s on the road versus an Angels team that wants into the playoffs. He’s a no-go for me, but if you’re splits-blind, maybe he’s your wild card. (Get it? Wild card? Because… the Angels… want…) Tropeano notches strikeouts and limits walks effectively enough to be a decent mid-rotation guy. The fly ball rate is scary, though, so it’s a wonder he’s only allowed one home run through seven starts this year. But hey, there’s no reason to believe he’ll allow his first home-field homer today, is there? Word of caution: the Athletics have hit pretty well lately. Still, I’m taking my chances. Mike Fiers @ Vidal Nuno Fiers’ fly ball tendencies should play down in Seattle while his typically plentiful strikeout rate should play up. The Mariners have hit well lately but, like Tropeano, I’m chancing it. Nuno is, like Bassitt, another dude with deep home/road splits: for whatever reason, he’s excellent at home. Unlike Bassitt, he’s actually throwing at home, where his 9.0 K/9, 2.1 BB/9 and 0.7 HR/9 contribute to a sparkling 2.08 ERA and 3.07 xFIP. The Astros are crushing the ball lately, and Nuno has struggled mightily with the long ball on the year, so this isn’t a clear-cut choice to me. He has about as high a ceiling and low a floor as anyone starting today. Avoid if you can’t afford a ratios blowup. Jorge Lopez @ Tyson Ross Lopez had a breakout of sorts this year in Double-A, but the 22-year-old had yet to climb higher before his promotion today. He could strikeout five or six hitters and BABIP his way to a nice start, but if season hinges on a spot starter, I want him to at least be a known quantity in the prospecting world. Ross offers the strikeout and ground ball rates versus a vulnerable offense (28th in wRC+ the last two weeks and, well, pretty much all year, too) that make him a premier start today. Clayton Kershaw @ Madison Bumgarner I think if you own both, you start both, even if you have a strict weekly starts or innings limit. You’ll get K’s alongside a high probability for tidy ratios. Besides, there’s no use trying to anticipate who earns the statistical Win.