Week 24 Pitching Forecaster

Major league rosters have expanded, and that's created a big mess for Fantasy owners trying to sort out their rotation options. With prospects getting promoted and formerly injured players getting activated, several big league teams are making use of their larger menu of pitching choices to tinker with their own rotations. One factor driving these changes is the innings limits that are quickly approaching for many of the game's emerging stars; more and more managers are using spot starts and six-man rotations to minimize the wear and tear on young arms.

While more changes are likely to occur over the weekend, five teams in particular have situations worth monitoring. The Red Sox are preparing for Clay Buchholz return, which according to MassLive.com, will take place on Tuesday. He could displace Ryan Dempster in the rotation and, at the very least, is likely to inherit a two-start week from him.

The Cardinals, Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Orioles could all introduce sixth starters this week, and respectively, those moves could push Shelby Miller , Hyun-Jin Ryu , Randall Delgado and Miguel Gonzalez back a day, costing each a second start in Fantasy Week 24 (Sept. 9-15). According to MLB.com, the Brewers have reset their rotation through Sunday in order to keep Yovani Gallardo on normal rest, but they have yet to determine whom they will turn to beyond this weekend. As of now, it appears Wily Peralta has the best chance at a two-start week, but it's plausible it could wind up being Marco Estrada instead.

Miller, Ryu and Estrada are worth using with either one start or two, but owners interested in picking up Delgado, Gonzalez or Peralta should watch this weekend's developments closely. As usual, I'll recap those in Monday's Pitching Forecaster update.

Monday update: As expected, several teams made or are likely to make adjustments to their rotations that could impact your roster decisions this week, so let's get right to them...The Rays decided to give Jeremy Hellickson some extra rest, so David Price will get two starts instead of him. ... The introduction of sixth starters means no two-start weeks for Hyun-Jin Ryu (back), Wily Peralta or Marco Estrada . ... Due to a reordering of their respective rotations, Andrew Cashner and Mark Buehrle are now two-start pitchers... Tyler Cloyd supplants Ethan Martin in the Phillies' rotation and steals his two-start week. ... If the Cubs give Scott Baker another start this week, Edwin Jackson would likely have his schedule reduced to one start.

Prior to the weekend, both Felix Doubront and Charlie Morton looked like viable one-start options in deeper mixed leagues, but both are now too risky to start in any format. Doubront is having his turn skipped with Clay Buchholz returning to Boston's rotation, and he may not start at all this week. Morton could also be sidelined all week due to the foot injury he sustained Sunday against the Cardinals.

Note: All season-to-date stats are current for games played through Wednesday, Sept. 4.

My Top 70 Starting Pitchers for Week 24
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2
1 Max Scherzer @CHW (Sale) KC (Santana)
2 Yu Darvish PIT (Cole) OAK (Colon)
3 David Price BOS (Buchholz) @MIN (Hendriks)
4 Francisco Liriano @TEX (Perez) CHC (Jackson)
5 Chris Sale DET (Scherzer) CLE (McAllister)
6 Clayton Kershaw SF (Bumgarner) N/A
7 Jered Weaver @MIN (Hernandez) @HOU (Oberholtzer)
8 Julio Teheran @MIA (Koehler) SD (Cashner)
9 Zack Greinke SF (Cain) N/A
10 Justin Verlander KC (Duffy) N/A
11 Cliff Lee SD (Ross) N/A
12 Stephen Strasburg PHI (Kendrick) N/A
13 Felix Hernandez HOU (Peacock) N/A
14 Jordan Zimmermann @NYM (Gee) PHI (Cloyd)
15 Cole Hamels @WAS (Gonzalez) N/A
16 Madison Bumgarner @LAD (Kershaw) N/A
17 Mat Latos @MIL (Lohse) N/A
18 Anibal Sanchez @CHW (Quintana) N/A
19 Mike Minor @MIA (Fernandez) N/A
20 Kris Medlen @MIA (Alvarez) SD (Smith)
21 Adam Wainwright SEA (Iwakuma) N/A
22 Jose Fernandez ATL (Minor) N/A
23 Gio Gonzalez @NYM (Torres) PHI (Hamels)
24 Dillon Gee WAS (Zimmermann) MIA (Koehler)
25 Ervin Santana @CLE (Jimenez) @DET (Scherzer)
26 James Shields @CLE (Kazmir) N/A
27 Homer Bailey @MIL (Hellweg) N/A
28 Clay Buchholz @TB (Price) NYY (Nova)
29 Jake Peavy @TB (Hellickson) N/A
30 John Lackey NYY (Kuroda) N/A
31 Matt Cain @LAD (Greinke) N/A
32 Gerrit Cole @TEX (Darvish) CHC (Wood)
33 Ivan Nova @BAL (Gonzalez) @BOS (Buchholz)
34 A.J. Burnett @TEX (Garza) N/A
35 Patrick Corbin @LAD (Ryu) N/A
36 Tony Cingrani CHC (Jackson) N/A
37 Derek Holland OAK (Straily) N/A
38 Doug Fister KC (Chen) N/A
39 Matt Moore @MIN (Hernandez) N/A
40 Bronson Arroyo CHC (Wood) @MIL (Gallardo)
41 Hyun-Jin Ryu ARI (Corbin) N/A
42 Jonathon Niese WAS (Roark) N/A
43 Matt Garza PIT (Burnett) N/A
44 Jhoulys Chacin @SF (Lincecum) @ARI (Delgado)
45 Martin Perez PIT (Liriano) OAK (Parker)
46 Hisashi Iwakuma @STL (Wainwright) N/A
47 Hiroki Kuroda @BOS (Lackey) N/A
48 C.J. Wilson @TOR (Dickey) N/A
49 Marco Estrada @STL (Lynn) N/A
50 Dan Haren @NYM (Wheeler) N/A
51 Jarrod Parker @MIN (Hendriks) @TEX (Perez)
52 Alex Wood @MIA (Eovaldi) N/A
53 Chris Archer @MIN (Albers) N/A
54 Shelby Miller MIL (Peralta) SEA (Ramirez)
55 Zack Wheeler WAS (Haren) N/A
56 Alex Cobb BOS (Dempster) N/A
57 Ricky Nolasco ARI (Delgado) SF (Lincecum)
58 Tyson Ross @PHI (Lee) N/A
59 R.A. Dickey LAA (Wilson) N/A
60 Michael Wacha SEA (Paxton) N/A
61 Jon Lester NYY (Sabathia) N/A
62 Andrew Cashner @PHI (Cloyd) @ATL (Teheran)
63 Mark Buehrle LAA (Williams) BAL (Gonzalez)
64 Lance Lynn MIL (Estrada) N/A
65 Taijuan Walker HOU (Cosart) N/A
66 Randall Delgado @LAD (Nolasco) COL (Chacin)
67 Ubaldo Jimenez KC (Santana) @CHW (Rienzo)
68 Sonny Gray @MIN (Pelfrey) N/A
69 Kyle Lohse CIN (Latos) N/A
70 Jose Quintana DET (Sanchez) N/A

Honorable mention: Danny Salazar @CHW (Santiago); A.J. Griffin @MIN (Correia); Travis Wood @CIN (Arroyo), @PIT (Cole); Wade Miley vs. COL (Bettis); Wily Peralta @STL (Miller).

Two-Start Options to Consider

Dillon Gee , Mets (WAS, MIA): Has Gee been fortunate to have a 2.40 ERA since May 30? Probably a little, as he has stranded a high percentage of his baserunners, but he has the supporting stats of a quality pitcher. Gee is enough of a strike-thrower to maintain the 1.9 BB/9 ratio he's carried over his last 18 starts, and a 10 percent swinging strike rate over that period suggests that he's capable of increasing his strikeout rate. If Gee is due for a downturn, it shouldn't be a big one, and it probably won't start until the Marlins leave town.
This week's rank: 24
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Gerrit Cole , Pirates (@TEX, CHC): Cole has delivered 7.8 strikeouts per nine innings over his last seven starts, though based on what he told FanGraphs.com, he's more concerned about getting grounders and pitching efficiently than racking up Ks. With a 52 percent ground ball rate and a ratio of 3.64 pitches per plate appearance, Cole has come through on both counts. Maybe he will still be a decent strikeout pitcher, but even if he's not, owners can expect Cole to avoid walks and offer a low WHIP. Despite exceeding 100 pitches only once, he hasn't had many early exits, and that's especially encouraging in a two-start week.
This week's rank: 32
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Ivan Nova , Yankees (@BAL, @BOS): Since settling into the Yankees' rotation in early July, all Nova has done is rattle off nine quality starts in 10 tries and compile a 2.06 ERA and 1.10 WHIP. Those three metrics can be misleading, but whatever measures you use to size Nova up, they reflect a pitcher who has been highly effective. Over the last two months, he's averaged more than seven innings per start and held opponents to a .294 slugging percentage, and he's done all this with a close-to-sustainable .278 BABIP. Even with tough opposition, there's no reason to let Nova sit on your bench or waivers this week.
This week's rank: 33
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Bronson Arroyo , Reds (CHC, @MIL): Arroyo has been a good control pitcher over his career and, remarkably, he has lowered his walk rate in each of the last five seasons. He's almost stopped walking batters altogether, having issued seven free passes over his last 74 1/3 innings. Because Arroyo allows so much contact, he can still be a liability for WHIP occasionally, but much more often than not, he will be an enormous help in that category. Particularly with these matchups, Arroyo should be able to lower your ERA as well.
This week's rank: 40
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Jhoulys Chacin , Rockies (@SF, @ARI): For weeks, I have been waiting for Chacin to regress, but he just makes me keep waiting. In all fairness, Chacin has transformed into one of the majors' better control pitchers, having thrown 67 percent of his pitches for strikes over his last 14 starts. Because of that, I can buy into him continuing to pitch seven innings or more with regularity and posting a low WHIP. The .332 slugging percentage that Chacin has allowed opponents over his hot streak is harder to figure out. Even if regression strikes when he faces the Diamondbacks, Chacin should be able to keep the Giants in check.
This week's rank: 44
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Martin Perez , Rangers (PIT, OAK): Perez has steadily gained in popularity over the last month, and with a 2.75 ERA and 1.11 WHIP since Aug. 11, he hasn't disappointed his new owners. He has been one of the majors' most efficient starting pitchers, but Perez has probably overperformed, especially during his recent streak. He is especially due for a correction in his home starts, as his 2.20 ERA in Arlington has been padded by an unsustainable 84 percent strand rate (per FanGraphs.com). Perez is good enough to use in a two-start week in most leagues, but owners in shallower formats need to exercise caution.
This week's rank: 45
My take: Solid standard mixed league start.

Jarrod Parker , Athletics (@MIN, @TEX): The last time Parker failed to make a quality start, Jose Veras was the Astros' closer and those Jake Peavy trade rumors were still just rumors. It's not just lately that Parker has pitched well; take away his first eight starts, and he's 9-1 with a 2.59 ERA. He's completely trustworthy at home, but Parker has been homer-prone away from Oakland, having allowed 13 home runs in 76 1/3 road innings. Parker has not been bad in two prior starts at Texas this season, but it seems like this week's visit could mean an end to his recent string of quality starts.
This week's rank: 51
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Shelby Miller , Cardinals (MIL, SEA): Miller has slowly but steadily become irrelevant in the NL Rookie of the Year discussion, given his 4.48 ERA and 1.44 WHIP over his last 15 starts. In Fantasy, Miller is still a reliable contributor to the strikeout category, but he has been allowing too many homers and walks to help elsewhere. His matchups this week aren't bad, though, so he is one of the better borderline options for standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 54
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Ricky Nolasco , Dodgers (ARI, SF): Nolasco didn't go deep in most of his early starts with the Dodgers, but he's remedied that problem over his last four appearances. Not only has Nolasco pitched four straight games of six innings or more, but he's been nearly untouchable in doing so. He's unlikely to hold batters to a .172 batting average going forward, but he's getting far more grounders than he did earlier this year, and his control has been superb. Going back to the beginning of August, Nolasco has struck out 35 batters in 38 1/3 innings while walking only six. As a Marlin, Nolasco could usually be counted on for a high strikeout-to-walk ratio, but he would still find ways to expand his ERA. I still fear that the old Ricky will return, but just maybe he's finally realizing some untapped potential.
This week's rank: 57
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Andrew Cashner , Padres (@PHI, @ATL): It's hard to know exactly how Cashner will respond in his start Tuesday after 10 days of rest, but at least his most recent performances should leave little room for doubt. After slogging through a wild and ineffective July, Cashner finished August with a 2.25 ERA and 1.18 WHIP over six starts. He threw strikes at a 69 percent clip during the month, and tallying double-digits in swinging strikes over his last four starts is a welcome sight.
This week's rank: 62
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Mark Buehrle , Blue Jays (LAA, BAL): If Buehrle didn't have to face the power-hitting Orioles, he would rank even higher this week, but he's still worth starting in standard mixed leagues. In past seasons, Buehrle was often a reliable option in two-start weeks, especially in points leagues that reward innings. Since the All-Star break, Buehrle has been his old self again, averaging just under seven innings per start, as he has improved his command and strengthened his ground ball tendencies.
This week's rank: 63
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Randall Delgado , Diamondbacks (@LAD, COL): As Delgado has become more flyball-prone and less inclined to walk batters, he's profiling sort of like a right-handed Jason Vargas . He does throw harder, but he doesn't have the advantage of having a pitcher's park for his home venue. Should Delgado have a week that takes him to two favorable environments for pitchers, he'd be a solid Fantasy option. His venues and matchups this week won't help him all that much, but he's a decent borderline choice in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: 66
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Ubaldo Jimenez , Indians (KC, @CHW): At some point earlier this season, I thought I was done with including Jimenez in the top 70. Though he occupies one of the final spots, he's back here again. Jimenez has been surprisingly good over his last seven starts, riding increases in his strikeout and swinging strike rates to a 2.09 ERA. His control has been better lately, too, though I don't trust it enough to rank him higher. In fact, if Jimenez didn't have good matchups this week, I would have probably excluded him from the top 70.
This week's rank: 67
My take: Marginal standard mixed league start.

Travis Wood , Cubs (@CIN, @PIT): Wood's not a bad option if he is facing lefty-heavy lineups, teams lacking power or opponents playing in pitcher-friendly parks, but in opposing the Reds on their turf in his first start this week, he will strike out on all three counts. Even with Joey Votto , Jay Bruce and Shin-Soo Choo batting lefty, the Reds offer enough right-handed punch to be dangerous. He might escape with a decent start against the Pirates, but it won't be enough to make Wood worth trusting in standard mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Miguel Gonzalez , Orioles (NYY, @TOR): Orioles manager Buck Showalter has frequently tinkered with his rotation, and with Jason Hammel freshly activated from the DL, Showalter has one more arm he can use in a starting role. Since Gonzalez's first start of the week comes on Tuesday, he is far from a sure thing to make a start the following Sunday. The Yankees present the tougher of Gonzalez's two matchups, and since it might be the only start he actually makes, he's better saved for deeper mixed leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

CC Sabathia , Yankees (@BAL, @BOS): Sabathia's fastball velocity has been higher in many of his recent starts, but for the most part, it hasn't improved his results. Since early August, Sabathia has been getting more grounders, but poor command has contributed to the continued growth of his ERA and WHIP. Sabathia has been getting run support, and with the Yankees offense operating in a higher gear, he could still help with wins. Just don't expect much else.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Tim Lincecum , Giants (COL, @LAD): Just as it appeared Lincecum might be regaining his ace form, he has returned to the oblivion he's occupied for much of the last two years. From June 16 to Aug. 8, Lincecum put together a 10-start stretch in which he threw 64 percent of his pitches for strikes and walked only 19 batters in 65 1/3 innings. While the 3.58 ERA he produced wasn't vintage, it was the best we had seen in awhile, and he also posted a 1.09 WHIP. Over his last five starts, Lincecum's control has deteriorated, and he's back to being a menace to your ERA and WHIP. With many other pitchers, I could be forgiving of a five-game slump, but given Lincecum's recent history, I can't see cutting him any slack.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Tyler Cloyd , Phillies (SD, @WAS): Cloyd's overall minor league numbers weren't very impressive this year, and he hasn't done much in eight appearances with the Phillies, but I still like him better than some of the more established two start-options this week, at least in deeper leagues. Over his last eight appearances with Triple-A Lehigh Valley, Cloyd compiled a 1.36 ERA and demonstrated the strong control he has shown for most of his career. He could be a good source of low WHIP, and with a start against the Padres, his ERA might not be too bad either.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Chris Tillman , Orioles (NYY, @TOR): Tillman did not allow a home run in his most recent start at Cleveland, but he was hurt by extra-base hits nonetheless, and it was just the sort of outing we could see more of going forward. In that start, he allowed four doubles and four earned runs in 5 1/3 innings, and all season long he has been allowing flyballs and extra-base hits at a high rate. It hasn't always been reflected in his ERA, but Tillman's latest start could easily be part of a larger correction.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: Deeper mixed league start.

Ryan Vogelsong , Giants (COL, @LAD): On the surface, it looks like Vogelsong has hit his stride since coming off the DL last month. He has registered four quality starts in his five outings and emerged with a 2.93 ERA over that period. Those trends don't appear to be built to last, though, as he has induced only 22 swinging strikes out of a total of 484 pitches. An 81 percent strand rate in those starts (per FanGraphs.com) has helped to subdue his ERA, but Fantasy owners can count on Vogelsong maintaining that rate. He's been far too hittable to trust in mixed leagues for now.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start.

Zach McAllister , Indians (KC, @CHW): Like Tillman, McAllister is a flyball pitcher who may be starting to experience some anticpated regression. Unlike his Orioles' counterpart, McAllister hasn't benefitted from a high strand rate; he just hasn't given up as many home runs as you might expect. Even after Wednesday's start against the O's in which he allowed four runs as a result of a pair of homers, McAllister still has a 7 percent home run-to-flyball ratio that has room to grow. Once his ERA heads well above 4.00, McAllister will have little to offer mixed league owners.
This week's rank : N/A
My take: AL-only start.

Edwin Jackson , Cubs (@CIN, @PIT): Through the end of July, Jackson looked like he had some potential for deeper mixed leagues. He enjoyed a mid-season surge that cut his ERA from 6.29 to 4.65. Since then, the strikeouts and ground balls have dried up, and Jackson's ERA has inched back up to 4.91. You never know when Jackson might warm up again, but until we see signs of improvement, he won't be worth the trouble outside of deep NL-only leagues.
This week's rank: N/A
My take: NL-only start.

Stay in touch with the most passionate Fantasy staff in the business by following us on Twitter @CBSFantasyBB or Al Melchior at @almelccbs . You can also e-mail us at fantasybaseball@cbsinteractive.com .

Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

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