Two-Start Pitchers: Week 13 (June 23-29)

Duane Burleson

Ranking and tiering the two-start pitchers for Week 13, including Drew Smyly, Wei-Yin Chen and Bartolo Colon.

Last week's two-start recommendations were solid outside of one Marcus Stroman clunker. The Blue Jays rookie couldn't get out of the fourth inning against the Yankees, allowing two runs on four hits and three walks. It could have been worse for Stroman, but it serves as a reminder of the up-and-down nature of most rookies. Tampa Bay's Jake Odorizzi, meanwhile, came up big on Saturday, shutting out the Astros over seven-plus innings with 10 strikeouts. Lastly, Jon Niese pitched his usual QS against the Cardinals on Tuesday, and gets the Marlins on the road today.

Results (through 1/2 of Week 12)

27-16
7.06 K/9
2.37 BB/9
3.30 ERA
1.10 WHIP

Start!

Clayton Kershaw: Tue-@KC (Duffy), Sun-STL (Miller)
Felix Hernandez: Mon-BOS (Lackey), Sun-CLE (Masterson)
Chris Sale: Mon-@BAL (Chen), Sat-@TOR (Stroman)
Zack Greinke: Mon-@KC (Guthrie), Sat-STL (Lynn)

Tier 1

John Lackey: Mon-@SEA (Hernandez), Sun-@NYY (Whitley)
Jeff Samardzija: Mon-CIN (Simon), Sat-WSH, Gm. 1 (Gonzalez)
Andrew Cashner: Mon-@SF (Cain), Sun-ARI (Bolsinger)
C.J. Wilson: Tue-MIN (Gibson), Sun-@KC (Guthrie)
Alex Cobb: Mon-PIT (Volquez), Sat-@BAL (Tillman)
Chris Archer: Tue-PIT (Locke), Sun-@BAL (Chen)
Gio Gonzalez: Mon-@MIL (Garza), Sat-@CHC, Gm. 1 (Samardzija)

Tier 2

Yovani Gallardo: Tue-WSH (Zimmermann), Sun-COL (De La Rosa)
Drew Smyly: Tue-@TEX (Lewis), Sun-@HOU (Feldman)
Tim Hudson: Tue-SD (Hahn), Sun-CIN (Bailey)
Homer Bailey: Tue-@CHC (Arrieta), Sun-@SF (Hudson)
Matt Garza: Mon-WSH (Gonzalez), Sat-COL (Chacin)
Wei-Yin Chen: Mon-CWS (Sale), Sun-TB (Archer)
Shelby Miller: Tue-@COL (De La Rosa), Sun-@LAD (Kershaw)
Lance Lynn: Mon-@COL (Chacin), Sat-@LAD (Greinke)
Alfredo Simon: Mon-@CHC (Samardzija), Sat-@SF (Cain)
Matt Cain: Mon-SD (Cashner), Sat-CIN (Simon)
Bartolo Colon: Tue-OAK (Gray), Sun-@PIT (Locke)

Tier 3

Mark Buehrle: Tue-NYY (Phelps), Sun-CWS (Quintana)
Marcus Stroman: Mon-NYY (Whitley), Sat-CWS (Sale)
Andrew Heaney: Tue-@PHI (Buchanan), Sun-OAK (Milone)
Nate Eovaldi: Mon-@PHI (Hernandez), Sat-OAK (Chavez)
Jeff Locke: Tue-@TB (Archer), Sun-NYM (Colon)
Justin Masterson: Tue-@ARI (Miley), Sun-@SEA (Hernandez)
Jeremy Guthrie: Mon-LAD (Greinke), Sun-LAA (Wilson)
Jhoulys Chacin: Mon-STL (Lynn), Sat-@MIL (Garza)
Chase Whitley: Mon-@TOR (Stroman), Sun-BOS (Lackey)
Kyle Gibson: Tue-@LAA (Wilson), Sun-@TEX (Lewis)
David Buchanan: Tue-MIA (Heaney), Sun-ATL (Harang)

Not this week

Jorge De La Rosa: Tue-STL (Miller), Sun-@MIL (Gallardo)
Scott Feldman: Tue-ATL (Harang), Sun-DET (Smyly)
Aaron Harang: Tue-@HOU (Feldman), Sun-@PHI (Buchanan)
Roberto Hernandez: Mon-MIA (Eovaldi), Sat-ATL, Gm. 1 (Santana)
Colby Lewis: Tue-DET (Smyly), Sun-MIN (Gibson)
Jose Quintana: Tue-@BAL (Gonzalez), Sun-@TOR (Buehrle)
Edinson Volquez: Mon-@TB (Cobb), Sat-NYM (Niese)

My Week 13 Picks

Drew Smyly, Tigers 
2014: 3-6, 67.1 IP, 7.62 K/9, 3.07 BB/9, 37.2 GB%, 3.48 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

Smyly's transition from top-notch reliever to full-time starter hasn't been a rousing success. The 25-year-old has seen a significant decrease in his strikeout rate (26.7 percent in 2013, 20.3 percent in 2014), and a considerable increase in his walk rate (5.6 percent in 2013, 8.2 percent in 2014). That, along with a below-league average 37.2 percent groundball rate, has led to a 3-6 record and 4.34 FIP. But, over Smyly's last three starts, the southpaw has worked deeper into games, allowing four runs in 19 innings (1.89 ERA), with 12 strikeouts and four walks. The Rangers, Smyly's first opponent, are struggling to score runs, and the Astros have the third highest strikeout rate in baseball. The Tigers aren't playing their best ball right now, but Smyly just shut down the surging Royals, something AL Cy Young winners Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander couldn't do.

Wei-Yin Chen, Orioles
2014: 7-2, 83.1 IP, 6.48 K/9, 1.30 BB/9, 42.4 GB%, 3.78 ERA, 1.24 WHIP

Everything about Chen screams average. He owns a 17.4 percent strikeout rate and has allowed a batting average against of .276. Still, Chen has been a trustworthy producer for the majority of the season, allowing three runs or fewer in 10 out of 12 starts since April 14. The left-hander faces the White Sox and Rays at home in Week 13, where he owns a 3.13 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and 31:5 K:BB ratio in 46 innings of work. And, over his last five starts, Chen is 2-0 with a 3.26 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 26:2 K:BB ratio in 30 1/3 innings against some pretty stiff competition, including the Athletics and Brewers. Chicago owns the fifth highest strikeout rate in baseball, and no one in the American League has scored fewer runs than Tampa Bay. Start Chen with confidence.

Bartolo Colon, Mets
2014: 7-5, 92.2 IP, 6.70 K/9, 1.26 BB/9, 40.4 GB%, 3.88 ERA, 1.20 WHIP

I have Colon listed one spot behind Matt Cain in the the second tier, but I had serious thoughts about ranking Colon first, given Cain's recent struggles. Colon's first start against the Athletics isn't ideal, but he at least he gets to face his former teammates at Citi Field, where he owns a 2.34 ERA, 0.95 WHIP and 34 strikeouts in 34 2/3 innings (compared to a 4.81 ERA, 1.34 WHIP and 35 strikeouts in 58 innings on the road). Colon is excelling in New York much like he did in Oakland a year ago, and you should feel comfortable starting him in all home contests. Over his last five starts, the 41-year-old is 4-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 0.96 WHIP. Ride the fat man.

Stats from FanGraphs.

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