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Available Two Start Starters

This week’s list includes a lefty I’ve been pushing for weeks, a young hurler seemingly on the comeback trail from a horrifying injury, another lefty who is seeking consistency, and then a couple under-the-radar young guys who are available in many leagues. Today, we’ll add the opponent’s wOBA versus that particular handed pitcher into the mix.

LHP Felix Doubront (8.0 percent ESPN/14 percent Yahoo!); v. DET (.294), @TOR (.318)

If it feels as though I’ve been beating the Doubront drum for quite a while, well it’s because I have. This is the second or third time that I can recall him being on my weekly listing, and yet he still languishes unowned in over 85 percent of leagues despite fanning over a hitter per inning (24.0 percent) and rock-solid peripherals that actually have his 3.96 ERA trending downward (3.40 FIP/3.61 xFIP). And while most of Detroit’s struggles this year have been blamed on fielding and poor hitting outside of a few key performers, the Tigers offense has been abysmal versus lefties in managing only a .667 OPS against port-siders. Toronto is a different beast, however. As an offense, the Jays have hit southpaws relatively well (exactly 100 wRC+), though much of the value has come from power (.179 iso). Doubront has been stingy with the longball (0.72 HR/9), as well as adept with the whiff — the Jays fan nearly 1/5 of the time against lefties — so I think he matches up relatively well here. I fully expect that this week Doubront will be my Felipe Paulino, as in someone I don’t get to recommend anymore because they cross the 50 percent ownership threshold.  

RHP Juan Nicasio (0.6 percent ESPN/4 percent Yahoo!); v. HOU (.305), v. LAD (.333)

Nicasio has rebounded from his terrifying late-season injury last season to be a remarkably effective starter for the Rockies so far this year. In addition to fanning 8.6 per 9 (21.9 percent of hitters), he’s had some batted ball issues (.368 BABIP due at least in part to awful Rockies D) that have actually made his 4.83 ERA a bit inflated (3.87 FIP/3.73 xFIP), so he’d appear to be ready to take a step forward in that respect. Houston’s offense just might be what the doctor ordered, as they’ve thus far been the ninth-worst offense versus righties. The Coors factor also won’t make much difference, because the Astros are largely punchless (third-worst iso at .119) against righties. The Dodgers provide a whole different set of challenges for Nicasio, but fortunately for the right-handed fireballer (93.5 mph average heater), this is a drastically worse group on the road (.307 road wOBA/.345 home) which is still largely top heavy thanks to Matt Kemp, Andre Ethier, and A.J. Ellis (all above .400 wOBA), though Bobby Abreu has been good in his short time at Chavez Ravine.  

LHP Jonathon Niese (14.9 percent ESPN/30 percent Yahoo!); v. PHI (.302), v. STL (.348)

After a very good April (2.81 ERA, .244 wOBA), Niese has struggled a bit with consistency in May (5.84 ERA, .384 wOBA allowed). Two home starts, including one against the dismal Phillies offense, should be what it takes to get Niese off the shnide. Fortunately for the 25-year-old lefty, both starts are at home, where he carries a 3.79 ERA and .257 wOBA allowed. May has been a weird month for Niese, as even though he’s faced roughly the same number of hitters as he did in April, and fanned roughly the same percentage, he’s allowed three times as many home runs and walked nearly twice as many hitters. Luckily for Niese, he gets the phloundering Phigtins first out of the gate, who are allergic to the free pass (ML-worst 5.5 percent v. LHP, .290 OBP). The Cardinals will be considerably tougher on the southpaw, but even their offense is considerably weaker on the road (.333 wOBA). Ideally, someone facing the Cardinals wouldn’t show up in these pieces, but given the other two-start options this week, Niese is among the best bets.

Possibly worth a look in deeper formats:

LHP Scott Diamond (26.2 percent ESPN/17 percent Yahoo!); v. OAK (.276), @CLE (.296)
RHP Zach McAllister (0.2 percent ESPN/1 percent Yahoo!); v. KC (.322), v. MIN (.302)

Diamond is on a mini-roll that was slowed by defensive lapses against the Pale Hose. He gets a really bad A’s offense before he and McAllister square off to close out the week. Diamond won’t light up guns or fan too many hitters, but he’s been alright with an improved Twins defense behind him. McAllister, on the other hand, has been good despite a low strand rate (hence 2.46 FIP), fanning nearly 21 percent of hitters with an arsenal that seems good, but not necessarily standout. Getting the Twins on the road (.282 wOBA) helps a lot. Diamond’s ownership rates are flukishly high in my opinion — he’s more of a fringy talent than someone who should be owned in more leagues than Doubront for sure — but he should remain a decent ‘take-a-flyer’ type.

Update: McAllister has been sent back down to Triple-A.