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Two-Start Pitchers: Week 4

Everyone is happy when one of their pitchers is scheduled for two starts in a week. But that is not always a good thing. Here are five pitchers you may be on the fence about (or should be on the fence) putting into your lineup for Week 4.

A.J. Burnett – Despite being in the majors since 1999, Burnett has not thrown more than 39 games to any one catcher. He has 12 catchers who have caught at least 10 games of his in the majors. By far the worst of those was Jorge Posada, with whom Burnett had a 5.61 ERA. Russell Martin has caught all four starts by Burnett this year and he has a 3-0 record. Burnett’s ERA this year is an unimpressive 4.37 but he’s had some trouble with the gopher ball, as his xFIP checks in at 3.89. With two home starts this week, make sure Burnett is active.

Kyle Drabek – After opening the season with three straight strong starts, Drabek was knocked around (5.1 IP, 4 ER) in his last outing. This week he has road starts in Texas and New York, a tough go for anyone, much less a rookie. Drabek has a 5.63 BB/9 and has allowed 8 BB in his last 11 IP. The Rangers and Yankees are in the top four in the American League in runs scored and no pitcher can survive putting extra runners on base against those offenses. Move Drabek to the bench this week.

Matt Harrison – Shoulder injuries the past two seasons have kept Harrison from throwing many innings. A lack of success versus RHB has led to ERAs of 6.11 and 4.71, respectively, the past two years. But Harrison is healthy now and a new pitching approach has led to a very strong start. Last year, Harrison threw a slider 15 percent of the time and it was his worst offering, with a Pitch Type Value of -3.7, the worst of his four pitches. This year, he is throwing fewer sliders (8.5%) and more changeups (18%) and the results have been impressive. RHB have a .147/.238/.267 slash line in 86 PA this year. Last year RHB posted a .770 OPS against him. While his 1.88 ERA will undoubtedly go up, Harrison’s xFIP of 3.85 is nearly a run lower than his lifetime mark. Keep putting Harrison into your lineup.

Daniel Hudson – One of the early leaders in the biggest positive spread between his ERA (5.92) and his FIP (3.55), Hudson has been victimized this year by two things: a very low LOB% (53.0) and a high BB/9 (4.44). Last year Hudson had a 2.55 BB/9, so he is certainly capable of throwing more strikes. This week he squares off against the Phillies and Cubs, two teams that are below average in drawing walks. The Phillies are tied for 12th while the Cubs are 14th. Look for Hudson to break into the win column this week and keep him active.

Justin Masterson – Previously, Masterson has been a pitcher whose peripherals were much better than his actual results. But this year he has a 1.71 ERA and a 4.06 xFIP. His lifetime xFIP is 4.00 so Masterson is pitching like he normally does but is just having much better results. A .256 BABIP without allowing a HR helps explain the difference. Masterson’s early success is unlikely to last all season. He still is murder on RHB while he struggles versus LHB. He goes up against the Royals and Tigers, who can stack their lineup with lefties. Give Masterson the week off if you can.

Other scheduled two-start pitchers in Week 4 are listed below. Please remember that these are projected pitchers and changes can and will happen between now and next week.

Lee, Weaver, Cain, G. Gonzalez, J. Garcia, Nolasco, Buchholz, Lowe, Lewis, Garza, Floyd, Arroyo, Kennedy, Britton, Zimmermann, Narveson, Davis, Norris, Dickey, Hochevar, Rogers, Coke, Colon, Bedard, Blackburn, Morton, Garland, Moseley, Humber, Russell.

Check back Sunday night for an update of two-start pitchers.

Now I want to provide some accountability and check in and see how previous recommendations turned out. There needs to be a two-week lag, since last week’s pitchers have not completed their second start yet. So here are Week 2 pitchers and how they fared.

Buehrle – Advised to start. 6 Ks, 2.40 ERA, 1.000 WHIP, 4 ER, 15 IP
Correia – Advised to sit. 1 K, 6.00 ERA, 1.167 WHIP, 4 ER, 6 IP
Dempster – Advised to sit. W, 13 Ks, 7.15 ERA, 1.589 WHIP, 9 ER, 11.1 IP
McClellan – Advised to start. 2 W, 6 Ks, 1.39 ERA, 1.308 WHIP, 2 ER, 13 IP
Rogers – Advised to start. W, 2 Ks, 4.78 ERA, 1.941 WHIP, 3 ER, 5.2 IP