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It’s still early in the season and there is still a feeling out process going on.

Is Vince Velasquez really an ace in the making?  Is Edinson Volquez really a top 10-15 pitcher that is just blossoming later than most? Is Yordano Ventura continuing to regress?

In each week’s pitching planner I will talk a lot about two-start pitchers for the week ahead. Starters I do or don’t like that week.

I will also be talking about surprising starts to the season, good or bad, for some of the pitchers that are pitching way above or below their norms in baseball.

So without further ado here are some of this weeks two-start pitchers and fringe starters that may or may not be a good play this week.

Pitching Planner for MLB Week 3

Let’s start out on the good side of the pitching planner:

Phil Hughes: (vs. MIL) Chase Anderson; (@ WASH) Tanner Roark.

I know, I know he was less than mediocre in New York and it seems like his removal from the bright lights has had minimal, if any positive affect on him. I believe Hughes is a late bloomer. His K to walk rate it Bartolo-eque and he’s still only 29 years old, even though he seems to have been in the league since Colon.  The Twins have been off to a rough start but are better than they are playing and Hughes has been pitching well.  The main reason I’m recommending him though are the matchups this week.  His start vs. a bad Milwaukee offense and a mediocre to bad pitcher, Chase Anderson, at home should be just what is needed to snap the Twins out of their funk.  Then pitching against at Washington, though they are a great offense are bound to slow down and I’m always a fan of AL pitchers pitching in NL parks. The pitchers he’s matched up against are a huge plus as well. I think Hughes is a quality start in mixed leagues.

Mike Leake: (vs. CHC) John Lackey; (@ SD) Colin Rea.

Derek Lilliquist has picked up right where Dave Duncan left off and the Cards continue to churn out quality starters and improving starters they bring in from outside the organization.  Leake has been an abomination this season, I’m well aware of this. I think this is where he starts his turnaround. Pitching at home vs. the Cubs will be a tough matchup, but Leake is a much better pitcher than he’s been so far and the Cubs loss of Schwarber really weakens them from the left side of the plate which will help Leake immensely. I love his second matchup of the week at SD, because of what everybody else loves about someone that is pitching in SD. Their offense is dreadful and it’s a great pitcher’s park. Leake’s season gets rolling in week 3.

Alex Wood: (@ ATL) Matt Wisler; (@ COL) Jordan Lyles.

Alex Wood seemed to be on the fast track to be everyone’s darling up and coming ace, then started last season roughly and was dealt to the Dodgers. He will be out to show the Braves they made a GIGANTIC mistake and he will be pitching in Colorado, I know a very scary proposition to most, but with Blackmon and Hundley going to the DL their offense looks a lot less scary.  I like Alex Wood this year and especially in this 2 start week

Jered Eikhoff: (vs NYM) Noah Syndergaard; (@ MIL) Jimmy Nelson.

Eikhoff is off to a very hot start this season with a K per IP and a 1.50 ERA.  It’s good to jump on this youngster early because you might not get as good protection later in the year when the innings pile up and also with him probably being on an innings limit. His first start vs. Noah Syndergaard will be a pitching battle but with the Mets’ anemic offense, even if the youngster doesn’t come away with the win he will have good peripherals. His second start of the week @ Milwaukee will be a much easier task since Jimmy Nelson, who does have some promise, is in no way Noah, and Milwaukee’s offense is not going to strike fear in anyone.

Honorable Mentions:

Rubby De La Rosa: (@SF; vs PIT) If you like rolling the dice on a live arm.

Joe Kelly: (vs TB; @HOU) TB has zero offense, but Houston will be a difficult start.

Patrick Corbin: (@SF) Great matchup vs. Matt Cain. Corbin has been very good since coming back from TJ and I think he continues his ascension to one of the games top 25 starting pitchers.

Now the very undude (not recommended/underperforming for you not familiar with Lebowski) starters for this week’s pitching planner:

John Lackey: (@SL) Mike Leake; (@CIN) Alfredo Simon

Lackey has two very tough matchups this week. He is usually a solid start, but pitching on the road in two tough parks vs. two tough lineups will equal a tough week for the 37-year-old right hander. I do think he can squeeze one more good season out of his right arm despite his age, it’s just not going to be a good week for him.

Yordano Ventura: (vs DET) Shane Greene; (vs BAL) Ubaldo Jimenez

The 24-year-old Ventura is off to a good start besides the high walk rates.  I believe this is the week that the walks catch up to him. The Tigers and Orioles are two explosive offenses that if you do hand out too many free passes they will put up some crooked numbers in a hurry. I believe Ventura will still have a good season but this is not a week I would start him if I had a decent option to replace him with.

Drew Smyly: (@ BOS) Joe Kelly; (@ NYY) Michael Pineda.

With very little offense to back him up and two road starts in great hitters ballparks this week looks to be very difficult for Smyly.  The Yankees and Red Sox, though not the powers they were of the early 2000’s, are still formidable offenses that can rake in their home parks. Tampa Bay is already scuffling at the plate and without too much help on the horizon Smiley is in for a long 2 start week.

Garrett Richards: (@ CHW) Chris Sale.

I love Richards this season but this is a bear of a matchup for him. Chris Sale is about as good as it gets and the South Siders park and lineup are not going to do Richards any favors this week. If you have another reasonable option I’d probably go with it.

(Dis)Honorable Mentions:

MadBum/Greinke: (in SF). They face each other this week and although Greinke has not looked good so far this year, this matchup could go either way.

Taijuan Walker: (@ CLE). Tough matchup vs. Danny Salazar on the road. Walker has a great future but not this week.

Chris Archer: (@ BOS). Archer is coming off a tough start and it won’t get any easier in Fenway.

Thanks for reading this week’s pitching planner. Use the comments below to let me know what you want to see in this space each week.

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