Finally, the wait is over. Major League Baseball is here, and I for one, could not be happier. A new season brings new beginnings. It brings a fresh start and 162 chances for a team to write their story. For us fantasy crazies, records are set to 0-0, hopes are high, and everyone has their eyes set on that championship trophy. For the next 23 weeks or so, depending on your league, I will be giving a break down of two-start pitchers for each week. Two-start pitchers are incredibly important to fantasy owners, especially those who set their lineups weekly as opposed to daily.
Now, for hundreds of reasons that I don’t have time to list, Opening Day is special. This season, it’s not only special, it’s also unique in that (almost) every team kicked off their seasons this past Thursday. What does that mean for fantasy? It means that week one will consist of 11 days of baseball in most leagues. If your league falls into that category, then expect Opening Day starting pitchers to definitely make two, maybe even three starts in Week 1. For this article, though, I’ll be taking a look at the first full-week of fantasy baseball at Fantrax. So let’s dive in head first and take a look at two-start pitchers for the week of April 2-8.
*As always, keep in mind that these are the probable two-start pitchers as of Friday, March 30 and are subject to change.
It’s simple. These are the two-start guys that you should slot into your roster and not worry about them. These are the guys that have a pair of favorable matchups, are hot of late, or are just plain studs.
Jameson Taillon – Mon 4/2 vs. MIN, Sun 4/8 vs. CIN
He may not be starting Opening Day for the Pirates, but it’s pretty clear that they view the young Jameson Taillon as their ace. He’s dealt with health issues throughout his young career, including a battle with testicular cancer, but is healthy heading into 2018. If he can stay healthy, expect a breakout season from the 26-year-old. That potential breakout starts with two favorable matchups to start the season. Taillon will take the mound against Minnesota on Monday and Cincinnati on Sunday. Though he’s totaled only 237.2 career innings, Taillon finds himself in familiar territory to start the season. Both starts will be at home, where he’s logged 144.2 innings. His second start will come against the Reds, who he’s faced more than any team in the Majors. That familiarity, along with the fact that Taillon has a 2.08 ERA in five March/April starts, makes him a no-brainer in Week 1.
Charlie Morton – Mon 4/2 vs. BAL, Sun 4/8 vs. SD
What in the world happened to Charlie Morton in 2017? Seemingly out of nowhere he turned into a 14-game winner with a 3.62 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and a World Series ring. He learned to use his arsenal effectively by working up in the zone, added a cutter, and even saw an increase in velocity at 34 years old. Morton’s first two starts of the season, against Baltimore and San Diego, will both take place at Minute Maid where he posted a 10-3 record and 3.34 ERA over 16 starts. Morton loves pitching at home, demonstrated by his heroic performances in the postseason last year. Also, as if you needed a reminder, the Padres are not good. Sorry, Padres fans.
Tanner Roark – Mon 4/2 @ ATL, Sun 4/8 vs. NYM
It was a disappointing season for Roark, who posted career-worsts in both ERA (4.67) and WHIP (1.33). There was some silver lining, though, as Roark looked closer to his old self as the season went on. After the All-Star break, Roark posted a 3.90 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, and 9.6 K/9. All significantly better than his first-half performance. Roark’s best months have his career have come early on in the season, as he owns a 2.90 ERA in 15 March/April starts. Atlanta and New York don’t have overpowering offenses, so expect Roark to put together a pair of solid starts to start the season.
Cole Hamels – Tue 4/3 @ OAK, Sun 4/8 vs. TOR
Don’t read too far into Hamels’ 2017 season. He was dealing with an oblique injury early on in 2017 but looks healthy heading into 2018. Before last season, Hamels hadn’t posted an ERA over 3.65 since 2009. Expect him to shake off last season and get off to a hot start in 2018.
Kendall Graveman – Tue 4/3 vs. TEX, Sun 4/8 @ LAA
Graveman got off to one of the hottest starts in baseball last season with four straight quality starts. He ended up missing three months and pitched sparingly through the summer before finishing the season with four fantastic starts. Now healthy, Graveman should be a huge piece of the A’s rotation.
Lance Lynn – Mon 4/2 @ PIT, Sun 4/8 @ SEA
Proceed With Caution
I wouldn’t be so quick about running these guys out there for two starts in Week 1. That’s not to say I wouldn’t give them a look, though. If you’re a risk taker or are in a position where you need all the help you can get, give these guys a look.
Mike Clevinger – Mon 4/2 @ LAA, Sun 4/8 vs. KC
Clevinger put together somewhat of a breakout in 2017. Over 121.2 innings (21 starts), Clevinger posted a 3.11 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 10.13 K/9. After a solid spring, he earned the fifth and final spot in the Indians’ rotation. He’ll start the season with a pair of starts against the Angels and Royals, both at home. The biggest concern I have with Clevinger is his tendency to lose the zone. His 12.0 percent walk-rate last year was troublesome and made it hard for him to pitch deep into games. When he’s on, he’s on. Just look at his 27.3 K rate. However, the walks are enough for me to proceed cautiously.
Taijuan Walker – Mon 4/2 vs. LAD, Sun 4/8 @ STL
Don’t get me wrong. I am all in on Walker this year. After a great full-season last year and the addition of the humidor at Chase Field, Walker has a lot of things going his way to start the season. I expect big things from him, but you always have to be careful going up against one of the best offenses in baseball.
Julio Teheran – Tue 4/3 vs. WAS, 4/8 @ COL
Similar deal with Teheran. I’m expecting a big season, but starting the season against the Nats and Rockies, especially at Coors, is enough for me to be cautious.
Jordan Montgomery – Mon 4/2 vs. TB, Sun 4/8 vs. BAL
At 24 years old, Montgomery surprised everyone by putting up a rookie season that landed him in sixth place in the AL ROTY voting. He demonstrated a top-10 average fastball velocity (92 mph) and controlled it well throughout the season with a 7.9 percent walk rate. Montgomery’s first two starts will both come at Yankee Stadium where, interestingly enough, he excelled. He posted a 3.42 ERA and gave up seven homers at home compared to 4.38 and 14 homers on the road. His second start of the season comes against the Orioles, whom he’s posted a 2.67 ERA against in five starts.
Jamie Garcia – Mon 4/2 vs. CHW, Sun 4/8 @ TEX
Miguel Gonzalez – Mon 4/2 @ TOR, Sun 4/8 @ DET
There’s similar risk involved in these two guys. Both have been around a long time and both have shown they can be great on occasion. There’s no guarantee by any means, but there’s always the chance that Garcia and Gonzalez could give you six or seven solid innings. Be careful, though, as they could just as easily fail to make it past the third.
Tyler Chatwood – Mon 4/2 @ CIN, Sun 4/8 @ MIL
Finally. We get to see what Tyler Chatwood can do in a full season away from Colorado. He’s posted a 1.69 ERA and 3.49 ERA in 2016 and 2017, respectively, on the road. Understandably so, he’s liked pitching away from Coors and will have a chance to do it for a full season in 2018.
Ben Lively – Mon 4/2 @NYM, Sat 4/7 vs. MIA
Chase Anderson – Tue 4/3 vs. STL, Sun 4/8 vs. CHC
Kyle Freeland – Tue 4/3 @ SD, Sun 4/8 vs. ATL
Miles Mikolas – Mon 4/2 @ MIL, Sun 4/8 vs. ARI
Ty Blach – Tue 4/3 vs. SEA, Sun 4/8 vs. LAD
Marco Gonzales – Tue 4/3 @ SF, Sun 4/8 @ MIN
Nothing To See Here
Stay away from these guys. I know the thought of two starts in a week is tempting, but it’s more likely these guys put you in the negative than help you.
Bartolo Colon – Mon 4/2 @ OAK, Sat 4/7 vs. TOR
I’m honestly surprised Colon was given a rotation spot. The ageless wonder finally started to look his age (44) in 2017, and I expect the trend to continue this season.
Clayton Richard – Tue 4/3 vs. COL, Sun 4/8 @ HOU
Bryan Mitchell – Mon 4/2 vs. COL, Sat 4/7 @ HOU
Both Richard and Mitchell have the tough task of facing offensive powerhouses Colorado and Houston back-to-back. Without much run support behind them, these games could get really ugly, really quickly.
Chris Tillman – Mon 4/2 @ HOU, Sat 4/7 @ NYY
Tillman must’ve drawn the short straw among American League pitchers. Starting the season with two starts against the top-two rated offenses in the AL? Ouch. Tillman undoubtedly earns this week’s “Why Me?” award.
Matt Harvey – Mon 4/2 vs. PHI, Sun 4/8 @ WAS
Oh, Matt Harvey. How quickly people forget the dominance that was the Dark Knight. From back-to-back Cy Young worthy seasons to a whole lot of nothin’. I’m a believer in the Harvey Bounce Back Movement, but not this early. Especially not with a tough matchup against the Nationals looming.
Hyun-Jin Ryu – Mon 4/2 @ ARI, Sun 4/8 @ SF
Jake Junis – Mon 4/2 @ DET, Sun 4/8 @ CLE
JC Ramirez – Mon 4/2 vs. CLE, Sun 4/8 vs. OAK
Tyler Mahle – Mon 4/2 vs. CHC, Sun 4/8 @ PIT
Matt Boyd – Mon 4/2 vs. KC, Sun 4/8 @ CWS
Zach Davies – Mon 4/2 vs. STL, Sat 4/7 vs. CHC
Brian Johnson – Mon 4/2 @ MIA, Sun 4/8 vs. TB
Daniel Gossett – Mon 4/2 vs. TEX, Sat 4/7 @ LAA