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Fantasy Baseball: Two-Start Pitchers for Week 10

There iare only a finite number of strikeouts and wins available, and it seems that the supply is dwindling by the day. Of course, the intention is to tally as many as possible, but your ratios cannot be dismissed which means a balancing act is in order. One large piece of this strategy is to target two-start pitchers to help you maximize the aforementioned counting stats while preserving your ERA and WHIP as much as possible.

I won’t be listing all two-start pitchers for the upcoming week as that could be too cumbersome. Instead, we will get into only the viable options that will be taking the mound twice.

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Fantasy Baseball Two Start Pitchers

No Doubters

There are simply some pitchers who are going to be weekly occupants of your starting lineup regardless of any other variables.

Shane McClanahan, Tampa Bay Rays, vs. Minnesota, vs. Texas

You know things are going well when a start in which McClanahan allowed just two runs results in his first loss of the season. My one complaint is the fact that Tampa Bay does not let him pitch deep into games as he is averaging just under six innings per start, but he does have 82 strikeouts in 69.2 innings to go along with a 2.07 ERA and 1.15 WHIP.

Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays, vs. Houston, vs. Minnesota

While Gausman has had some control issues in his last three starts, nine in 20 innings, they have not slowed the right-hander down all that much as he has struck out 23 batters and picked up two victories to go along with a 1.35 ERA. On the season, it has not been an issue as Gausman is walking just over two batters per nine innings while striking out 12. Facing Houston is always tough, but I wouldn’t be intimidated as he is already up to 100 strikeouts on the season with a 2.76 ERA (2.38 FIP).

Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians, vs. Boston, vs. Houston

After allowing a combined four runs in 14.2 innings over two starts, Bieber had another rough outing in his last appearance as he allowed seven runs in just four innings. It was another piece of what has been a less-than-ideal season for Bieber with a 3.72 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, and just 53 strikeouts in 75 innings. With a 4.14 FIP, it is hard to feel too good about Bieber, but there are still not enough warning signs to keep us away or to spend much energy on it.

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies, vs. Detroit, vs. LA Dodgers

Nola’s ground ball rate is at a career-low mark of 37.3% but he is also allowing home runs at a career mark of 1.45 per nine innings. Despite this, the right-hander’s 4.70 ERA should be better based on his 3.96 xERA but Nola is also at a career low of 7.83 strikeouts per nine innings. Even with this being the case, Nola was drafted as an ace and he should still be treated as such.

Hunter Brown, Houston Astros, at Toronto, at Cleveland

Things do start off difficult for Brown against the Blue Jays, but the outlook does improve as a faces the Guardians to close out the week. Even when he does struggle, the right-hander is still striking out batters at a high level with 10.68 per nine innings. Brown has been able to pitch around a .342 BABIP and 69% strand rate against which explains his 2.90 FIP compared to his 3.60 ERA.

Solid Options

These pitchers are likely going to be rostered in the majority, if not all leagues, and started in most of them as well.

Bryce Elder, Atlanta Braves, vs. NY Mets, vs. Washington

The rookie has been the latest in bright pitching developments for Atlanta, but can we expect him to keep it up at this level? Elder’s 1.92 ERA is sure to catch your attention, and there is no reason not to ride the wave as he has an ERA of just 1.92 in his last three starts, but there is a stark difference when looking at his 3.42 FIP. Even at that level, we will certainly run Elder out every time as his 57.6% ground ball rate helps him pitch out of trouble as does his barrel rate of just 7%.

Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds, vs. LA Dodgers, at St. Louis

Get me the strikeouts. You can deal with a 32.9% ground ball rate when it comes with 12.77 strikeouts per nine innings, but with a 3.92 ERA this season it has been a solid body of work all around for Greene.

Justin Steele, Chicago Cubs, at LA Angels, at San Francisco

Based on his performance this season, 2.65 ERA, Steele certainly deserves to be here, but we need to keep an eye on his health after Steele left his last start with an elbow issue. While it does not appear to be serious, a missed start could still be in order, so have a backup plan at the ready.

Tony Gonsolin, Los Angeles Dodgers, at Cincinnati, at Philadelphia

Gonsolin has picked up right where he left off after returning from injury with a 1.77 ERA and I’m certainly rolling him out there this week with two solid matchups; especially against the Reds. A 4.60 FIP and less than seven strikeouts per nine innings isn’t exactly ideal but opposing hitters don’t exactly make solid contact against him and that can help explain Gonsolin’s .155 BABIP.

Nestor Cortes, New York Yankees, vs. Chicago White Sox, vs. Boston

Ground balls are generally not Cortes’ thing, but at 25.9% this season, he is struggling a little more than normal in that department. After the last two years, Cortes has proven he can be trusted and his 3.74 xERA does paint a better picture than his 5.16 ERA.

Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox, at NY Yankees, vs. Miami

Home runs and walks are going to be something we need to stay aware of with Giolito, but the right-hander does strike out a batter per inning to go along with the quality start we will likely see from him.

Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers, vs. Baltimore, vs. Oakland

Anytime we have a pitcher taking the mound against the A’s, that is sure to catch our attention. Give me a strikeout per inning from Peralta and the fact that each of his starts come at home this week is huge given his 3.38 ERA there compared to 6.45 on the road.

Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals, at Texas, vs. Cincinnati

Despite a career-low groundball rate of 39.4%, Mikolas is continuing to get results this season as he continues to be a viable option that should not sink your ratios too badly while striking out close a batter per inning and being in line for a victory.

Worthy of a Start in Most Leagues

In 10-team leagues, these options might be not worth the trouble, but in anything deeper, these Fantasy Baseball Two Start Pitchers are worth strong consideration at a minimum, and likely deserving of a starting spot this week.

Blake Snell, San Diego Padres, vs. Chicago Cubs, at Colorado

The fact that Snell’s second start of the week comes in Coors Field does push him down a slot. Even though Snell has a 4.50 ERA, his 5.07 FIP says things could be much worse and 5.46 walks and 1.45 home runs per nine innings will not generate much confidence either. On the positive side of things, Snell is striking out close to 10 batters per nine innings so he should at least contribute in that department in what should be a mixed bag this week.

Kyle Gibson, Baltimore Orioles, at Milwaukee, vs. Kansas City

While we do not want to explicitly chase victories, that is why we are here. Gibson has been swept up in Baltimore’s success this season with seven victories including wins in each of his last three starts. We are not going to get many strikeouts, about six per innings, here but he has been a solid option with a 3.89 ERA on the season.

Martin Perez, Texas Rangers, vs. St. Louis, at Tampa Bay

It is clear that Perez is not the same pitcher he was last year from a results standpoint, and there are two metrics that jump out here. For really the first time in his career, Perez was able to limit the long ball (.5 per nine innings) but that has reverted back to his career norms (1.48 this season). Additionally, Perez’s ground ball rate dropped from 51.4% to 41.1% and that means we have to think a little longer about using him this season.

James Paxton, Boston Red Sox, at Cleveland, at New York Yankees

With almost 13 strikeouts per nine innings in the four starts since his return, Paxton has hit the ground running but the problem is that he is averaging just under five innings per outing. Paxton does need to do a better job of getting the ball on the ground, 21.7%, but as long as he keeps the ball in the park, things have gone well to this point.

Digging Deeper

This is where we really need to limit ourselves to leagues of 15-plus teams as we need all the innings we can get; but at what cost? This is the last bastion of two-start pitchers who are rostered in more than 50% of leagues.

Louie Varland, Minnesota Twins, at Tampa Bay, at Toronto

It will not be easy for Varland this week as he faces two tough opponents, but Varland has been a nice surprise for Minnesota this year. In his last three starts, Varland has a 2.50 ERA over 18 innings which brought his ERA down to 3.51 on the season and that should bring him more attention entering this week. It is difficult to expect Varland’s 90.4% strand rate to continue but 4.90 FIP and 3.68 xFIP offer varying view points. What I am more concerned about is the fact that he has a 21.4% home run to fly ball rate while allowing about two long balls every nine innings.

Alex Manoah, Toronto Blue Jays, vs. Houston, vs. Minnesota

This is not at all where we expected Manoah to be heading into the season and it is quite difficult to feel comfortable with him even if your team was built to rely on him. As if his 5.46 ERA was not bad enough, Manoah’s 6.27 FIP is even scarier and his 6.40 walks per nine innings are absolutely crushing while he is striking out just 7.49 batters per nine innings. Use at your own risk here as a middle reliever might be the better option.

Waiver Wire Options

These are pitchers who are rostered in less than 50% of leagues who could provide value both for this week and the remainder of the season. This is especially the case in deeper leagues, but these options have potential across most formats if you are looking to maximize your innings.

Braxton Garrett, Miami Marlins, vs. Kansas City, at Chicago White Sox

I like the matchups for Garrett this week and part of that is the 1.62 ERA the left-hander has pitched to in his last three starts while striking out 18 batters in 16.2 innings. Things have gone well as of late for the southpaw, and the expectation is for that to continue this week as Garrett becomes more popular.

Carlos Carrasco, New York Mets, at Atlanta, at Pittsburgh

The week gets off to a tough start for Carrasco against the Braves, and Pittsburgh has proven that they cannot be taken lightly. Carrasco does have two wins in his last three starts and his injury issues have kept him on the waiver wire in a lot of leagues as has his 5.74 ERA. It is a small sample size, but you are right to be troubled by his 5.46 strikeouts per nine innings while walking 3.73 and allowing 1.72 home runs per nine innings. It will not be easy for the veteran, but his last few starts have been better.

Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs, at San Diego, at San Francisco

Hendricks is another reliable veteran who recently came off the Injured List, and what you see is what you get here. The right-hander should strike out around eight batters per nine innings while keeping the Cubs in the game and he shouldn’t hurt you too badly.

Johan Oviedo, Pittsburgh Pirates, vs. Oakland, vs. NY Mets

Any time we see a pitcher take the mound against the A’s it is always going to catch our attention, and with a 2.81 ERA in his last three starts, things have been going well for Oviedo. What is a problem though is the 4.66 batters Oviedo is walking per nine innings even if he has been able to work around it for the most part with a 4.50 ERA and 3.87 xERA.

Brandon Bielak, Houston Astros, at Toronto, at Cleveland

Run support should not be a problem here for Bielak, and the right-hander has struck out close to a batter an inning in his last three starts with a 3.12 ERA as he takes advantage of his opportunity. Given the fact that Bielak has thrown just 31 innings at the big league level, I’m not going to worry too much about certain things, but home runs and walks are on our radar (just like everyone else in these parts).

Tommy Henry, Arizona Diamondbacks, at Washington, at Detroit

Lack of strikeouts, too many walks, and issues with the long ball. Stop me if you have heard this before from pitchers in this tier, but that is what we are dealing with out of Henry. That also helps to explain the difference between Henry’s 3.72 ERA and 5.22 FIP, but he does have two favorable matchups this week.

Julio Teheran, Milwaukee Brewers, at Cincinnati, vs. Oakland

After being newly signed by the Brewers, Teheran gets a nice landing spot with two nice matchups in the upcoming week. Through his first two starts, Teheran has a 0.82 in 11 innings, and while we need to keep our expectations in check, facing the Reds and A’s should help.

JP Sears, Oakland A’s, at Pittsburgh, at Milwaukee

Do not go looking for a victory here, but Sears will strike out close to a batter an inning while limiting the walks. Home runs and a lack of ground balls have led to trouble for Sears this season and his 5.97 ERA on the road should lead you to keep your distance unless desperate.

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