Building a winning pitching staff in fantasy baseball is all about wins, strikeouts, and walks. 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
There are simply some pitchers who are going to be weekly occupants of your starting lineup regardless of any other variables.
Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves, at Detroit, vs. Colorado
Talk about a great week for Strider as he looks to bounce back after his customary struggles against the Mets. Facing the Tigers at home is not going to generate fear and it is also hard to argue with facing Colorado on the road. In case you have not heard, Strider is pretty good at the strikeout aspect of our game, 14.78 Ks per nine innings, and it is also hard to argue with his 3.79 ERA although Strider’s 2.85 FIP will generate more optimism.
Zack Wheeler, Philadelphia Phillies, at Arizona, at Oakland
Facing Arizona is not as easy as we thought it might be, but it does not get any better than facing the A’s in Oakland as Wheeler does to close out the week. Wheeler took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Tigers in his last start and it was a great way to bounce back after allowing seven runs against Washington in his previous start.
Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants, at St. Louis, at LA Dodgers
Webb’s last start was the first time since the middle of April that he allowed more than three runs, but four runs in 5.1 innings at Coors Field is not too bad all things considered. The home runs are up for Webb this season, about one every nine innings, but the ground ball rate continues to be high (58.6%) while he minimizes walks and strikes out a batter per inning.
Joe Musgrove, San Diego Padres, vs. Cleveland, vs. Tampa Bay
Musgrove got off to a delayed start this season and things were bumpy, but over 17.1 innings in his last three starts, the right-hander has allowed just two runs. He should be finding his groove at this point, through eight starts and 41.1 innings, but Musgrove is striking out a batter per inning and his 3.12 xERA is more reflective of expectations than his 4.35 ERA.
These two-start pitchers are likely going to be rostered in the majority, if not all leagues, and started in most of them as well.
Zach Eflin, Tampa Bay Rays, at Oakland, at San Diego
At this point, Eflin is getting very close to jumping up a category as he has proven Tampa Bay very right after investing in him this off-season. Eflin is generating a career-high ground ball rate of 53.9% while striking out close to a batter per inning which helps to explain the 2.97 ERA. A big change and we can clearly see the positive results, is the swap of Eflin’s fastball for a cutter which has led to success.
Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners, vs. Miami, vs. Chicago White Sox
Gilbert needed just 97 pitches to go seven innings for the win against San Diego in his last start as he allowed just one run while striking out six. Compared to the last two seasons, the strikeouts, 10.03 per nine innings, are popping for Gilbert while he continues to do a great job of limiting the walks (1.65). These are two winnable matchups for Gilbert who has done a good job of incorporating a split-fingered fastball this season and throwing it about 14% of the time.
Jesus Luzardo, Miami Marlins, at Seattle, at Washington
In four of Luzardo’s last six starts, the left-hander has allowed just one run while giving up 11 earned runs in his other two starts. Luzardo is more than getting by this season with a 3.79 ERA as he is striking out 10.51 batters per nine innings but it is worth noting he is substantially better at home (3.04 ERA) than on the road (5.13 ERA) so this week could be a mixed bag with a nice amount of strikeouts.
Chris Bassitt, Toronto Blue Jays, at Boston, at Texas
Bassitt followed up a disaster against Minnesota by allowing just two runs in 15.2 innings in his next two starts, so there really is not much to worry about here. Bassitt is not going to go nuts with strikeouts or overpower you in general, but the right-hander continues to get the job done.
Jon Gray, Texas Rangers, vs. LA Angels, vs. Toronto
The Rangers will need to lean on Gray more than ever, and the good news is that he has proven to be up to the task. In his last three starts, Gray has a microscopic 0.78 ERA while striking out 25 batters in 23 innings. With a .226 BABIP this season and 88.3% strand rate, Gray has been “lucky” to a point this season and it is slightly concerning to see the groundball rate down to 37.8% this year. The results have still been there though, and that is what we are after.
Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves, at Detroit, vs. Colorado
Morton needs work on limiting the walks, almost four per nine innings, although striking out about 10 batters per nine innings does help. Additionally, Morton got his ground ball rate back up to 47.7% after struggling in that department last season. The veteran can still get the job done and he has two favorable matchups this week.
Pablo Lopez, Minnesota Twins, vs. Milwaukee, vs. Detroit
Lopez is coming off as strong outing against Tampa Bay as he allowed just one run in seven innings of work in what has been a solid first season in Minnesota. There is a nice differential between Lopez’s 4.25 ERA and 3.36 xERA and he is striking out a career-high 10.57 batters per nine innings.
James Paxton, Boston Red Sox, vs. Colorado, vs. NY Yankees
Paxton continues to strike out batters at a high level, 12.46 per nine innings, which helps to make up for a 25% ground ball rate. While Paxton is still not pitching deep into games, the left-hander’s ERA is still 3.81 on the season and it is hard to argue with the strikeouts.
Worthy of a Start in Most Leagues
In 10-team leagues, these two-start pitchers 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.
Luis Severino, New York Yankees, at NY Mets, at Boston
Severino has simply looked off in his last two starts allowing 11 earned runs in just nine innings. The right-hander has only gotten out of the fifth inning in one of his four starts this year and considering he has a BABIP of just .232, things could even be worse for Severino.
Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox, at LA Dodgers, at Seattle
Things were seemingly going better for Lynn but then he allowed 13 runs in his last two starts which bounced us back to reality. Lynn is still striking out a batter per inning but things are unsettled here as his ERA at 6.72 drops down to an xERA of 5.41 and then an xFIP of 4.15. As long as you know what you are getting into here and you are prepared for it, then there is nothing to worry about.
Dane Dunning, Texas Rangers, vs. LA Angels, vs. Toronto
Dunning’s spot in the starting rotation appears to be secured but the fact that he is striking out just 5.53 batters per nine innings is limiting and could be a problem. The good news is that opposing hitters have a barrel rate of just 5.3% against Dunning, but you should manage your expectations here even if he is worth a look in most leagues.
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.
Aaron Civale, Cleveland Guardians, at San Diego, at Arizona
We have gotten two strong starts out of Civale after close to a two-month absence as the right-hander has allowed just two runs in 10.2 innings. While he is not going to overpower opposing hitters, Civale should do a good job of keeping Cleveland in the game.
Tommy Henry, Arizona Diamondbacks, at Philadelphia, at Cleveland
It should not be surprising to see Henry’s percentage rostered increase, but 5.36 strikeouts against 3.77 walks per nine innings is not going to be for everyone when it comes with a 4.37 ERA and 5.78 FIP. There are two-start pitchers with higher upside to target.
Drew Kremer, Baltimore Orioles, vs. Toronto, at Chicago Cubs
Six victories in 13 starts is pretty solid for Kremer to begin the season on what has been a surprisingly successful Baltimore team. Kremer has had issues with the long ball, 1.54 per nine innings, so just be aware that there is some risk in play here.
Two-Start Pitchers from the Waiver Wire
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.
Reese Olson, Detroit Tigers, vs. Atlanta, at Minnesota
It will be a tough start for Olson against the Braves, but his first two starts are sure to have captured your attention. Olson has pitched five innings in each of his two starts while allowing a combined three runs while striking out nine. Olson did not get off to the best start at Triple-A this year but the stuff is there and you should at least get a strikeout per inning at a minimum.
Zack Greinke, Kansas City Royals, vs. Cincinnati, vs. LA Angels
Greinke is not a great option for those chasing victories, just one win in 13 starts, and at 66.2 innings on the season, it is not like he pitches deep into games either. Keeping runners off the basepaths, 1.12 WHIP, is the one area where Greinke excels, but we would like more than 6.75 strikeouts per nine innings as well.
Chase Anderson, Colorado Rockies, at Boston, at Atlanta
The fact that each of Anderson’s starts this week come away from Colorado gets things off to a strong start. Before we get too crazy, Anderson is only striking out 5.34 batters per nine innings and his 4.97 FIP is likely more reasonable than his 2.25 ERA. Anderson has been having success to this point though.
Matthew Liberatore, St. Louis Cardinals, vs. San Francisco, at NY Mets
The pedigree is there but the results have not been to this point for the former top prospect. Over the last two seasons, it has just been 49.2 innings at the big league level, and while the results have not been there, it is always worth taking a chance on talent.