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Fantasy Baseball: Two-Start Pitchers for Week 14

Attempting to manage each of the five pitching categories in Roto leagues can often lead you down divergent paths and it’s something that must be managed. You have to find the perfect balancing act between ERA/WHIP and Wins/Strikeouts and then Saves also come into play. When we are dealing with Points leagues, things are very different as it no longer matters where the points come from, just how many points you can accumulate. In either type of league, effectively using two-start pitchers can be a great way to stay ahead of your competition.

I won’t be listing all two-start pitchers for the upcoming week as that could be too cumbersome. With this being said, we will only detail the viable options that will be taking the mound twice.

If you are in the position of trolling the waiver wire, especially in deeper leagues, it is hard to find comfort with the options that are likely available, so caution must be exercised. Regardless of league size, this is something that must be managed across the board. The good news though, is that we have a lot of strong options to work with this week.

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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.

Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. LA Angels

Kershaw is turning back the clock this year, and as long as he is healthy and rolling, the left-hander is certainly worth our attention. The left-hander is striking out almost 10 batters per nine innings while posting a 2.55 ERA on the season. At home, where Kershaw is making both of his starts this week, the left-hander’s ERA is just 1.70 with opposing hitters batting just .191 against him. [Editor’s Note: Kershaw is dealing with shoulder inflammation. Monitor his status heading into the week.]

Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies, at Tampa Bay, at Miami

Nola will be spending the week in Florida and he is another pitcher whose strikeouts are down; 8.69 per nine innings compared to 10.32 last year. Home runs are up for Nola, but the good news is that 3.53 xERA offers optimism compared to his 4.51 ERA. While not the lights-out ace we have previously seen, Nola is still one of the best options you can find making two starts this week.

Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants, vs. Seattle, vs. Colorado

While his home-run-to-fly-ball rate has doubled this year, Webb has done a great job of keeping the ball on the ground at a rate of 61%. Webb continues to limit the walks while striking out a batter per inning and that has contributed to his 3.43 ERA on the season. With a 2.31 ERA at home this season, we get a clear advantage as Webb makes both of his starts in San Francisco this week.

Blake Snell, San Diego Padres, vs. LA Angels, vs. NY Mets

It is quite difficult to ignore what Snell has done over his last three starts as the left-hander has struck out 33 batters in 18 innings while pitching to a 1.00 ERA in that stretch. Walks will continue to be an issue for Snell but he has also shown the ability to pitch around them and striking out 12 batters per nine innings will help that and his 3.21 ERA.

Shane Bieber, Cleveland Guardians, vs. Atlanta, vs. Kansas City

Things have not gone according to plan for Bieber and his 3.48 ERA this season but based on his 3.96 FIP and 4.94 xERA entering Thursday’s start, it could also be worse. The real concerning issue with Bieber is the alarming decline in his strikeouts from 12.48 per nine innings in 2021 to 7.22 this season. Bieber’s average exit velocity against is up by almost two miles per hour compared to last year and his average fastball velocity is drastically down to 91.5 per miles per hour compared to 94.3 in 2020. With that said, he is still a solid option.

Solid Options

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, vs. Philadelphia, vs. Atlanta

In what has proven to be an underrated signing, Eflin has made Tampa Bay look good with a career-high 52.7% ground ball rate while striking out a batter per inning. Eflin’s 3.29 ERA lines up perfectly with all of his other metrics as the increased use of his cutter has been huge this year.

Jesus Luzardo, Miami Marlins, vs. St. Louis, vs. Philadelphia

Luzardo has walked just three batters combined in his last three starts and it is also impossible to ignore his 2.65 ERA at home this season. The southpaw’s average fastball velocity has kicked up this year to 96.8 miles per hour in what has been a strong second season with the Marlins.

Lucas Giolito, Chicago White Sox, vs. Toronto, vs. St. Louis

While things look very different for Giolito this year with a 3.53 ERA, compared to 4.90 in 2022, the two seasons are pretty similar from an xERA perspective; 4.23 and 4.26. The big thing for Giolito is that the walks are down from 3.40 per nine innings to 2.63, but it is troubling to see his barrel rate against and average launch angle climb.

Logan Gilbert, Seattle Mariners, at San Francisco, at Houston

Gilbert has improved both his walk and ground ball rate this season but the issue is that his 4.19 ERA does not reflect that as it is coming in a run higher than last season. With a 3.60 FIP though, Gilbert can still be trusted as he works a splitter in this season.

Christian Javier, Houston Astros, at Texas, vs. Seattle

Things have been downright brutal for Javier, allowing 10 runs over his last two starts and 14 runs in his last four, which also included six innings of shutout baseball against the Nationals. At a rate of 26.3%, Javier has never been a groundball pitcher and while that certainly limits his success, it was not an issue last year as he pitched to a 2.54 ERA. The strikeouts are down in a big way compared to last year, 11.74 per nine innings compared to 8.07, as Javier continues to deal with an average launch angle of over 20 degrees. Javier is still a talented pitcher, just don’t overvalue him.

Joe Ryan, Minnesota Twins, vs. Kansas City, vs. Baltimore

The good news is that Ryan has not walked a batter in his last three starts while striking out 21 in 19 innings, but the bad news is that he has a 5.68 ERA in that stretch. After walking 2.88 batters per nine innings last year, Ryan has it down to 1.40 this year while striking out close to 10 batters per nine innings. The problem though, is that Ryan has allowed seven home runs in June leading to a 4.83 ERA after sub-three ERAs in the first two months of the year.

Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates, at LA Dodgers, at Arizona

Keller is having sustained success in what is the best season of his young career with a 3.34 ERA. The right-hander has been pretty locked in with an average fastball velocity of close to 96 miles per hour while striking out over 10 batters per nine innings. He is getting close to half his outs on the ground and with a barrel-rate under 10% and an average launch angle of just 7.6 degrees, opposing hitters are having issues against Keller.

Bryce Elder, Atlanta Braves, at Cleveland, at Tampa Bay

Elder continues to outperform his 3.74 xERA with a 2.44 ERA as he gets by with an average fastball velocity of just under 91 miles per hour as a 55.7% ground ball rate certainly helps. Hitters just have not been able to square up Elder this year as he has an average barrel rate against of just 5.9% while opposing hitters have an average launch angle of just 6.9 degrees.

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.

Kodai Senga, New York Mets, at Arizona, at San Diego

In what has been an uneven rookie season for Senga, he has been decidedly worse on the road than at home, 4.58 ERA compared to 2.64, but things have been getting better for the right-hander. The strikeouts have been there for Senga, 11.13 per nine innings, but the fact that he is walking more than five batters per nine innings will continue to be difficult for him to surpass even if he has been doing so overall this year.

Braxton Garrett, Miami Marlins, vs. St. Louis, vs. Philadelphia

Garrett continued his success with a 1.50 ERA in his last three starts as he struck out 23 batters while walking just two. This follows the trend we have been seeing all season from the southpaw whose ERA for June is down to 2.22 with opposing hitters batting just .188 against him. Garrett has struggled at home this season, and that cannot be ignored, but he has certainly settled into a groove.

Gavin Williams, Cleveland Guardians, vs. Atlanta, vs. Kansas City

After rising through the minor leagues as a top prospect for the Guardians, Williams recently made his way to Cleveland and he is looking to build on that success. While adjusting to the major leagues is not easy, Williams has the talent and minor league track record to do so after posting a 2.84 ERA in his first two starts.

Dane Dunning, Texas Rangers, at Boston, at Washington

Dunning’s struggles in the strikeout department, 5.71 per nine innings, certainly remove the upside here but we do get innings out of the right-hander along with two shots at a victory as he is 7-1 in 18 games, 10 starts. He has been able to limit the home runs and a ground ball rate of close to 50% certainly helps along with an opposing barrel-rate of just 7.3%.

Martin Perez, Texas Rangers, vs. Houston, at Washington

Perez is not the same pitcher he was last year, but that does not mean we should hold it against him in most leagues. You could make the argument that the left-hander is pitching worse than his 4.28 ERA (4.85 FIP) and Perez striking out just six batters per nine innings certainly removes much of the upside. His ground ball rate is back down compared to last season and with the home runs up, it is not the same dominant pitcher.

Tyler Wells, Baltimore Orioles, at NY Yankees, at Minnesota

Wells continues to put up strong numbers for the Orioles but we need to acknowledge that his ERA is about two runs better at home this season than on the road. The right-hander is striking out over a batter an inning while walking under two with the issue being the 1.85 home runs per nine innings he is allowing. While we certainly want to ride Wells’ success and enjoy the ride, it is also hard to ignore his .193 BABIP.

Kyle Gibson, Baltimore Orioles, at NY Yankees, at Minnesota

Eight victories in 17 starts for Gibson this season is his most redeeming quality but he is a quality starter otherwise who likely won’t hurt you too bad even if his seven strikeouts per nine innings do not generate too much upside.

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.

Lance Lynn, Chicago White Sox, vs. Toronto, vs. St. Louis

What do we do with Lynn at this point? His 5.30 ERA over the last three starts is not going to generate good feelings, but at the same time, it is difficult to ignore his 30 strikeouts in 18.2 innings in that stretch. A 6.47 ERA on the season should scare you off, but a 4.70 xERA and 3.84 xFIP tell me not to give up all hope. If only Lynn was not giving up over two home runs per nine innings it would be a different story.

Domingo German, New York Yankees, vs. Baltimore, vs. Chicago Cubs

There is no disputing what we saw a few nights ago as German threw a perfect game in Oakland. We then need to remind ourselves that this was the A’s we are dealing with but no one can take away what the right-hander did. Things have been up and down for German this season with the overall result a true mixed bag, but I am still going to exercise some caution.

Bryan Woo, Seattle Mariners, at San Francisco, at Houston

Woo is in the midst of three strong starts with a 1.69 ERA while striking out 21 batters in 16 innings. The good thing here is that the Mariners are letting Woo go a little deeper into games, but we are still working with a small sample size. Prior to his promotion, Woo had a 2.05 ERA in 44 innings at Double-A and he continues to wrack up the strikeouts.

J.P. France, Houston Astros, vs. Colorado, vs. Seattle

France has done a solid job of stepping up for the Astros through 10 starts this season but his 3.13 ERA could be a bit misleading. With that being said, a 7.6% opposing barrel rate prevents opposing hitters from going too crazy against France but the lack of strikeouts will limit his true upside.

Miles Mikolas, St. Louis Cardinals, at Miami, at Chicago White Sox

Mikolas has been struggling as of late with a 6.07 ERA in June as he sandwiched a rough start to the season with a successful month of May. The right-hander has been better on the road this year with a 3.63 ERA away from St. Louis and that gives him some potential value this year.

Drew Smyly, Chicago Cubs, at Milwaukee, at NY Yankees

Smyly’s ERA still sits just under four but with a FIP of 4.60, I’m not sure how much longer that will last. The left-hander continues to struggle keeping the ball in the park, 1.36 home runs per nine innings, With a 5.81 ERA so far in June, I’m more apt to keep my distance from the left-hander despite his earlier success.

Julio Teheran, Milwaukee Brewers, vs. Chicago Cubs, vs. Cincinnati

With a 4.86 ERA in his last three starts, I am thinking that things are starting to turn in the wrong direction for the right-hander. His ERA still sits at 2.85 on the season but Teheran’s FIP of 5.08 is more indicative of how he is pitching and his 5.49 strikeouts per inning takes away the upside.

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.

Kyle Hendricks, Chicago Cubs, at Milwaukee, at NY Yankees

Hendricks is gaining attention as the veteran continues to be a solid option through the first seven starts of his season. The right-hander is benefiting from a .221 BABIP which has led to a 2.81 ERA. What will keep him down is the lack of strikeouts but Hendricks has been a solid option throughout his career.

Clarke Schmidt, New York Yankees, vs. Baltimore, vs. Chicago Cubs

Schmidt has seemingly found a groove and the success of his cutter has been a large factor with the right-hander throwing it 24.3% of the time. His 3.83 ERA at home also helps to provide a good feeling about this week’s process as that is where he will be making both of his starts.

Luis Ortiz, Pittsburgh Pirates, at LA Dodgers, at Arizona

Ortiz is frustrating as I want to be higher on the talented right-hander considering his minor league success, but it is also difficult to do so. The good news is that Ortiz has a 50.6% ground ball rate but we are not going to get strikeouts out of him, 5.54 per nine innings, and walks are also an issue and potential roadblock at 4.47 per nine innings.

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