This is it. All of the strategy we have talked about throughout the 2023 MLB season is gone. Simply right out the window. With one week left in the regular season, our journey here comes to an end, but there is still work to be done. At this point, you know what position you are in and what you need to bring home a championship. There are no more balancing acts and no more tomorrows. Let’s bring home the championship today.
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.
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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.
Blake Snell, San Diego Padres, at San Francisco, at Chicago White Sox
In what has been a truly disappointing season for the Padres, Blake Snell has flourished. The favorite for the NL Cy Young is one of my favorite two-start pitchers of the week due in part to his strikeout upside. With a 0.95 ERA in his last three starts, Snell has struck out 26 batters in 19 innings. Snell is striking out almost 12 batters per nine innings and that could make a real difference this week. Considering he is walking about five batters per nine innings, it is that much more impressive that Snell’s WHIP is just 1.20 along with a 2.33 ERA.
Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners, vs. Houston, vs. Texas
The regular season comes to a close for Luis Castillo with two critical divisional matchups. We do have to keep an eye on Saturday’s start though depending on where the Mariners are with regards to playoff position. Castillo has played a large role in Seattle’s success this season with a 3.06 ERA and 1.05 WHIP. In his last three starts when he was really needed, Castillo put up a 3-0 record with just a 1.89 ERA.
Kevin Gausman, Toronto Blue Jays, vs. NY Yankees, vs. Tampa Bay
Kevin Gausman gets to face the Yankees once again to begin a critical week for Toronto. The right-hander is generating almost 12 strikeouts per nine innings with a strong 3.29 ERA. That is backed up by a 2.99 FIP as Gausman is one of the true Cy Young contenders.
Justin Verlander, Houston Astros, at Seattle, at Arizona
In what could be considered an up-and-down season, it’s still a pretty strong campaign for Justin Verlander. He’s still going to get a fair amount of strikeouts while limiting the walks. At any point, Verlander can easily throw a gem and we have seen that multiple times this year.
Zac Gallen, Arizona Diamondbacks, at Chicago White Sox, vs. Houston
In what has been a strong season for Zac Gallen, it has been rough for the right-hander as of late. Sandwiched around a complete game shutout are two starts each in which he struggled allowing 11 and 10 runs. We have come too far to bench Gallen, and he is still striking out a little more than a batter per inning to go along with a 3.60 ERA and 1.12 WHIP.
Logan Webb, San Francisco Giants, vs. San Diego, vs. LA Dodgers
While Logan Webb won’t go over the top with strikeouts, you would be hard-pressed to find many better options among two-start pitchers. Webb doesn’t walk anyone, limits the home runs, has a 3.35 ERA, and keeps the ball on the ground at a rate of 61.6%.
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.
Kyle Bradish, Baltimore Orioles, vs. Washington, vs. Boston
Amongst all of the excitement with the Orioles, Kyle Bradish has almost gotten lost. He brings a 3.01 ERA into this week while striking out a batter per inning. Bradish has a solid 11 victories on the season while posting a 2.84 ERA in his last three starts. With an average launch angle against of just 7.1 degrees, things have gone pretty well for the right-hander.
Aaron Nola, Philadelphia Phillies, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. NY Mets
While Aaron Nola has been frustrating as of late, 4.80 ERA in his last three starts, it is still hard to bypass him. Despite a 4.57 ERA on the season, Nola has limited traffic on the bases with a 1.17 WHIP. Additionally, he is striking out a batter per inning and has two solid matchups this week. Additionally, a 3.83 xERA and 3.69 xFIP should help you feel better.
Hunter Greene, Cincinnati Reds, at Cleveland, at St. Louis
If you want to make an impact with strikeouts to close out the season, Hunter Greene could be your guy. In his last 18.2 innings, over three starts, Greene has 29 strikeouts while also posting a 1.93 ERA. Greene’s ERA now sits at 4.24 on the season, but with a 3.62 xERA, there is a lot to like here. Perhaps most importantly, both of Greene’s starts come on the road where he has a 3.68 ERA compared to 5.13 at home.
Justin Steele, Chicago Cubs, at Milwaukee, at Atlanta
In what has been a tremendous year for Justin Steele, his success has slowed down as of late. After all, that is what happens when you allow six earned runs in back-to-back starts. That brought Steele’s ERA up from 2.77 to 3.27 and it is unclear which version of the Braves he will face at the end of the week. Steele limits the walks, keeps the ball on the ground, and has allowed a barrel rate of just 5.2%.
Braxton Garrett, Miami Marlins, at NY Mets, at Pittsburgh
As the Marlins make a playoff push, Braxton Garrett has been dominant. In his last three starts, the southpaw’s ERA sits at just 0.57. It has turned out be a strong season for Garrett with a 3.53 ERA and 1.14 WHIP while striking out a batter per inning. With limited walks, 1.56 per nine innings, and a 49.7% ground ball rate, Garrett does a good job of staying out of trouble.
Lucas Giolito, Cleveland Guardians, vs. Cincinnati, at Detroit
We have seen Lucas Giolito bounce around this season, but he is finishing the season off strong. In his last three starts, Giolito has a 2.33 ERA while striking out 27 batters in 19.1 innings. The strikeouts are not something we have to worry about in what has been an up-and-down year for Giolito. His recent success is a nice development after allowing nine runs over three innings to begin the month.
George Kirby, Seattle Mariners, vs. Houston, vs. Texas
Let’s just hope that Seattle doesn’t ask for too much of George Kirby this week. In what has been a strong season, Kirby has a 5.64 so far in September with the fear being that he is losing steam. The overall body of work is good with a 3.58 ERA this season but at 178.2 innings, his stamina is being tested.
Kenta Maeda, Minnesota Twins, vs. Oakland, at Colorado
The fact that Kenta Maeda faces the A’s to begin the week is mitigated by traveling to Coors Field to close out the season. Maeda is a dependable veteran so I do feel a little better. With an 8% barrel rate from opposing hitters, Maeda doesn’t allow overwhelmingly strong contact, so there is a path to success.
Michael King, New York Yankees, at Toronto, at Kansas City
After striking out 13 batters against the Blue Jays in his last start, Michael King is staking a claim at a rotation spot. King has 30 strikeouts in his last three starts as the Yankees are giving him a chance to show what he can do. Considering his ERA is just 1.62 in that stretch with two walks, fantasy managers should do the same.
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.
Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates, at Philadelphia, vs. Miami
It has been a tale of two halves for Mitch Keller. A 3.31 ERA in the first half of the season has given way to a 5.80 mark in the second half of the season. Additionally, Keller has been an ace at home with a 2.90 ERA but that jumps to 5.49 on the road. The overall picture is solid, but Keller has also given us enough to be concerned about. In looking for bright spots, opposing hitters are still not making great contact against him with an 8.4% barrel rate and 35.2% hard-hit rate.
Reid Detmers, Los Angeles Angels, vs. Texas, vs. Oakland
Reid Detmers is another young pitcher who is closing out the season on a high note. With a 2.04 ERA in his last three starts, Detmers brought his ERA on the season down to 4.64. The fact that Detmers is facing the A’s is canceled out by facing the Rangers. We do get some upside here as he is striking out more than 10 batters per nine innings.
Bryce Elder, Atlanta Braves, vs. Chicago Cubs, vs. Washington
Bryce Elder is the case of another young pitcher who is seemingly hitting a wall. A 2.97 first half of the season ERA has now turned into a 4.71 mark in the second half. The good news is that both of these starts do come at home where Elder has a 3.26 ERA. At this point, you do have to know what you are getting yourself into as he doesn’t bring strikeout upside to the table; just 6.63 per nine innings.
Bobby Miller, Los Angeles Dodgers, at Colorado, at San Francisco
Stop me if you have heard this one before. Promising young pitcher goes into Coors Field and your ratios are never the same. At this point in the season, it does take longer to move them, but at the same time, the standings are that much more sensitive. You don’t need to force Bobby Miller into your lineup, but we know run support won’t be an issue. We are waiting for the strikeouts to really start cranking here, but with a 3.97 ERA and solid run support, Miller could still be a solid two-start pitcher.
Jon Gray, Texas Rangers, at LA Angels, at Seattle
It is difficult to ignore the fact that Jon Gray has pitched just 8.2 innings of work combined in his last three starts. With a 4.22 ERA on the season, Gray has been a solid starter, but based on what we are currently seeing, it is difficult to trust him.
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.
Patrick Sandoval, Los Angles Angels, vs. Texas, vs. Oakland
With a 4.19 ERA, it has been a solid season for Patrick Sandoval in at least one aspect. It is the 1.50 WHIP that is truly scary, and the Rangers can really make him pay. At the same time though, Sandoval can make up for it against the A’s. Tread carefully though.
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. Kansas City, vs. Cleveland
It doesn’t feel right to include Reese Olson in this category as the right-hander continues to find success. In his last three starts, Olson’s 1.93 ERA brought his mark for the season down to 4.13. Olson does a great job of keeping runners off the bases with a 1.11 WHIP while picking up close to a strikeout per inning. There is also a lot to like about his opponents.
Tanner Houck, Boston Red Sox, vs. Tampa Bay, at Baltimore
There is a fair amount of variability associated with Tanner Houck but he also has a live arm. You have to embrace to volatility for a strikeout per inning and some upside as his 4.14 xERA looks better than his 4.92 ERA.
Adrian Houser, Milwaukee Brewers, vs. St. Louis, vs. Chicago Cubs
There is nothing exciting about Adrian Houser, but the veteran will provide solid innings. Neither opponent generates too much fear these days, and while the strikeouts won’t be there, he does have two wins in his last three starts. A 4.35 ERA on the season should at least minimize the damage.