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Fantasy Baseball: Two-Start Pitchers for Week 25

For better or worse, this is it. The 2023 Fantasy Baseball season is quickly drawing to a close. For those in Head-to-Head leagues, you are likely entrenched in the postseason and this becomes even more critical. It is important to be aware of your place in the standings and what categories you need to attack for the remainder of the season. Utilizing two-start pitchers can help do this.

From a pitching standpoint, it is often a balancing act between the ratios (ERA/WHIP) and the counting categories (Wins/Strikeout), 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.

More great fantasy baseball advice and analysis: Waiver Wire & FAAB Recommendations | Daily MLB Injury Report | MLB DFS Picks | Line-up Analysis | Dynasty Rankings and Strategy | MLB Bullpen Updates | MLB Player Props | Prospect Rankings & Analysis | Fantasy Baseball Risers and Fallers

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.

Spencer Strider, Atlanta Braves, vs. Philadelphia, at Washington

After having his start pushed back last week, Strider now is set to take the mound twice this week. Strider’s 2.83 FIP outpaces his 3.73 ERA in what has been another strong year. Let’s be honest though, it’s the fact that Strider is striking out close to 14 batters per nine innings that we are after. And that is what makes him a top two-start pitcher.

Luis Castillo, Seattle Mariners, at Oakland, at Texas

Castillo, or really any pitcher, heading to Oakland is sure to get our attention. With a 3.08 ERA and 1.04 WHIP, the right-hander has been a dependable starter all season. With his next strikeout being his 200th on the season, Castillo is a true asset as you look to move up the standings.

Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers, at St. Louis, at Miami

Peralta has been in the midst of a strong three-game stretch with a 2.55 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. The right-hander continues to rack up the strikeouts at a high rate and they come with a solid 3.79 ERA overall. With a 37.5% hard-hit rate, opposing hitters are not squaring Peralta up much.

Max Fried, Atlanta Braves, vs. Philadelphia, at Washington

Fried has been strong since his return with a 3.58 ERA in August and a 2.00 ERA in September. The left-hander is generating strikeouts and avoiding trouble with a 56.7% ground ball rate. That makes him a two-start pitcher to target.

Justin Verlander, Houston Astros, vs. Baltimore, vs. Kansas City

Verlander is coming off a stretch in what he has been shelled in two of his last three starts. There was a seven-innings start in which he allowed just one run mixed in there as part of an up-and-down season. It has been mostly up for Verlander and his 3.39 ERA, but his 4.07 xERA could be concerning. Perhaps the bigger problem is that his strikeouts are down to about eight per nine innings.

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.

Joe Ryan, Minnesota Twins, at Cincinnati, vs. LA Angels

While his 4.20 might not jump off the page, it isn’t going to break you either. When coupled with 176 strikeouts in 145.2 innings, it is a strong season for Ryan whose 1.13 WHIP could be an asset.

Mitch Keller, Pittsburgh Pirates, at Chicago Cubs, at Cincinnati

After allowing eight runs to the Braves, Keller did a great job of bouncing back against the Nationals. Keller threw eight shutout innings while allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out seven. That brought Keller’s ERA for the season down to a respectable 4.04. It was a good sign in what has been a positive step forward for the right-hander.

Eduardo Rodriguez, Detroit Tigers, at LA Dodgers, at Oakland

We get the trip to Oakland out of Rodriguez, so that is a plus. Rodriguez has managed to limit the baserunners, a 1.15 WHIP, and his 3.32 ERA also plays. Rodriguez has done a good job of decreasing the home runs this year while seeing his strikeouts bounce back and his walks decrease.

Jordan Montgomery, St. Louis Cardinals, vs. Boston, vs. Seattle

While it has been a strong season for Montgomery, the left-hander has been scuffling as of late. After allowing 11 runs in two starts, Montgomery did bounce back with seven shutout innings against Toronto. That brought his ERA down to 3.47 as the left-hander continues to be a solid option.

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.

Yusei Kikuchi, Toronto Blue Jays, at NY Yankees, at Tampa Bay

Kikuchi is looking to bounce back after allowing six runs in his last start which brought his ERA down to 3.81 overall. If you get past the struggles with the home runs, Kikuchi has been a strong option for most of the year. That should continue this week as we get the benefit of two starts.

Clarke Schmidt, New York Yankees, vs. Toronto, vs. Arizona

Both of Schmidt’s starts come at home this week which is a positive development. The right-hander has a 3.94 ERA at home compared to a 5.27 ERA on the road. Additionally, Schmidt is coming off three strong starts with a 3.57 ERA with 18 strikeouts in 17.2 innings. As Schmidt looks to finish the season strong, he is a viable two-start pitcher.

Mike Clevinger, Chicago White Sox, at Washington, at Boston

Clevinger struggled two starts ago allowing eight runs to the Tigers. The right-hander bounced back in his next two starts to allow just two runs in 13 innings. It has been a solid season for Clevinger, just don’t pay attention to all of the metrics. While Clevinger is measured by his 3.61 ERA, his 5.12 xFIP is concerning.

Michael Wacha, San Diego Padres, vs. Colorado, vs. St. Louis

Beginning in May, Wacha didn’t have an ERA higher than 2.87 with it going down as low as 0.84. Through three starts this month though, Wacha’s ERA is sitting at 7.71 in what has been an otherwise strong season. With just a 35% ground ball rate, Wacha relies on weak contact, and so far, it has worked. There isn’t great strikeout upside, but Wacha has been a solid source of innings.

Logan T Allen, Cleveland Guardians, at Kansas City, vs. Baltimore

Allen is just the latest solid young pitcher to debut for Cleveland. Pitching against the Royals helps this week and we will get about a strikeout per inning. Opposing hitters have just a 7.6% barrel rate against Allen which helps to limit the damage and preserve some risk.

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.

Ryan Pepiot, Los Angeles Dodgers, vs. Detroit, vs. San Francisco

Pepiot has a 2.00 ERA in 27 innings with the Dodgers, but I wouldn’t say things are smooth sailing. He will get the run support along with a strong defense, although he has benefited from a .174 BABIP to this point. What has helped Pepiot though is a 5.6% barrel rate from opposing hitters with just a 23.6% hard-hit rate.

Javier Assad, Chicago Cubs, vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Colorado

Assad has two favorable matchups at home this week that are interesting. His 3.10 ERA is sure to warrant attention, but his 4.49 FIP gives us some pause. While his 6.68 strikeouts and 3.57 walks per nine innings will limit the upside, Assad is a solid two-start pitcher for deeper leagues. At this point, in some situations, innings are all that matter.

Edward Cabrera, Miami Marlins, vs. NY Mets, vs. Milwaukee

Cabrera has struggled to find his groove this season, but he is capable of some strong performances. Neither lineup should provide too much resistance as Cabrera looks to finish the season strong. The strikeout upside is there, 11.14 per nine innings, but it is the 6.30 walks per nine innings that should give you pause. If your WHIP is a concern, stay away. The good news is that with a 4.52 ERA and 3.97 xERA, Cabrera does a solid job of limiting damage.

Michael Lorenzen, Philadelphia Phillies, at Atlanta, vs. NY Mets

After his no-hitter, Lorenzen’s ERA sat at 3.23. Thanks to his latest struggles, Lorenzen’s ERA now sits at 4.06. Considering there is no strikeout upside here, there is more risk than reward with the right-hander at this point.

Josiah Gray, Washington Nationals, vs. Chicago White Sox, vs. Atlanta

The fact Gray walked more than he struck out  (13 to 8) in his last three starts is a problem. It’s not a surprise that he had a 6.00 ERA in that stretch and his 1.47 WHIP makes me want to keep my distance.

Kyle Harrison, San Francisco Giants, at Arizona, at LA Dodgers

The top-prospect comes with buzz, but command and control are not working in his favor yet. With that being said, Harrison has only walked five in his last three starts. The problem though, is that Harrison has allowed six home runs in that stretch. The talent is there, but Harrison is still a work in progress.

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, at LA Dodgers, at Oakland

From a matchup standpoint, it is a tale of two extremes for Olson. With a 1.50 ERA in his last three starts, Olson has found a groove. That stretch brought his ERA down to 4.30 for the season. The right-hander is striking out a batter per inning, and he should be able to do a solid job of getting through the Dodgers, but if not, the A’s are waiting.

John Means, Baltimore Orioles, at Houston, at Cleveland

Means did a solid job in his return from Tommy John surgery. In five innings of work, Means allowed three runs and five baserunners. While he didn’t overpower anyone and only struck out one, it was a solid debut and things should only get better from here.

Emmet Sheehan, Los Angeles Dodgers, vs. Detroit, vs San Francisco

Should we really be surprised to see success from another Dodgers’ prospect? While he does have a 5.79 ERA overall in 46.2 innings, a 3.89 xERA looks a lot better as does his 4.05 ERA in his last three starts. There is still work to be done and control to be refined, but Sheehan could still help in the right situation.

Cal Quantrill, Cleveland Guardians, at Kansas City, vs. Baltimore

Quantrill has looked good in his return. In each of his three starts in September, Quantrill has pitched six innings while allowing a total of four runs. The problem is that Quantrill is generally light on strikeouts, but there is something to work with.

Patrick Sandoval, Los Angeles Angels, at Tampa Bay, at Minnesota

Sandoval had success in July and August, but so far this month, it has alluded him. The biggest problem for Sandoval is his 4.35 walks per nine innings his 1.50 WHIP isn’t exactly an asset. He is a solid, dependable starter, and at this point, the main draw is the innings.

Jose Butto, New York Mets, at Miami, at Philadelphia

The Mets giving Butto a chance to show what he can do towards the end of the season. In 11.1 innings over his last two starts, the right-hander has allowed just three runs while striking out 13. Butto is light on pedigree, but he could be a sneaky option.

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