The fact that not every team is playing on Memorial Day is an odd concept to me, but there is plenty of upcoming action across the MLB over the next week. It is an eternal battle to maximize innings from the pitching perspective, of course not at the expense of your ratios, in the chase for as many wins and strikeouts as possible. One large piece of this strategy is to target two-start pitchers to help you do just that.
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.
Shane McClanahan – Tampa Bay Rays – at Chicago Cubs, at Boston
We knew that McClanahan was a top option heading into the season, but the left-hander has been lights out with a 1.97 ERA to this point. With 10.55 strikeouts per nine innings, that part is covered, and Tampa Bay’s success doesn’t hurt either as McClanahan is already at eight wins.
Zac Gallen – Arizona Diamondbacks – vs. Colorado, vs. Atlanta
After allowing nine earned runs in his first two starts of the season, Gallen bounced back in a big way by going his next four starts without allowing an earned run. The right-hander subsequently struggled two starts ago against the Pirates, but there is still a lot to like here with 75 strikeouts in 66.2 innings along with a 2.97 ERA and 1.02 WHIP.
Sandy Alcantara – Miami Marlins – vs. San Diego, vs. Oakland
Things could not have gone any better for Alcantara last year but a 4.86 ERA says otherwise about his 2023 season. The right-hander’s 3.80 FIP does paint a little better picture as does his 61.5% strand rate. Either way, if you drafted Alcantara in the second or third round, you do not have the luxury of sitting him, and that is especially the case when he is facing the A’s in one of his starts.
Joe Ryan – Minnesota Twins – at Houston, vs. Cleveland
If you are chasing wins with two-start pitchers, then seven wins in 10 starts is pretty good. That is what we have out of Ryan to this point, along with a 2.21 ERA (2.29 xERA) and 10.33 strikeouts per nine innings against just 1.48 walks. Yes, one of Ryan’s starts does come against the Astros, but I’m not concerned.
Nathan Eovaldi – Texas Rangers – at Detroit, vs. Seattle
For as long as Eovaldi is healthy, let’s ride the right-hander. So far, the move to Texas has worked out great for all parties. At 51.6%, Eovaldi has his best groundball rate since 2015 while also striking out over eight batters per nine innings and posting a 2.60 ERA (2.46 FIP).
These 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 Chicago Cubs, at Boston
While Eflin has allowed 11 earned runs in 19 innings over his last three starts, he has picked up two wins in that span to bring him to seven on the season. Tampa looks quite smart for spending $40 million on Eflin this past off-season.
Kodai Senga – New York Mets – vs. Philadelphia, vs. Toronto
The Mets have been very cautious with Senga’s workload to begin the season, and it looks like this might be the first time he starts on regular rest to close out the week. Senga has 25 strikeouts in his last three games, including 12 against Tampa Bay, along with a 1.57 ERA at home this year which is where both of his starts come this week.
Bryce Miller – Seattle Mariners – vs. NY Yankees, at Texas
To say that Miller has surged onto the scene would be an understatement to this point given his 1.15 ERA. Miller’s 3.82 xFIP does pour some cold water on things, even if we really don’t want to, but we do need to be realistic. A .167 BABIP against will not continue, but I’m not planning to sit the rookie.
Sonny Gray – Minnesota Twins – at Houston, vs. Cleveland
The veteran continues to pitch well for Minnesota with four victories and six no-decisions in 10 starts to this point. While we can’t expect a 1.82 ERA all season (3.18 xERA) he is striking out more than a batter per inning.
Bryce Elder – Atlanta Braves – at Oakland, at Arizona
It is never a bad thing when your first start of the week comes in Oakland, and facing the Diamondbacks on the road should not be too taxing either. The good thing is that Elder keeps the ball on the ground (56.6%) and with just a 7.8% barrel rate against, opposing hitters are not squaring Elder up too much.
Nestor Cortes – New York Yankees – at Seattle, at LA Dodgers
Cortes has been struggling this season, but his 3.79 xERA looks a lot better than the real thing at 5.30. The left-hander needs to keep the long ball (1.66 per nine innings) in check although I’m not ready to throw in the towel.
Bobby Miller – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. Washington, vs. NY Yankees
You have either been stashing Miller all season or just spend a ton of FAAB on him, so you might as well enjoy what he has to offer. In his debut, Miller struck out five batters over five innings while allowing just one run and picking up the victory. To start the week, Miller has a soft landing spot against the Nationals.
Marcus Stroman – Chicago Cubs – vs. Tampa Bay, at San Diego
We are not going to get a ton of strikeouts out of Stroman, 7.59 per nine innings, although he keeps the ball on the ground with a rate of 59.1% which makes him a solid option.
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.
Michael Kopech – Chicago White Sox – vs. LA Angels, vs. Detroit
It is never going to be a smooth ride with Kopech. Sure he will strike out a ton, but the right-hander is also walking 4.55 batters per nine innings this season. Considering the .216 BABIP against Kopech, things could be even worse, and the 15.1% barrel rate against means that opposing hitters are squaring him up. Do you want strikeouts or ratios?
Tyler Wells – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Cleveland, at San Francisco
Seeing Wells strike out 23 batters in 17 innings over his last three starts will get our attention, but the fact that he is allowing 2.03 home runs per nine innings will generate some concern. The same can be said for his .167 BABIP and 87.7% strand rate which helps explain his 5.03 FIP as his 32.5% ground ball rate is also rough.
Anthony DeSclafani – San Francisco Giants – vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Baltimore
DeSclafani is having a strong season with a 3.43 ERA but the fact that he is only striking out seven batters per nine innings is not great. We also have to adjust our expectations as facing the Pirates and Orioles is not as easy as it once was.
James Paxton – Boston Red Sox – vs. Cincinnati, vs. Tampa Bay
The left-hander has allowed at least one home run (four total) in his three starts this season, but he does have 19 strikeouts in 14 innings and facing the Reds is not a terrible start to the week.
Logan T Allen – Cleveland Guardians – at Baltimore, at Minnesota
Allen has worked through some trouble this season allowing 38 hits in 32.2 innings while also walking nine, but he is striking out a batter per inning and can limit the longball but each of these matchups can get a little tricky.
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 thelast bastion of two-start pitchers who are rostered in more than 50% of leagues.
Yusei Kikuchi – Toronto Blue Jays – vs. Milwaukee, at NY Mets
It looks like Kikuchi’s 4.56 ERA is only going up (5.83 FIP) and 2.45 home runs per nine innings do not exactly warm the heart.
Kyle Freeland – Colorado Rockies – at Arizona, at Kansas City
Freeland is actually worse this season away from Coors Field than at home, so that takes some of the thunder for this week. At 3.86, Freeland is not bad from an ERA perspective, but the fact that he is striking out just 6.48 batters per nine innings removes a good deal of the upside.
Cal Quantrill – Cleveland Guardians – at Baltimore, at Minnesota
A 4.75 ERA and 1.35 WHIP are not going to make me feel great, but with 31 strikeouts in 55 innings and just two victories over 10 starts, what exactly are we chasing?
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.
J.P. France – Houston Astros – vs. Minnesota, vs. LA Angels
With a 3.43 ERA in four starts to begin his major league career, France has done well overall but his 5.52 FIP and 2.14 home runs allowed per innings should at least force you to stop and show some concern. We know that run support, solid defense, and a strong defense are all in play here, and at this point, it is hard to draw too many conclusions.
Ranger Suarez – Philadelphia Phillies – at NY Mets, at Washington
It has been a rough go of things for Suarez in the three starts since his return from the Injured List, the left-hander has found success in the past and could be right around the corner.
Brandon Bielak – Houston Astros – vs. Minnesota, vs. LA Angels
Bielak ran into some trouble with the long ball in his last start as he allowed four runs overall after not allowing more than 2 runs in any of his previous four appearances. The advanced ERA metrics do not do Bielak any favors, he should at least keep things close and be in solid position for a victory.
Adrian Houser – Milwaukee Brewers – at Toronto, at Cincinnati
Houser has not allowed a run over his last two starts, 11.1 innings, and we have seen him be a reliable option in the past. We are not going to be get many strikeouts out of Houser, but a 54.7% ground ball rate does help the overall outlook.