A crazy first week of games has left many fantasy players with more questions than answers. This isn’t unusual for the chaotic beginnings of the 2021 baseball season. I am not going to lie, the pickings are slim for two-start pitchers this week, and some of it depends on how strong your stomach is and how risk-averse you are.
This is my first piece for Fantrax and I am thrilled to be on board. I am taking over the weekly two-start pitchers analysis from the fantastic Chris Clegg, and I know I have my work cut out for me.
About me: I am usually one to hedge bets on two-start pitchers unless I am desperate for innings and stats, and this week will be no exception. With teams manipulating their pitching staffs differently this year (six-man rotations, deeper bullpens, piggybacking starters, etc.), finding good targets is going to be a tough errand. See below for my first weekly picks. Thanks for reading and going along on this journey with me!
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Two-Start Pitchers for MLB Week 2
Dustin May vs. Oakland, vs. Washington
May finally begins a season in the rotation for a loaded Los Angeles Dodgers team. May allowed one run or fewer in four of his five starts this spring, in the process, beating out Tony Gonsolin and David Price for the coveted fifth spot in the rotation. May reported that he felt more confident in his secondary offerings after working on them all spring, to pair with his high-velocity fastball and hard cutter. If he has indeed ironed out these mechanical issues, he could be in line for big win totals and is a potential strikeout filler for your team.
German Marquez vs. Arizona, @ San Francisco
Marquez is often maligned and I understand that, but this guy is the ace of the Colorado staff. Yes, I know you are fearful of starting him in Colorado. Yes, the six walks on Opening Day were scary. You may look at the home ERA last year (5.68) as opposed to his road ERA (2.06) and have reservations. I understand and am here to support your fear, but let’s try and alleviate your anxiety. He only gave up one run despite those six walks. If we look at 2020, Marquez only gave up more than two walks in three of his 13 starts. Let’s give him a mulligan for last week and try again.
I like Marquez starting against two lackluster offenses against Arizona and at San Francisco. Arizona, in a small sample size, is hitting .263 thus far with an .804 OPS. They are not scoring runs unless they homer (nine runs on five homers) and if Marquez can control his walks and keep the ball in the yard, he should be fine here. San Francisco is hitting even worse thus far, at .243. Roll the dice and start Marquez.
Jordan Montgomery vs. Baltimore, @ Tampa Bay
Montgomery was getting lots of love early in drafts but this support seemed to fade as Spring Training wore on. Montgomery historically has elicited weak contact (84.6 MPH exit velocity) combined with a low walk rate of 4.7% last year. Baltimore is a weak offense, and he may be worth the gamble facing both the Orioles and the Tampa Bay Rays this coming week. You probably already know that Montgomery has a nasty curveball, but you may not be aware that this spring he worked extensively on a cutter. He used it last year, too, and kept the ball in the ground 75% of the time he threw it with an exit velocity of only 77 MPH. He may not generate lots of strikeouts but could provide valuable innings to your staff if batters continue to pound the ball into the ground.
Carlos Rodon @ Seattle, vs. Kansas City
Rodon surprisingly won the fifth spot in the Chicago White Sox rotation with a strong spring. The former first-round pick was signed to a one-year deal with the Sox this winter and was a revelation in March: 1.32 ERA, a 16:1 K/BB ratio in 13.2 innings. Keep in mind he has been oft-injured, had Tommy Joh surgery in 2019, and has taken time to work back from these, but he has a high pedigree. Rodon stated repeatedly that new pitching coach Ethan Katz helped him streamline and shorten his delivery, and the early results look promising. Starting against two mediocre offenses could help you decide to roll with Rodon this week.
Questionable Two-Start Pitchers
Trevor Rogers vs. St. Louis, @ New York Mets
Look I like Trevor Rogers. He had a 6.11 ERA in 2020 but an xERA of 3.53 and a 30% K%. Those are both good numbers, right? Here is my issue. He’s only got 28 innings above the Double-A level. His spring ERA was over 6.00 until a late performance pushed it back down to a more tenable 4.23. He added more weight this offseason to his lean frame. I am high on him this year as many analysts are, but I question starting him against two contending teams. I prefer to take a more conservative route with him and have him show me before I start him in a weekly league.
Drew Smyly @ Washington, vs. Philadelphia
Count me as one who doesn’t believe in the new incarnation of Drew Smyly. Against these offenses, I would sit him and wait to see what he does before rolling him out there with any confidence. There were upticks in velocity last year from his 2019 season that are hard to ignore: four-seamer (91.2-93.8 MPH), curveball (77.8-80 MPH), and the cutter (86.7-89.3) while abandoning his changeup. These gains pushed his stock up this year in drafts. My concern is we are basing continued success on a 26-inning sample size from 2020. He had a 3.29 ERA this spring, striking out 16 in 13 innings this spring. How strong is your belief? How strong is your stomach? Personally, I would sit him until we see how he does, but I know many analysts will say ride with him.
Don’t Start (unless desperation has set in, or you have a strong stomach)
- Anthony DeSclafani @San Diego, vs. Colorado
- Rich Hill @ Boston, vs. New York Yankees
- Mike Foltynewicz vs. Toronto, vs. San Diego
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