We are back at it again this week looking at the best two-start pitchers for the week ahead in fantasy baseball. While one could argue that the top shelf is bare of two-start options, our middle shelves have things to satisfy your thirst and satiate your hunger for good pitching. Take a look for yourself. Something for everyone this week.
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You may be surprised by some of the top-shelf two-start pitchers this week. But read my testimony. And decide for yourself.
Cal Quantrill @ Minnesota, vs. Los Angeles Angels: Has he ventured into must-start territory? Remember this guy’s pedigree: first-round draft choice, #8 overall, by the San Diego Padres. Context matters, and he’s saved an injury-wracked rotation in Cleveland. He’s 3-2, 3.13 ERA, 1.23 WHIP. He’s 3-0 in eight starts spanning July and August. Walks have been an issue at times but he limits damage by not giving up many hits. I am using him this week and you should, too.
Lance Lynn vs. Oakland, @ Tampa Bay: Don’t be alarmed by his homer-happy performance in the Field of Dreams game. The Sox are in the thick of the race and facing playoff-contending teams. Lynn is their clear ace and they need him with Carlos Rodon on the shelf. Look for quality innings from Lynn moving forward.
Gerrit Cole vs. Boston, vs. Minnesota: automatic start. Don’t even think about it.
Frankie Montas @ Chicago White Sox, vs. San Francisco: Montas gets a bad rap often because people want him to be the budding ace we thought he might be in 2019. While not at that level, Montas is 9-8 with a 3.98 ERA, adding in 146 strikeouts in 131 innings, and he hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in any July or August start. Montas reworked his pitch mix and has reintroduced his splitter, which has led to results. He should be a staple in rotations in every league; he is extremely underrated. Use him despite the tough matchups this week.
Chris Bassitt @ Chicago White Sox, vs. San Francisco: Bassitt won’t strike out oodles of guys, but he limits hard contact, doesn’t walk anyone, and just keeps getting it done at 12-3 with a tidy 3.04 ERA. I tried to trade for him in one of my leagues before the deadline as a route to wins and ratio controls, but the astute owner refused to part with him. Interesting to note, he fanned eight and six batters in his last two starts. Continue to use with confidence.
Yu Darvish @ Colorado, vs. Philadelphia: these starts could be in question after Darvish left his last start on Thursday with a back issue. If he is healthy, no brainer. Start him.
Kevin Gausman vs. New York Mets, @ Oakland: There was lots of concern about Gausman in the past few weeks. In fact, I told a friend in one league that if he had tired of Gausman, I would gladly take him. He’s 11-5 with a minuscule 2.29 ERA and .97 WHIP and 162 punchouts. Yes, please. Start in all formats. He’s fine.
Adam Wainwright vs. Milwaukee, vs. Pittsburgh: Waino continues to elude Father Time. I secretly love when old guys do well, mostly because I am even older than the oldest guys in MLB, and I can live vicariously through them, even though I could never do what any of them have done or continue to do. Uncle Charlie continues to be brilliant at 11-6, with a 3.27 ERA and tiny 1.06 WHIP. Use in all formats.
I love the middle-shelf two-start pitchers this week. Many of these guys should do well and you should benefit from having them in your rotation. Some could even be argued to be on the top shelf this week.
Framber Valdez @ Kansas City, vs. Seattle: He’s 8-3 with a sparkling 3.09 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. Valdez will likely give you quality innings, and there is no reason to sit him or worry too much this week. Keep in mind he’s also pitching for arguably the best team in baseball.
Sandy Alcantara vs. Atlanta, @Cincinnati: I love Alcantara and you should too, despite the 7-10 record. His 3.52 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, and 128 Ks should speak to you. I know he gave up 10 runs against the Rockies, but he followed that pasting up with seven innings and seven punchouts against the Padres. I would use him this week despite the tough matchups.
Huascar Ynoa @ Miami, @ Baltimore: Ynoa returns this week from a broken hand sustained by being unable to control his own anger and slamming it in the dugout. Before the injury, he was 4-2 with a 3.12 ERA. Impressive numbers for the Atlanta rookie. The 50 strikeouts in 44.1 innings helped you, too. I like these matchups for him this week, but do want to point out there may be some concern for his stamina and his innings could be limited as he regains traction in the rotation. He’s an intriguing option this week. If you are faint of heart, maybe you wait a week to use him, but I would likely use him this week if I had him (just traded him for reinforcements).
John Means @ Tampa Bay, vs. Atlanta: Means has been inconsistent since his return from injury last month. Means has given up four or more earned runs in three of his five post-IL starts. If you’re like me, you held on to him during the injury stint, and now feel compelled to use him in hopes of a five-inning, five strikeout performance like he had in his last start against the Rays. I would use him.
Nathan Eovaldi @ New York Yankees, vs. Texas: Eovaldi is 10-7 with a 3.92 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. He’s been a great source of punchouts as well with 134 in 133.1 innings. He’s been the workhorse of a decimated Red Sox staff, which looks to be returning to strength with the return of Chris Sale and the emergence of Tanner Houck. Eovaldi rebounded from a bad start against the Blue Jays (seven earned in four innings) to strike out 1o Tampa Bay Rays in seven innings last week. Start with confidence.
Wade Miley vs. Chicago Cubs, vs. Miami: Miley continues to defy logic. He’s 9-4 with an even 3.00 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Miley has kept the Reds afloat as they awaited reinforcements and suffered mediocre performances from others like Sonny Gray and Luis Castillo. These are about the best matchups her could ever get on paper, so start him and do not worry about it. Miley’s xERA is a full run higher at 4.06, but even that is very suable in today’s depleted pitching market. Go for it.
Vladimir Gutierrez vs. Chicago Cubs, vs. Miami: Gutierrez is 8-3 with a 3.95 ERA. He will not help you with strikeouts with a paltry 58 in 79.2 innings. Yet he gets wins, and you can’t ignore that. And check out his August: 3-0, 1.42 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and an eye-opening 16 Ks in 19 innings. He is finally limiting walks. Has he found a new gear? Gutierrez too has fantastic matchups this week and I will be using him in several leagues.
Tarik Skubal vs. Los Angeles Angels, @ Toronto: yes he’s 8-10 with a 4.10 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and 127 Ks in 116.1 innings. He’s been nasty in two August starts, both wins, surrendering no runs while striking out 10 in 11 innings. There are certainly worse options out there, and now that he seems to be controlling his walk rates (only five in his last seven outings), Skubal may be developing into the frontline pitcher many expect him to be. Use him if you got him even if the Toronto lineup gives you pause.
Carlos Hernandez vs. Houston, @ Chicago Cubs: Hernandez is one of the top prospects in Kansas City and is more than holding his own in his first MLB stint. He’s 3-1 with a 4.11 ERA and iffy 1.35 WHIP. The 51 punchouts in 46 innings. Hernandez is a very usable option in many leagues right now, although starting him against Houston might mean you need to hold your breath. I like that Cubs matchup though. If your league allows you to move him in and out of the lineup, definitely use him against the Cubs; that lineup is mortifying right now.
Kyle Gibson @ Arizona, @ San Diego: The trade to Philadelphia has not fazed Gibson as he continues to get results in the city of Brotherly Love. Batters continue to struggle to barrel him up and he limits hard contact most of the time. Overall he’s 8-4 with a 2.91 ERA and has helped many fantasy managers this year. He should continue to do so, and you should use with confidence. The one drawback with Gibson is you won’t get that high K rate.
Marcus Stroman @ San Francisco, @ Los Angeles Dodgers: It’s always somewhat funny to me how Stroman flies under the radar in some leagues. Is it because he doesn’t strike out tons of guys or doesn’t have the best record at 8-11? He’s showing a 2.79 ERA and 1.13 WHIP, and a below-average 21.3 K%. But those are stats you can use, and he limits damage most times on the mound, limits walks, and outpitches what the peripherals tell us. In what has become a theme this week, you could do far worse. Despite the tough matchups, I would use him.
Luis Gil vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. Minnesota: Granted, it is a two-start sample size, but Gil has yet to give up a run in 11 innings and has worked in 14 strikeouts. The issue for me is that Gil is essentially a two-pitch guy, with a four-seamer and a slider, working in a changeup to lefties. Two pitch mixes can get you in trouble as a starter. But these are two excellent matchups for him, and I would use him this week in most formats, especially deeper leagues.
Yes, these are lower-shelf options but still valuable depending on your league format and what you may need this week.
Merrill Kelly vs. Philadelphia, @ Colorado: Kelly is 7-9 with a serviceable 4.30 ERA. He should give you innings with middling strikeout numbers; his high water mark for the season in Ks is an aberrant 12. He’s far more likely to chip in with 5-6 at the most. What should give you pause is the hotness of the Philadelphia lineup and pitching in Coors Field. Use him if you can keep your expectations reasonable, otherwise, pass.
Dallas Keuchel vs. Oakland, @ Tampa Bay: I’ve soured on Keuchel as other pitchers on the White Sox have passed him by. Effectively he’s become their fifth starter. At 7-6, with a 4.51 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, there’s not much if any meat on the bone here. Not a strikeout guy, either, so don’t expect help there. And this week with these matchups? I expect a shellacking. He’s a great example of a pitcher who is better suited for the real game and not our fake game.
Jose Suarez @ New York Yankees, @ Cleveland: Suarez battles out there and eats innings for the Angels. 5-5 with a 3.90 ERA. He’s struggled in July and August with an ERA of 5.75. I don’t see him being useful to you unless you are somehow desperate for innings. I would pass.
David Price vs. Pittsburgh, vs. New York Mets: Price has taken on greater importance for the Dodgers with the injury of Clayton Kershaw and the administrative banishment of Trevor Bauer. Price is 4-1 with a 3.60 ERA. He’s not getting a high level of strikeouts anymore, and he’s not stretched out far enough to give more than five innings at a time. That said these are two good matchups for him against lesser opponents, and I could see using him this week. Depends on your league context and who you have going for you.
Tyler Anderson @ Texas, @ Houston: Have you watched him pitch? It’s fun. I did last week. Odd to say this, but similar to an average quarterback in the NFL, Anderson manages the game. He limits hard contact, home runs, and walks, doesn’t get a ton of Ks, but gets lots of outs. He’s a better pitcher in real life than he is in fantasy. That being said, he has become a staple in many rotations for his consistency. He’s not going to hurt you while getting league-average results at 5-8, 4.24 ERA, and 1.20 WHIP. Use him if you need to and try to rest easy.
Even the lowest shelf of two-start options could yield value to you depending on your league format. Just choose wisely and avoid destroying your week.
Matt Harvey @ Tampa Bay, vs. Atlanta: Harvey had a renaissance of three starts in July that raised some eyebrows and made some players wishing for a return to the glory days. Alas, that is not to be. But here’s the thing: he can be serviceable in the right spot. In five starts post All-Star Break, he’s 3-1 with a 1.65 ERA and .99 WHIP. But the Ks are gone and so is much of the velocity. This is not the right spot to start him this week against two capable offenses.
Justin Steele @ Cincinnati, vs. Kansas City: Due to trades and ineffective performances, Steels is going to get a long look in the Chicago Cubs’ rotation. Steeles features a four-seam fastball (which he throws about 43% of the time) and sprinkles in a wipeout slider (24%) and sinker (22%) as well. At 26, it is time to see what Steele is and if he is part of their future plans. Expect a long leash, because the decimated bullpen is unlikely to provide him much help. I am intrigued but will likely sit out on him this week until we see how he performs here.
Antonio Senzatela vs. San Diego, vs. Arizona: I have tried to look for any shred of hope to give you all, but I am not a liar and there is nothing here. If you’re starting him, please stop, now, and find someone else. He eats innings and that is all I can really say that is kind.
Jake Odorizzi @ Kansas City, vs. Seattle: Odorizzi is the walking definition of average. He’s 5-6 and has a 4.59 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. Never a big strikeout guy, he’s got 60 in 68.2 innings. He was mediocre against the Rockies last time after surrendering six earned runs on four home runs to the Dodgers. I won’t use him.
M. White vs. Pittsburgh, vs. New York Mets
Braxton Garrett vs. Atlanta, @ Cincinnati: Garrett is a first-round pick getting a shot in the Miami rotation right now due to injuries. He’s 1-1 with a 4.65 ERA, and 30 strikeouts 31 innings. That’s not too bad. But take pause: the xERA is a Kellerish 5.85, and he got pasted in his last outing against San Diego. Be careful here. I don’t like these matchups for a young starter against these two experienced offenses. I would sit him this week but earmark him for later; could have high value as a streaming option later.
Griffin Jax vs. Cleveland, @ New York Yankees: Jax was impressive against the White Sox last week, showing off a nasty slider and striking out 10 in the process. However, in the start before that, he struck out no one while going 5.1 innings. In fact he’s been good since a six run throttling at the hands of the Royals in late July. He’s certain to get a good opportunity for the moribund Twins the rest of the way. I have some trepidation starting him against the Yankees, but if you need to roll the dice, why not Jax? I am not sure what to make of his arsenal yet, but I do not think he’s going to get the whiffs like he did against the White Sox…but maybe he can if continues to work that slider.
Bailey Ober vs. Cleveland, @ New York Yankees: Ober is learning on the job this year and has two good outings in a row under his belt. He’s given up three earned runs or less in his last four outings, and he’s starting to pitch five innings more often; he had only been going three or four innings, which limited his value and meant no wins. The 25.5 K% is decent, and the BB rate is 6.6%. You could surely do worse.
Rich Hill @ San Francisco, @ Los Angeles Dodgers: The 41-year-old lefty just keeps chugging along, and it doesn’t seem to matter who he pitches for; when healthy, he’s still fairly effective. Hill is 6-4 with a 4.05 ERA. That said, these are tough matchups this week against two excellent teams, and I think I would relegate him to my bench. But keep on keeping on, Rich Hill.
Wil Crowe @ Los Angeles Dodgers, @ St. Louis: I have been following Crowe and hoping for better all year. I actually drafted and stashed him in some deeper leagues, but the results have not been there. The thing is, he is young and developing at the toughest level of the game, and he is getting there, surrendering three earned runs or less in his last four starts. However, if you are vying for the top, Crowe is best left on the waiver wire at this point. In keeper or dynasty leagues, he may be worth stashing. Keep an eye on him but do not use him this week.
Ryan Weathers @ Colorado, vs. Philadelphia: Limited value due to not qualifying for wins with so many brief starts, and giving up huge innings. And in Colorado? No way. Pass.
Josh Fleming vs. Baltimore, vs. Chicago White Sox: Fleming is an interesting case. He has nine wins, which most owners desperately need, but an ERA of 4.96. His high-water mark in Ks has been seven this year. In his last start, he gave up six walks. I feel like he hurts more than helps even if he wins. Pass.
Spencer Howard vs. Seattle, @ Boston: I expect that Howard will finally get the chance he deserves pitching in Texas. I think it could come together quickly. While his ERA on the season is north of 5.50, and he has no wins, things could coalesce with an opportunity and no one looking over his shoulder. The 12% walk rate is troubling but that happens often with young arms. I would not use him this week, but he’s another guy to follow and see what happens down the stretch. Things could come together quickly.
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