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Two-Start Pitchers for the Week of 8.30.2021

We are getting down to the nitty-gritty now. Are you in a position to finish strong this month?  Looking for some solid two-start options this week?  Maybe looking to catch lightning in a bottle with a guy flying under the radar?  Read on.  We’ve got you covered!

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Two-Start Pitchers for Week of August 28

Top Shelf

Not too many top-shelf options this week, and I may cause controversy (haha) with two of my additions here.

Zack Wheeler @ Washington, @ Miami: He’s 10-9 with a 2.90 ERA, 1.01 WHIP and an eye-popping 201 Ks. No question you use him in both starts this week, both enticing matchups with bad offenses. Wheeler has given up 15 earned runs in his last three starts, but should rebound here this week.

Charlie Morton @ Los Angeles Dodgers, @ Colorado: The matchups could give you pause, and I know it is de rigueur to not use a pitcher at Coors Field. Morton is 12-5 with a nice 3.60 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 173 punchouts. Depends on your options this week, but he is still one of my top five guys, and I plan to roll the dice and use him.

Chris Sale @ Tampa Bay, vs. Cleveland: What a welcome addition to not only the Red Sox but to your rotation as well. If you have stashed him all season, now is the time you have been waiting for to use him, so do so. He’s 3-0 since coming off the IL with a 2.35 ERA and 21 Ks in 15 innings. Good to go.

German Marquez @ Texas, vs. Atlanta: August has not been kind to Marquez, and he remains an enigma to many fantasy players. He got torched by the Cubs last time out. So why recommend him? HE’s good at home (3.13 ERA) and to be very scientific, my (large) gut. He’s streaky and it’s time for a good streak here. I can totally understand if you disagree with me.

Shohei Ohtani vs. New York Yankees, vs. Texas: Ohtani is 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 127 Ks. He’s 3-0 in August, with a no-decision last start where he looked mortal and surrendered three home runs. His Statcast page is fun to examine if you get the chance. You might pause using him against the Yankees, but I will as I circle the Texas matchup on the calendar wishing for a plethora of whiffs.

Walker Buehler vs. Atlanta, @ San Francisco: Tough matchups, sure, but can you bench him with only a couple of weeks to go in your season? He’s 13-2 with a 2.02 ERA and .92 WHIP. I am going to use him this week and hope he pitches just like her normally does.

Corbin Burnes @ San Francisco, vs. St. Louis: Lots of Cy Young talk here, and for good reason; he’s 8-4 with a whopping 180 strikeouts in 133 innings. This is the no-brainer I always mention here; don’t even have a second thought about it.  Set and forget, like your mom’s 1980s perm.

Chris Flexen vs. Houston, @ Arizona: Bet you may be surprised to see him in the top shelf this week. Flexen is not known for his high K performances; his highest total in any start this year is eight. But he gives you worry-free innings, and there is much to be said for that. He’s a robust 11-5 with a 3.54 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. Yes, it’s Houston, sure, but he also gets Arizona this week. I will be using him in most formats.

Robbie Ray vs. Baltimore, vs. Oakland: What a find he has been for the Blue Jays this year. At 9-5 with a 2.92 ERA and a shocking (for him) 1.02 WHIP, and 192 punchouts, Ray has been a must-start in most formats. That doesn’t change this week with two juicy matchups.

Middle Shelf

The middle shelf has bevy of options for all tastes, especially if you are adept at accepting risk for a potential reward.

Luis Castillo vs. St. Louis, vs. Detroit: Can you trust him? I love his pure stuff but he’s 7-13 with an ERA over 4.00. He’s getting a strikeout per inning still but you would have to characterize his season as a major disappointment. That said, if you roster him, you are probably forced to use him. Outside of one poor start in August, he’s been solidly mediocre, so you should probably use him this week, but remember, I warned you to be cautious.

Huascar Ynoa @ Los Angeles Dodgers, @ Colorado: Ynoa has come back from the IL and continued his fine stretch. Yep, two tough matchups on the road this week, but I will be using him, especially in leagues where I am desperate.  I love his fastball; 92nd percentile in velocity this year. Please do not punch anything with your pitching hand, Huascar.

Nick Pivetta @ Tampa Bay, vs. Cleveland: Pivetta is hard to recommend right now based on his predilection for giving up four runs in so many starts; in 10 of his 25 starts, he has given up at least that many. And in the last two weeks, he has also had outings of 1.2 and 4 innings.  That is not what you need. I think you can do better. With Boston scuffling he may be best left on your bench.

Casey Mize vs. Minnesota, @ Cincinnati: Mize has been quietly decent, with a 7-6 record and 3.55 ERA. He won’t help much with strikeouts but gives mostly worry-free innings that won’t gape your ratios. He does well when he limits the homer and the walks. A decent option this week who one day will be an ace.

Cole Irvin @ Detroit, @ Toronto: You must give respect to Irvin, who gets the job done despite less than perfect velocity. How does he do it? By limiting hard contact and not surrendering walks. He is 9-12 with a 3.68 ERA. Irvin limits damage in that way and is highly usable this week despite the high offensive prowess of the Jays. Use him if you need him.

Johnny Cueto vs. Milwaukee, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: I love watching Cueto do what he does, and be successful at it. Somehow he just keeps getting it done, with seven wins and a 3.73 ERA despite injury this year. There are always certain guys that survive and just keep going, limiting great offenses to not much. This is a tough week though, and he won’t help you much with Ks. Giving me hope is that he has pitched well against both squads this week. If you need to roll the dice, you could do worse than Cueto.

Josiah Gray vs. Philadelphia, vs. New York Mets: Gray is a definite up-and-comer for the Nats, who got him in the Trea Turner/Max Scherzer trade. He has a good fastball but a terrific curveball, of which he has struck out 21 batters in 41 plate appearances.  Is that good? Add in that he has pitched six innings each in his last three starts, and you have potential recipe for helping you. Could be a keeper in many leagues as well.

Blake Snell @ Arizona, vs. Houston: We have said this too many times this year, but if you drafted Snell with the hopes of him being your ace, you have probably had a year to forget. That said, Snell has been pretty darn good his last three starts: no wins, but at least five innings, six, nine and ten strikeouts in those, while limiting the walks. Can’t put him in the top-shelf, but signs are encouraging, and you should roll him out there.

Alex Wood vs. Milwaukee, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: At 10-4 with a 4.08 ERA and 135 strikeouts, Wood has been healthy and a revelation for the surging Giants. Should give you mostly worry-free innings and strikeouts to boot.  Would rank him higher but these matchups give me a large pause.

Lower Shelf

Even here, there are plenty of options I would use depending on my circumstances.  Take a look for yourself; I can see a case for using many of these arms in two-start weeks.

Zac Plesac @ Kansas City, @ Boston: It’s been a wildly disappointing year any way you look at it for Plesac. He does have eight wins, but they come at a cost: 4.78 ERA, and only 73 punchouts in 107.1 innings. Ugh. Pass, unless you are hunting wins, which he could get this week.

Austin Gomber @ Texas, vs. Atlanta: After becoming a verb this year, as in, “you got Gombered,” he has been a  find for many fantasy players. He has held his own this year, giving you nine wins, an about average 4.38 ERA, and a strikeout per inning. Gomber has been surrendering more walks in August, and maybe he is tiring down the stretch. He’s been far better at home (2.09 ERA) than on the road (6.08 ERA). If you can split the starts in your league, I would use him against Texas, and consider benching him against Atlanta.

Tyler Gilbert vs. San Diego, vs. Seattle: He followed up his legendary no-hitter with a four-earned run, two whiff performance the following week. Gilbert was ok last week against the moribund Pirates. What will you get this week against two better opponents?  Time will tell but do not expect a bunch of strikeouts. There are other two-start options I like better this week.

Jaime Barria vs. New York Yankees, vs. Texas: He is not going to give you innings to get you a win or a bevy of strikeouts. Pass.

Bailey Ober @ Detroit, @ Tampa Bay: Ober is rounding into a usable guy in rotations. Small sample size, but in four August starts, he has a 2.11 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 21 innings. The problem for me is one win in 15 starts. Gotta have those wins at this point in the season, and he might not get any this week either.

Taijuan Walker vs. Miami, @ Washington: Weeks ago, Walker was always at the very least a middle-tier guy. He had a tough July and rough start to August, but he’s been better in his last three starts. He’s 7-9 and has gone at least six in his last four, but keep in mind he won’t help you much with those valuable Ks. I am still lacking trust here, but you could do worse.

Andrew Heaney @ Los Angeles Angels, vs. Baltimore: Like this, this could be worse. Burned like that ex who was full of promise and potential, do not do this to yourself. And you know what will happen: he will tantalize you, but it’s like being caught between Scylla and Charybdis. Stop yourself or we will get an intervention together.

Ryan Yarbrough vs. Boston, vs. Minnesota: Guys just don’t barrel him up or hit him very hard despite his less-than-stellar results. He is what he is: an average guy capable of more some nights but pitching in Tampa will never get the opportunities to stretch deep into games. He’s not a bad option if you need to eat some innings, but if you are going for it all right now, I do not see a place for him in your rotation.

Lowest Shelf 

I don’t think you want to do this to yourself.

Chris Ellis @ Toronto, @ New York Yankees: Ellis has made one start where he went three innings and struck out three.  A modest outing.  You will want to see more before using him in any context…and this week does not look like a good time to experiment too much.

Bryse Wilson @ Chicago White Sox, @ Chicago Cubs: It’s not that Wilson is bad, it’s that the White Sox are fully healthy again and hitting like crazy in the Chicago summer heat and humidity. Pass.

Jon Lester @ Cincinnati, @ Milwaukee: As I have stated previously, I thoroughly admire Lester, but admiring someone does not mean that they should be on your roster.  These are two tough matchups as well, especially with Lester’s career-worst 13.7 K% and 5.27 ERA.  Pass.

Drew Rasmussen vs. Boston, vs. Minnesota: The reason for the low ranking is that he will probably have a limited outing and won’t help you with strikeouts, which makes these outings fraught with peril. Rasmussen won’t have much value because of this.

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