Two-Start Pitchers for the Week of August 19: Ross The boss
This week ahead we have one of the worst weeks for two-start pitchers I have looked at yet. There are very few arms slated to go that we as owners can feel comfortable about starting. For that reason, I do not recommend trying to go off script and moving away from my suggestions. As always cater this to your own league as depending on depth, you may be forced to start someone in my Proceed With Caution tier.
Once again I have included some notes on strikeouts and wins for those who need to stream those categories. Lastly, these matchups are always subject to changes as we try to get them to you as early as possible and injuries and other factors out of our control will change this significantly.
Two-Start Pitcher Tiers:
No Doubt – These are the guys who you do not even need to think about placing in your lineup regardless of match-up. This will typically be the smallest tier and I won’t provide much commentary on them.
Should Starts – These are the pitchers with solid match-ups or above-average pitchers with slightly tougher match-ups. If you own them start them.
Proceed With Caution – These arms have difficult match-ups or just aren’t very good and as a result, should only be started if you have no other options.
No -These guys should stay far away from your lineup no matter how desperate you are at the moment as they could end up destroying your ratios.
Note: the order within the tiers is not as important as the tier itself.
Two-Start Pitchers for the Week of August 19:
There has been some attention being paid to Kershaw once again but chances are you don’t realize just how good he’s been. Kershaw has rewarded his bold owners handsomely as he has gone at least six innings in every game thus far in 2019. The Yankees are a tough matchup but the Blue Jays are a chance to chase some strikeouts.
Bieber has been ascending to the ace tier slowly all season but he has firmly arrived. The right-hander is slowly becoming one of the 10 best pitchers in the game. The Mets have been hot but they are still not a scary matchup and the Royals are a low-K but weak-hitting opponent. He should have a chance at two wins here.
Strasburg is another pitcher who has rewarded his savvy investors well. There were some scary moments with low velocity early in the year but he’s slowly been improving as the year has gone on. The Cubs pose a threat as always but the Pirates’ lineup lacks punch. I love his two-start week here.
I wrote up German last week and once again while the skills are lackluster, the powerful offense and strong bullpen have led to a league-leading win total. This is an extremely difficult two-step but he should come out with at least one win. The potential World Series matchup against the Dodgers should be a fun one.
It is a light week for solid options in terms of two-start pitchers but there are still a handful of guys to trust. Bauer has been extremely frustrating. The Ks are there but he is being beaten up by the long ball. He gets two easier offenses to handle and should still rack up the strikeouts as long as he can keep the ball in the yard.
Minor has had a career resurgence for the Rangers who have weirdly managed to revive not only his career but also that of teammate Lance Lynn. He gets two plus matchups but the strikeout boost comes to net zero. The White Sox strike out at an elevated rate but the Angels are built on a more contact oriented approach. I like the matchups for Minor here this week.
For Miley the hope is a quality start and two wins here. Thankfully, he gets two matchups on the easier side of things. He should come out of this week with one easy win and possibly a second one depending on the Angels matchup.
Keuchel has not really performed as the Braves had hoped but he’s been a solid enough starter in this juiced ball era. He gets a fantastic matchup with the Marlins but the Mets have been good against left-handers in 2019. This makes for an extremely risky play, but in a week with few pitchers to truly trust you have to roll him out this week.
For this week the Gibson play is all about the matchups. He has about as ideal of a two-step as an owner could hope for. This is a bonus not only for his chances of earning two wins but also for the chance to rack up elite strikeout totals.
I wrote up McKay in more detail last week but without a doubt, he is one of my favorite young arms in the game. He gets a great set of matchups and a bonus in both the K expectations as well as wins. He should have a path to two easy wins this week.
Despite his low strikeout, pitch to contact style, it is rather surprising that Keller has not been the victim of excessive home run totals. He gets a small boost in terms of strikeouts this week, but the question is can he take advantage. Cleveland has been hotter of late playing above what their full-season numbers would indicate. Again in a less than ideal week for two-start pitchers, he is one guy you cannot afford to bench.
Heaney has had a series of ups and downs since returning from his various ailments this season showing high-end strikeout potential but worrying walk and homer rates. The lefty gets two high volatility matchups but his strikeout potential is too much to pass up this week.
Spotlight Arm – Joe Ross
This week I am going to take a deeper look at the Nationals’ Joe Ross. Ross, the younger brother of Tyson Ross, looked to be on his way to becoming the more successful brother way back in 2016. However, injuries and ineffectiveness have made him almost forgettable. His full-season numbers look terrible but in 18 innings in August he seems to have taken a huge step forward. He has allowed a single run over the course of the month and his strikeouts have taken a big step forward.
Ross has mostly traded his four-seam fastball for a sinker. This typically does not tie into a strikeout increase so this trend is one to keep an eye on going forward. He also seems to be messing with a second breaking ball. According to Brooks Baseball, he was only throwing a slider earlier in the season, but he is not throwing a curveball at almost the same rate.
This could be helping Ross with some platoon issues, as curveballs tend to be better than sliders on left-handers. He has been getting crushed by lefties overall this season. Weirdly, enough Ross has been throwing mostly sliders to lefties this past month. The curve has become his most heavily used non-fastball weapon against lefties in the last two months. This week he gets a plus matchup with the Pirates and a slightly tougher one with the Cubs. However, I believe this step forward is for real and as a result, I am taking my chances with Ross.
PROCEED WITH CAUTION:
Hamels had an absolutely terrible start last week against the Phillies and left a horrid taste in his owners’ mouths. He gets to pitch at home twice, slightly downgrading that Giants matchup. However, that is obviously still a plus looking matchup. The Nationals offense scares me and I just do not like Hamels enough as a pitcher to recommend him this week even with that plus-plus Giants matchup on tap.
If you have to rely on Marco this week I recommend not watching the game. He tends to end up with solid enough starts almost in a Wade Miley mold but it is never pretty. He tends to have tons of traffic on the bases so his blow-up games are ratio ruiners. He also does not generate many strikeouts and as a result, I do not want anything to do with him with these matchups.
Archer will forever be a what-if for me. The slider is so beautiful that I really want to believe but he continually breaks my heart. The strikeouts are there but not much else and with two powerful offenses on tap I do not want to be holding a ticking time bomb. He could fire off two gems and make me look dumb but he could also leave the game in the first inning after giving up four straight homers. The Chris Archer experience.
When manager Mickey Callaway removed Matz in the midst of a gem this past week it raised a number of questions from the couch managers. I personally feel it was the right choice but certainly not an easy one. If you take away a few bad outings Matz’s season looks pretty good. However, he gets two matchups on the tougher side and a win downgrade so I will be looking for other options this week. He may be the best option within this tier though.
Very little in the profile of Dakota Hudson is exciting and he is likely only still starting due to a lack of better options. I usually like to prey on the road Rockies but with the Brewers appearing as the second matchup, this is one I want to avoid this week.
Ivan Nova has been getting great results of late. Ivan Nova has not shown great skills of late. I want nothing to do with this set of matchups and know the blow-up is coming soon. Do not be holding Nova when he turns back into a pumpkin.
Gonzalez has actually been much better than I realized for the Brewers thus far. He’s done a respectable job limiting homers especially in his home park, but I just cannot bring myself to recommend him willingly. He is too much of a risk but in a bad week for two-start pitchers, you could do worse.
Trevor Williams was on my list last week too but he lines up for a two-step here again as of this writing. He is still a boring pitch-to-contact type with little excitement in terms of skill and is best left on the wire.
Means has been really good for the Orioles but with little in terms of strikeout upside or really any chances at wins he is not an attractive fantasy option. The lefty does not need to be in your lineup this week. There are better options in the single start tiers.
As I wrote last week, I like the skills that Peters has shown in recent weeks but this is a brutal two-start week and as a result, I will be staying far away from him.
Nathan Eovaldi was rumored to be getting a chance to be a closer upon his return, but he appears to be back in the Red Sox’s rotation. The big right-hander has explosive stuff but has struggled his whole career to harness it. I like the matchup with the Padres but that Phillies lineup packs too much punch for me to take the chance with Eovaldi.
Bundy, much like the rest of his career, has been victimized by the long ball this season. Unfortunately for him, he gets two starts in his bandbox of a home ballpark. The Rays and Royals both have enough power to make this a miserable week to be a Bundy owner. Even in a poor week for two-start pitchers, Bundy’s proclivity for blow-ups makes it extremely risky to use him this week.
Allard has only had two starts but the trend has shown already that he will be high-K and high-walk. That is an extremely dangerous line to walk and while he has had some success he has also yet to allow a homer. With a home start lined-up, that could change in a hurry this week.
Jalen Beeks and his projections are all about whether he is used as a follower or as a traditional starter. While I do not typically believe there to be a major difference in the roles, Beeks has an ERA over 10.00 as a starter and a sub-3.00 as a reliever. The main difference is his home run rate, as everything else appears to be the same, but it is not a chance I want to take. If I can guarantee that Beeks has an opener in both games then I will move him to the tier above.
Spotlight Arms – Spencer Turnbull
The Tigers are having a truly miserable season and for their fans, there has not been much to cheer for. Matt Boyd gets most of the attention but Spencer Turnbull has been excellent and looks like he could be a major piece of their future. The right-hander features a solid mix of four separate pitches he’s thrown at least 10% of the time. He features a fastball and sinker combo, while also throwing both a slider and a curve. He has generated enough swing and miss but nothing in particular stands out. The key to his success has been a low homer rate, which could be due to the fact that he dominates the lower half of the zone. However, when he does go up in the zone he gets a significant amount of swing and miss. There is a lot to like with the young right-hander and while he may never be an ace he should be a solid mid-rotation piece for years to come. This week however, he has two miserable matchups that I want to avoid. Buy going forward but avoid him this week.
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Paul Mammino is a former collegiate baseball player turned fantasy writer. He joined Fantrx HQ in 2019 and writes for a number of different places including Sportsline and Friends With Fantasy Benefits. He focuses on two-start pitchers for Fantrax but is also extremely interested in relief pitching which he covers for Sportsline.
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