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Two-Start Pitchers for the Week of 5.31.2021

Be sure to set those lineups for the upcoming two-start pitchers before you head for your Memorial Day parties and barbecues.  Also, please take a moment to remember why we have Memorial Day and recognize that it isn’t about the parties and barbecues. Thanks to all who have served and sacrificed in our armed forces.

That being said, let’s take a look at the top two-start options this week for your teams, as well as some other, riskier options this week.

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Two-Start Pitchers for the Coming Week


These are the two-start pitchers you set and forget this week.  Some terrific options as always.

Tyler Glasnow @ New York Yankees, @ Texas:  There were rumors that Glasnow may have been tipping his pitches last week. Both he and manager Kevin Cash say that he was not, but either way, Glasnow had his worst start of the 2021 season. He gave up five runs on nine hits including two home runs.  Even the best pitchers have off nights.  I start Glasnow automatically every time, and especially in weeks where he has two starts.

Shane Bieber vs. Chicago White Sox, @ Baltimore:  Cleveland pitchers need to watch out for breaking thumbs while disrobing, but Bieber is still their ace and is healthy. Yes, Bieber has looked human at 4-3, with a 3.36 ERA and 1.26 WHIP. He has an absurd 98 Ks in 65 innings.  The White Sox have suddenly gone cold at the plate, too.  Start him in all formats.

Corbin Burnes vs. Detroit, vs. Arizona: Burnes had some trouble finding home plate last week, but his 74:5 K:BB rate makes up for any deficiencies he has there.  I wish he had more wins, as many of you do; he’s been stuck on two wins since April 20th.  They will come.  Start with confidence.

Carlos Rodon @ Cleveland, vs. Detroit:  Rodon keeps taking the ball…and striking guys out.  He lost his start last week against St. Louis due to a dearth of run support, through no fault of his own, surrendering only a Tommy Edman home run while notching ten strikeouts. Start with confidence until he shows you differently.

Dylan Cease @ Cleveland, vs. Detroit: Cease is always a bit of a risk because you never know fully which Cease you are going to get. That being said, he has been good all year, surrendering more than three runs only once all year and chipping in with 56 strikeouts in 45 innings.  I am a diehard White Sox fan, and Cease terrifies me; I have this mostly irrational fear that he is going to regress and start walking guys again.  That being said, he has two good matchups this week. I would start him this week. NOTE:  Cease may not start twice this week as the Sox may use Jonathan Stiever on Tuesday.  Unconfirmed as of Saturday morning.

Trevor Bauer vs. STL, @ Atlanta:  I am not here to discuss whether I like Bauer or not (I do, and feel he is great for the game). He’s 5-2 with a 1.98 ERA and .77 WHIP. The 88 punchouts in 63.2 innings are a great touch. Run him out there.

Pablo Lopez @Toronto, @ Pittsburgh: I have been a quiet champion of Lopez since last year going back to my time at SP Streamer.  He’s easy to like, and use.  Disregard the 1-3 record; Lopez has a 2.73 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. He’s got 54 Ks in 56 innings, so he helps there, too.

Jack Flaherty @ Los Angeles Dodgers, vs. Cincinnati:  He was 8-0 until his defense betrayed him last week against the White Sox.  He’s still a no-brainer start.

Joe Musgrove @ Chicago Cubs, vs. New York Mets: Musgrove has found a new level since being traded to his hometown team.  He’s 4-4 and deserves better; the ERA sits at 2.26 and his WHIP is .86. The 76:12 K:BB really jumps out at you in 55.2 innings. Roll with him.

Stephen Strasburg @Atlanta, @ Philadelphia: Is there a more stressful pitcher to roster in the history of fantasy baseball? This would be a great debate among the analysts, wouldn’t it?  He’s back and healthy now, but hasn’t been great in three starts with 11 walks and three home runs. I would wait and start him next week; I don’t feel terrific about these matchups, even though Marcell Ozuna and Bryce Harper are both out.

Marcus Stroman @ Arizona, @ San Diego: Stroman is one of the most underrated fantasy starters in baseball. He’s 3-4 this year with a 2.73 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.  Despite the pushing back of starters due to a rainout last week, it appears that Stroman will make two starts this week.

Jose Berrios @ Baltimore, @ Kansas City: Berrios is often maligned in these kinds of pieces, but has has actually been quite good and consistent. He’s 5-2 with a 3.67 ERA and 1.15 WHIP. He’s got a strong 63:17 K:BB rate, which is leading to these very good results. You have to love these matchups, too.  He’s a must-start for me.

Sonny Gray vs. Philadelphia, @ St. Louis:  Look, I know it is easy to look at stats and think we know what a guy is doing.  If you look at Gray’s 0-3 record and middling 3.96 ERA, you will be mislead.  He’s got 47 Ks in 36.1 innings and seems to be working out the kinks from his delayed start to the season. Gray logged a quality start last weekend and got eight K’s to boot. The walks are a concern.  But things regress back to the norm, and Gray is simply too talented to not start earning wins while compiling stats for you. Is this the week that happens? I will let you know as I am starting him in all formats.

Middle Shelf

The middle shelf has something for everyone looking for a two-start pitchers this week.  Keep in mind these always have some potential peril with them, and let the buyer beware.  However there is value to be found in these two-start options.

Alex Wood vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. Chicago Cubs:  It’s never really been about talent with Wood.  It’s always been his inability to stay healthy.  Anyone with a balky back can feel his pain, even as none of us are pitching at the game’s highest level. But Wood has been great this year:  5-2, 2.44 ERA,  50 strikeouts in 48 innings. Last week against the Dodgers he surrendered four runs to go with eight strikeouts.  I like Wood and his matchups this week, but always be aware of that lurking injury history and watch him carefully.

Kyle Hendricks vs. San Diego, @ San Francisco:  There are signs of life.  Here is my testimony: in May, he’s 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA.  Hendricks is limiting walks while going longer into games:  8, 6.2 and 7 innings the last three outings.  You may have missed an opportunity to buy low on him. I would start him with caution this week. I am cautiously optimistic he is getting back to who he is.

Charlie Morton vs. Washington, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers:  Do not write him off yet.  He’s got the ERA back down under 4.00 and has struck out 17 over his last two starts.  He’s wily and knows how to pitch.  Use him.

German Marquez vs. Texas, vs. Oakland: As has been documented by many analysts far smarter than me, use him on the road and not at home.  Two road starts this week?  I am in and willing to take this risk.  Beware the walks kill him.

Jose Urquidy vs. Boston, @ Toronto:  He is an intriguing option and is back healthy.  Houston is rebuilding their rotation on the fly right now due to injury, and Urquidy will be part of that. He’s 3-2 with a 3.22 ERA.  He is not helping much with Ks so what you are hoping for is volume and ratio help.  He can fill in the back end of your rotation.  If Urquidy is somehow on your waiver wire, pick him up.

Luis Garcia vs. Boston, @ Toronto:  I like this guy at 3-3 and a 2.93 ERA. The 54 Ks in 46 innings leap out at you too. He’s yet to have an outing where he gives up more than three earned runs. I am using him everywhere and will continue to do so until he shows signs of a downturn.  Use him.

Wade Miley:  word this week was that Miley would come off the IL and start Monday against the Phillies, and that could line him up to face the Cardinals over the weekend.  Check later in the weekend.

Jordan Montgomery  vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Boston:  Montgomery was lights-out against the White Sox last weekend, fanning 11 in seven shutout innings.  The talent has always been obvious, but is he starting to put it together? The start before against Baltimore, he surrendered five earned runs and lasted only three innings; the start before that, he struck out nine in six innings against Tampa Bay.  There is risk here with Montgomery, but I’m willing to take that.  His ERA is 4.07 but his WHIP is a robust 1.07, and he’s limiting walks.

James Kaprielian @ Seattle, @ Colorado: Kaprielian was a guy many fantasy players had tucked away at the beginning of the year, and he’s finally healthy and getting the opportunity. In fact manager Bob Melvin plans to keep him in the rotation, as it was announced Jesus Luzardo would return to a bullpen role when he is healthy. He’s 2-0 with a 1.53 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17.2 innings.  Granted, a very small sample size, but he has been impressive. I like the matchups this week, even if one of the starts is in Colorado. I would ride the hot streak and hope for continued success.

Rich Hill @ New York Yankees, @ Texas: He’s just remarkable, isn’t he?  HE’s 41 and still getting batters out at a high clip. He’s 3-2 with a 3.63 ERA and 58 strikeouts in 52 innings, including a whopping 13 against Kansas City last week.  Start with confidence right now, although a few rolling curveballs could make you change your mind.

Nick Pivetta @ Houston, @ New York Yankees: He’s an other-worldly 6-0 right now.  The 59 Ks in 53 innings help out, and the ERA is 3.86 and WHIP is 1.27. There has been a theme here with the last three guys on this list:  I have trust issues. While he has gotten a nice volume of Ks, the runs allowed are creeping up these last two weeks.  Last two starts he’s given up five and four earned runs. Is the other shoe falling?  I won’t be the one finding out.  This week feels fraught with peril for Pivetta.

Brady Singer vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Minnesota:  I was  big fan of Singer before the season and tried to draft him as my fifth starter in many leagues.  And truthfully he has been what many thought he would be:  serviceable and at times, pretty good.  He has struggled in May to the tune of a 6.66 ERA (evil!) and he’s issuing too many walks. That said, he has shown the ability to bounce back, and has matchups against two struggling lineups.  I would be on the fence about using him, but probably will based on matchups.

Lower Shelf

Even here, there are usable options even if I am not totally sold on using these guys as two-start pitchers this week.  Take a look.

Michael Pineda @ Baltimore, @ Kansas City: Is it just me, or has Pineda been quietly effective this year?  He’s 3-2 with a paltry 2.62 ERA, and 47K in 42.1 innings.  Not bad, right?  Statcast paints a slightly different picture with an xERA of 4.09.  These are good matchups for him this week and I would be tempted to use him.

Vince Velasquez @Cincinnati, vs. Washington: Velazquez has tantalized since his debut with the obvious arm talent. Is he finally putting it together? He’s 2-0 in six starts with a 2.95 ERA and 45 Ks in 36.2 innings.  I know xERA is far from a perfect stat, but his is 4.60.  We also have a wide history here to consider.  I don’t trust him and do not se that changing unless he somehow maintains this new found consistency. He also has a 14% walk rate.  I would pass.

Mike Minor vs. Pittsburgh, vs. Minnesota: He’s 3-2 with a 4.83 ERA.  The strikeout totals the last three outings: seven, eight and nine. He just surrenders too many runs.  That being said, his xERA is 3.90, which is usable at the back end of your rotation. I won’t start him, but you could make an argument this week against Pittsburgh and Minnesota.

Garrett Richards @ Houston, @ New York Yankees:  Sadly for me, I was short-sighted and lost patience with Richards after the first two weeks of the season.  And he’s been very usable: 4-3, 3.83 ERA, and 47 Ks in 54 innings.  The WHIP is not what you would want at 1.50. The issue for me is the walks; his last three starts he’s had three, four and four, and he won’t survive long against Houston and New York doing things that way.  I would pass this week.

Johnny Cueto vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. Chicago Cubs:  The guy doesn’t walk anybody (3.9%) and has 31 punchouts in 37 innings. It’s a bit of a high wire act thought; every third or fourth start he gives up four or five runs as he relies more on guile and deception now than ever.  He’s too risky for me.

Lowest Shelf

Unless you are really in desperate need of something these guys offer, I would pass on these two-start pitchers this week.

Wil Crowe @ Kansas City, vs. Miami: While a talented guy, it’s not been going well for Crowe.  He should continue to get opportunities for a moribund Pittsburgh rotation, but should probably not get a chance in yours,  Pass.

Logan Gilbert vs. Oakland, @ Los Angeles Angels: In my mind, it is always tough to start a rookie and expect great results.  The third start was better: four innings, four Ks and only two earned runs.  However, he is not likely to give you any value pitching such short stints.  If you have bench space and wat to keep him rostered as a wait-and-see, that is fine.  I would not start him at this time, even though his talent is obvious.

Dane Dunning @ Colorado, vs. Tampa Bay: I like Dunning but he’s still developing as the pitcher he can be. He’s 2-4 with a 4.75 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP.  The 52 strikeouts in 47.1 help, but not enough to use him with any degree of confidence right now.  And he’s in Coors this.  Egads! Check back later in the year.  Dunning will be a number three starter at some point, but it is not today.

Trevor Williams vs. San Diego, @ San Francisco:  He’s 3-2 and sports a 5.36 ERA, although the 4.44 xERA shows he’s been better than that.  He has surprisingly garnered 49 Ks in 43.1 innings. But there is nothing here to boldly recommend, so I will not.  Don’t do it.

Corbin Martin vs. New York Mets, @ Milwaukee: We need to see more of Martin to recommend him.  Pass.  Unless you like pouring gasoline on your team and watching what happens. I don’t see him providing you any value this year.

Merrill Kelly vs. New York Mets, @ Milwaukee: he’s sneaky and could give you good value. He’s 0-3 in May but has a very good 3.52 ERA and 34KS in 30.2 innings.  Feeling lucky?  He is under the radar and very usable if you need help, despite the low ranking.

Drew Smyly vs. Washington, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: It’s been mostly ugly for Smyly this year.  He will not make you smiley but frowny.  There were signs in a three start run in early May that things were improving; alas, the last start was  seven run, two HR clunker against Boston. I cannot recommend him.

Tucker Davidson vs. Washington, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers:  Davidson made his first start last week, and did ok: six innings, five Ks, three earned, did not factor into the decision.  The pedigree and talent is there but do you want to see what a rookie can do on the road against the Nationals and Dodgers?  I will pass but earmark for later.

Jorge Lopez vs. Minnesota, vs. Cleveland: Nothing to see unless you like watching kids hit a dead animal with a stick looking for signs of life.  One key in fantasy baseball is to inflict no harm upon your team but rostering someone like Lopez.  And now watch him pitch the next no-hitter. Ha.

Jeff Hoffman vs. Philadelphia, @ St. Louis: Are you still reading?  You can stop here.

Jose Urena @ Milwaukee, @ Chicago White Sox: Look the stats are not awful; the 4.14 ERA plays but he gives you very limited goodness in other areas.  Urena has 14 Ks in five starts this month.  This won’t help you.  Roster him only if he is related to you.

Tyler Anderson @ Kansas City, vs. Miami: He had a decent stretch in late April and early May but that stretch is over. Seven home runs in his last three starts.  Stay away. NOTE: may only get one start next week.  Check back on Sunday.

Joe Ross @ Atlanta, @ Philadelphia: this ship has sailed for me.  Don’t purposely inflict harm upon yourself.

NOTE:  Matt Peacock took ill last week and did not make his start last Thursday, but could be back for two starts this week versus the Milwaukee Brewers and the New York Mets.

When you’re done digesting these two-start pitchers, head on over and take a bite out of Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.

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