Double your pleasure, double your fun! In a week with few top options, Mike Carter breaks down the best bets among the lower levels of two-start pitchers.
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Two-Start Pitchers for Week of April 26
Last week, we had a plethora of top-shelf options. This week, the pickings are a bit slimmer. There is far more risk among the two-start pitchers. How much risk are you willing to stomach in the lower shelf options? We have some intriguing options, and to be truthful, much of this depends on who you believe in and who you do not. And with how pitching has gone so far in 2021, who really knows? The fun of this game is speculation. So let’s speculate away!
Corbin Burnes vs. Miami, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: yes starting anyone against the Dodgers may give you pause. But Burnes has looked the part of the best pitcher in baseball right now, and I would start him automatically at this point. He has 40 strikeouts and no walks through four starts. Egads! Roll with him.
Carlos Rodon vs. Detroit, vs. Cleveland: I am moving him up based on what we have seen thus far in 2021. Two favorable matchups this week give me the confidence to ride him. He’s 3-0 with a .47 ERA and .68 ERA. This will normalize soon but start with confidence this week.
Sean Manaea @ Tampa Bay, vs. Baltimore: Is Manaea becoming the ace of the Oakland staff? He’s 2-1 with a 3.04 ERA and 22 strikeouts in 23.2 innings. So far in 2021, he has focused on three pitches; the sinker (61%), the changeup (25%), and the curveball (14%). It’s been effective. He limits damage and walks while giving you a decent K rate. I think he’s a top-shelf guy this week.
Jose Berrios @ Cleveland, vs. Kansas City: Berrios has 30 strikeouts in 21 innings. He started with 12 and 8 Ks in his first two starts and has come back with only five in his last two outings. However, these are good matchups for him and I like his chances for success.
Trevor Rogers @ Milwaukee, @ Washington: He’s been sparkling for the Marlins. Rogers is throwing his four-seamer 62% of the time resulting in a 35.6% strikeout percentage. Oh my. Keep him in your lineups this coming week.
Charlie Morton vs. Chicago Cubs, @ Toronto: I love Morton almost all the time, but do you trust him this week with a perhaps resurgent Cubs offense and a very good offense in Toronto? Morton has had two good starts, one ok start, and one bad one. He currently sits at 3.91 with 27 strikeouts in 23 innings. If you aren’t afraid of the opponents, start Morton.
Ian Anderson vs. Chicago Cubs, @ Toronto: Two starts in a row with four walks with middling strikeout totals. I would take a wait-and-see approach with Anderson with two potentially good offenses this week. But you can start him if you feel it.
Tyler Mahle @ Los Angeles Dodgers, vs. Chicago Cubs: Guessing many pundits will have him top-shelf. But a closer look shows Mahle feasting on weaker teams so far: Arizona twice and San Francisco. I am getting to the point where I may not start anyone against the Dodgers. The Cubs put up 15 runs on the Brewers Friday afternoon. Start at your own risk.
Zach Wheeler @ St. Louis, vs. New York Mets: After his first start in which he had 10 strikeouts and only surrendered one hit, Wheeler has been mediocre, giving up ten runs in his last three starts. Buyer beware.
Zac Plesac vs. Minnesota, @ Chicago White Sox: Things are sketchy so far for Plesac, a preseason sleeper for the top 20 of starting pitcher. Two starts in a row with six earned runs against the White Sox. And guess who faces at the end of the week? The White Sox. I would bench him until we see better results, which should be coming.
Nate Pearson vs. Washington, vs. Atlanta: I’m not a big fan of starting the rookie phenom fresh off an injury against two decent offenses. Couple that with the thought that he will probably be on a pitch count, and will not go deep into either game as he builds up stamina, and you have a guy who will be on my bench this week.
Zach Davies @ Atlanta, @ Cincinnati: He’s not been giving enough innings or been effective enough to start for me. But I know some like the stuff and his ability to rebound. Keep in mind the ERA is a bloated 8.80 and the WHIP is an unsightly 2.09. Egads! Pass. Wait for better results.
Austin Gomber @ San Francisco, @ Arizona: Look I like Gomber, especially outside of Coors Field. He’s sporting a 3.38 ERA with 20 strikeouts despite a 1-2 record. He’s cut the walks from seven to four to two in his last three starts. Sleeper here for me, and I would start him this week.
Jose Uriquidy vs. Seattle, @ Tampa Bay: I am not a fan this week. But I know many owners like him. He had a decent start against Seattle last time, but I want to see more before I start him with confidence. Start at your own risk.
Christian Javier vs. Seattle, @ Tampa Bay: I like him this week. Nine strikeouts in the last start against the Angels, seven the week before against Oakland. That ability to miss bats intrigues me. I would feel more comfortable with him than his teammate Urquidy this week.
Adam Wainwright vs. Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh: What is left in this tank? So Waino has looked pretty good the last two outings, but keep in mind, he’s 40 and the bottom could drop out at any time. Not particularly recommended, but you could do worse. Seven innings and 10 strikeouts this last week versus the Nationals.
Michael Wacha vs. Oakland, vs. Houston: It all comes down to which Wacha you believe in. He is a ho-hum 1-1 with a pedestrian 4.35 ERA. He threw 5 and 2/3 innings with only one strikeout in his last start. These numbers don’t help you. Yet the start before against the Yankees, he struck out nine. So which version of Wacha do you believe?
Jordan Lyles vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. Boston: Seems to give up a home run each start but limit the damage to three runs over his last three starts. A middling strikeout rate will leave you wanting. Pass.
Mike Foltynewicz vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. Boston: I am one of the fantasy owners pulling hard for Folty. But the results have not been there. He’s 0-3 with a 5.32 ERA and has given up eight home runs in four starts. Sweet Lord. Pass.
Chi Chi Gonzalez @ San Francisco, @ Arizona: Chi Chi is what he is. One of the greatest nicknames in the game, and 1-0 with a 3.00 ERA. Here is the problem: eight strikeouts in 15 innings isn’t going to get it done for you. He limits the damage but this is a risky proposition.
Spencer Turnbull vs. Kansas City, @ New York Yankees: I had shares of Turnbull all offseason. He opened his season last week with a win against Pittsburgh, with six strikeouts in five innings. He threw his slider 34% in the first start, as opposed to 21% last year. Pitch mix change? We will see. The velocity on the four-seamer was 92.7 last week as opposed to 93.7 last year. Could be he is just ramping up, but I am waiting for the Yankees to break out soon, and don’t like his matchups this week.
Justus Sheffield @ Houston, vs. Los Angeles Angels: His Statcast is a sea of blue ink. He’s 1-1 with a 4.86 ERA. His talent is apparent but the results have been mixed; a home run every start thus far, and at least two walks in each start as well. He’s already given up more barrels in 2021 (7) than he did in all of 2020 (6). Pass for me.
Anthony DeSclafani vs. Colorado, @ San Diego: Take a quick look at the stats and you may be tempted to start Tony Disco. He’s 1-0, with a minuscule 2.14 ERA and a nice 21 strikeouts in 21 innings. He’s throwing the fastball and slider less and using the sinker and curveball more often with good results so far. However, you may be dancing alone if you use him this week, especially against the San Diego juggernaut. If you really need someone, go for it, but be aware, he seems due for a dud.
Low Shelf: Desperation
Carlos Martinez vs. Philadelphia, @ Pittsburgh: Oh how I have wanted to believe in CMart. Oh how he has let me down, left me in the lowest of low places in past fantasy seasons. He’s 0-4 with a 6.00 ERA. No.
Brad Keller @ Detroit, @ Minnesota: Showing signs of getting back to his reliable self, but pass until you see his prior consistency.
Merrill Kelly vs. San Diego, vs. Colorado: I can’t.
Bruce Zimmerman vs. New York Yankees, @ Oakland: Could be good down the road, but not now, and not for your team.
Dean Kremer vs. New York Yankees, @ Oakland: See above note on Zimmerman.
Garrett Richards @ New York Mets, @ Texas: I still think this guy can be a serviceable pitcher, but not with 13 walks against 12 strikeouts on the year so far.
Trevor Williams @ Atlanta, @ Cincinnati: I can’t get behind this.
Jose Urena @ Chicago White Sox, @ New York Yankees: I don’t believe in him, and against these two teams, he shouldn’t even be on your radar. Please don’t do this.
Rich Hill vs. Oakland, vs. Houston: That Biblical curveball still has the ridiculous spin. But his ERA is even more ridiculous: 8.82. My son’s ERA in Little League is lower right now. I love Rich Hill but not this week.
If you enjoyed Mike’s take on these two-start pitchers, you also need to check out Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.
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