Friends, it’s not looking so great for our two-start options this week. Let’s dive in and take a gander. Not many top-shelf choices, but you may derive some satisfaction this week from the middle shelf, and maybe even someone on our lower shelf could help you out as we prepare for the stretch run.
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Two-Start Pitchers for August 9 thru 15
Just a few top-shelf options and some are questionable. See for yourself.
Luis Castillo @ Cleveland, @ Philadelphia: Have you ever seen a pitcher that has caused more hand-wringing in a fantasy baseball season than Luis Castillo? So much was expected, similar to Zac Gallen, also mentioned here this week, but Castillo is 6-10 with a 4.09 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Not what you paid for, right? However Castillo has been quietly very good in June and July, with a combined 4-2 record, and 73 strikeouts in 69.1 innings. That will play. Use him if you have him.
Lucas Giolito @ Minnesota, vs. New York Yankees: Giolito is 8-8 with a 3.98 ERA. Getting the theme here this week? The top guys have not given you the results you drafted them for, but what’s done is done, and it’s time to try and win with what is left. Giolito was more himself in July: 2-2, 3.16 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 32 punchouts in 31.1 innings. Use him but recognize that walks and home runs have cropped up from time to time. I am using him this week.
Max Scherzer @ Philadelphia, @ New York Mets: Automatic start. Don’t overthink it.
Jameson Taillon @ Kansas City, @ Chicago White Sox: Taillon has been excellent, even winning AL Pitcher of the Month in July. Is this the long-awaited breakout for him? He’s 7-4 with a 4.04 ERA and 1.21 WHIP. Taillon struck out 10 Orioles in his last outing, and I would use him until he breaks. The White Sox offense may give you some pause, but they also go long stretches without consistent scoring. Run with Taillon.
Joe Musgrove vs. Miami, @ Arizona: Musgrove has been the glue holding together the San Diego rotation all year. He’s 7-7 with a terrific 2.87 ERA and .97 WHIP, adding in 139 strikeouts. Do not overthink it; he is a must-start, especially against a historically bad Arizona team.
Kevin Gausman vs. Arizona, vs. Colorado: Been some hand-wringing with Gausman, but I would never hesitate to start him, and he won’t get two better matchups the rest of the year. Run with him.
Middle Shelf Options
You may derive fulfillment from the middle shelf two-start options here. But be careful; the road is fraught with peril!
Drew Smyly vs. Cincinnati, @ Washington: Smyly is 7-3 with a 4.50 ERA. He posted five wins in 10 May and June starts against zero losses with 46 strikeouts in 49.2 innings. The ratios won’t provide you much help right now; 1.32 WHIP in May and a sickly 1.60 in June. But you start Smyly hoping for wins and some strikeouts, and that doesn’t change here. Facing a gutted Washington lineup helps add to his appeal. Start him if you have him.
Sonny Gray @ Atlanta, @ Philadelphia: Gray is a mediocre 4-6 with a 4.44 ERA. If you base your decision to use him based on that, you won’t use him. However, if like me, you drafted him as your No. 2 starter and have been waiting for him to pitch all year, you have to use him. His results have been mixed over the last month; surrendering eight earned to the Cardinals, but then shutting down the Mets for six innings in his next start with seven strikeouts. If you have better options, maybe you bench him this week. However, I will need to use him. Send prayers and good karma to me.
Jon Gray @ Houston, @ San Francisco: Gray is 7-7 with a very nice 3.67 ERA pitching half his games in Coors Field. The thing is, he’s actually been better at home. Gray has been a staple in several of my rotations and I will continue to do so this week even with two tough matchups. Gray’s 101 strikeouts in 110 innings are a huge help and he limits hard contact with a 5.1 barrel percentage.
Casey Mize @ Baltimore, vs. Cleveland: Mize went through a window of time where manager AJ Hinch wisely limited his innings in an attempt to preserve his golden right arm for Detroit’s bright future. Hinch is doing that with rotation-mates Tarik Skubal and Matt Manning as well. Mize graduated from this with seven innings of four-hit ball against the Orioles in the last week of July. He followed that up with a meh performance against a good Red Sox team. Here is the thing; I like these matchups this week and Detroit could support Mize with wins in both of these starts. I wish he struck out more hitters (90 in 116 innings), but the 3.57 ERA and 1.13 WHIP help you. Start him.
Zach Thompson @ San Diego, vs. Chicago Cubs: He’s 2-4 with a helpful 2.53 ERA in nine starts this year. The biggest issue for me is that he doesn’t go deep into games and doesn’t rack up strikeouts in those limited outings. He won’t kill your ratios but the chances of him getting a win and piling up helpful numbers are slim. Depends on your league context; I would not start him against San Diego but would argue you could against a moribund Cubs’ offense.
Carlos Carrasco vs. Washington, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers: I love Cookie and you should too; the guy has been through so much the last two years and you have to be rooting for him to make it all the way back to what he once was in Cleveland. It’s important to be realistic though. Coming off an injury and with the Mets fighting for their playoff lives, his outings are likely to be limited for the near future. He’s only gone four innings in each of his two starts thus far. While I like the matchup with the Washington Sotos (he’s all they have left), I don’t like the Dodgers matchup. I can see an argument both ways on this one. I will lean towards using him while maintaining low, realistic expectations, similar to how I manage my daily life. 🙂
Frankie Montas @ Cleveland, @ Texas: Montas is 9-8 with a 4.10 ERA, yet many analysts have written him off. Why? The 44.1 hard-hit percentage is one place to start. The struggles against right-handed batters are concerning as well (4.78 ERA). Yet he does help with strikeouts and has a 2.88 ERA and 35 punchouts in 25 innings since the All-Star Break. Not a bad fill-in guy for you and I would use him this week with two mediocre teams coming his way.
Logan Gilbert vs. Texas, vs. Toronto: Gilbert has been a Godsend in a couple of my leagues, helping me stay afloat while waiting for the health of other pitchers. However, he has shown some cracks in his last three outings, surrendering three or more earned runs in his last four outings. Watch it here. I like him against Texas but the Blue Jays hit like a 16-inch softball team from the South Side of Chicago. I will lean towards using him, but it depends on league context.
Steven Matz @ Seattle, @ Los Angeles Angels: I personally will not ride the Matz train anymore. I so badly and unrealistically want him to be better that I miss out on what he is: 9-6, a non-hurtful 4.30 ERA, and 1.37 WHIP, chipping in 99 strikeouts as well. He’s very usable despite my irrational feelings and objections. And these are good matchups for him. Use him if it makes sense in your leagues.
Lower Shelf Options
I am not saying to not use these two-start options, except where I say do not start them. But there could be some nuggets here for you depending on your league context and your needs.
Luis Patino @ Boston, @ Minnesota: I love Patino’s stuff but what has become a common pattern here is the length of his outings. I wonder if all teams will eventually go this route, with starters pitching three or four innings and pitching multiple times per week in acts of preservation? I don’t know and that is an article for another time. Upon further investigation, Patino has been used for five and six-inning bursts recently, which gives him value in many leagues as he could be earning wins. Use with caution. I would like to see more before recommending him, but consider your needs and context before giving him a weekly spot in your rotation.
Zac Gallen @ San Francisco, vs. San Diego: Gallen has largely been a disappointment this year due to injury. He’s 1-6 with a 4.32 ERA this year and it doesn’t get any easier this week for him. Most likely if you rostered him, you did so as your ace. I am sorry if doing that torpedoed your season. That said, his xERA is 3.80 and his K% is in line with his career rate at 27.3%. Walks are killing him, as are right-handed batters. You could start him hoping for lightning in a bottle, but I wouldn’t anticipate a corner being turned here.
Alec Mills vs. Milwaukee, @ Miami: Mills is roughly a league-average pitcher who doesn’t seem to help in many categories, and then you take a deeper look and realize he’s kind of okay. He’s 5-4 with a 4.41 ERA, but he’s not going to help you with punchouts, with only 50 in 69.1 innings. He has more value to me as a streamer, and I would not start him against the red-hot Milwaukee Brewers. Pass for me this week.
Triston McKenzie vs. Oakland, @ Detroit: There is going to come a time, hopefully soon, where Triston McKenzie will be a top-shelf option. That time, however, is not now. The talent is there but the results are not, especially if you are hunting down a championship. He’s 1-5 with a 5.89 ERA. The 83 punchouts in 70.1 innings are helpful but not at this cost. He’s capable of gems where he strikes out nine guys and then following it up with a six earned run pasting and two strikeouts. The risk far outweighs the rewards. Now if you are chasing and desperate for something he offers, the strikeouts, go for it.
Lowest Shelf Options
Don’t do this to yourself.
Matt Harvey vs. Detroit, @ Boston: Is Matt Harvey good now? In an ESPN home league (weekly points) I was recently looking for a starting pitcher and he kept coming up on the 15- and 30-day top performers lists. I ignored it and then took a deeper look. He’s 6-10 with a 6.13 ERA this year. Egads! Woeful. In four June starts, though, he was 3-1 with a paltry 2.45 ERA and .95 WHIP. What happened? Well, he had three consecutive games where he did not give up a run; he surrendered all six of his earned runs in his first July start. The strikeout numbers did not return, however. I keep hoping Harvey could be a shadow of what he once was, but that’s not happening. Pass.
Jake Arrieta vs. Milwaukee, @ Miami: The end of the line is near for Arrieta, it would appear. He’s 5-10 with a 6.34 ERA this year, but he takes the ball every fifth day. The 46.2% hard-hit percentage, .507 xSlug, and .388 WOBA tell you what you need to know, and that is this: don’t ever use him. The Cubs should consider giving his rotation slot to a younger guy to develop for future years.
J C Mejia vs. Cincinnati, @ Detroit: I can’t find anything good to say about a guy who is 1-7 with an apocalyptic 8.75 ERA unless he pitches on my team in Batavia Youth Baseball, which would mean he’s 11. Do. Not. Use.
Carlos Hernandez (KC) vs. New York Yankees, vs. St. Louis: Hernandez is a good prospect for Kansas City, but don’t overthink it here. He’s 3-1 with a 4.58 ERA and 48 strikeouts in 39.1 innings. But you don’t want to use him against this newly-stacked Yankees’ lineup. Pass this week. But dogear as a good streamer down the road.
Charlie Barnes (MIN) vs. Chicago White Sox, vs. Tampa Bay: Not yet. Have not seen enough and from what I have seen, I do not want this.
Chase Anderson vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, vs. Cincinnati: Nope. Move along.
Stephen Brault vs. St. Louis, vs. Milwaukee: Another pitcher struggling with health issues, Brault will likely have his outings limited as we saw in his first start back. Keep in mind he’s a career 12-15 with a 4.65 ERA and 1.51 WHIP. Buyer beware. I would not recommend him at this point.
Kolby Allard @ Seattle, vs. Oakland: As my stats assistant Jack Carter told me this week, “wow, Dad, this guy is pretty bad.” From the mouths of babes. Pass.
Paolo Espino @ New York Mets, vs. Atlanta: These are two tough matchups potentially for the up-and-coming Espino. I like what I have seen of him in a small sample size: 3-3, 3.63 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and he doesn’t walk anyone. On the flip side, he doesn’t offer much via the strikeout either. He took a pasting last week at the hands of the Phillies. Tread carefully. I would stash him on my bench this week.
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