In sitting down to break down the coming week’s two-start pitchers, I was struck by the chasm between the top-shelf picks of the week and the lowest shelf options. There isn’t much middle ground next week for two-start options. Read on and se what you think. As always, comments are welcome and encouraged here. These are just my opinions and I recognize that your thoughts may be different than mine.
As we publish this morning, there was some chatter that the Miami Marlins might make a change for next week. In case you missed it, Pablo Lopez had his Thursday start rained out, and then he was ejected (and took the loss, oddly) after hitting Ronald Acuna, Jr. with the first pitch of the game. There is a chance (slim?) that he could get the ball again this weekend, although Sandy Alcantara starts today, and Zach Thompson is slated for tomorrow.
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Two-Start Pitchers for the Week of July 5
These top-shelf options for next week are two-start gems. Maybe you take umbrage with Castillo being here, but compared to other options, in my opinion, he’s top-shelf this week.
Jacob deGrom vs. Milwaukee, vs. Pittsburgh: does one even need to think about this?
Walker Buehler @ Miami, vs. Arizona: Set and forget.
Luis Castillo @ Kansas City, @ Milwaukee: After all the hand-wringing the last two months, here is what Castillo has done in June: 2-2, 1.71 ERA, .98 WHIP, 32 punchouts in 31.2 innings. He is still walking too many, but he’s whittling it down. Castillo is another guy, drafted high, that you probably have to use in hopes he continues to work things out. I would use him this week.
Dylan Cease @ Minnesota, @ Baltimore: He is 7-3 with a 3.75 ERA and has 103 strikeouts n 81.1 innings. He’s been really good. I have a kind of mental block on him. Many analysts I know and respect love Cease, and the numbers back them up. But he’s gotten a little worse each month and had a 5.04 ERA in June. He’s still a great choice but beware; when he lays a dud, he really lays one out. The stuff is fantastic and elite, despite my misgivings. These are two fantastic matchups for him this week and I expect good results.
Chris Bassitt @ Houston, @ Texas: How Bassitt seemingly flies under the radar often is beyond me. He just keeps putting up numbers: 9-2, 3.04 ERA, a minuscule 1.03 WHIP. He’s also chipped in 109 strikeouts in 106.1 innings. Use, use, use. He’s terrific.
Trevor Rogers vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, vs. Atlanta: Rogers is 7-5 with a tiny 2.14 ERA and 1.05 WHIP, and he has a whopping 100 Ks in 92.1 innings. He’s in automatic start territory. The walks may be creeping back up again, but when you surrender so few hits, he gets by and limits damage.
Brandon Woodruff @ New York Mets, vs. Cincinnati: What else can you say about Woodruff this year? He’s been terrific: 7-3, 1.87 ERA, .78 WHIP. An extremely healthy 31.1 K%. HE has rewarded those who kept the faith in him going into this year. Roll with him.
Corbin Burnes @ New York Mets, vs. Cincinnati: The Brewers have three of the best starters in the game, and Burnes has been excellent: 4-4, 2.41 ERA, a whopping 120 Ks in only 82 innings. Inject into my veins. Burnes is an automatic start. No thought needs to go into it.
Kevin Gausman vs. St. Louis, vs. Washington: Gausman is outstanding and has become an automatic start in most leagues, at 8-2 with a 1.68 ERA and fantastic .81 WHIP. The 116 strikeouts in 101.2 innings. Just terrific and if you own him, congratulations and ride him.
Middle Shelf Options
There are several two-start options here that could provide dividends for you depending on league context and what you need; buyer beware.
Luis Garcia vs. Oakland, vs. New York Yankees: I love this guy and he has kept me afloat in several leagues where I FAAB’ed him early on. He’s 6-5 with a 3.14 ERA, and he helps in multiple categories, with 90 strikeouts in 80 innings. I would have put him in the top-shelf this week, but these could be two tough matchups for him, even though the Astros are the hottest team in baseball right now. Use him.
Jose Berrios vs. Chicago White Sox, vs. Detroit Tigers: Berrios is 7-2 with a 3.52 ERA and 1.14 WHIP for a moribund Twins team. He was 2-0 in June, same ERA, with 27 punchouts in 25.1 innings. The first July start was not a good one, but the body of work is good, and you should use him if you have him.
Jon Gray @ Arizona, @ San Diego: Anecdotally, I feel like Gray does not get the credit he deserves in life. He’s 5-6 with a 3.89 ERA for a terrible Rockies team. He’s got 65 Ks in 74 innings, and he’s back after injury and had 10 strikeouts in his first game back. I always take pause when anyone has to face San Diego, but I would use Gray this week.
Max Fried @ Pittsburgh, @ Miami: Fried is 5-4 with a 4.16 ERA and 1.31 WHIP. The xERA is right in line at 4.31. What you see is what you get with Fried; league average K and BB rates, essentially. Those expecting much more will likely be disappointed, but Fried is fine to use most weeks. Coming off an IL stint last week, he completed five innings with seven punchouts and only two runs. These are good matchups for him this week and I would use him.
Tony Gonsolin @ Miami, vs. Arizona: I love Gonsolin and will use him wherever I have him. He’s 1-0 with 2.81 ERA and 22 Ks in 16 innings. The one drawback, however, is that he doesn’t go deep into games; his max has been four innings. I can see a case for using him as one of your nine pitchers for the week as opposed to a terrible fifth or sixth starter. Just keep expectations in check if you do as the Dodgers seem intent on piggybacking him right now.
Aaron Nola @ Chicago Cubs, @ Boston: If you’re anything like me, you are wondering what to make of Nola this year. It’s been enigmatic, to say the least. The Ks are there, with 118 in 95. 1 innings. The walk rate is a career-low 5.5%. The xERA is a a usable 3.76. Yet in real life, he is 5-5 with a 4.44 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. Egads! Not what anyone expected drafting him as a top 10 starter. He’s been unable to limit damage from baserunners, has given up 14 home runs, and really struggled against lefties (a ghastly 6.91 ERA). What to do with him? Well if you drafted him that high, you have to use him in my opinion, and hope that he figures it out soon. He does have 12 and 11 punchouts in his last two starts if you are looking for a silver lining.
Kwang Hyun Kim @ San Francisco, @ Chicago Cubs: Kim has pitched better than his 2-5 record. He has a 3.79 ERA and got a win last Wednesday against the Arizona Detritus. The one thing with Kim is he doesn’t go long in games and doesn’t help much with strikeouts, with 50 in 59.1 innings, which is not awful, but not as helpful as you would like. I would pass on him this week.
Kolby Allard vs. Detroit, vs. Oakland: Allard is 2-3 with a 3.33 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. I put a low bid on him in NFBC and GLARF a few weeks back and did not get him. He’s limiting walks at a 5.1% rate, and the 23.4 K% is just fine. Moreover, he has a spot in the rotation in Texas, and doesn’t look to have much competition for the spot. If I had him I would use him.
Patrick Corbin @San Diego, @ San Francisco: I had the good fortune of picking up Corbin two weeks ago and have rode his decent streak as I wait for the health of my pitching staff to improve, hopefully in the next week or two. After two rough months, Corbin is 2-2 with a usable 3.82 ERA and 1.11 WHIP, shaving a full run off the ERA since June 1st. The 27 punchouts in 30.2 innings help, too. Can he keep it up? It’s a small sample size and I don’t have much choice; you may choose to sit him based on these two matchups, although neither team hits much against lefties.
Lower Shelf Options
That chasm we spoke of before? Here you have it. These are two-start options to not use unless you have no choice with a recent spate of injuries and such. Use with caution, again, depending on league context.
Martin Perez @ Los Angeles Angels, vs. Philadelphia: Perez is a bit of an enigma for fantasy players. Overall he is 6-4 with a 4.04 ERA, which are usable numbers in our rotations. However, look a little closer: the 1.43 WHIP, and mediocre 18.7 K% don’t help. And check his June: 3-2, 5.04 ERA, 1.72 WHIP. I will pass.
Steven Matz @ Baltimore, @ Tampa Bay: Matz is 7-3 with a 4.60 ERA, but the xERA is 3.65. He just came off the Covid IL last week and only lasted 2.2 innings. However, these matchups are intriguing next week and I can definitely see an argument for using him. I am concerned that he doesn’t go deep into games.
Zach Davies vs. Philadelphia, vs. St. Louis: He’s 5-5 with a 4.32 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Hos 15.2 K% is in the lowest five percent of the league. The xERA is a robust 6.09. But…he was good in June, 3-3 with a 3.82 ERA and 1.12 WHIP, mostly on the strength of limiting the number of hits against him. The walks are still coming, though, and it only takes one hit to undo good work. I would pass unless you are desperate.
Vladimir Gutierrez @ Kansas City, @ Milwaukee: After a good start to his MLB career, Gutierrez has hit a few expected snags. Two of his last three starts have seen him give up five earned and six earned runs. The walk rate has ticked up. He’s 3-3 with a 4.93 ERA. I think until you see him pitch productively again, he is best left on your bench or the waiver wire. I used him several times in June due to a massive number of injuries in my rotations but will sit him this week.
Mike Minor vs. Cincinnati, @ Cleveland: Minor is a respectable 6-6 with a 5.35 ERA. Intriguing: he has 95 punchouts in 96.1 innings. The bad: he’s given up 14 earned runs in his last 10 innings. Can’t have that. Personally, I would not use him even though he’s been decent before the last two weeks.
Jameson Taillon @ Seattle, @ Houston: Originally this looked to be Domingo German, but Taillon gets the nod instead this week. Point blank, the Yankees need better than what Taillon has given this year. He’s 3-4 with a 5.43 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. There has been some bad luck; the xERA is a more usable 4.44. I would like to see some consistency before recommending his usage. hat said, he’s better than this and could turn it around at any time. It just won’t be on my team.
Lowest Shelf Options
These two-start options are players I would not use unless in total desperation.
Riley Smith vs. Colorado, @ Los Angeles Dodgers: The best thing I can say about Smith is he limits walks. In all seriousness, he is 1-4 with a 6.02 ERA. He’s not done well as a spot starter for Arizona, and there is no reason to think he is going to get better right now. Pass.
Matt Harvey vs. Toronto, vs. Chicago White Sox: Never.
Jake Arrieta vs. Philadelphia, vs. St. Louis: Arrieta is another guy, like Jon Lester, who you root for and love to watch, and is a total warrior, but his best days are behind him. He battles but there doesn’t seem to be much left in the tank: 5-8, 5.57 ERA, 1.57 WHIP. Pass.
Cal Quantrill @ Tampa Bay, vs. Kansas City: Quantrill has been pushed into the rotation in Cleveland, who has been besieged with injuries to their staff. The issue with Quantrill is that he just won’t go deep enough into games to give you the help you need this week. He’s 0-2 with a 4.11 ERA and doesn’t rack up enough Ks (39 in 50.1 innings) to help push your bottom line. Pass.
Logan Allen @ Tampa Bay, vs. Kansas City: Egads! He’s 1-5 with an 8.38 ERA. While he does have an interesting pedigree, you can’t use him right now until he shows better. This kind of risk will absolutely sink your week. Don’t take it.
Jose Urena @ Texas, @ Minnesota: I am not sure where you can use 2-8 with a 6.22 ERA and 1.66 WHIP. And June was awful: a 12.50 ERA and 0-4 record. I can assure you that Jack Carter pitched better than that in June for the BYB Athletics.
Wily Peralta @ Texas, @ Minnesota: Peralta is 1-1 with a 3.21 ERA in three starts for the Detroit Tigers. He’s got eight strikeouts in 14 innings and has not pitched more than five innings yet. While these matchups look good on paper, I am wary of starting him.
Kris Bubic vs. Cincinnati, @ Cleveland: He’s 2-4 with a 4.99 ERA. He does not get deep into games and the middling K rate doesn’t help you. I would move on from Bubic if you have not already.
Jordan Holloway vs. Los Angeles Dodgers, vs. Atlanta: Holloway is a hard-throwing right-hander getting an opportunity for the Miami Marlins. He’s 1-2 with 4.35 ERA and 1.45 WHIP. Since moving to the rotation for three starts, Holloway is yet to throw more than 3.2 innings, thus limiting any value he may have to you. And with these matchups this week, I would definitely pass on Holloway.
Bailey Ober vs. Chicago White Sox, vs. Detroit Tigers: He’s a good prospect for the dead in the water Twins, and he’s going to get an opportunity this year, but I don’t think it should be on your team. He doesn’t go deep enough to provide value, so won’t get wins often, and has a middling strikeout rate that will only net you 2-3 per game. Move on.
Matt Moore @ Chicago Cubs, @ Boston: Don’t do this to yourself.
Chase De Jong vs. Atlanta, @ New York Mets: 0-3 with a 6.46 ERA in June. You do not need this. Pass.
Ryan Weathers vs. Washington, vs. Colorado: Weathers is 3-2 with a 2.63 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. In what has become a similar issue in this piece, he just doesn’t go long enough most times to get you what you need. I’d pass unless you are in a deep league and need innings.
Justus Sheffield vs. New York Yankees, vs. Los Angeles Angels: Just because a better than expected Seattle team uses him does not mean that you should these days. Sheffield is 5-7 with a 5.88 ERA and 1.71 WHIP. This is the stuff that fantasy players have nightmares over. Do not use.
Michael Wacha vs. Cleveland, vs. Toronto: I don’t see any wisdom in using Wacha at this time. He’s 1-2 with a 5.29 ERA and 1.39 WHIP. Too many things can go wrong; pass.
Jon Lester @San Diego, @ San Francisco: Lester was shelled in his last outing against Miami. He’s now 2-3 with a 5.34 ERA and 1.55 WHIP. The xERA shows us that things should be slightly better, at 4.40. But the 15.6 K% coupled with a rising 8.7 BB% leaves such a small margin for error that I don’t even have interest as a streamer. It makes me sad when I recall what he once was and see what he is now, but there is no sin in aging. The guy is a warrior who takes the ball without complaint but he’s not rosterable anymore, and honestly, has not been for some time.
For more great Fantasy Baseball check out Mick Ciallela’s Rest of Season Rankings! Mick was the No. 1 Ranker on FantasyPros.com for the 2020 MLB season.
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