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Two Start Pitchers for the Week of September 2: Take The Civale

We have finally reached September, which for many means it is crunch time. More focus is paid to specific categories as teams in roto leagues make that final standing push. Streaming two-start pitchers is more important now than ever. The additional few strikeouts could be the difference.

Head to head playoffs are beginning as teams shut down their top prospects many owners could be left scrambling trying to fill their lineups. The below rankings of the two-start pitchers could be the difference between going home empty-handed or taking home the title.

Best of luck to all this week.

Two-Start Pitchers 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 September 2:


Gerrit Cole @MIL SEA + +
Walker Buehler COL SF ++
Noah Syndergaard @WAS PHI
Patrick Corbin NYM @ATL
Max Scherzer NYM @ATL
Jack Flaherty SF @PIT ++

Somehow every week it seems the Astros manage to line-up Cole for a two-start week and every week something seems to change before the week’s end that causes the plan to change. There is no reason to get cute. He gets two relatively strikeout prone offenses but he is one guy where it does not matter. Start him.

Buehler is another one who seems to be a regular member of this column and this tier in particular. This week is a beautiful one for him as he gets two poor offenses at home. The strikeouts will be there for Buehler but both teams are more contact-oriented overall so temper expectation a bit. He should have a great chance at two wins.

Syndergaard owners got ruined by the big right hander’s last start and this week he has two rough division matchups on tap. He is just way too talented to bench him no matter the matchups. Trust him again this week.

Corbin has been worth every single penny of the massive contract he signed with the Nationals this offseason and has been another ace for a loaded Nationals’ staff. He has two division matchups that certainly are not easy but there is no way you aren’t starting him this week.

It seems fairly obvious that Max is still not 100% as he is on a pitch count and the team seems to be taking it easy with their ace since his return. But he is still Max Scherzer and if he has a two-step you know you are starting him. Just temper your expectations a bit and be prepared for a lower innings total.

Flaherty has been essentially unhittable of late and is on his way to becoming the ace many once predicted. This week he gets two poor offenses which should lead to a chance at two wins but their contact prone nature may pull back the strikeout totals a bit. He may be too good where it does not even matter.


Mike Soroka TOR WAS
Kyle Hendricks SEA @MIL +
Lance Lynn @NYY @BAL
Masahiro Tanaka TEX @BOS
Jake Odorizzi @DET CLE +
Ryan Yarbrough BAL TOR +
Dakota Hudson SF @PIT +
Aaron Civale CHW @MIN +
Cal Quantrill @ARI COL +
Tanner Roark LAA DET + +
Jake Junis DET @MIA ++ ++
Sandy Alcantara @PIT KC +

If it was not for the insane power numbers being put up by Pete Alonso in New York, Soroka would be the run-away Rookie of the Year in the NL. His numbers have been flat out incredible buoyed by a low home run rate. Toronto is an exciting matchup but the Nationals have been one of the hottest offenses in baseball over the last month. This play has some major risks but Soroka has given his owners plenty of reason to believe.

Hendricks is a wild throw-back type of pitcher with his pinpoint control and low-velocity fastball. He still manages to flat out dominate when everything is working and with two swing and miss prone offenses on tap this could be a week where everything comes together for him. Both offenses do carry some pop so it could be a high variance week for the Cubs righty.

Lance Lynn has had a career resurgence and may even get himself into the CY Young conversation. The big righty gets to travel to the AL East this week to match up with the Yankees and Orioles. The Yankee matchup is a rough one but if he can navigate it slightly he should be able to feast on the Orioles.

Lynn should be lining up against Tanaka in one of those matchups and Tanaka is coming off a dominating performance in Seattle. The righty has been extremely frustrating but when he is on his upside is immense. He gets a powerful Red Sox lineup who can take advantage of his homeritis but the relatively easy Rangers matchup makes this an attractive week.

Odorizzi’s recent numbers have not aligned with the early season dominance but the former Ray does still look like he has figured something out and is pitching much better than ever before. As I have stated lately Cleveland’s offense has improved some of their early-season flaws but the loss of a surging Jose Ramirez hurts. The Tigers are just a miserable offense and streamer’s dream.

Possibly due to him pitching in Tampa or possibly due to him being the bulk guy, Ryan Yarborough has flown under the radar a bit this season. His numbers are excellent and he has been on a roll since getting recalled after an early-season demotion. He has a fantastic double-tap this week and should see a boost in his odds of a win.

Whenever I watch Dakota Hudson nothing really impresses me. It is low-K, high walk, and lots of ground balls. The estimators say he is a 5.00+ ERA type but the results have painted a different picture. It will crater eventually, but this week looks fantastic on paper. Keep rolling with him here and hope for the best.

Quantrill seems to be exceeding some of the expectations scouts had for him and has been succeeding without a true standout skill so far in the majors. Many of the smartest people in the public sphere have fallen in love with him and see big things for the future which is always a positive sign. The Arizona offense is struggling lately and the Rockies away from home stink so this a great week to roll with your Quantrill shares.

For Roark 2019 has been similar to much of the rest of his career. Around 8 K/9, with a better than average walk rate, and about 1.2 HR/9. All in all, it leads to a decidedly average fantasy option but one that can be helpful if used in the right spots. Two home game against an average Angels lineup and a bad Detroit one make this a great week to use him. There is some strikeout upside here as well as a nice little boost in wins.

Junis and Alcantara are in a similar boat. Both are guys that you only want to trust if there are in plus matchups and luckily they both have that this week. Junis gets a boost in the K chance as he has a dream two-step against quite possibly the two worst offenses in baseball. Alcantara gets two weaker opponents but they also do not strike out often. Good news for him his success is not dependant on getting a significant amount of Ks. Deciding between the two lean Junis but you would have a hard time finding two better streamers this week.

Spotlight Arm – Aaron Civale

Civale has made six so far in his brief big league career and has never allowed more than two runs in any of them. Additionally, the young righty has thrown at least six innings in all but one, he finished one out shy. Looking at the simple underlying metrics, he seems to be a low walk, below-average K pitcher who has managed to limit home runs at an exceptional pace. However, the question is, can he keep up this home run suppression.

On the surface, there does not seem to be much to support this fact. He does generate ground balls at about a 40% rate but that is nothing exceptional and there does not seem to be an ability to limit hard contact. Among pitchers with at least 30 innings, his hard contact percentage of 40% is right around league average, even slightly below. However, one interesting thing I have noticed is that according to Baseball Savant, his average exit velocity on LD/FB is 88 MPH. That ranks him 19th best among all pitchers with over 500 pitches thrown this season. This is extremely interesting as it may suggest there is something Civale is doing to limit hard contact in the air, the types of balls that tend to be hit for home runs.

Along the same lines, I took a look at where opposing hitters are hitting those fly balls and line drives and another interesting thing emerged. Civale only allows 23% of balls hit in the air to be pulled. This is similarly ranked to Walker Buehler, Lance Lynn, and others and is among the best in baseball in terms of limiting pulled fly balls. Pulling the ball in the air is extremely important for power hitters and these are the balls that tend to leave the yard the most.

There will certainly be some regression as even these two factors do not support a 2.6% HR/FB rate but the seeds are there for the skill set to grow and be supported. I did not expect to leave this mini-dive with such an appreciation for Civale and some legitimate interest in what I saw but he is definitely someone I will be keeping an eye on for the future.

With this week ahead he gets a strikeout prone White Sox lineup and a homer-happy Twins one. This should be an interesting case study to see if these skills he’s shown are for real. He is certainly someone I would be adding this week and starting wherever he is available. The Indians may have found themselves another gem.


Jeff Samardzija @STL @LAD
Zach Plesac CHW @MIN +
Anthony DeSclafani PHI ARI
Alex Wood PHI ARI
Adrian Houser HOU CHC
Mike Leake SD @CIN +
Dylan Cease @CLE LAA
Jacob Waguespack @ATL @TB
Vince Velasquez @CIN @NYM
Mitch Keller MIA STL +
Asher Wojciechowski @TB TEX
Drew Smyly @CIN @NYM
Daniel Norris @KC @OAK
Patrick Sandoval @OAK @CHW +

Shark has been fantastic and has been rewarding his owners all season but this is a rough two-start week even with both matchups at home. If you have a better option use it.

Plesac fits the mold of my least favorite types of pitchers with low-K’s and not a lot of walks supporting it. The White Sox are an interesting matchup, but this Twins lineup is potent and could ruin the week.

DeSclafani and Wood both get two-steps at home against the same teams. Great American Ballpark can ruin any week and the Phillies offense can do the same. The Diamondbacks offense is not exactly fear-inspiring by any means so these two could get bumped up a tier based on need or your own feelings about the Phillies.

Houser has been really good since making the move into the Brewers’ rotation but this is not a week to mess with him. Two home starts against likely playoff teams, I’m out.

As I have stated before I have never been a Mike Leake fan. Like many others, his brand of pitch to contact does not appeal to me as a fan or as a fantasy owner. The Padres offense is struggling recently and loves to strike out making that an interesting matchup. a trip to Cincy concerns me for any pitch to contact types, especially ones with similar homer issues to Leake. Avoid the blowup, there are not enough Ks to chase here.

Cease has shown some great strikeout ability which many projected but has been victimized by the long ball in his brief big-league sample. He is also coming close to the innings total from last season and could be a guy who gets his starts shortened in a lost season. The matchups are pretty good on paper so if someone needs strikeouts it may be worth chasing with Cease. Just don’t be upset if he tanks your ratios.

Waguespack has been pretty good in 2019 for the Blue Jays, yet is another example of the low K type of pitcher that does not provide much for fantasy owners. His skill has been in relatively limiting homers which is something not many pitchers can say in 2019. However, the matchups this week are tough and not really worth chasing with little win chance boost and the non-existant strikeouts.

As he has at many different points in his career, Velasquez has shown flashes of dominance followed by a five-run one-inning performance. A run-in with a talented Mets’ lineup and a trip to Cincy is a recipe for disaster. Feel free to bench him.

The strikeouts have been excellent for Keller and are the main part of his draw. Fortunately for him the matchups this week are an upgrade for strikeout potential. Those who are chasing K’s would be wise to use him but even with the Marlins on the docket, he could be a ratio ruiner. This is a better roto play than head to head.

The early excitement around Wojciechowski has certainly faded and the overall season numbers do not look great. The matchups could be worse but there is little reason to trust the Oriole especially with a win being unlikely.

Smyly has been better since his move to the Phillies but almost anything is better than what he showed for Texas. Homers are still a huge issue and anytime someone with homer problems goes to Cincy I want to avoid the matchup. He is definitely someone I want to avoid this week.

Norris has actually been half decent and while Oakland has a powerful lineup he does get the Royals this week. There is very little to love though with lower strikeout totals and essentially no reason to anticipate a win for the lefty. Let someone else take the plunge.

Patrick Sandoval is actually someone who really interests me. He has double-digit strikeouts per nine and has allowed less than one homer per nine so far. The ERA estimators see a very good pitcher despite the slightly below-average walk rate. The results have not followed as the lefty has an ERA over five. The main issue is his 66% LOB rate which is decidedly below average. He is a good guy to take a flier on in deeper leagues especially for the White Sox matchup which should feature tons of Ks.


Rick Porcello MIN NYY
Justus Sheffield @CHC @HOU
Ariel Jurado @NYY @BAL
Dereck Rodriguez @STL @LAD
Trent Thornton @ATL @TB
Peter Lambert @LAD @SD
Jordan Zimmermann MIN @OAK
Ross Detwiler @CLE LAA

Are you down with Paul’s two-start pitchers? For more great analysis check out all of our fantasy baseball content.

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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