For some, fantasy baseball playoffs are starting up this week, and I hope as you read this you are one of the fortunate ones to have snagged a spot in your bracket. If so, congratulations! Forecasting two-start pitchers this week and beyond with any level of certainty is a little tough. When rosters expand on September 1, some teams will give prospects an audition in the rotation while others will give veterans a break from the 162-game grind by skipping a start here or there. As many have noticed, injuries from the long season are starting to crop up around the league as well. I would contend that, in some cases, the severity of the injuries are minor and just another way contending teams are able to give their starters a breather for the stretch run.
At any rate, here in Week 21 we have a real log jam toward the bottom of the rankings with less-than-desirable two-start pitchers and a shortage of quality options toward the top. As usual, in weeks like this, I like to try to find a hidden gem somewhere in the middle to help augment my starting rotation. This keeps you from truly relying on their production and, instead, understanding anything they can give you is a bonus.
[the_ad id=”384″]These are projected starts and as such are subject to change due to rain outs, injury, performance issues, or managerial whims. I offer only my the opinion on the matchups; there are no guarantees on the actual starts.
No. 1 Starters Are No. 1 For A Reason…
- Corey Kluber – (8/28 @ NYY-Luis Severino; 9/2 @ DET-Jordan Zimmermann)
- Chris Sale – (8/29 @ TOR-Tom Koehler; 9/3 @ NYY-Jaime Garcia)
- Jake Arrieta – (8/29 vs. PIT-Chad Kuhl; 9/3 vs. ATL-R.A. Dickey)
- Stephen Strasburg – (8/29 vs. MIA-Vance Worley; 9/3 @ MIL-Matt Garza)
- Ervin Santana – (8/29 vs. CHW-James Shields; 9/3 vs. KC-Ian Kennedy)
- Luis Severino – (8/28 vs. CLE-Corey Kluber; 9/2 vs. BOS-Drew Pomeranz)
Over the last month, Corey Kluber has been one of the hottest starting pitchers in the game. In that time, he has six starts with two complete games, 59 strikeouts in 44.1 innings, and a 2.44 ERA. Going into the season, I was concerned that he was a prime candidate for regression based on usage. Last year, he had 34 postseason innings in addition to his 215 regular season innings. That was after consecutive seasons of 222 and 235 innings in 2015 and 2014, respectively. Kluber looks to be that very rare combination of an ace-caliber pitcher with strikeout potential and inning-eating workhorse. Count your blessings if he is leading your staff.
This Is A Very Strong Second Tier…
- Rich Hill – (8/29 @ ARI-Zack Godley; 92 @ SD-Jhoulys Chacin)
- Trevor Bauer – (8/29 @ NYY-Jaime Garcia; 9/3 @ DET-Michael Fulmer)
- Drew Pomeranz – (8/28 @ TOR-Marcus Stroman; 9/2 @ NYY-Luis Severino)
- Dylan Bundy* – (8/28 vs. SF-Jeff Samardzija; 9/2 vs. TOR-Marcus Stroman)
- Marcus Stroman – (8/28 vs. BOS-Drew Pomeranz; 9/2 @ BAL-Dylan Bundy)
- Jeff Samardzija – (8/28 @ SD-Jhoulys Chacin; 9/2 vs. STL-Lance Lynn)
A lot has been written about Rich Hill this week. He has been a very popular topic of discussion after losing a perfect game in the ninth on an error, then a no-hitter in the bottom of the 10th on a walk-off home run by Pittsburgh’s Josh Harrison. When he is healthy, he is one of the game’s most dominant pitchers. In his last three starts, he has 24 whiffs in 20 innings and a 0.90 WHIP. I kept him out of the top tier because I want to see how he bounces back from Wednesday’s anticlimactic outing. He does have a tougher assignment facing the Diamondbacks in Phoenix, but he then gets a great matchup with the Padres on the road to finish his two-start week. In this tier, he is a pretty easy start. Keep an eye on Dylan Bundy‘s status, as he was put on bereavement leave on Friday and could potentially miss his scheduled start or have it pushed back far enough that he loses his two-start eligibility. Baltimore has been giving him extra time between starts, anyway, to control his innings.
Still Quite A Bit of Talent Here…
- Mike Montgomery – (8/28 vs. PIT-Trevor Williams; 9/2 vs. ATL-Lucas Sims)
- Mike Fiers – (8/29 vs. TEX-Andrew Cashner; 9/3 vs. NYM-Rafael Montero)
- Jhoulys Chacin* – (8/28 vs. SF-Jeff Samardzija; 9/2 vs. LAD-Rich Hill)
- Luke Weaver – (8/29 @ MIL-Matt Garza; 9/3 @ SF-Matt Moore)
- Lucas Sims – (8/28 @ PHI-Mark Leiter; 9/2 @ CHC-Mike Montgomery)
- Mark Leiter – (8/28 vs. ATL-Lucas Sims; 9/2 @ MIA-Justin Nicolino)
- Edwin Jackson – (8/28 vs. MIA-Justin Nicolino; 9/2 @ MIL-TBD)
- Matt Moore – (8/29 @ SD-Luis Perdomo; 9/3 vs. STL-Luke Weaver)
One of those aforementioned injuries belongs to Jon Lester of the Cubs. Taking his place and lining up for a two-start week is Mike Montgomery. He is no Jon Lester, but he does make for a decent flyer given that both starts are at home against sub .500 teams in the Pirates and Braves. He has spent most of the season in the bullpen, but he does have nine starts on the year. In his last time out, he pitched six innings against the Reds, giving up no runs and striking out four with only one walk. He has a 1.27 WHIP on the year and a 3.43 ERA. All respectable numbers that should give you a decent outcome pitching at home in front of a strong lineup. Another young starter getting a shot due to an injured veteran, Luke Weaver has had a respectable first few outings. In his last start against a weak Padres team, he went seven innings while striking out 10 with only one walk. The youngster has plenty of promise. In his 15 starts in Memphis, he has a 2.31 ERA, 76 strikeouts in 77 innings and a 1.06 WHIP. He just turned 23 this week, and hopes in St. Louis are high that he can build on his minor league promise. Watch the health reports on Jhoulys Chacin, as he has reported swelling in his pitching hand following his last start. That would be bad news considering both of Chacin’s starts are scheduled at home, where he performs much better than on the road.
Meh, Pretty Slim Pickings Now…
- Andrew Cashner – (8/29 @ HOU-Mike Fiers; 9/3 vs. LAA-Andrew Heaney)
- Rafael Montero – (8/29 @ CIN-Asher Wojciechowski; 9/3 @ HOU-Mike Fiers)
- Michael Fulmer – (8/29 @ COL-German Marquez; 9/3 vs. CLE-Trevor Bauer)
- Zach Godley – (8/29 vs. LAD-Rich Hill; 9/3 @ COL-Antonio Senzatela)
- Antonio Senzatela – (8/28 vs. CLE-Jordan Zimmermann; 9/3 vs. ARI-Zack Godley)
- Tom Koehler – (8/29 vs. BOS-Chris Sale; 9/3 @ BAL-Jeremy Hellickson)
- Trevor Williams – (8/28 @ CHC-Mike Montgomery; 9/3 vs. CIN-Asher Wojciechowski
- Matt Garza – (8/29 vs. STL-Luke Weaver; 9/3 vs. WAS-Stephen Strasburg)
- James Shields – (8/29 @ MIN-Ervin Santana; 9/3 vs. TB-Austin Pruitt)
- Luis Perdomo – (8/29 vs. SF-Matt Moore; 9/3 vs. LAD-Hyun-Jin Ryu)
This group has very little to offer in terms of guaranteed output. There may be a lucky performance or two; however, that could help in very deep leagues. Rockies rookie right-hander Antonio Senzatela has two starts at home, where he has a decent 8-2 record and 1.20 WHIP, but also a 4.67 ERA and only 43 strikeouts in 69 innings. Not necessarily a ringing endorsement. Plus, he is facing two tough teams in the Indians and Diamondbacks. If possible, stay out of this tier.
I Would Not Delve Into These Waters…
- Jordan Zimmermann – (8/28 @ COL-Antonio Senzatela; 9/2 vs. CLE-Corey Kluber)
- Ian Kennedy – (8/28 vs. TB-Austin Pruitt; 9/3 @ MIN-Ervin Santana)
- R.A. Dickey – (8/29 @ PHI-Jake Thompson; 9/3 @ CHC-Jake Arrieta)
- Jaime Garcia – (8/29 vs. CLE-Trevor Bauer; 9/3 vs. BOS-Chris Sale)
- Vance Worley – (8/29 @ WAS-Stephen Strasburg; 9/3 vs. PHI-Jake Thompson)
- Marco Gonzales- (8/28 @ BAL-Dylan Bundy; 9/3 vs. OAK-Paul Blackburn)
- Austin Pruitt – (8/28 @ KC-Ian Kennedy; 9/3 @ CHW-James Shields)
- Jake Thompson – (8/29 vs. ATL-R.A. Dickey; 9/3 @ MIA-Vance Worley)
- Asher Wojciechowski – (8/29 vs. NYM-Rafael Montero; 9/3 @ PIT-Trevor Williams)
- Paul Blackburn – (8/28 @ LAA-Andrew Heaney; 9/3 @ SEA-Marco Gonzales)
- Justin Nicolino – (8/28 @ WAS-Edwin Jackson; 9/2 vs. PHI-Mark Leiter)
- Andrew Heaney – (8/28 vs. OAK-Paul Blackburn; 9/3 @ TEX-Andrew Cashner)
Really no one on this list is worth a look. I would not be surprised to see Andrew Heaney have a decent week against the A’s and Rangers, but with little to go on this season, it would be too risky this late in the season to gamble on.