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Two-Start Pitchers Week of 6.28.21: A Plethora of Options

We have a metric ton of two-start options to sift through this week.  Unlike last week, many aces or near-aces are getting a double-dip this week. And even below our top-shelf options, there are other two-start options this week that a rational fantasy manager could select in hopes of keeping his or her pitching staff afloat as they await reinforcements.  Let’s dive into the deep end of the pool and take a look at this week’s two-start options.

I have learned as I am doing this piece that often things change, and what we write on Saturday mornings may change.  In places where there may be a change, or when a team remains undecided on the next week, I will try and note that. This week, for example, the Twins have been hedging on using Jose Berrios twice next week.  Danny Duffy may be used in a new role in Kansas City. And Cleveland announced Eli Morgan and J.C. Mejia but could also shift back to Triston McKenzie depending on how the weekend goes for them.

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Two-Start Pitchers for the Week of June 28

Top- Shelf

Lots of goodness here in the top-shelf of our two-start options this week.

Charlie Morton vs. New York Mets, vs. Miami:  A couple of weeks ago we preached patience with Morton as it looked like he was figuring some things out while pitching with some tough luck.  He’s 3-1 with a 2.28 ERA in June, and has 26 Ks in 23.2 innings.  He’s savvy, knows what he is doing, and that curveball spin is in the 97th percentile.  Glad I was able to add him where I was able to get him. Use with confidence.

Kyle Hendricks @ Milwaukee, @ Cincinnati: Don’t look now but the Professor is 10-4 with a 3.86 ERA, including a 5-0 June.  The home runs still scare me, but he’s allowing fewer walks and chipping away at the WHIP.  He’s in a groove and you should use him.

Lucas Giolito vs. Minnesota, @ Detroit:  Jack Carter said it best:  “Lucas is a warrior.” He doesn’t always have his best stuff but he battles out there and will give you quality innings.  He’s 5-5 with a 3.80 ERA, and 110 punchouts in 87.1 innings.  These are good matchups for him and I expect good results.

Zach Greinke vs. Baltimore, @ Cleveland:  The reliable Greinke continues to adapt and get hitters out even as his stuff diminishes near the end of his career. He’s 8-2 with a 3.56 ERA. Don’t expect more than a handful of strikeouts, but Greinke gets wins, and will help you control ratios.  Know what he is and you will not be disappointed.

Jose Berrios: If he gets two starts, roll with him, and even if he doesn’t get two, use him:  he’s 7-2 and with a 3.41 ERA. NOTE: at this time he is scheduled for Tuesday (White Sox) and Sunday (Royals).

Trevor Bauer vs. San Francisco, @ Washington: The oft-maligned Bauer has been outstanding, really.  He’s 7-5 with a 2.57 ERA and remarkable 129 Ks in 101 innings. He’s a set-and-forget guy for me. Watch the walks; he’s had four, two, and three in his last three starts, and we don’t want to see that trend going up.

Trevor Rogers @ Philadelphia, @ Atlanta:  It’s interesting that casual fans do not seem to know much about Rogers, but those astute fantasy players know and love him. The lefty is 7-4 with a minuscule 2.08 ERA and 1.04 WHIP. He’s been terrific and helps you in every category, with 101 punchouts in 86.1 innings. And he shows very little sign of slowing down.  Use him everywhere and in every format.

Freddy Peralta vs. Chicago Cubs, @ Pittsburgh: We all saw this potential looming years back when Peralta didn’t have a role in Milwaukee and shifted between the bullpen and spot starting. Well, he has a role now as one of the three studs in Milwaukee’s rotation: 7-2 2.11 ERA, .86 WHIP, a robust 114 strikeouts in 81 innings for a 96th percentile K%. Use, use, use.

Brandon Woodruff vs. Chicago Cubs, @ Pittsburgh:  Woodruff is truly an ace.  He’s 6-3 and carries a 1.89 ERA and ridiculous .76 WHIP with 111 punchouts in 95 innings. HE wasn’t so hot in Colorado two starts ago but rebounded with nine strikeouts and a win against the hapless Diamondbacks last week.

James Kaprielian vs. Texas, vs. Boston:  His inclusion here may surprise you, but I feel he has earned this distinction. Kaprielian is a first-round draft pick who has been fighting off injuries for years, and this year has been given an opportunity to help Oakland.  And he’s done just that with a 4-1 record, a 2.86 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.  Compared to some of the other guys here, his K rate is less, with 46 in 44.1 innings.  The hard contact off him worries me a bit and the xERA is 3.77, but that’s still usable in any format.  Use him until he gives you reason not to, and maybe he won’t. Great story here of overcoming adversity and I hope he continues to do well.

Anthony DeSclafani @ Los Angeles Dodgers, @ Arizona:  He has been something else this year with an 8-2 record, 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 80 punchouts in 87 innings. I have long been a fan and hope it continues.  That Dodgers matchup could be tough but they have struggled on offense lately.  I would start him and consider him a top-tier option this week.

Robbie Ray vs. Seattle, vs. Tampa Bay: Are you terrified of Robbie Ray?  I am too. A handful of times over the last few seasons I have allowed him to single-handedly destroy my team’s week. However give tons of credit to him: he’s 5-3 with a 3.35 ERA and 103 KS in 80 innings. The WHIP is an astounding (for him) 1.13. The key has been controlling the walks and improved fastball command.  He still gives up home runs but the bottom line is that he has been really good this year and has two good matchups this week.

Middle Shelf

There are several intriguing two-start options this week in our middle shelf.  These guys could easily get the job done for you but there are some risks involved here; read on and see for yourself.

Caleb Smith @ St. Louis, vs. San Francisco:  Smith has done a decent job moving from the bullpen back into the shellacked Arizona rotation and providing some help. He’s 2-3 overall, even though he’s 0-2 since coming back to the rotation in June.  But the numbers: a 2.73 ERA since that move, a 1.14 WHIP, and 27 punchouts in 26 innings. That is obviously usable for fantasy players as we all manage a plethora of pitcher injuries this month. The tough part is going to be getting wins on this team. But a deeper dove shows he is a guy that can help you patch it together while you wait for reinforcements.

Nick Pivetta vs. Kansas City, @ Oakland:  The enigma of Nick Pivetta continues; who is he? Is he the guy who gave up five earned on four homers in five innings against Toronto?  Or is he the guy who threw 6.2 innings of no-hit ball with eight strikeouts against Tampa Bay last week? The truth lies in the middle. He’s 6-3 with a 4.00 ERA, and the xERA is right where he has been all year, 4.13. He’s a usable guy for sure but make sure you keep expectations in check.  If you do keep your expectations in check, then similar to marriage, you won’t be disappointed.

Sonny Gray vs. San Diego, vs. Chicago:  I have far too many hopes pinned to the lapel of Sonny Gray.  But when he’s healthy he’s excellent, and he gets two starts this week coming back from injury. First start back from injury: three pristine innings, five Ks, no walks. Hopefully this week they unleash him and he can get a win; he’s only got one on the year so far.  I really need him…

Marcus Stroman @ Washington, @ New York Yankees: I love Marcus Stroman.  The guy is a bulldog out there, takes the ball, and more often than not, gets the job done.  He’s 6-5 this year with a 2.32 ERA and 1.05 WHIP.  Never a big K guy, he still chips in with 75 in 85 innings.  These are tough matchups which give you pause, but I would lean towards using him based on the results he has provided all year. Keep in mind he left his last start after one frame with hip soreness, but he threw his regular bullpen session on Friday and came through it fine.

Erick Fedde vs. New York Mets, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers:  I have been a proponent of Fedde much of this year. He’s the type of guy who flies under the radar in many leagues but can provide stable results when the matchups are good and he is on. He’s 4-4 with a 3.90 ERA.  He did have a rough outing last time, but his three starts before (granted a small sample): 19 innings, only nine hits, zero runs, and 17 punchouts. Who couldn’t use that right now with your top guys recovering from injury?  Tough matchups this week give you pause.  But you could do far worse than Fedde, with my apologies to @SPStreamer.  🙂

Jameson Taillon vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. New York Mets:  Yes, he’s 2-4 with a 5.18 ERA this season. But Taillon has shown signs in his last two starts that maybe he is putting it together again: 11 innings, 11 strikeouts, and limiting walks (four) and home runs (one).  The Yankees have high expectations for him that he has not met in 2021, but maybe there are signs of life here after a tough start. I am tempted to use him this week, and probably will based on my circumstances.

German Marquez vs. Pittsburgh, vs. St. Louis: I know, I know. Every time you think you’re out, he drags you back in, right? Well rest easy Michael Corleone; he’s 3-1 this month with a 3.09 ERA and 27 Ks in 32 innings. These are good matchups for him and outside of one terrible outing in June, he’s given up one run each in four of his last five starts. Oddly he’s been better at home than on the road, but I will be using him this week on my teams, and I think you should give him a shot, too.

Dylan Cease vs. Minnesota, @ Detroit: He’s 6-3 with a 3.81 ERA and if I am being honest with you, he should be even better than that. I feel he’s trending in the wrong direction this month: the three wins are nice, but the 5.55 ERA and 1.40 WHIP hurt.  Now, these are winnable matchups if he can limit the hits, which are creeping up.  HE’s 25 and showing the absolute magic of his stuff while also being inconsistent.  He’s liable to have a start where he gives up five runs in five innings and then come back with a seven-inning gem with 10 strikeouts.  It’s a headache I try to avoid even as I recognize the immense talent. If I had him I would take my chances and use him this week.

Danny Duffy @ Boston, vs. Minnesota: A resurgent Duffy is 4-3 with a 1.81 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, and 53 Ks in 44.2 innings.  He’s back after injury but apparently going to be used in something of a hybrid mode.  Duffy pitched out of the bullpen Friday night. Manager Mike Matheny suggested he will continue to start Duffy but limit his innings; if he does that to Duffy, obviously, his value to our teams takes a huge hit. The goal is to keep Duffy off the IL and deploy him in a way that makes sense and keeps him healthy; durability is always an issue for Duffy. He’s “lined up” to make two starts next week, but who knows what is going to happen with his usage?  You would be better off using someone else despite the fact that Duffy has been in the upper echelon of starters this year.  Isn’t it fun managing fantasy teams?

Bailey Ober @ Chicago White Sox, @ Kansas City: No wins and a 4.64 ERA for Minnesota, but since being moved to the rotation, the ERA is 3.63 and he has 19 punchouts in 17.1 innings.  If desperate, go ahead and use him.

Blake Snell @ Cincinnati, @ Philadelphia: I know I am harder on Snell than most, but he’s been a disappointment for those managers who drafted him as their ace.  He’s just not that guy right now, despite the strikeouts (90 in 66.1 innings). He’s 2-1 in June with a 4.66 ERA, but the walks are eating Snell and his ratios alive. I feel like you have to start him if you drafted him that high, you know?  So cross your fingers, wish upon a star and hope for better.

Chris Flexen @ Toronto, vs. Texas:  A revelation, Flexen came seemingly out of nowhere in Seattle and has produced: 6-3, 3.87 ERA, 1.25 WHIP.  He really limits walks while not giving you much by the way of strikeouts, but he’s done an effective and efficient job walking that tightrope. He has one blowout per month, but otherwise, has been consistent.  Sure a tough matchup with Toronto, but that matchup against Texas looks enticing.

Lower Shelf

Similar to above in the middle shelf, there are a couple of starters here with two-starts that could potentially help you out.

Kyle Freeland vs. Pittsburgh, vs. St. Louis: You can’t. Just don’t. A 7.76 ERA.  He was good last start but I do not trust it; always look at the body of work when deciding. And my decision is no. Jack Carter has better peripherals and strikes out more guys.

Matt Manning @ Cleveland, vs. Chicago White Sox:  Manning is definitely up-and-coming, but we haven’t seen enough of him to truly recommend him.  That said, I would use him before just about anyone else on this lower shelf. Feeling lucky?  Try him.  He’s going to be a staple in what will be a very good Detroit rotation with Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal in a year or two.  Watch him; stash him if you can.

Eli Morgan  vs. Detroit, vs. Houston: Morgan showed a glimpse of what he could do last week with nine Ks against the Cubs, but that came with four earned runs and the ERA is over 10. Can’t do it.

J.C. Mejia vs. Detroit, vs. Houston: He’s shaky and seems in a small sample size to follow a decent start with one that will sink your week.

Garrett Richards vs. Kansas City, @ Oakland: As has been documented in other places by people far smarter than me, Richards was leading the entire free world in spin rate on his fastball and curveball until last week. He’s 0-2 with a 6.95 ERA in June.  Can’t do this.

Zach Davies @ Milwaukee, @ Cincinnati: Yes, he pitched six no-hit innings as part of a combined no-hitter against the Dodgers last Thursday.  A deeper look shows five walks in that game.  He’s 5-4 with a usable 4.31 ERA, but that 1.44 WHIP leaves much to be desired, especially with the 14.2 BB%.  I could see using him to gobble some innings for you but I will be looking elsewhere.

Wade Miley vs. San Diego, vs. Chicago: He’s 6-4 and limiting hard contact has become his mantra. That said, these matchups are not favorable to him, and I feel he is riskier because he doesn’t have the punchout potential and he gets hit. Buyer beware.

Brad Keller @ Boston, vs. Minnesota: The six wins are nice; the xERA of 6.96 and real ERA of 6.39 are not. Move on.

Vince Velasquez @ Cincinnati, vs. San Dieg0: The pain he has caused me when I believed in him years ago gnaws at me to this day.  I can’t do this even at a cheap cost.  When rationality returns to me, I see that the strikeout numbers are down for him, and he’s giving up lots of crooked numbers in the runs and walks columns.  I just won’t let certain people hurt me again, and even though I am sure he is a great guy, I can’t roster him.

Joe Ross vs. Tampa Bay, vs. Los Angeles Dodgers:  I know there are Joe Ross truthers out there.  I am not one of them. But maybe I should reconsider; two of his last three starts have seen him go deep into games, and he’s 2-2 with a 1.73 ERA and .85 WHIP in June. I don’t like these matchups for him, but I could see an argument for using him this week.

Lowest Shelf

This is the lowest tier we have, and these are guys to use only if you are trying to actually implode your season.  Use caution; I would avoid these two-start guys in every format.

John Gant vs. Arizona, @ Colorado: While your interest may have been piqued in May, a closer look at what was happening revealed he was using smoke and mirrors.  Then in June, he apparently gave up smoking and the mirror crashed to the floor.  June: 0-3, 8.10 ERA, a 1.75 WHIP.  Egads!  Avoid.

Thomas Eshelman @ Houston, @ Los Angeles Angels:  He destroyed my DFS lineup/Toronto stack last week, and then pitched like he normally does the next time out: eight hits, six runs, one strikeout and a nauseating 7.27 ERA.  Absolutely not.

Dylan Bundy @ New York Yankees, vs. Baltimore: See Snell note above.  If you drafted him high, perhaps you keep using him and hope for better.  He’s one guy I just never understood the fascination with despite so many analysts in the industry who tried to sway me.  I have never owned him anywhere and in many leagues he’s on the waiver wire.  Ugh, this is a tough one, but I personally would not use him until you see signs of improvement, if they come at all.

Michael King vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. New York Mets:  It’s not because King is not decent enough to play; it’s just that he won’t go deep enough to give you good results. He’s a relief pitcher thrust into a starting role, and that is hard to trust in weekly leagues.  Pass.

Spencer Howard vs. Miami, vs. San Diego: Sure we all want to love the Phillies’ top prospect. But he’s 0-2 with a bloated 5.59 ERA at this time, and the 16.9 BB% is enough to frighten me off another week, as I cower in the corner with coffee.  I would not use him this week. But better things should be coming for him at some point; I just can’t tell you when.

Chase De Jong @ Colorado, vs. Milwaukee:  You had me with @ Colorado. No.

Chad Kuhl @ Colorado, vs. Milwaukee: Kuhl has been better in June with a 2-2 record and 3.80 ERA.  But the margin for error is slim when you don’t have high strikeout potential, especially in Coors. He’s got 29 strikeouts in 41.1. innings.  This too far too risky for this week.

Carlos Martinez vs. Arizona, @ Colorado:  Repeat after me:  “I promise to never use CMart again.”  There.  Doesn’t that feel better? If that doesn’t do it for you, repeat this one: “I promise to never use CMart in Coors Field.”  If that doesn’t do it for you, I cannot help. 🙂

Mike Foltynewicz @ Oakland, @ Seattle: Like every fourth start, he is decent.  His decent start was last week.  Skip.

Matt Peacock @St. Louis, vs. San Francisco:  Do not self-inflict harm upon yourself or your protected ratios by using Peacock. Move along.

For more great Fantasy Baseball check out Mick Ciallela’s Rest of Season Rankings! Mick was the No. 1 Ranker on for the 2020 MLB season.

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