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Two-Start Pitchers Week of May 10: Intriguing Options

Another week melts off the calendar and we find ourselves immersed in the middle of May with baseball in full swing.  Managing your pitching staff has become one of the hardest parts of winning our fake game. Any extra push we can get from pitchers is a potential boon, and that includes looking for two-start pitchers in a given week.  Invariably many of these guys will be owned in your league, depending on the depth of your league, how many bench spots you may have, etc.  But we will try to find you some guys that might still be under the radar.  We hope to keep you from being “Gombered” with a  clunker of a start that can ruin your week.  Let’s take a look at who should be getting two starts the week of May 10.

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Two-Start Pitchers

Top Shelf “A”

These are the guys I would automatically start this week based on their ability, results and matchups. And yes I did put a couple guys in here that may make you scratch your head.  Read on.

Max Fried vs. Toronto, @ Milwaukee:  Fried came off the IL last week and threw very well: five innings, six strikeouts, only four hits, and one run and one walk. He lowered his ERA almost three runs in the process.  Look for continued success from Fried; I expect that his poor start will regress to his usual performance.

Shane Bieber vs. Chicago Cubs, @ Seattle: set it and forget it.

Dylan Cease vs. Minnesota, vs. Kansas City: are you a believer yet?  He’s been excellent the last two weeks, including an 11-strikeout gem against the Reds last week. The key for Cease is always his command. He’s had three walks in every start this year save one. Yet he has been able to limit the damage: 2-0, 2.37 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 40 Ks in 30.1 innings. Good matchups this week full of potential strikeouts.  Go for it.

Lance McCullers vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. Texas: have you seen the slider this year?  If not check it out. It’s a new weapon he is using against right-handed batters and has yielded a .100 batting average over a small sample size of 100 pitches.  The curveball is elite.  I like these matchups for him this week and will use him on both starts.

Trevor Bauer vs. Seattle, vs. Miami: he just continues to be excellent, whether you like him or not.  I love him, not that you asked. The 58 Ks in 44.1 innings helps with that love, and he’s 3-1 with a  2.44 ERA.  Good matchups this week too.

Pablo Lopez @ Arizona,  @ Los Angeles Dodgers: he has quietly become a must-start. Move with confidence despite any fear you may have of the Dodgers’ offense. I don’t mind that; he’s an automatic start for me until he proves otherwise.

JT Brubaker vs. Cincinnati, vs. San Francisco:  surprised to see Brubaker here?  Well here is my testimony:  he’s 2-2 with a 2.78 ERA, and a 1.14 WHIP.  Other than his first start, where he surrendered four walks, Brubaker has been able to limit the damage. The 37 Ks in 32.1 innings plays well, too.  I think this is a good week with two starts against the Reds and the Giants who have been mediocre over the last ten days.  I am going for it with Brubaker.

Freddy Peralta vs. St. Louis, vs. Atlanta: I waffled on Peralta a bit this week. His start last week against Philadelphia was poor:  four innings, five earned runs, a homer, and three walks.  Egads!  We don’t need that out of a guy who has helped carry fantasy teams the first month.  However, he’s got an absurd 53 strikeouts in 32 innings and is 3-1 with a 3.38 ERA even after the subpar outing. If we start seeing the BB% tick up, then we may need to take pause and reassess the situation.  But I would start him this week.

Notes:  The San Diego Padres have not announced their plans for next week, but it appears that ace Yu Darvish may get two starts. Dinelson Lamet is part of this equation, too, and could get a dual start week, but how restrained will he be in his delicate return from a UCL injury?

Top Shelf “B”

I started a top-shelf “B” this week because these are guys who could pitch very well this week but in my mind have more risk than those listed above.

John Means vs. Boston, vs. New York Yankees:  he pitched okay last time out.  Ha. One passed ball away from a perfecto.  He’s been very good this year but how much do you trust him against his mighty AL East opponents?  This is a testament to your faith.  I have him just a notch below the top guys this week simply because of that.  Yet I will be starting him in my leagues.

Sonny Gray @ Pittsburgh, @ Colorado:  Gray didn’t give up a run against the White Sox last week even though he didn’t get the win.  Looks to be shaking some rust off.  What’s your philosophy on starting a pitcher at Coors Field?  That gives many managers pause.  That said, if you don’t have better options on your bench for the end of the week, use him.  I will be. If you are in a weekly league that locks matchups, I could see you benching him, even though I will hedge and go with him.

Alex Wood vs. Texas, @ Pittsburgh:  We’ve been down this road before, haven’t we?  Did you leave a trail of crumbs to find your way back?  Listen, Wood is a tremendous talent when healthy, but if we have learned anything from his career, it’s that talent doesn’t matter if you’re not available to pitch.  Right now, he appears healthy but we need to watch this carefully. He’s 3-0 with a 1.96 ERA and his Statcast page is splashed with red:  93% chase rate stands out, as does the 84% barrel rate and 80% xERA.  These are good matchups for him, too.  I am going to start him until he breaks down, which invariably will happen.  Just enjoy it while it lasts.

Brady Singer @ Detroit, @ Chicago White Sox: Before the season started I touted Singer and his ability to many fantasy players, and he’s been very good. In six starts he has thrown 29 innings and has 29 Ks. The ERA is 3.41; the xERA is 3.49, so his start seems legitimate.  But there is a problem: he does not go deep into games, and has only one win to show for his efforts so far.  Singer is also coming off an injury last week, where he was hit in the foot by a comebacker.  I would pass this week until we see if he is healthy despite the good matchup against Detroit.

Ryan Weathers @ Colorado, vs. St. Louis: I like Weathers but how deep will manager Jayce Tingler let him go fresh off injury and at 21 years old? That concern is enough for me to bench him, plus he’s also starting in Colorado.  This one is fraught with peril.  I am passing this week. This could change once the Padres announce their rotation for next week, which they had not done yet this weekend.

Notes: Jon Gray lines up for two starts this week but Colorado was listing the famous “TBD” for Monday and Tuesday starts next week. Definitely worth starting if he gets the nod.

Middle Shelf

Here are guys that may have more questions than answers in some ways, but could definitely pay dividends for you this week if you use them.  Maybe.

Madison Bumgarner vs. Miami, vs. Washington: Is he resurgent or just lucky? It is looking like his change in mental preparation is paying off. He is getting more spin on his fastball even as his pitch mix remains virtually the same. His last four starts have seen the ERA lower from an unsightly 11.20 to a becoming more manageable 4.91.  That’s still not good, but improvement is showing.  Yet there have only been two walks in his last four starts combined, and he’s not surrendering long balls. His last three starts: 7 Ks, 6 Ks, and 7 Ks. You love to see it if you still believe in him. There is risk here but I would strongly consider using him this week.

Nathan Eovaldi vs. Oakland, vs. Los Angeles Angels:  I love his arm.  I love his stuff.  His Statcast shows so much red, and you want to believe in him. But the results don’t ever seem to add up to be the top guy he could be in my mind. He’s 4-2, which is great, but a bloated 4.62 ERA dims this portrait.  Interestingly, Eovaldi has not given up one home run this year but got shellacked last week by the Detroit Tigers.  Many will start him next week, but I would not.

JA Happ @ Chicago White Sox, vs. Oakland:  Happ is one of those guys who is a better player in real-life baseball than in fantasy. I just don’t think he helps you that much unless he gets wins, which can be arbitrary and hard to come by.  He’s got a terrific 1.91 ERA but his high water mark in strikeouts in five starts this year has been four.  I just think you can do better.

Chris Bassitt @ Boston, @ Minnesota:  Bassitt tends to fly under the radar in many leagues but he should not be.  He’s a great guy to have on your staff.  This year he is 2-2 with a 3.70 ERA. the 43 Ks in 41.1 innings help you too. Bassitt does a good job limiting hard contact. And the strikeout rate is climbing.  Start him this week.

Robbie Ray @ Atlanta, vs. Philadelphia: It always seems to come down to which Ray you believe in. Is it the guy who walked six against Kansas City?  Or is he the guy who came back in his next start against Tampa Bay and struck out nine?  The truth is likely somewhere in between, but buyer beware.  He can implode anytime.  One of the ultimate risk-reward type guys in our game. I am on the fence here but lean towards starting him.

Kwang Hyun Kim @ Milwaukee, @ San Diego: Love watching the guy pitch, but he is like a second cousin to Happ. He just doesn’t give you enough oomph to make much difference to your team’s bottom line, and these are not great matchups for him this week in my opinion.

Lower Shelf

These are the ultimate buyer beware picks.  Be careful not to sink your staff this week.

Kyle Gibson@ San Francisco, @ Houston: Outside of a five-run pasting in his first outing, Gibson has been very good: 3-0, 2.40 ERA, and a 1.04 WHIP, chipping in 35 Ks in 41.1 innings. He hadn’t given up any home runs until his last start against Minnesota, where he gave up two but still managed to pitch eight innings.  Doesn’t it just feel like his luck might run out though?  He doesn’t do any one thing greatly other than locating his pitches and limit hard contact.  Come to think of it, isn’t that what pitching is about? Ha. I hedge on him every week and this is no different, and for me, it comes down to matchups.  He’s a tough play for me this week.

Michael Fulmer vs. Kansas City, vs. Chicago Cubs: I feel like Fulmer is undervalued and may be one to keep an eye on as the year moves forward. He is still working his way back from injury but the velocity has been there for him thus far.  An undefined role leaves us without clarity, and he’s not worth starting until there is resolution. UPDATE: Fulmer pitched in relief Friday night and it looks like Detroit may use Casey Mize instead next week.

Jordan Montgomery @ Tampa Bay, @ Baltimore:  The talent is there but the consistency is not.  I cannot recommend him until he figures that piece out.

Mitch Keller vs. Cincinnati, vs. San Francisco: See above.

Ryan Yarbrough vs. New York Yankees, vs. New York Mets:  Yarbrough is usually a master of limiting hard contact, but his inconsistency makes him hard to own right now. He’s giving up lots of hits while working to limit walks, but I just don’t feel lucky with him this week.

Lowest Shelf

The risk does not match up to the possible reward with these guys, and I am passing on all of them this week.

Martin Perez @ Baltimore, vs. Los Angeles Angels: He just doesn’t go long enough in most games to give you value.

Eric Fedde vs. Philadelphia, @ Arizona:  Fedde has the ability to get big league hitters out. But it is inconsistent and I’ll be damned if I can tell you when he’s going to be good or not so good.  That last start against Atlanta was poor: five innings, five earned, two bombs, and only three strikeouts.  That’s not going to help anything on your staff.  Pass.  Now watch him be great this week.

Chase Anderson @ Washington, @ Toronto: it’s not so much that Anderson is bad, it’s these matchups that could kill him. He has little margin for error.

Jake Odorizzi vs. Los Angeles Angels, vs. Texas: even if he is healthy, the risk is high and the innings likely to be limited.  Pass.

Luke Weaver vs. Miami, vs. Washington: I want to believe in him.  The talent is there.  Let someone else in  your league try this one.  Leave it alone until you see any level of consistency.

Adbert Alzolay @ Cleveland, @ Detroit: Pass. Will be good one day but it is not today.

Jeff Hoffman @ Pittsburgh, @ Colorado: An xERA of 6.24.  In Colorado?  Nope.

Antonio Senzatela vs. San Diego, vs. Cincinnati: just no.

Nick Neidert @ Arizona, @ Los Angeles Dodgers: at this point, never.

Justin Dunn @ Los Angeles Dodgers, @ Cleveland Indians: pass

Jorge Lopez vs. Boston, vs. New York Yankees

Kohei Arihara @ San Francisco, @ Houston: take it from a fool like me who learned the hard way.  Don’t do it.

For more help, check out Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.

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