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Week Four Two-Start Pitchers: Who Can I Trust?

If you’re anything like me, you struggle with identifying the two-start pitchers each week that could yield dividends for your fake teams.

Let’s be brutally honest:  every owner knows that you set Jacob deGrom in your lineup and forget it, no matter the matchups, no matter the lineup. Then you have the guys you will start most of the time; pitchers like Lance McCullers, Jr., for example.  Where it gets dicey for many of us is that erstwhile middle tier: do I start Brad Keller?  A possibly resurgent Carlos Rodon? This decision-making is magnified in weekly lineups when these middle-tier pitchers have two-start weeks.

In early spring, one thing we have to watch are weather issues: This past week we had rain and even snow cancellations, which can upset the delicate balance of pitching rotations and throw off your best-laid plans. I apologize for the mistakes made last week and the errors in listing two-start pitchers, and thanks to those of you who pointed those out to me!

We have a plethora of options this week. We are going to classify our pitchers by shelves.  If you have ever been to a liquor store and stared longingly at the shelves, we are going to use that scenario to deploy our two-start pitchers this week. The top-shelf guys are always the best way to go; you buy them, set them, and forget them.  But depending on budget, we may need to look at the middle shelves to stock up our needs.  The bottom shelves are for those in desperation mode.

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Two-Start Pitchers for Week of April 19

Top-Shelf Options

Zac Gallen @ Cincinnati, @ Atlanta

Kyle Hendricks vs. NYM, vs. Milwaukee

Luis Castillo vs. Arizona, @ St. Louis

Dylan Bundy vs. Texas, @ Houston

Brandon Woodruff @ San Diego, @ Chicago Cubs

Jose Berrios @ Oakland, vs. Pittsburgh

Jack Flaherty @ Washington, vs. Cincinnati

Nathan Eovaldi vs. Chicago White Sox, vs. Seattle

  • Lucas Giolito:  Be sure to look into it later this weekend.  He may get two starts this week based on how the White Sox deploy their rotation.  Be sure to check back later this weekend.

Second Shelf

Joe Musgrove vs. Milwaukee, @ Los Angeles Dodgers: Yes, I know what he did two weeks ago. I like Musgrove, his pitch mix and his repertoire. Anytime a pitcher is facing the Dodgers, though, I take pause.  How strong is your constitution?

Taijuan Walker @Chicago Cubs, vs. Washington:  Walker has been fine to start the year, but has not pitched deep enough in either start to get a win even as he has provided 12 strikeouts in just over 10 innings.  I could see starting him based on facing the inept Cubs’ offense, but buyer beware.

Kevin Gausman @ Philadelphia, vs. Miami: Here is a full disclosure that I am not a Gausman guy. He looks good on the surface, but beware of the xERA of 4.18 this year, which is still good, but middle of the road to me.  Last year he gave up 11 barrels all year; this year, he has given up six in three starts.  By all means, he is a serviceable, middle-shelf option.  Just be aware that he may not be the ace many think he is.  There is some peril here.

Jesus Luzardo vs. Minnesota, @ Baltimore:  Look, Luzardo is tantalizing to all of us.  But recall he’s just 23 and still learning. He throws hard but is also getting hit hard in 2021. I want to see better results before investing with high confidence.  His xERA is 4.65, a far cry from the 8.31 he carries now. Be patient; sit him until you see better.

Dustin May @Seattle, vs. San Diego:  May is starting to look like he may be a top-shelf guy sooner than later. He’s limiting hard contact and showing some strikeout potential. However, context matters, and I worry about starting him against San Diego this week.  Gives me some pause. The other concern is that manager Dave Roberts sometimes has a quick hook which can cost starters wins. I think you can start him depending on your league context.

Carlos Rodon @Boston, vs. Texas: Rodon is healthy and in the best shape of his life.  It showed this week when he came within a shoelace of a perfect game, and got a no-hitter against Cleveland. The velocity is back, and the swing-and-miss stuff is there.  Pitching in Fenway Park can be daunting, and he is bound to have regression this week.  But keep an eye on Rodon.  He will likely be snatched off waiver wires this week, and if he is on yours, grab-and-stash. Looks like he may get pushed back due to Friday night’s “snowout” in Boston. 


Middle Shelf

Zac Plesac vs. Chicago White Sox, vs. New York Yankees: Plesac had been a must-start, but has not looked great yet in 2021. Plesac only got two outs against the White Sox in the Rodon no-hitter last week. He is too talented to be this lousy, but can you trust him against two potentially explosive offenses in the White Sox and the Yankees?  Think long and hard before you run Plesac out there next week.

Brad Keller vs. Tampa Bay, @ Detroit:  Keller looked awful the first week but threw well against the Angels this week: 5 and 2/3 innings, five Ks, four hits, and one run.  That’s the Keller we know. Will he ever be top-shelf?  Maybe not.  But knowledgeable fantasy owners know he is a mid-tier guy who can pitch deep into games and help with ratios, even if he never becomes a strikeout guy. That has value to your teams. Look for him to continue the rebound trend this week.  LATE NOTE:  Keller may get pushed back to Tuesday which would lead Danny Duffy to two starts next week. 

Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Toronto, vs. Seattle:  I will get some flack for this but I worry about his stamina and how he will hold up as the season grinds on.  Early results have been encouraging: 30% K, limiting walks and hard contact, two wins.  I pause when any team faces Toronto who is capable of hanging a crooked number at any time on any pitcher in baseball; I would rank him higher among these two-start pitchers otherwise.

Lance McCullers, Jr. @ Colorado, vs. Los Angeles Angels: Oh Lance, what are you to me?  I just don’t know.  He has not gone past five innings in any start this year and was shelled last week against Detroit, costing many owners valuable points in what should have been a  favorable matchup. A 62.5% hard-hit percentage and xERA of 5.06?  Not in Coors Field, friends.  Pass this week.

Lower Shelf

Chris Paddack vs. Milwaukee, @ Los Angeles Dodgers: I so badly want to believe.  I so badly want to drink the Kool-Aid and be a Paddack lover.  But I am just not there. That third pitch isn’t happening and he continues to rely on his four-seamer a whopping 65% of the time, even more than last year’s 58%. while his last week was respectable with five innings and four strikeouts, I do not trust him this week. Sit.

Joe Ross vs. St. Louis, @ New York Mets: Ross has thrown two respectable games this year, and has yet to give up a run.  I think that ends this week.  I want to see more before starting him in my lineups.

Kohei Arihara @ Los Angeles Angels, @ Chicago White Sox: I do think Arihara is going to be a reliable option as long as you price him correctly.  He is not going to strike out lots of guys but should be able to give you innings and some ratio controls.  Arihara struck out five last week in 5 and 2/3 innings and gave up no runs. I want to see more before I deploy him; I have some shares in my multiple leagues and remain hopeful.  This is a tough week against two offenses that are waiting to heat up.  Be careful.

Jon Gray vs. Houston, vs. Philadelphia: Gray outside of Coors Field intrigues; he has pitched well thus far in 2021.  However the offenses he goes against this week make me sigh: how much do you trust him?  I think I am taking a wait-and-see approach this week with Gray.

Low Shelf: Desperation 

Jameson Taillon vs. Atlanta, @ Cleveland

Josh Fleming @ Kansas City, vs. Toronto

Logan Webb @ Philadelphia, vs. Miami

Bottom Shelf: Absolutely Not

Nick Neidert vs. Baltimore, @ San Francisco

Chase Anderson vs. San Francisco, @ Colorado

Tyler Anderson @ Detroit, @ Minnesota

For more help in getting ready for the coming week, check out Eric Cross’s latest Fantasy Baseball Waiver Wire column.


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