Welcome to this week’s two-start pitcher rankings!
My rankings have four tiers: Set and Forget, Probably Start, Questionable, and Avoid. Set and Forget starters are simply that; get them in your lineup and don’t think twice. The Probably Start tier includes players with the mix of skill and matchups that make them almost certainly two-start plays, but not without some elevated risk compared to the top tier. Questionable starters are those best-suited for daily lineup leagues where you can bench them against the tougher of their two opponents. Finally, we have the Avoid tier, which includes two-start SPs who should remain on your bench or the wire.
As a friendly reminder, the projected starters are just that, projections, and subject to change.
Set and Forget
- There are plenty of aces ready to toe the pitching rubber for two starts next week headlined by the Brewers co-aces. After dominating them in his last start, a rematch with the Pirates and their 26% strikeout rate should continue to help Brandon Woodruff get right after low strikeout totals in his first two outings.
- Carlos Rodón’s early impressions in a Giants uniform have been nothing short of phenomenal. A year after his breakout with the White Sox, Rodón’s four-seamer has looked even more unhittable even as he has upped its usage to 66%. What about the slider, you ask? It turns a whopping 29% swinging-strike rate. The Giants’ prized free-agent signee has quickly become appointment television.
- Many experienced apprehension about drafting Kevin Gausman with his move to the AL East. After all, he’d now be calling a hitter-friendly ballpark home, and his divisional starts against Arizona and Colorado would be replaced with Boston, Tampa Bay, and New York. Three starts into the season, Gausman has alleviated just about all of those concerns. On paper, it doesn’t get much more challenging than the Red Sox and Astros, but the Blue Jays’ new ace has proven he’s up for the challenge.
- It might be a surprise to see Logan Gilbert in the top tier above some well-established names in Tier 2. A sparkling 0.54 ERA in the early going has managers not thinking twice about getting Gilbert in their lineup. His CSW and hard contact rate may not be on par with the names above him, but he’s neutralized opponents without the presence of a strong secondary offering. The young right-hander has breakout potential if he can get his slider working.
- Luis Severino makes a strong case that he warrants a spot in tier one, but a bit of an up-and-down outing against the Tigers warranted a spot just below. He is coming off multiple years of injury, so unexpected bumps in the road are to be expected. With that being said, it’s hard to see them coming against the Orioles and Royals. His two opponents sit in the bottom five of wRC+ in the early going. Sevy has a chance to feast on a pair of weak offenses and turn some heads this upcoming week.
- Shane Bieber remains a large concern, even coming off a start where he allowed just one run and struck out seven. The velocity, however, remains diminished. It doesn’t mean Bieber can’t succeed, but there are certainly large question marks for 2020’s AL Cy Young awardee moving forward. While the A’s shouldn’t pose a threat, Bieber will have a challenge on his hands against the top of the Angels’ order.
- Triston McKenzie doesn’t have nearly the pedigree of the other arms in this group. He also continues to struggle with command and has a paltry 23% CSW after three starts. In fact, he looks a little out of place amongst this group of pitchers. He finds himself here because, in a two-start week, his upside is undeniable. There’s certainly risk against the Angels, who have been off to a hot start, but McKenzie has shown an ability to rack up strikeouts when he’s on the mound. Where lineup’s lock weekly, a turn against the A’s makes McKenzie worth the gamble.
- Merrill Kelly has been one of the better early pitching surprises in 2022. In almost all cases, he’s deserving of consideration in your lineup. However, there are a few exceptions, and one of them is when facing a juggernaut Dodgers lineup. Keep him on your roster by all means, but strongly consider benching him against LA. While the Cardinals have had a potent offense in the early going, Kelly has looked the part enough to start him against the Red Birds.
- You likely drafted Framber Valdez and Marcus Stroman for stability in the middle part of your rotation. While each looked good on Opening Day, they’ve struggled since. They’re both best served for daily lineup leagues against the lesser of their opponents (@TEX and @MIL).
- There is a multitude of potentially worthwhile one-start streamers for daily lineup leagues. Kyle Gibson and Zach Eflin have the fortune of getting the Rockies away from Coors. Michael Lorenzen (CLE), Miles Mikolas (ARI), and Nick Pivetta (@BAL) all carry varying degrees of risk but might be worth your while. Of the group, Lorenzen stands out even against a Guardians lineup who inexplicably leads baseball with a 135 wRC+. It’s worth noting that Cleveland has a team strikeout rate below 20% and may not be the solution if you’re in search of Ks in a categories league.
- Jordan Hicks is only really an option in points leagues where SPs with an RP position designation poses an advantage. Even so, it’s probably best to look elsewhere for innings. Hicks went just 46 pitches in his first big league start this week.
- Germán Márquez remains next to impossible to predict on a per-start basis. If a home start at Coors Field weren’t enough to deter you, a trip to hitter-friendly Citizen’s Bank Park against the powerful Phillies is little consolation.
- Mitch Keller had a significant amount of buzz during Spring Training as a result of newfound velocity on his fastball. While the four-seamer continues to average 96 MPH, the results haven’t been pretty. Even in a start where he earned seven strikeouts against Milwaukee, the swinging strikes on his secondaries were mostly nonexistent. Keller doesn’t look to be an option right now in 12-teamers, particularly with a weak supporting cast around him.
Questions? Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @AnthonyTucker81, and I’ll be happy to talk two-start SPs and more!
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)