Welcome to this week’s edition of the 2023 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 Most Likely 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.
Each week, I’ll be selecting my Two-Start Streamer of the Week. The criteria for a streamer will be a roster-rate under 50% in Yahoo or ESPN leagues. The Streamer of the Week will be highlighted in the tables in green. Reach out to me in the PL Discord or on Twitter @AnthonyTucker81 and let me know if you’d grade the weekly streamer as a win or loss.
As a friendly reminder, the projected starters are just that, projections and subject to change.
Set and Forget
- Luis Castillo has hit a speed bump on his way to establishing himself amongst the upper-echelon of aces. He hasn’t recorded a win or a quality start in a month, carrying a bloated 5.67 ERA and 1.44 WHIP during the stretch. What better way to settle down than home starts against the A’s and Pirates? Pittsburgh may boast a winning record, but they’ve quickly come back down to earth. The Buckos have been the league’s worst offense since the start of May, in large part due to a 28% team strikeout rate.
- Given the rash of long term injuries (and a handful who have remained healthy, but have seen performance plummet), the starting pitcher landscape has taken a big hit. I’ve made the decision to be a bit more lax in terms of who qualifies as tier one. Dylan Cease is an example of this. He hasn’t lived up to his masterful 2022 as he’s getting fewer whiffs and hasn’t been able to sustain last year’s 30% strikeout rate. Cease hasn’t had success with his curveball, making him essentially a two-pitch pitcher (with a fastball that is getting crushed). He’s not going to be the SP1 you were hoping for, but there’s also no thought in benching him in a two-start week against Cleveland and Detroit.
- In a turbulent season where even the most reliable pitchers have detonated your weekly ERA, Alex Cobb and Drew Smyly have each been a source of stability. Keep starting them until they give you reason to otherwise.
- There are few more nerve-wracking feelings in fantasy baseball than starting your rookie pitcher at the Rockies. Eury Pérez has looked the part early, however, and he warrants consideration. In a weekly league, I’d lean towards starting him.
- Taj Bradley looked solid in his awaited return to the major league club, but the Blue Jays and Dodgers will be a different level of test than the struggling Mets. Bradley looks likely to remain in the Tampa rotations through the rest of the year and should be a fantasy asset. Next week, however, starting him is truly a toss up. For team’s with SP depth, it may be preferrable to start a comparable pitcher with one strong matchup.
- The vast majority of two-start pitchers this week are over 50% rostered. For those in need of an option available in the majority of leagues, Michael Lorenzen and Mike Clevinger are the clear choices. Lorenzen has benefited from a cushy schedule, but he’s performed well this season. A trip to Kansas City and a home start against the White Sox, two pitcher friendly parks/opponents, make Lorenzen this week’s Two Start Streamer of the Week. Clevinger has an equally beneficial schedule, but a higher walk rate makes him the riskier of the two.
- Kyle Bradish has put together back-to-back strong outings, but outside of deeper leagues he’s best left off the bench or waiver wire. If he does warrant consideration, it’ll be in points leagues.
- Gavin Stone takes over for Dustin May in the Dodgers rotation with a rude welcome: a trip with two of the best offenses in baseball. He doesn’t look to have the upside of the other rookie pitchers and belongs on the wire for now.
- Edward Cabrera did the unthinkable in his last outing: he didn’t walk a batter. With a 30% strikeout rate and electric stuff, Cabrera could have a true breakout if he ever figures out his command issues. Unfortunately, I wouldn’t expect it to come next week. You can leave him on the wire until he proves it a second time.
Two-Start Streamer of the Week Record: 1-4.