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
- After six Friday night postponements, the most rainouts since 2018, it’s entirely possible that projected starters are a little less set in stone than usual. Keep an eye out over the weekend for probables on Monday and Tuesday before adding pitchers off the wire.
- Reports of Zack Wheeler’s demise appear to have been greatly exaggerated. While he still doesn’t quite look like the second-place finisher for 2021’s NL Cy Young, Wheeler looks to have settled in after a disappointing three-start stretch to open the season. He’s inducing fewer groundballs and hasn’t held his strikeout rate gains from last season thus far, but Wheeler should deliver the consistency you were looking for when you drafted him.
- Even though the Phillies are 1-6 in Aaron Nola’s starts this season, he’s recovered nicely from a rough first week of the season. Nola has maintained what consistently makes him a valuable fantasy starter—elite strikeouts and WHIP—and looks to be faring better in two areas that plagued him in 2021: getting groundballs and stranding runners. Although sample sizes remain small, Nola’s groundball rate is actually above average so far this season, and his LOB% is at 81%, a much healthier figure than last year’s 67%. Whether it’s a skill/approach change or he’s just on the better end of batted ball luck, it looks like Nola is putting 2021 in the rearview mirror. Even against the potent Dodgers lineup, you should have both Philly starters locked into your lineup without a second thought.
- He might not get as many headlines as others, but Tarik Skubal is one of the game’s more exciting young arms. The Detroit lefty has mostly had his secondaries working this season and has posted a minuscule 2.7% walk rate. Coming off an impressive start against the Astros, Skubal has a tantalizing set of matchups against the hapless A’s and Orioles.
- Adam Wainwright popped up on the COVID IL Friday afternoon. The Cards’ crafty righty expressed optimism on Twitter that it wouldn’t be too long before he returned to the mound. Given the uncertainty, you should monitor Wainwright’s availability before setting your lineups in weekly leagues.
- Luis Castillo is slated to make his season debut on Monday after spending the first month of the season on the IL. While he was sharp over 4.1 in his final rehab starts, it’s always risky starting a player in their return from an extended IL stint. In weekly leagues, that’s worth the risk with a trip to PNC Park at the end of the week. In daily leagues, it might make sense to exercise caution against the Brewers. Not only is it Castillo’s first start of the season, but he’ll also be pitching at the “Great American Small Park” against a Milwaukee lineup that has Christian Yelich, Willy Adames, and Rowdy Tellez all beginning to catch fire at the same time.
- Similar to last week, there are few names to turn to off the waiver wire this week if you’re in search of a two-start pitcher. Of pitchers rostered in under 60% of leagues, Tony Gonsolin is likely your best bet to provide value next week. The start at Pittsburgh should make for a solid enough stream to warrant a spot in weekly lineups. In daily lineup leagues, you’d be best served moving the Dodger righty to your bench. Similar to last season, Gonsolin has walked too many batters. Unlike last season, however, he hasn’t been an asset for your team with strikeouts. The Phillies lineup has the potential to feast on Gonsolin’s underwhelming fastball. Opponents have generated an xBA of .367 on his four-seamer in 2022.
- Jameson Taillon managed to turn in his best start of the season against the Blue Jays in his last outing. It’s not enough to warrant putting him in your lineup in a rematch against the Jays. He may, however, be worthy of a start against the White Sox later in the week. The White Sox were expected to be one of the league’s most feared lineups entering the season. What’s changed? Eloy Jiménez, Yoán Moncada and Andrew Vaughn are all on the IL. Meanwhile, Yasmani Grandal, Luis Robert, and Jose Abreu have all struggled with some early season bad luck on their balls in play. Chicago’s offense could wake up at a moment’s notice, so proceed with caution when considering Taillon.
- José Quintana, Kyle Hendricks, and Paul Blackburn are all one-start streamers but should likely be avoided unless in desperate need of innings. The elevated risk of ratio damage is far greater than the potential upside. Of the three, Quintana has the best matchup at home against the Reds, while Hendricks (@ARI) appears likeliest to work deep into the games (although he has been an incredibly volatile option from start to start).
- It’s certainly possible Austin Gomber is being criminally underrated here in the Avoid tier. More often than not, he’s a safe stream when he’s away from Coors Field. The Giants are likely one of the exceptions. While the Royals aren’t an intimidating lineup by any means, we’ve all been burned by starts in Colorado time and time again. If you’re starting Gomber, you’re likely crossing your fingers and holding your breath that your ratios remain intact.
- Corey Kluber has turned in back-to-back quality starts against the Twins and Athletics. The Angels and Blue Jays pose a different type of challenge for the 36-year-old former Cy Young awardee. It wouldn’t be a huge shock for Tampa to find a way to unlock some vintage Klubot on occasion, but there are likely options on the wire with better matchups and a better season-long outlook.
- It’s possible Elieser Hernández’s days in the Marlins rotation are numbered unless he figures things out fast. It’s also possible he bounces back in a rematch against the Diamondbacks. He’s entirely dependent on the performance of his slider, and there’s been more bad than good in the early going. Hernández isn’t likely worth the pickup in a standard 12-teamer but might make sense in a 15-team league.
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)