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
- A year removed from a 4.63 ERA where he was flummoxed by a low strand rate and a career-worst HR/9, Aaron Nola is back to anchoring fantasy rosters with great ratios and strikeouts. He’s boasting a 3.5% walk rate, the best in his career. While the Phillies haven’t often rewarded Nola with much run support, he’s back to an auto-start option regardless of opponent.
- After initially slotting Spencer Strider in at the top of tier 2, I was quickly swayed by the rookie’s utter dominance against the Cardinals. His track record is limited, and we’ve seen the results when his command is out of whack (6 ER over 3.2 IP against the Giants), but there’s nothing stopping you from starting Strider after his last three trips to the mound. He may only throw two pitches, but a league-leading 18.5% swinging strike rate suggests it’s more than enough. Moreover, Strider ranks at the top of Eno Sarris’ latest Stuff+ leaderboard even after removing his stints as a reliever.
Despite a lack of effective secondary offerings throughout this season, Logan Gilbert has tallied a win in five of his last six. His 2.61 ERA won’t last, but you shouldn’t expect the pendulum to swing the other direction against the Nats and Rangers. He’s a strong option heading into next week.Note: Shortly before posting, the Mariners probables were updated with Logan Gilbert now pitching Sunday. Chris Flexen now tentatively lines up for two decent matchups. He falls into the questionable due to his low ceiling, but could find a way to make it work in deeper leagues.
- Chris Sale isn’t guaranteed to be the Red Sox’s starter this Tuesday, but Alex Cora hinted it was more likely that his next appearance would come with the big league club instead of Worcester (likely to the delight of any WooSox equipment and electronics). While his last minor league tune-up was a bit of a disappointment, the strikeout upside is elite. It isn’t without elevated risk, but two starts for Sale is likely enough to warrant locking him into your weekly lineup.
- With ADPs inside the top 100, José Berríos and Lance Lynn have looked like two of draft season’s bigger misses. Berríos has been a conundrum all season, looking more like a matchup-dependent play at best than a reliable arm. Lynn hasn’t found a groove since returning from the IL. He’s been adept at earning whiffs, but when hitters do connect, they’re making hard contact. While both face an above-average lineup, I’d lean towards starting them. In daily leagues, starts against Philly and at Minnesota are likely a toss-up.
- Sean Manaea is perhaps the week’s toughest choice when it comes to weekly leagues. Is the inherent risk of Coors Field for a pitcher who has struggled with reduced velocity and ineffective secondaries in his last appearance worth an opportunity against the Diamondbacks?
- Despite a 2.65 xERA, Alex Cobb has little to show for it, as his actual ERA is over two runs higher at 4.74. It’s hard to continue to recommend Cobb when his peripherals have not matched results all season, but his upcoming two-start week is not the time to cut bait. A rematch with Arizona and a visit from the Brewers could pay dividends, but it’s understandable if you’ve given up on a 2022 breakout for the Giants’ righty.
- Josiah Gray through Brad Keller all have varying degrees of appeal as a one-start stream next week. While many of these starters haven’t experienced much success this season, streaming against the Athletics, Pirates, and Tigers has been a largely successful endeavor. Of the group, Gray (SEA) and David Peterson (@CHC) are the most enticing. It is worth noting, however, that the Mariners have a team wRC+ of 108. They’re no longer a cake-walk matchup like they may have been in past seasons.
- Spencer Howard (SEA, OAK) has a double dose of great matchups. Unfortunately, he’s not a fringe option in even a 15-team league right now.
- Considering streaming Jason Alexander? It’ll make you angry that day, my friends, like an old man trying to send back soup in a deli. I have no productive analysis to add here, but I genuinely appreciate the opportunity to quote George Costanza – one of my favorite pastimes in addition to fantasy baseball.