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
- As we enter July, the upcoming week’s rankings feature two Cy Young contenders from each league. There’s little to do with the top four names on the list, except sit back and watch these aces dominate.
- They’re joined by Max Scherzer, Julio Urías, and Luis Garcia. Scherzer is one of the rare pitchers who require zero second-guessing on whether to start him in his return off the IL. If there’s any pitcher who would be immune to any rust after a lengthy absence, it’s Mad Max. Also, despite concerns stemming from reduced fastball velocity and a slightly lower strikeout rate, Urías has quietly posted elite ratios over 81.2 IP. He may not soar to the heights of a top-10 pitcher, but he’s a safe bet for high-quality innings against the Rockies and Cubs.
- Jameson Taillon has had a couple of stumbles in June, but he’s been a reliable arm who has racked up wins for the best team in baseball. He’s in prime position to add another win to his ledger in a homecoming visit to his former team in Pittsburgh. While the middle of the Red Sox lineup poses a much bigger challenge, he’s likely still worth the start. Taillon’s 3.32 ERA has been a product of strong command and pitching to contact. His elite 3.2% walk rate helps the righty succeed with a strikeout rate under 20%.
- Taijuan Walker has helped steady the Mets’ staff through injury and has built a dark-horse case for an All-Star bid. He has a paltry 26.7% CSW on the season and is giving up a high rate of hard contact, but Walker is worth starting as long as he continues to deliver.
- Similar to Walker, Cal Quantrill has a low CSW and his peripherals look rough across the board. The strikeout upside is incredibly limited, but he’s proven adept at handling poor lineups. His first opponent of the weak, Detroit, has a team wRC+ of just 68 against right-handers. Quantrill may struggle to get whiffs, but it shouldn’t be an issue against the Tigers (or the Royals).
- The landscape for two-start streamers this week is mostly made up of floor plays and risky arms who have a soft landing on the schedule. A few of these pitchers are available on waivers if you’re in need of a few dart throw plays.
- Eric Lauer’s early-season surge has faded almost as quickly as it arrived. Lauer posted a 2.49 ERA through May and looked like he’d have season-long fantasy relevance with newfound velocity on his four-seamer. While the velocity has stuck around, the results haven’t. A 6.83 ERA in June has rightfully bounced Lauer off fantasy rosters in 12-teamers, but for those who have held on, there may be a reason to start Lauer for one more week. The Cubs and Pirates both currently sit at 31-46. Chicago’s lineup has been more middling than outright bad, but neither team strikes much fear in starting pitchers. This isn’t a rousing endorsement for Lauer by any means, but at a time when pitching options on the wire are slim, he remains an option with enviable matchups in a two-start week.
- Alex Wood continues to carry a bloated ERA, even if by all measures he looks to be the same pitcher as last season. It’s hard to start him with any confidence given recent clunkers, but the Diamondbacks are one of the worst offenses in the league against lefties. If Wood is to begin turning his year around, a trip to Arizona should be the catalyst.
- Dean Kremer leads a group of Questionable starters who present far more risk than potential reward. Kremer’s recent run of success makes him the most interesting of the group, while Yusei Kikuchi makes the third tier solely for his favorable matchups. These arms are all best left for 15-teamers.
- Dane Dunning is coming off two straight quality starts, making him a tempting streaming option at Baltimore. The Orioles, however, looked much improved in June, and Dunning continues to carry a high WHIP with limited strikeouts. You can likely find better one-start streamers.
- We were recently treated to vintage Patrick Corbin against the Pirates. His 12 strikeouts were reminiscent of 2019 and create the urge to see if he can do it again versus the Marlins, who struggle mightily against lefties. Corbin’s track record since 2020, however, is enough evidence to pump the brakes. You’d be best served playing it safe and leaving Corbin on waivers.
- For those who have continued to roster Ian Anderson, it appears possible that he’s destined for a trip back to the minors. The Atlanta right-hander is a clear bench against the Cardinals and isn’t worth holding for a potential visit from the Nationals.