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 approach the end of the season, I’ve decided to follow the lead of Nick’s daily SP Streamers article and be less stringent on qualifications to enter my top two tiers. In the final weeks of your roto league or a playoff matchup in a head-to-head league, you’ll likely be increasingly reliant on volume. The depth of the pitching landscape has worn thin in the second half, and, barring a matchup against a top offense or repeated poor performance, you’re starting the arms who put you in position to land a fantasy title.
- The result of opening up the tiers is that we have a mix of bona fide aces at the top, followed by a few SP2/SP3 types who join them. Seeing Kyle Wright land here after being trounced for eight runs in Oakland this week is likely the biggest surprise. The poor performance shouldn’t create too much concern, it was just a day where he had zero feel for his outstanding curveball. Expect a rebound against a Giants team that is below average against right-handers and the Phillies who have suddenly gone cold since the calendar turned to September.
- With a 14-3 record, Tyler Anderson has been one of the most impactful free-agent pickups in fantasy baseball this season. In fact, you could make a case the unheralded lefty has been one of the best actual free agent acquisitions this year as he’s taken the ball every fifth day for a Dodgers’ rotation befallen by injury throughout the year. His ability to hold onto his sub-3 ERA through the rest of the season feels a bit tenuous, however, as his strikeout rate has come back down to his career norms since May. A 15.7% second-half strikeout rate is not going to lend to long-term success, but pitching behind the best team is a huge boost in roto or categories leagues. He’s likely worth starting in both, but beware of his second matchup against the Giants who are much better against southpaws
- Michael Kopech, Joe Ryan, and Trevor Rogers are three young pitchers with a ton of potential who have been frustrating this season. Kopech and Ryan have struggled mightily of late, but with plus matchups, you likely need to roll the dice and get them in your lineup. Trevor Rogers has looked much improved since returning off the IL but is still hard to fully trust after just two starts back. He’s also worth a start against the Rangers and Nats, but don’t discount the potential for things to go sideways.
- While Hunter Brown spun a gem in his first big league start, his inclusion in tier 2 is almost entirely based on his matchups. For those in need of pitching, he should be your top target entering next week. Regardless of Brown’s lack of a major league track record, there are few bigger mismatches in baseball next week than the Astros against the Tigers and Athletics. Brown isn’t without some risk, but it’s unlikely that either of his opponents can fully take advantage.
- Jeffrey Springs was held to just three innings in his last start as the Rays look to manage his workload. It’s entirely possible the Rays will limit him to another abbreviated outing or two next week, making his start/sit prospects likely dependent on what alternatives you have available.
- After Springs, the entirety of the Questionable tier is, to put it nicely, uninspiring. Your decision to add or start any of these pitchers will be based on your league type and matchup or standings situation. In a perfect world, you’ll be able to avoid all of these. For those in need of a one-start stream, Nick Pivetta against the Royals or Bailey Falter at the Marlins has the best potential. Mike Minor and Luis Cessa make the cut as desperate dart throws at the Pirates. They’re best suited for only 15-teamers as you’re relying on the matchup, not the pitcher.
- Alex Cobb has likely been on and off your waiver wire all season as his splitter holds tremendous potential, but the outcomes have been anything but consistent. He shouldn’t be on your roster heading into next week as he runs into an absolute gauntlet next week against Atlanta and Los Angeles.
- Rookie Ken Waldichuk was the centerpiece of the Frankie Montas trade and made his Major League debut soon after the deadline. He has some longer-term potential but isn’t an option in fantasy until he gets some more seasoning in the big leagues.
Looks like Brown won’t go twice. Could just swap his spot in Tier 2 for Berrios?