Welcome back to the final weekly two-start pitcher article this season! Each Friday, I look at every projected two-start pitcher for the week ahead and summarize my thoughts to help you set your rosters. You know the rules. There are four tiers: Definitely, Probably, Questionable, and Bench. Definitely Start features starters who are no-doubters for the week ahead, followed by Probably Start, which includes pitchers who look like good plays but may create a hesitation or two. Players labeled as Questionable are for deeper leagues or have one of two outings that should be skipped. Pitchers under Bench should be avoided despite their two starts.
Well, this is it. The 2020 fantasy season ends at the conclusion of next week. It’s gone far too quickly but at least we can be grateful that we’ve gotten this far considering what 2020 has been. Anything can happen in the final week of the season. You’ll likely want to maximize the number starts from your pitchers, especially your aces. That’s where this article will help you. As Nick mentions, the matchup is sometimes more important than the quality of the pitcher. Be sure to stay on top of the playoff picture as well. Teams fighting for a spot are more likely to use their best pitchers twice while teams that have clinched or are out may let their studs rest to keep them healthy for the playoffs or next season. So, let’s get to it!
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change
Shane Bieber (CHW, PIT)
Gerrit Cole (@TOR, MIA)
Jacob deGrom* (TBR, @WSH)
Lucas Giolito (@CLE, CHC)
Aaron Nola (@WSH, @TBR)
Zack Wheeler (@WSH, @TBR)
Germán Márquez (@SFG, @ARI)
Brandon Woodruff (@CIN, @STL)
Masahiro Tanaka (@TOR, MIA)
- Shane Bieber has just been unfair this season. His 36.4% CSW leads all starters and he’ll draw the Pirates in his second start of the week. Yes, sir!
- I’m going with Gerrit Cole over Jacob deGrom* next week because of deGrom’s recent injury scare. His status needs to be monitored closely. Obviously, when healthy, they are both in your line up.
- Since his no-hitter, Lucas Giolito hasn’t been quite as sharp. The walks have returned but few pitchers have the swing and miss stuff of Giolito when his changeup is on point.
- The Nationals and Rays have been average offensively this season. Both Aaron Nola and Zack Wheeler have their flaws but you’re riding these guys next week if you roster them.
- Pitchers at Coors Field are extremely volatile. That’s a fact. Fortunately for Germán Márquez, he lines up for two starts on the road to close the season. He carries a sparkling 2.64 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP away from Coors Field this season.
- The Cardinals and Reds have been more than 10% below league-average offensively the last 14 days and have had trouble making contact. Brandon Woodruff’s K% is on the rise and he’s gone seven innings in each of his last two outings. Masahiro Tanaka has had one bad start all season. He’s struck out at least five in his last four starts and has walked just five batters all season. He’s an extremely safe option in the final week.
Dylan Bundy (TEX, @LAD)
Lance McCullers Jr. (@SEA, @TEX)
Framber Valdez (@SEA, @TEX)
Aaron Civale (CHW, PIT)
Seth Lugo (TBR, @WSH)
Brady Singer (STL, DET)
Zach Davies (LAA, @SFG)
Marco Gonzales (HOU, @OAK)
Dakota Hudson* (@KCR, MIL)
Adam Wainwright (@KCR, MIL)
Dustin May (OAK, LAA)
- The matchup against the Rangers is a dream for Dylan Bundy but right-handed pitchers get knocked around by the Dodgers. The good news is, the Dodgers should have the number one spot locked up so he could see their “B” lineup. Wednesday night’s drubbing was not due to the long ball, so my concerns are lessened.
- Look at those matchups for the pair of Astros. The Mariners are fading down the stretch and the Rangers have a 59 wRC+ as a team at their new home this season. Lance McCullers twirled a gem, netting an insane 47% CSW in his last outing. He’s the ceiling play but the floor is low. Framber Valdez is safer but without the upside. I’m rolling with both next week.
- Aaron Civale feels like the safest option to turn out two quality starts with solid ratios next week. He doesn’t get beat with walks and has seven quality starts this season. Oh, and he’s averaging 6.4 innings per start. What happened to Seth Lugo last night? Four homers in fewer than two innings!? Maybe he was tipping pitches. I’m going to give him a pass because he was cruising giving up just five earned runs in his previous four starts.
- Zach Davies and Marco Gonzales are one and the same. Both are soft-tossers with great command. Would you believe that they both have 30+% CSW and career-best strike rates? Yup. So, they might be pitching a bit over their heads but hell, it’s the final week. We can trust them one more time.
- *Dakota Hudson left last night’s game with elbow tightness. Not good. Unless there’s a miracle, he should likely be avoided.
- Are we really going to trust 39-year-old Adam Wainwright to help win our fantasy league in 2020? Well, his curve has been on fire and it’s boosted his SwStr% over 10% for the first time in his career. Maybe this could go sideways but the matchups are good. One more for old time’s sake.
- The GIF machine, Dustin May, can’t seem to generate whiffs but draws two home starts next week. The Dodgers have little to play for next week, so keep an eye on how they handle their rotation.
Caleb Smith (TEX, COL)
Drew Smyly (COL, SDP)
Nathan Eovaldi (BAL, @ATL)
Mike Minor (@LAD, SEA)
Kyle Freeland (@SFG, @ARI)
Jon Lester (@PIT, @CHW)
Tarik Skubal (@MIN, @KCR)
Michael Lorenzen (MIL, @MIN)
- I’m tempted to bump Caleb Smith up a tier given these matchups. The Rockies have been the worst team offensively over the last two weeks and the Rangers aren’t far behind. Both teams have struck out over 29% of the time over that stretch. He could win some people their leagues but since he’s walking everyone right now, he’s extremely risky.
- I’m not touching Drew Smyly or Nathan Eovaldi in weekly formats except in desperate situations. But, in daily formats, their first start of the week is money. I’d look to stream both. Mike Minor is on the other side. He draws the Dodgers in LA followed by the Mariners at home. I love the second start but there’s always risk involved on the last weekend of the season.
- If you’re looking to protect your ratios next week but need wins, Kyle Freeland is your man. Both starts are on the road, where he’s gone at least six innings and hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs this season. If you thought things couldn’t get more boring than Freeland, enter Jon Lester. I hate to use the phrase “big-game pitcher” but Lester seems to be that guy. The Pirates seem like an easy win and maybe he pulls something out of his you know what against the White Sox in a cross-town clash.
- Like most rookie pitchers, Tarik Skubal has been inconsistent. But, three of his last four starts have been very good. I wouldn’t bet my whole season on him but he did just strike out eight Royals while allowing just four base runners.
Kyle Gibson (@LAA, HOU)
Robbie Ray (NYY, BAL)
Chase Anderson (NYY, BAL)
Keegan Akin (@BOS, @TOR)
Cole Hamels (MIA, BOS)
Tyler Anderson (COL, SDP)
Austin Voth (PHI, NYM)
Reynaldo Lopez (@CLE, CHC)
Tanner Roark (NYY, BAL)
Jordan Lyles (@ARI, HOU)
Ljay Newsome (HOU, @OAK)
J.T. Brubaker (CHC, @CLE)
José Ureña (@ATL, @NYY)
Josh Fleming (@NYM, PHI)
Trevor Rogers (@ATL, @NYY)
- This list is long. I know. But, it’s the final week of the season. Are you really going to have your season come down to a two-step with Kyle Gibson that includes a start against the Astros? Or better yet, run Robbie Ray out there against the Yankees to completely ruin your ratios and potentially be skipped against the Orioles?
- The matchups are rough and the pitchers are even worse. I suppose there are a couple of potentially interesting options if you’re desperate. And I mean desperate. Like, don’t care about your ratios desperate and only shooting for strikeouts with a shot at a win.
- The first one is Tyler Anderson. He was roughed up yesterday but has carried a very respectable 31.2 CSW this year. He’s also allowing a ton of weak contact and draws the Rockies on the road. As a team, the Rockies are slashing .223/.295/.364. To be clear, Anderson is strictly a daily moves/deep league option.
- The only other option that could provide some value is Keegan Akin. This is a Hail Mary play. Both starts are on the road against two top-10 offenses. Sandwiched between a blowup against the Yankees, Akin twirled two starts where he struck out 17 batters across 10.1 scoreless innings. Of this group, he has the best chance to pile up the strikeouts while turning in a gem. The downside? It’s huge. It’s all or nothing next week. Good luck, all!
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis