Welcome to this week’s edition of the 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 on the wire.
As a friendly reminder, the projected starters are just that, projections, and subject to change.
Set and Forget
- I was initially excited to learn on Wednesday afternoon when I began my article prep that we’d get to see the top two aces in the game today, Jacob deGrom and Gerrit Cole, on the bump twice in week 12. Unfortunately for baseball fans everywhere, there’s some uncertainty over when deGrom will return to the mound after leaving his last start with shoulder soreness. Luis Rojas said on Thursday the Mets were not currently thinking an IL stint would be necessary, but I still don’t feel confident that he’ll have the opportunity to make two starts. As for Cole, regardless of his lower spin rates, he is still in the upper echelon of aces and should anchor your staff for the week.
- Sandy Alcántara is coming off his best outing of the season, albeit in a loss, where he went the distance without allowing an earned run (can we please get Sandy even a modicum of run support, Miami?). He’ll face an elite offense next week, a juggernaut Jays team who may be getting George Springer back soon. You may have second thoughts if you still have his disastrous 8 ER outing against the Dodgers in your memory. Rest assured, the Marlins’ ace has rebounded nicely after the setback. Since that start against LA, Alcántara has pitched to a 1.91 ERA with just five walks over a span of 42.1 innings. He allowed 4 ER in a start against the Blue Jays earlier this month in a road start, but his home ballpark should help him avoid the longball in a rematch.
- Frankie Montas hasn’t exactly been the picture of consistency this season, but he’s been on a roll as of late. It’s probably time we lend more credence to the Giants as they continue to hold the best record in the National League, but I trust that Montas can have his slider or splitter (preferably both!) working and turn in a good outing.
- Julio Urías has cooled off considerably since the beginning of the season, but he’s still an easy decision to start, even against the rival Padres. An elite 3.9% walk rate on the season should help keep his WHIP in check, even if the stuff doesn’t look quite as dominant as it did in April and May.
- Tyler Mahle is coming off a masterful start where he earned 19 whiffs. He’ll now get a chance to prove he can do it again, this time against two stronger lineups. He should comfortably be in your lineup.
- Both Ian Anderson and Charlie Morton have had incredibly uneven seasons, but I think I’d still have them in my lineup for both starts. While Anderson is keeping the ball on the ground at a similar rate to his rookie year, he’s gone from an incredible 1.2% barrel rate his rookie year to a below-average 9.8% in 2021. Morton has been the more frustrating of the two this season, not seeing results on some occasions even when he had his fastball and curve working. He is coming off a masterful start against the Cardinals. While I would have both in my lineup, I can understand having some reservations about their trip to Great American Ballpark. The Reds’ lineup features a plethora of mashers in Jesse Winker (206 wRC+ against RHP), Nick Castellanos (170 wRC+ against RHP), and Joey Votto (128 wRC+).
- I don’t quite know how Kyle Gibson is doing it (although having a full repertoire with good command is certainly a big factor), but he’s been an absolute quality start machine this season. After getting shelled in his opening day start, Gibson has rattled off eleven QS in his last twelve outings. Until he proves otherwise, he’s in your lineup.
- It’s probably a bit aggressive to have him in tier two, but Jake Odorizzi is my favorite two-start streamer in a week that is chock full of guys on the wire with favorable matchups. While I’m not expecting Odorizzi to be on your long-term radar, he has an ideal set of matchups in Baltimore and Detroit. If he’s available to add, and at 14% on Yahoo! and 10.5% on ESPN he likely is, I’d make sure he’s on my team sooner rather than later. His fastball velocity has ticked back up to 93 MPH and he possesses the command to succeed against two teams well below .500. Better yet, the Astros are employing a six-man rotation so the vet will get his second start with an additional day of rest.
- If someone in your league dropped Adbert Alzolay when he went to IL for a blister, you’re going to want to get ahead of your league-mates and add him now. He’s an arm that can help you rest of season; not just in a two-start week. Alzolay is slated to return sometime during the Cubs homestand, but the exact game has yet to be determined. With an unnamed starter slated for Monday against the Indians, my assumption is we’ll see Alzolay make his return then. Given his short stay on the IL and a weak Indians lineup, I’m okay starting him in his return. Against the Dodgers, however, I’d like to be cautious and only start him if necessary.
- Tarik Skubal has made enough developments where you likely don’t have a ton of hesitation sending him out against the Cardinals. Against the Astros, however, I’d like to keep him on my bench. We all know Houston has a deep lineup, but I think it’s gone slightly under the radar just how dominant they’ve been in 2021. The Houston offense is first in the league in K%, HardHit%, AVG, OBP, and SLG. I wouldn’t feel confident with most SPs against the Astros right now, much less a young pitcher without run support behind him.
- After holding the Yankees in check, Ross Stripling gets the Marlins and Orioles. He’s a very strong two-start streamer for his matchups and well worth taking a flier on. Let’s hope he can build off the momentum and take advantage of a beneficial upcoming schedule. He’d find his way up to tier two if his second start wasn’t at Sahlen Field.
- Johan Oviedo, Cole Irvin, and Paolo Espino aren’t exciting options by any means, but they’ve all experienced some degree of success in recent starts against poor opponents. Your two-start pitcher pickup priorities should be Odorizzi and Stripling, but these guys have some appeal if you need to dig a little deeper. Oviedo (@DET, PIT) has the best matchups and I’d consider him for both starts, especially in a points league. Irvin at the Rangers and Espino at the Marlins are solid one-start streams if you’re looking to take advantage of matchups.
- Mike Minor feels like a toss-up and, if possible, I’d like to avoid. You might be able to get away with streaming him against a disappointing Yankees lineup. A better bet would be in his return to Texas, but his lack of consistency this season would make me want to rely on him only if I was chasing categories or points on Sunday.
- Despite a rough line against the Braves, Eduardo Rodríguez did appear to make some small strides in his last appearance. E-Rod doesn’t quite deserve his 6.21 ERA as his walk rate is currently at a career-low and most other stats around his career averages. His .380 BABIP suggests he’s been on the wrong side of batted ball luck all season. In addition, opponents have hit .315 on his fastballs this year, but have an xBA of just .226. Brighter days could be ahead for the Boston lefty, but I think he should probably ride your bench against decent offenses until he is back on track.
- Remember the first month of the season when streaming J.A. Happ was a profitable endeavor? Those days are long gone. You might be tempted to stream against an Indians team who he uncharacteristically earned 10 Ks against last time. After seeing his struggles since, that feels like it was more of an anomaly than anything else. I’d be in search of other options.
- The White Sox have (rated by wRC+) the league’s best offense against lefties. Tyler Anderson is a lefty. Even with injuries to several key contributors in Chicago’s lineup, there’s no reason to risk him in your lineup. His second start against the Cardinals? They, too, are a top-five offense against LHP. It’s an easy decision to keep Anderson on the waiver wire.
- Orioles fans, I have some very bad news. The Baltimore pitching staff is about to enter the gauntlet of this season’s scheduling. Starting Friday, June 18th, the Orioles have 13 consecutive games… against just the Astros and Blue Jays. Something tells me the team’s 5.13 ERA will only be going up before we reach July. Keegan Akin and Jorge Lopez have the unenviable task of two starts next week, but the entire Orioles staff will see a steady dose of Jose Altuve, Vladimir Guerrero Jr., and others over the next two weeks.
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)