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
- Outside of a small hiccup that was a product of Coors Field, Brandon Woodruff has been flat-out dominant this season. If it weren’t for the historical performance put on by Jacob deGrom, we’d be hearing a lot of midseason hype for Woodruff to win his first Cy Young. While he likely won’t win that award, he can win you your matchup next week with a pair of matchups against divisional opponents. His teammate, Freddy Peralta, is also a must-start guy this week. It’s worth noting that, after a period where the Cubs’ offense was clicking in May, they have struggled mightily since. Chicago has a 73 wRC+ in June, ahead of only the Cardinals and Diamondbacks. All of this to say, fire up your Brewers with confidence next week.
- Trevor Bauer has hit a bit of a rough patch which has noticeably coincided with a drop in his spin rate. He has a 3.55 ERA in June that, while serviceable, is not what you’d expect from the high-end SP1 he’s demonstrated is his ceiling. You shouldn’t overreact, however, to this bump in the road. Even if he’s not a top-five pitcher rest of season, he remains a fixture in your lineup, even against the first-place Giants and a surging Nats squad.
- The resurgent Robbie Ray gets an ideal set of matchups in his two-start week. It’s been fun to see Ray become a more efficient pitcher and attack the strike zone. This is perhaps best evidenced by cutting his walk rate down by an incredible 12 percentage points (from 18% to 6%). Ray should continue to trust his stuff against Seattle and Tampa Bay. Despite being 13 games over .500, Tampa has struggled the last few weeks and has just a .658 OPS against lefties on the season.
- Charlie Morton is currently lined up for two starts after his next outing was pushed from Sunday to Tuesday. Morton held the Mets scoreless in his last start and you should be confident that he can find success again in a rematch.
- Zac Gallen looked excellent in his second trip to the mound since returning from the IL. When healthy, he should be an automatic start for your team. He finds himself leading tier 2 because his pitch count is not fully built up after only going 68 pitches over five innings against the Brewers. As with others across the league, lowered spin rates remain the elephant in the room. Despite this, I’m confident he’ll be rock solid moving forward.
- At this point in his career, Zack Greinke is a steady, if unremarkable option for your fantasy team. His low whiff rate often leads to low strikeout totals, but he still has the talent to make easy work of the Orioles and Indians.
- Dylan Cease has flashed some inconsistency as of late. In his last two starts, his slider has not been the high CSW% offering that it has proven to be all season. There might be some hesitation against the Twins, but I think Cease’s upside is worth the risk. Interestingly enough, Cease’s fastball spin rate sits in the 97th percentile of the league. In his last start against the Pirates, his first since the league began new “sticky stuff” enforcement protocols, his spin rate on his four-seamer was down 269 RPM.
- Marcus Stroman has been excellent this year, currently sporting the highest strikeout rate of his career. While you shouldn’t expect him to maintain his 2.32 ERA, he should be an asset for your team all season. After leaving his last outing with a sore left hip, Stroman is still slated to make his next turn in the rotation. I would still have him in my lineup, but there is always the concern that he’s rushing himself back to support an already-thin Mets pitching staff.
- Blake Snell went five scoreless against the Dodgers, but it remains to be seen whether he can figure out a way to become more efficient. A trip to Great American Ballpark, a hitters haven, gives me some pause. The Reds offense, however, has been 10% below league average against lefties this year. This feels like a toss-up.
- Since the calendar has turned to June, Anthony DeSclafani has caught fire. In 27 IP this month, he has a sterling 1.00 ERA. Disco hasn’t been able to stop the Dodgers in two previous starts against them this season, but with the roll he’s on, I think I’d put him in my lineup. In a league where lineups lock weekly, the upside of a trip to Arizona far outweighs the risk against the Dodgers.
- Two starts at home are never ideal, but neither of Germán Márquez’s matchups is particularly daunting. I’ll likely have Márquez in my lineup for both starts, although I can understand those who prefer to keep him on the bench for a double dose of Coors. The Colorado righty has been in a groove as of late, allowing one run or less in six of his last seven starts.
- If you’re looking for one-start streamers in a daily lineup league, James Kaprelian and Chris Flexen both receive a visit from the Texas Rangers. They’re unquestionably on your bench in their other start. Nick Pivetta is a potential streamer in his first start against the Royals but should be back on the wire right after.
- Dylan Bundy belongs on your bench (or more likely, the waiver wire) for the foreseeable future. There is, however, something that has me intrigued by his second start against the Orioles. This will be Bundy’s first start against the organization who drafted him fourth overall in 2011. Maybe Bundy comes to the mound inspired and on a mission against his former team, but it’s probably best you sit this one out.
- Danny Duffy threw just 42 pitches in his return off the IL. He’ll need a few more starts before he can go deep enough into games where he’s worth starting.
- Mike Foltynewicz went six strong against the A’s this week. He’ll see them again next week, but I don’t have the confidence he can repeat the effort. If he does, maybe he becomes a more intriguing option over the weekend against the Mariners.
- With Sonny Gray having his Thursday rehab appearance scratched, Tony Santillan may be in line for two starts. While I’ve included him in the rankings, I doubt he’ll see a second start. Regardless, he shouldn’t be on your streaming radar this week.
- Garrett Richards has seen one of the most striking drops in spin rate in the first few days of MLB’s new substance enforcement policies. While it remains to be seen how much these changes will impact pitcher performance over the remainder of the season, it seems evident that Richards will be one of those most impacted. He’s not someone you can consider streaming right now.
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)