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
- Tier One is a bit lighter, as no starter featured in the top ten of this week’s version of The List finds themselves with a two-start week. Robbie Ray, coming off a clunker of an outing against the Red Sox, will get a chance at a do-over. Ray’s body of work this season has been tremendous. Previously known for his penchant for walks, Ray is now fifth amongst qualified starters with a 25.2% K-BB%. Throwing the ball in the zone more often will lead to more contact and, against an offense like the Red Sox, can sometimes lead to trouble. I’m still putting my faith in Ray to earn better results in a rematch. He’ll receive a boost from an energized Toronto fanbase in the Jays’ first series of the season at the Rogers Centre against a below-average Royals team.
- Entering play on Friday, July 22nd, the Colorado Rockies have tallied 25 homers on the road (spanning 1,556 road PA). Shohei Ohtani has 34 homers on the season (366 PA both home and away). What does this tell you about Ohtani’s two-start week? Not a whole lot, but it is a fun fact! Expect big things from Shohei at home against the feeble Rockies offense and don’t hesitate to get him in your lineup against the Athletics.
- John Means struggled mightily in his return from the IL. While poor results in the first start off the shelf are not unexpected, the drop in spin rates certainly raises some eyebrows. Luckily, he’ll have some time to figure things out against the Marlins and a surprisingly hot Tigers lineup. While Detroit has been 11% above league average offensively in the month of July, the deep fences at Comerica should help keep the ball in the yard and make for a soft landing stop as Means tries to adapt to the crackdown on foreign substances.
- Germán Márquez finds himself in Tier Two due to a second start against the Padres, who have looked like a juggernaut offensively as of late. Thankfully, Márquez gets both of his starts away from Coors next week. While there might be some hesitation against San Diego after his recent letdown against the Mariners, I think Márquez has earned a place in your lineup. While it’s hard to trust a Rockies pitcher over the long run, Márquez’s peripherals all point to a player you should be able to trust for the rest of the season. He has two pitches, the slider and the curveball, that boast a CSW of over 35% on the season. His groundball rate is the highest of his career (52.3%) and his 3.5% opponent barrel rate is not only a career-best, but puts him in the 95th percentile of the league. With two road starts this upcoming week, I wouldn’t overthink it.
- Dylan Cease has quickly developed a reputation as one of the most volatile starting pitching options in the game. That volatility prevents him from settling into the Set and Forget tier, even with excellent divisional matchups against Kansas City and Cleveland. You don’t have to think too hard about getting him in your lineup next week, but there is the always looming possibility he doesn’t have his best stuff. At any rate, the ceiling warrants the risk; get Cease in your lineup.
- A pair of rookies should find their way in your lineup for their two-start weeks, but they are not without risk. Shane McClanahan has absolutely electric stuff but has only been allowed to complete six innings twice this season. Alek Manoah hasn’t quite been as consistent as his rookie counterpart but has had a number of strong outings himself. He’s expected to be activated on Monday after a minimum stay on the 10-day IL. A start against the Red Sox comes with risk for both starters, but they’ve both flashed top-40 rest of season potential and have the stuff to pass the test against strong opponents.
- There’s an interesting mix of pitchers in this tier, but unfortunately, many of them have likely been scooped up off the wire already. If any are available, it may be worth adding them to your roster, as there are few two-start pitchers this week with a) great matchups and b) low roster rates.
- Despite the name recognition and his high ADP to start the season, we’ve seen enough this year from Chris Paddack to suggest he is purely a matchup-dependent play and probably best suited as a streamer for the rest of the season. I would not start him against the A’s, but he’s worth a shot against the Rockies, who have well-noted struggles away from Coors.
- Dallas Keuchel has great matchups this week. If he’s still on your roster, you’re probably starting him for both. As we know, his ceiling is limited and you shouldn’t expect much in the way of strikeouts (5.63 K/9 doesn’t quite meet the mark from a fantasy perspective to put it lightly). Combine that with a 4.22 ERA and 1.37 WHIP and there’s not a whole lot to look forward to here. You’re adding Keuchel only if you’re chasing the potential for a couple of wins, an extremely difficult endeavor.
- It would have been nice to see more from Kyle Muller in his return to the Atlanta rotation, but if he survived the Padres I’m willing to add him and see where things go against the Mets. If he looks good against the Mets, keeping him in the lineup against the Brewers seems like an easy decision.
- Jordan Montgomery is a bit of a toss-up against the Rays but makes for a great streamer against Miami (who may have traded away Starling Marte by then). Both James Kaprielian and Austin Gomber make sense as streaming candidates against the Angels but should be benched against the Padres.
- More often than not, I’d like to avoid Michael Pineda due to his outsized reliance on one pitch, the slider. Fortunately, his two-start week comes against the Tigers and Cardinals, which makes him worthy of some careful consideration. There’s an opportunity for him to deliver a big week for your fantasy squad here, but it’s not as sure a thing as one might think.
- Logan Webb was a popular sleeper candidate at the beginning of the season after receiving rave reviews on his signature changeup. Unfortunately, his season has featured some stops and starts due to injury. I’m not ready to hold him on my roster for an upcoming gauntlet of a schedule including the Dodgers and Astros this upcoming week. I would monitor how he looks, however, he may be a nice pickup off the wire once he gets through this stretch of opponents.
- Paolo Espino has completed a few strong outings this season and has served as a glue guy to hold together the Nats’ injury-riddled rotation and pen. Despite that, I don’t think he’s a great option to turn to if you’re looking for help off the wire. He’s only worked five innings on three occasions this year and possesses a paltry 6.0 K/9.
- Spencer Howard is not fully built up for a starter’s workload. If he surprises and is allowed to go five in his first start against the Nats, he’d be a more intriguing option at Pittsburgh at the end of the week. It’s likely best to avoid altogether.
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)