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
- A few of the game’s best starters line up for two starts next week, headlined by Max Scherzer and Gerrit Cole. Scherzer mentioned he had some hamstring tightness his last on the mound, but he is not currently expected to have his start pushed back. Cole, meanwhile, has righted the ship after a rocky June and July and is back to being an upper-echelon ace.
- Max Fried and Aaron Nola both have had their share of ups and downs this season, but you shouldn’t overthink getting them in your lineup. Fried’s schedule is particularly tantalizing and makes him one of the top options in fantasy baseball next week.
- Sonny Gray hasn’t quite looked the part of a tier-one starter this season. He’s pitched adequately for much of the season but has not reached the heights we witnessed in 2019. The Cubs lineup continues to be a prime matchup since the trade deadline and, while the St. Louis offense has picked things as of late, I’m not worried about Gray against the Cards. Don’t think twice and get him in your lineup.
- Kevin Gausman appears to have found his splitter in his last start out, which gives me added confidence as he makes the dreaded trip to Coors Field. He’d find himself up in tier one if it weren’t for the challenge of pitching in the most difficult park in baseball. He’ll be rewarded at the end of the week with a trip to Wrigley.
- Lance McCullers has battled inefficiency at times this year, oftentimes struggling to find his command. An 11.2% walk rate on the season has prevented him from ascending to the level of an ace. He has a full repertoire that he’s confident in and the quality of his stuff is undeniable. The Mariners and Angels shouldn’t pose too much of a challenge so long as he limits the walks.
- Hyun Jin Ryu, not teammate Robbie Ray, was supposed to be the Toronto’s lefty ace garnering serious Cy Young consideration this season. We’ve seen enough from Ryu this year to know this is not the same dominant pitcher we’ve come accustomed to watching over the past few seasons. While his walk rate remains elite, his strikeout rate has plummeted and he’s consistently allowing more hard contact than in the past. I’d lean towards benching him against the Yankees potent lineup. He’s worth a start against the Orioles, but the upside appears limited.
- Despite not making it through six last time out, I’d still feel comfortable having Carlos Carrasco in my lineup during a rematch with the Marlins next week. Similar to Ryu, our expectations should probably be muted for Carrasco right now, even in favorable matchups. I’d recommend some caution against the Bronx Bombers.
- Triston McKenzie is the best two-start pitcher you can maybe find on the waiver wire this week. His roster rate has surged as of late (above 70% now in both Yahoo! and ESPN). McKenzie has looked like a different pitcher since the calendar turned to August and I’m willing to start him against both the Twins and Brewers. While you may shy away from a pitcher with a 4.63 BB/9 on the season, it’s important to note McKenzie has gotten the walks under control, posting a 1.50 BB/9 in the second half.
- Yusei Kikuchi is a clear avoid against Houston, the league’s best offense (117 wRC+). At this point in the season, he looks more like a matchup play. A home start against the Diamondbacks should have Kikuchi poised for success at the end of the week.
- I’m not particularly confident in Bailey Ober as a pitcher, but he’ll face two below-average offenses next week and might make sense depending on your league depth and format. It’s not necessarily a waiver pickup I’d prioritize, but a recent run of success suggests he could pull it off.
- Elieser Hernandez (vs NYM), Paolo Espino (@PIT), and Steven Matz (@BAL) all have some appeal if you’re looking for a one-start streamer.
- You might be tempted to pick up Logan Allen after two straight quality starts, but I’d recommend against it. His starting spot isn’t assured when Aaron Civale returns, so it’s possible he’s not allowed to make both trips to the bump. More importantly, his stuff does not generate enough whiffs to suggest the recent success is more than a small-sample anomaly.
- James Kaprielian proved to be an asset to fantasy managers for much of this season, but he’s since fallen on hard times. A 5.55 ERA in the second half is all you need to know to look elsewhere, even against the lowly Texas Rangers. The Oakland rookie will need to prove he’s made adjustments before you put him back in your lineup.
- I’ve been fooled by Patrick Corbin a number of times this season. Even as he continued to stumble, I held out hope his wipeout slider would make him a premium streamer against poor opponents. While Corbin’s velocity on his fastball provided a glimmer of hope, he’s continued to get shelled. Amidst a disastrous season for Nats fans, Patty Ice has turned in the highest ERA amongst all qualified pitchers in the majors. After allowing his 32nd homer of the season this week, Corbin now holds the record for the most long balls allowed by any player in Nationals/Expos history. He’s not currently a fantasy option, even against the Pirates.
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)
Hey everyone! It looks like Taijuan Walker and Brady Singer will now be pitching on Sunday, and no longer two-start pitchers. Jackson Kowar looks slated for two starts next week @BAL & @MIN. I’d slot him in tier 3 and he makes for an interesting pickup for those in need of pitching upside down the stretch.
Nola is NOT set-and-forget. He’s just not.