Welcome back to the weekly two-start pitcher article! 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. Next week a large number of aces are scheduled for their third and fourth starts of the season, so options are plentiful. Let’s get to it!
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change.
Jacob deGrom (@ATL, MIA)
Shane Bieber (@CIN, @CHW)
Sonny Gray (CLE, @MIL)
Chris Paddack (LAD, ARI)
Jose Berrios (PIT, @KCR)
Lucas Giolito (@MIL, CLE)
Brandon Woodruff (CHW, CIN)
Rich Hill (PIT, @KCR)
- Next week, we’ve got options. Always start your aces and next week there’s an abundance of them. Only the Tigers have struck out more than the Braves, so as long as the Marlins play next week, Jacob deGrom is the top option on the board. Close behind is Shane Bieber who has backed his 2019 breakout with 27 strikeouts through the first two outings! He’s every bit the ace as Cole and deGrom.
- Despite having the most homer-friendly home park, the Reds top of the rotation is one of the best in the game. Unfortunately, Luis Castillo’s two-step is pushed due to the postponement last night but Sonny Gray is a must-start next week and of course, going forward.
- While Chris Paddack has a tough matchup against the Dodgers, the Diamondbacks haven’t gotten off the ground offensively with just one home run through the first week! As a team, they’ve managed just a .253 wOBA. It also helps that both starts are at home.
- Jose Berrios doesn’t have the strikeout ceiling as some others do in the top tier but his matchups are cakewalks. Both teams are in the bottom six in terms of wRC+ and Berrios is throwing cheddar in the early going. Lucas Giolito pulled a 180 after a disastrous first outing with six shutout innings against the Indians this week. His matchups aren’t ideal but he looked a lot more like the 2019 version in his last start.
- The White Sox, while dangerous, have shown a propensity to whiff. The Reds are tough too. But, Brandon Woodruff has a 32.5% K-BB rate through two starts while averaging 97.5 mph with his fastball. He’s a must-start. OK, so Rich Hill doesn’t quite belong in this tier. However, he managed to go five innings, so length shouldn’t be an issue. Besides, he draws the Pirates who rank last in wRC+ followed by the Royals.
Kyle Hendricks (KCR, @STL)
German Marquez (SFG, @SEA)
Mike Soroka (NYM, @PHI)
Charlie Morton (BOS, NYY)
Andrew Heaney (@SEA, @TEX)
Max Fried (TOR, @PHI)
Jesus Luzardo (@SEA, HOU)
Dustin May (@SDP, SFG)
Frankie Montas (TEX, HOU)
Matthew Boyd (STL, @PIT)
- Both matchups for Kyle Hendricks are favorable but he has some insane home/road splits. His ERA is nearly three runs higher away from Wrigley Field, otherwise, he’d be in the top tier. Honestly, German Marquez should be in the Definitely Start tier but there’s that dreaded Coors Field start against the Giants. The start in Seattle softens the downside. Besides, his velocity is up and I trust he’ll strike out a ton of batters next week with a great shot at a couple of wins.
- If you follow me, you know that I’m a believer in Mike Soroka. His command combined with an arsenal that has a higher strikeout ceiling includes a very good slider and changeup with significant great whiff rates. The only reason he’s not in the top tier is that the Mets are crushing at the moment and the Phillies are dangerous (when they play).
- Charlie Morton’s velocity is down about 1.5 mph through two starts, so that’s a small concern. His curve is still ridiculous but the matchups drop Ground Chuck a tier. Sorry, Charlie. Andrew Heaney draws a two-step next week only if Shohei Ohtani is skipped. The two road starts for Heaney don’t concern me all that much. Seattle strikes out quite a bit and has been getting by on elevated BABIP. The Rangers have struggled early and their new park has played more pitcher-friendly.
- Dustin May has some sweet matchups but his limited strikeout potential keeps him in this tier. As long as he can go five innings, he’ll have a high probability of earning a couple of wins. Frankie Montas is throwing his splitter eight percent less often this year and that was the main source of his strikeout ability last year. Without a good feel for that pitch, Montas becomes a borderline top-50 option rather than a top-30.
- Ugh, Matthew Boyd’s 2020 has not been ideal for the Boyd Boys. But, there’s hope! He’s only given up one homer and carrying a bloated .412 BABIP. Once he starts missing more bats, we should get the Boyd we know and love.
Joe Musgrove (@MIN, DET)
Carlos Martinez (@DET, CHC)
Daniel Ponce de Leon (@DET, CHC)
Steven Matz (@WSH, MIA)
Nate Pearson (@ATL, @BOS)
Zach Plesac (@CIN, @CHW)
Kyle Gibson (@OAK, LAA)
Madison Bumgarner (HOU, @SDP)
Josh Lindblom (CHW, CIN)
Alec Mills (KCR, @STL)
Framber Valdez (@ARI, @OAK)
- Joe Musgrove is the classic one good, one bad matchup next week. Weekly leaguers have a tough decision and given the number of options this week, he may be a candidate to bench in shallow weekly formats. I feel the same way about Steven Matz. With Juan Soto presumably back this weekend, I’m sitting Matz in Washington but starting him against the Marlins. Weekly leaguers should be mindful of the unknowns surrounding the Marlins, so I’d advise to keep him on the bench.
- It’s tough to blame Carlos Martinez and he was thrown into an ambush in his first start which came against the Twins. He’ll draw the Tigers in Detroit next, so he’s worth a start but I’d fade him against the Cubs.
- With an impressive Major League debut from Nate Pearson this week, the degree of difficulty increases with two road starts against the Braves and Red Sox. I really like him long-term but am on the fence about him next week. Speaking of impressive outings, Zach Plesac looks like another Indians project that’s panning out. He threw a ton of sliders in his debut and it worked! Let’s pump the brakes and sit him versus the Reds but another start against the White Sox is one I’d roll with.
- It’s odd to see Kyle Gibson and Madison Bumgarner in the same tier but here we are. Given Mad Bum’s decreased velocity, he’s an easy sit against the Astros. Gibson threw a few more fastballs than I would like in his first start and his velocity was down just a tick. But, believe it or not, Oakland and Texas are in the bottom five in terms of wRC+ early this season. Both should improve, but there are worse options than Gibson next week.
- Josh Lindblom is expected to make his next start but I’m skeptical. He managed a ton of swings and misses in his 2020 debut but he also struggled to throw strikes. I’m probably sitting him against the Reds but given the free-swinging ways of the Pale Hose, he’s worth a stream in deep formats. Daily leaguers can go ahead and roll with Alec Mills and Framber Valdez in their starts on 8/4. The ceiling isn’t great for either but they are safe options.
Tyler Mahle (CLE, @MIL)
Johnny Cueto (@COL, @LAD)
Kevin Gausman (@COL, @LAD)
Brady Singer (CHC, MIN)
Danny Duffy (@CHC, MIN)
Carlos Rodon (@MIL, CLE)
Justus Sheffield (OAK, COL)
Ivan Nova (STL, @PIT)
Derek Holland (@MIN, DET)
- Another pair of teammates I’m shying away from next week is Danny Duffy and Brady Singer. The Twins haven’t even gotten Josh Donaldson and Eddie Rosario going yet, and are still putting up crooked numbers. Most pitchers should be benched against the Twins and the Cubs have a 130 wRC+ as a team through the first week.
- I like that Carlos Rodon is throwing his secondaries more often but the results have been poor. I’m not ready to give him a go and the matchups are poor so I’m not tempted at all. Justus Sheffield had an ugly first outing against the Angels. I wasn’t high in him coming in and his velocity is down, so I’m fading next week.
- Among qualified starters, Ivan Nova is third from the bottom with a 19.2% CSW%. The matchups aren’t daunting but there’s limited value here. Streaming Derek Holland may be tempting in deep formats against the Tigers but that’s assuming he makes it out of the Twins matchup intact.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)