Welcome to this week’s edition of the two-start pitcher rankings! I know am not the esteemed Anthony Tucker you all know and love; I’m just here doing my best Lenny Harris impression pinch-hitting on the two-start analysis this week!
The 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
|Player||First Start||Second Start|
|Hyun Jin Ryu||BOS||TBR|
- Starting Yu Darvish this week is a no-brainer. He’s been fantastic all season and he gets two below-average road teams who are also in the bottom half of the league in road K%. Seattle is a 96 wRC+ as a team while the Rockies are hitting an astoundingly bad 70 wRC+ on the road. Should be a fun week for Darvish fans.
- Cole is facing tough competition as the Texas offense has been much better than advertised so far this season and the White Sox are scoring runs in bunches but come on…it’s Gerrit Cole. He’s striking out over 40% of the hitters he’s facing, you’re starting him and not even breaking a sweat.
- Marcus Stroman has been fantastic so far this season and he gets two really nice matchups in the offensively struggling Braves and Marlins.
- John Means has emerged this season as a true ace and you don’t sit your aces especially when he’s got two matchups this nice as the Rays have been the sixth-worst team in May in runs scored and Washington has been the fourth worst.
- San Francisco has been red hot in May at the plate but I think you still start Sonny Gray especially since it’s in SF and you get the perfect second start when he faces the putrid Brewers offense.
- I love Yusei Kikuchi this week. First, he’s got a nice soft matchup against Detroit and then he gets to follow it up with a San Diego lineup that will be missing Fernando Tatis Jr., Wil Myers, Eric Hosmer, and Jurickson Profar. He’s striking out hitters at a career-high rate and the Tigers have a 30.9 K% on the season and neither player San Diego brought up as reinforcements really moves the needle prospect-wise. What’s not to like?
- You didn’t even need to know he’s facing Cleveland and Oakland’s meh offenses to know you were starting Ohtani this week.
- It’s easy to decide to start Zack Wheeler against Miami but I’m on board against Boston as well. They mostly thrive on hard contact and exit velo and limiting hard contact is Wheeler’s specialty so I think he’s the rare good matchup against Boston.
- Ditto for Ryu against Boston. With an 87.1 average exit velocity and a 31.9 Hard Hit %, he should be able to hold his own in Boston and Tampa is currently struggling to score runs so I think he’s a must-start this week.
|Player||First Start||Second Start|
- I was on the fence about bumping Max Fried up because of that sweet start against the Pirates but the Mets have been red hot at the plate in May. The part that made me think harder about putting him in the upper tier was that the Mets so far this season aren’t as well suited to take advantage of his weaknesses. So far he’s been hurt by walks (8.7 BB%) and the long ball (1.64 HR/9). So far the Mets have hit the second-fewest home runs in baseball on the season and the third-fewest in May. They are one of the best teams in the league at drawing walks though which is the main reason I’m still concerned. I think you start him though and take the risk.
- Jon Lester has been great to start the season for the Nationals and has really nice matchups in the Cubs and Orioles but his preposterous walk rate (10.6 BB%) gives me pause. Based on the last few years Lester has a habit of starting hot and then the wheels fall off, so it’s always a bit of pitcher roulette with him. That being said, both the Cubs and Orioles are below average in walk rate on the year so I don’t think it will be these two starts that do him in if you want to start him.
- Jon Gray gets the previously aforementioned barebones Padres lineup for his first start and then follows it up with Arizona at home where he has been absolutely fantastic in 2021. On the other hand, Arizona has scored a ton of runs so far this year and it is a start in Coors so there’s always the potential this all goes pear-shaped at the end of the week; hence he’s not a must-start pitcher this week but I don’t think it’s a bad idea it if you want to roll with him.
- Julio Urias has been great so far this season so it’s hard to not endorse starting him but as I mentioned above with Jon Gray Arizona has been one of the best offenses in baseball this season and the Giants have scored the ninth-most runs in May so far so I don’t love his matchups hence placing him in this tier. I totally get wanting to bet on the talent hence his spot in this tier but I’m feeling real cautious about it.
- Patrick Corbin has the same sweet matchups that made me like Lester this week and is coming off a 7 IP, one ER, 9 K masterpiece last night so it looks like he might be turning a corner and a couple of starts against the Cubs and Orioles are just what the doctor ordered to keep the hot streak going. I get hesitating based on how rough he’s been most of the season, but I’m definitely starting him this week.
- The success Wade Miley has had this season has me completely baffled but it’s hard to argue with the results so far this season. A FIP of 3.35 and a SIERA of 3.62 tell us he’s been pitching really well so far. The matchup against SF gives me some pause but if he can get through it there’s that sweet matchup against the Brewers after it. I’m likely starting him.
- This ranking of Trevor Rogers is simply based on faith in his stuff and what he’s done so far this season. Both the Phillies and Mets are hitting the snot out of the ball right now and scoring a ton of runs in May so I understand sitting him but he’s pitched like an ace in 2021 and you gotta trust your aces. I’ll be putting him in my lineups this week.
|Player||First Start||Second Start|
- Despite his rough overall season so far Zach Davies has been really solid his past few starts giving up just two earned runs over his last 16.1 IP. With that being said I have a really hard time betting on any pitcher who is walking 12.6% of the hitters he’s faced so far. The matchup against the Nationals is nice but honestly, St. Louis scares me too much. I’d be sitting him this week.
- J.A. Happ came back down to earth in a big way getting walloped for a whopping 9 ER against the very same White Sox he will be facing this week in his first start. Fool me once and all that.
- Those are pretty solid matchups for Matt Harvey against Tampa and the Nationals and he’s only given up more than three runs in two of his eight starts but he’s not going deep enough into games or getting enough strikeouts to be relevant. Coming off a 7 ER shellacking in his last start, the rewards aren’t worth the risks even if the matchups look nice on paper.
- I’m a big believer in Anthony DeSclafani this year and am in love with the changes he has made but it’s hard to want to start him against his former team in the bandbox that is Great American Ballpark nor against the Dodgers even if they are scuffling right now. Hold on to Tony Disco for the weeks after this one but I’m sitting him this week.
- Ditto for Jameson Taillon. With an impressive 28.8 K%, I can absolutely understand starting him if you need the strikeouts especially since Texas is sixth-worst in the league with a 26.0 K% but the White Sox are above average in K% and the long ball has been Taillon’s Achilles Heel all season (2.20 HR/9) where Texas ranks 8th in the league on the season and pitching against the White Sox this year has been like mud wrestling a ticked off honey badger so I’ll be sitting him down next week.
- Eduardo Rodriguez has been enjoying a pretty solid season but I don’t think I want to be starting him against a Toronto lineup that seems to be finding its stride and ranks 2nd in runs scored in May, and a Philly lineup that has scored the 6th most runs this month, so I’m keeping him on my bench.
- I really don’t know what to do with Kenta Maeda. Neither team he faces this week is exactly an offensive powerhouse but both of them score most of their runs off home runs and Maeda has been handing them out like it’s some sort of holiday giveaway so I’m cautiously benching him if I can get away with it this week.
|Player||First Start||Second Start|
- Most of these guys are pretty cut and dry, and you likely weren’t starting most of them but I wanted to touch on a few of them.
- Logan Webb was really good in his last start, striking out ten against Texas but I’m not starting him against the Reds and the Dodgers, no thank you.
- I LOVE me some Sam Hentges. 6’8″ tall Southpaws who throw 97 MPH fastballs and have devastating offspeed pitches are the kind of unicorn pitcher we all drool over but like a lot of young pitchers that tall he’s still getting control over his four-seamer and that could take a couple of starts so I’m sitting him this week but keeping a close eye on how he does. You should too.
- Dallas Keuchel is striking out a career-low number of hitters this season while walking hitters at the second-highest rate of his career as well. That’s not a recipe for success, especially against two of the best offenses in the game.
- Charlie Morton is walking over 9.0% of the hitters he’s facing and that spells disaster against the Mets who are one of the most patient teams in the league. It’s not worth the juicy matchup against Pittsburgh later in the week but I do get it if you want to take a shot.
- José Urquidy is pitching well if you just look at his ERA but he is giving up 1.22 HR/9 and facing Texas. It’d be one thing if he struck a ton of guys out but at a paltry 18.6 K% it just isn’t worth the risk.
I will try to update these as soon as I find out about any changes or adjustments. Questions? Feel free to let me know in the comments or on Twitter at @DanielJPort and I’ll be happy to talk two-start SPs and more!
Photos by Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Doug Carlin (@Bdougals on Twitter)