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, if you’re name is Zack, Zach, or Zac, you’re getting two starts. Well, not really, but it seems that way. Based on the matchups, I’m recommending slotting all the Zac(h)(k)s in your lineup for the week ahead. Zack attack baby! For the rest of the starters with two-steps, I’ll give you my analysis on who to start and who to sit. Believe it or not, starting Monday, there will be just three weeks left in the 2020 regular season. Alright, let’s dive into the rest of the two-start pitchers for week eight.
Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through next week. These are subject to change
Max Scherzer (TBR, ATL)
Mike Clevinger (COL, SFG)
Zac Gallen (@SFG, SEA)
Dinelson Lamet (COL, SFG)
Hyun-Jin Ryu (NYY, NYM)
Zack Greinke (OAK, @LAD)
Kyle Hendricks (STL, @MIL)
Zack Wheeler (@NYM, @MIA)
Lance Lynn (LAA, OAK)
- Mad Max Scherzer’s ERA (3.95) is a little bit higher than we are used to but he’s carrying a .365 BABIP against. He’s still getting a ton of whiffs and draws two home starts next week. Lock and load. Mike Clevinger’s Padres debut was solid but he wasn’t getting a ton of whiffs. I did like that he went to his breaking pitches more than 50% of the time and hitting 97+ with his heater. He should be just fine in his two home outings as a Friar.
- One of my favorite targets this year, Zac Gallen, is in the midst of a breakout. He’s cut his walk rate by three percent and has a solid 32.4% CSW. He’s a must-start every week. Clevinger’s teammate Dinleson Lamet has been an ace thus far in 2020. He’s kept that walks in check and limited the longball. In a full season, I’d worry about his shallow arsenal but we are already in the home stretch so he needs to be started.
- At some point, we just have to trust Hyun-Jin Ryu. He hasn’t had an ERA over 3.00 since 2017! I’m not betting against him next week even with the difficult matchups. Speaking of consistency: Kyle Hendricks has never had an ERA over 4.00 or a walk rate above seven percent. He draws the Cardinals who have started to heat up while the Brewers continue to underperform. I can’t see a scenario where I’m sitting Hendricks next week.
- So, Zack Wheeler is a ground ball pitcher now, huh? The good news is he’s increased his whiff rates netting 17 strikeouts in his last three starts. The Marlins have struck out 27% of the time over the last two weeks, so maybe Wheeler can managed double-digit strikeouts across two starts next week. After a rough outing from Lance Lynn against the Astros, he’s back in his favorable home park. Yes, the new Globe Life Field is playing pitcher-friendly. He should bounce back against two mediocre offenses.
Zach Plesac (KCR, @MIN)
Jesus Luzardo (HOU, @TEX)
Sixto Sanchez (@ATL, PHI)
Triston McKenzie (KCR, @MIN)
Cristian Javier (@OAK, @LAD)
Marco Gonzales (TEX, @ARI)
Zach Eflin (BOS, @MIA)
Tyler Mahle (@CHC, @STL)
- Zach Plesac has returned and started right where he left off after being recalled from the alternate sight. The Royals aren’t a concern but I think we see a little regression against the Twins in Minnesota. Still, I’m starting him if I roster him.
- Zach Eflin has a fantastic 25% K-BB% this year. I’m not sure I fully believe in the strikeout breakout given his pedestrian SwStr% but should cruise with two decent matchups next week.
- The last pitcher in this tier is Tyler Mahle. He’ll get to stay away from homer-happy GABP and go to pitcher-friendly Busch Stadium and a neutral park in Wrigley. Mahle struck out 11 Cubs the last time they faced and managed a quality start against the Cardinals on Wednesday. I’m rolling with Mahle.
- It’s a rookie riot! While each of these young arms have one difficult matchup next week, they have all proven to be extremely talented. I’ve ranked them in the order I believe they will provide the most value. Jesus Luzardo, ironically, has the highest ERA of the bunch but probably has the best stuff backed by a 32.5% CSW. Sixto Sanchez is close behind Luzardo. His matchups have a slightly higher degree of difficulty but his control should keep any damage to a minimum. Triston McKenzie has the second-best CSW of this group at a very solid 31.8%. His previous opponents have all been in the lower half offensively so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles the Twins. Either way, he’s been impressive in a small sample and I’m starting him next week. Finally, Cristian Javier: He’s been fortunate with a very low BABIP and an elevated strand rate, so I have my concerns next week. However, he’s been generated a lot of weak contact (28.6% hard hit rate) which could be related to deception.
Kevin Gausman (ARI, @SDP)
Kwang-Hyun Kim (@CHC, CIN)
Jacob Junis (@CLE, PIT)
Matt Boyd (MIL, @CHW)
Jordan Montgomery (@TOR, BAL)
Logan Webb (SEA, @SDP)
Luke Weaver (LAD, SEA)
Kolby Allard (@SEA, OAK)
Chris Bassitt (HOU, @TEX)
- This is the tier that can make or break a week. If I’m looking to make up ground in strikeouts next week, I’d be thinking about slotting Kevin Gausman, Luke Weaver, and Matt Boyd in my lineups. I certainly prefer Gausman next week to the other two given the one start against the DBacks and a 25.7% K-BB rate but believe Boyd has the highest ceiling. In weekly formats, I can’t recommend Weaver but would look to stream against the Mariners.
- The rest of this tier will not generate a ton of whiffs. I believe Kwang-Hyun Kim can limit damage in his two starts next week, which is why he’s higher than the rest. Jacob Junis has not been very good this year. However, he draws the Pirates at home in his second start who rank 28th in wRC+ the last two weeks. He’s worth a flier in deep formats.
- I wasn’t sure hot to highlight Jordan Montgomery because he was just blown up against the Rays. However, I’m not giving up! He’s walked just one batter in his last three outings. He’s also been a very good contact manager with a sub-30% hard hit rate and an average exit velocity of just 83.6 mph. With a 30.2% CSW, his below-average strikeout rate should rebound. In weekly formats, he’s probably my second favorite option of this group.
- Kolby Allard is throwing his changeup more. It’s generated great results thus far and the only pitch with a better than 11% swinging strike rate. So, while I still don’t trust Allard, he’s worth a shot in deep league formats. Chris Bassitt has not looked good in his recent starts. His below-average CSW and swinging strike rates don’t breed confidence but in daily formats but I like him against the Rangers. As a team, they are hitting just over the Mendoza Line at .205 over the last two weeks.
J.A. Happ (@TOR, BAL)
Spencer Turnbull (MIL, @CHW)
Alec Mills (CIN, @MIL)
John Means (@NYM, @NYY)
Michael Wacha (PHI, @TOR)
Robbie Erlin (MIA, @WSH)
Julio Teheran (@TEX, @COL)
Jon Gray (@SDP, LAA)
Michael Fulmer (@MIN, @CHW)
Kyle Cody (LAA, OAK)
- Creeping up on 38 years old, I think this may be it for J.A. Happ. He’s struggling to reach 92 mph and can’t seem to get many whiffs (just seven in his last outing). Neither matchup is scary but both parks are hitter-friendly. No thanks. What happened to Spencer Turnbull’s control? I mean, a 15% walk rate! The Brewer’s start may be OK but I’m worried about the matchup versus the White Sox ruining his week. He only lasted two innings the last time they faced allowing six baserunners.
- If John Means‘ ratios weren’t enough to scare you away, then two trips to the Big Apple certainly will. Maybe next year, Means. I think Michael Wacha’s 28.1% strikeout rate is a mirage. His SwStr% is a career-high 12% but he’s managed just a 26.8% CSW, well below average. Both matchups have me staying away from him next week.
- Let’s wait and see if the Braves given Robbie Erlin two starts. He’s been hit hard in his last two starts never reaching the fifth. There are much better options next week. As I mentioned earlier, Globe Life is playing favorable for pitchers but that second start in Colorado is a deal-breaker for Julio Teheran. He walks a ton of batters and has been serving up dingers. A recipe for disaster in a two-step.
- Speaking of disasters, enter Jon Gray. Even with a career-low BABIP and a solid HR/FB%, Gray still carries a 6.69 ERA. Until he can figure out how to miss more bats, he’s an easy sit. I’ll wait until next year to give a longer look at Michael Fulmer. He’s serving up homers at a 3.12 per nine innings and struggling with control.
- Who is Kyle Cody? Well, he’s actually had some impressive numbers in the minors but is not stretched out at all. He likely won’t go more than three to four innings in either start so I’ll pass.
Photo by Kyle Ross/Icon Sportswire | Adapted by Justin Paradis (@freshmeatcomm on Twitter)