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
- Despite performing relatively well, Corbin Burnes has yet to record a W next to his game log since returning from the IL on May 13th. While we know that earning a win is subject to factors well out of a pitcher’s control (not-so-fun fact: in Burnes’ eight starts this year, the Brewers have scored one run or less in five of them), I expect Burnes to be in great position to get a pair of them next week. The Brewers’ emerging star should overpower the Tigers and Diamondbacks while racking up strikeouts.
- Carlos Rodón has a tantalizing set of matchups next week against two divisional foes with a pair of the worst lineups in baseball. Those who were savvy enough to pick up the lefty after his first start of the season should continue to reap the rewards from their early-season pickup turned fantasy ace. In three starts against Cleveland and the Tigers, Rodón is 3-0 with a no-hitter and a whopping 27 strikeouts.
- José Berríos has earned the reputation as one of the streakiest starters in baseball. Periods of dominance are often followed by stretches where he can’t find his signature curveball. After stringing together a couple of good outings, including one against the Orioles who he’ll face on Monday, Berríos appears poised to keep it going in a two-start week.
- Sonny Gray is an easy decision to start after two consecutive quality starts. He’ll get a Phillies team that may still be without Bryce Harper and a middle-of-the-pack Cardinals lineup in one of the more pitcher-friendly venues in baseball.
- Dylan Cease has been a revelation for much of this season and now gets a soft landing spot with Cleveland and Detroit. Put simply, there are few combinations of two opponents that are more ideal. Cease has shown real signs of progression this season, but his penchant for putting runners on via the walk continues to be an issue at times. Both Cleveland and Detroit chase outside the zone above the league average, which can hopefully aid Cease in keeping the walks in check.
- While the Cubs started slowly, they have rounded into form in May with a .762 team OPS and are not an offense you’d want to target right now. I’d still likely have Chris Paddack in my lineup against the Cubbies. In weekly lineup leagues, any apprehension you may have against the Cubs is erased by the opportunity of a home start against a Mets squad that is so banged up they are struggling to fill out the lineup card.
- Michael Pineda has quietly been awesome this season. The slider command, in particular, has been excellent. I’d expect him to keep it going against the Orioles and Royals. While it doesn’t put a damper on his two-start week, it is worth pointing out that Pineda’s excellent ratios have been, in part, buoyed by some fortunate batted ball luck. A .213 BABIP and 92.4% strand rate are unsustainable over the course of a full season.
- Domingo Germán has done enough this season where you’re comfortably starting him against the Rays. The Red Sox are a powerful lineup that might give you hesitation, but Germán has shown he can be trusted this season, even against tougher opponents. He made just two mistakes in navigating through his toughest test of the season against the Blue Jays and has been consistently delivering quality starts after returning from a brief trip to the alternate site.
- Kyle Hendricks is known as “The Professor,” but he has felt a lot more like “The Conundrum” in 2021. He’s in the Questionable tier because your start/sit decision against the Padres comes down entirely to how much ratio risk you’re willing to take on and if you believe he’s fully turned it around. The Giants have surprised early on as a league-average offense, but I’d start Hendricks at San Francisco, especially with Brandon Belt on the shelf with an oblique injury.
- I wouldn’t have too much trepidation starting Jordan Montgomery against the Rays. His second start against the Red Sox, however, feels like more of a coin flip. In daily lineup leagues, I’d take a wait-and-see approach before deciding on Montgomery for his weekend start.
- Merrill Kelly has been really impressive this May, taking care of business against weak lineups and stepping up to the challenge against the Dodgers, striking out 12. If you’re looking for a widely available two-start streamer for next week, Kelly is your guy. He’s currently rostered in under 10% of leagues on both Yahoo! and ESPN. The Mets are a prime target to stream pitchers against right now due to their injuries while the Brewers are the third-worst offense in baseball with an 81 wRC+.
- Mike Minor, James Kaprelian, and Johnny Cueto are all potential streamers in their first start of the week in daily lineup leagues. They should all be on your benches for their second start.
- I’d lean towards benching both of your Astros starters against the Red Sox and at the Blue Jays. Luis Garcia performed well against the Dodgers and can understand wanting to start him, but navigating two above-average lineups is a lot to ask of a rookie pitcher. Coming off the IL, José Urquidy is someone I’d like to avoid, but could understand starting if your streaming options are slim.
- Unfortunately for those who roster him, Germán Márquez’s two-start week comes with a double dose of Coors Field. You might be able to get away with starting him in his first start against the Rangers, but he should definitely be out of your lineup when he faces the Oakland Athletics.
- We’re reaching the point in the season where we’ve seen enough to conclude this Yankees offense might be merely league average and not the Bronx Bombers of the past few years. Regardless, I wouldn’t want to stream either Garrett Richards or Nick Pivetta at Yankee Stadium.
- Vince Velasquez is coming off a strong start against the Marlins, but it was more the product of the Miami offense than anything. I wouldn’t expect him to replicate it against the Reds or Nats.
- Joe Ross and Dane Dunning are potential streaming options with the right matchups. In 12-team weekly lineup leagues, I wouldn’t consider picking up either. In daily lineup category leagues, the only way I would consider adding either pitcher is if you are chasing Wins or Ks over the weekend and need the volume.
- At the time of publishing, there are significantly more rotation uncertainties than usual for the upcoming week. The Reds, Marlins, Atlanta, and Cleveland all have rotation openings that align with a two-start week. It’s unlikely that any of these spots will be relevant to your two-start pitcher radar.
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)