Ranking Every Two-Start Pitcher for Week 2 (4/8-4/14)

Max ranks and discusses each starting pitcher option scheduled for two turns from 4/8 through 4/14.

Welcome back Pitcher List community! Every Friday I look at every projected two-start pitcher for the week ahead and summarize my thoughts to help you set your rosters. There are four tiers: Definitely, Probably, Questionable, Bench. Definitely Start features starters that are no doubters for the week ahead, followed by Probably Start with pitchers that 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.

Note: This article was written Friday morning, estimating probable starters through the week. These are subject to change.

Definitely Start

Justin Verlander (NYY, @SEA)

Corey Kluber (@DET, @KC)

Blake Snell (@CHW, @TOR)

Madison Bumgarner (SD, COL)

German Marquez (ATL, @SF)

Luis Castillo (MIA, @STL)

Jameson Taillon (@CHC, @WAS)

Zack Greinke (TEX, SD)

Jon Lester (PIT, LAA)

Masahiro Tanaka (@HOU, CHW)

  • Several aces top the list this week, so go ahead and start them regardless of their matchup. Justin Verlander had a rough outing in Texas but don’t let that deter you from slotting him in for two starts. He gets the banged-up Yankees and the Mariners in Seattle. Fire away!
  • Look at those juicy matchups for Corey Kluber, because why? The AL Central, that’s why. This is the type of week where he gets back on track.
  • We can breathe easy after a seven inning, one-run outing against the Cardinals on Wednesday for Jameson Taillon. Two road starts aren’t ideal but Wrigley plays like a pitcher’s park in the spring, plus the Cubs are ice cold. I’m a little worried about the outing against Washington, but you have to trust your studs.
  • I’m interested to see how German Marquez performs in his first home start of the season. He’s been absolutely brilliant early and his second matchup is a no-brainer against the Giants in SF.
  • Two home starts, just what the doctor ordered for Madison Bumgarner. Colorado was the second worst team offensively on the road last year and have scored just 17 runs in seven road games to start the season. The Mad Bum truthers will be out in full force next week.
  • Luis Castillo has been near lights out in his first two starts and his changeup has been nearly unhittable. I’m only slightly concerned about his fastball velocity as he’s starting games at 96-97 MPH but finishing around 94 mph. I still like him in both matchups next week as he’s piling up the strikeouts.
  • Maybe Jon Lester is just going to be the grizzled veteran that consistently outperforms the metrics. He’s throwing his cutter over 40% of the time and gets two home starts against below-average offensive clubs.
  • I almost dropped Masahiro Tanaka down a tier because of the Astros start in Houston. But, he’s pitching well and hasn’t given up a home run in over 12 innings! Oops, did I just jinx him? I hope not.

Probably Start

Hyun-Jin Ryu (@STL, MIL)

Kyle Freeland (ATL, @SF)

Joey Lucchesi (@SF, @ARI)

Miles Mikolas (LAD, @CIN)

Jordan Zimmermann (CLE, @MIN)

Anibal Sanchez (@PHI, PIT)??

Vince Velasquez (WAS, @MIA)

  • Kyle Freeland struck out 10 batters in just 4.2 innings in Tampa Bay this week. That’s a welcoming sign but he’s still walking batters. I’d leave him on the bench for his first start in Coors this year but he could absolutely dominate against the Giants in San Fran.
  • I love these two road starts for Joey Lucchesi, but given his lack of a third pitch he’s not a lock to go six innings. But wait! The rumors are true, he’s throwing a cutter 11% of the time in his first two starts. The results have been neutral, so I’m not jumping to conclusions.
  • I’m thinking long and hard about whether or not I should start Miles Mikolas twice next week. Not only is he struggling to get strikeouts, but he’s giving up the long ball as well. You can do one or the other but you can’t do both Miles! His velocity is down a tick, but I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt that it comes back. Besides, the man has a ’stache that’s straight out of a 1970s film.
  • Do you think that a .184 BABIP and an 87.5% strand rate are going to hold up for Jordan Zimmerman? Of course not. So regression is coming but the Indians can’t hit right now and Zim is throwing his slider and curve over 60% of the time. I’m 50/50 on the Twins start but he should give you at least one quality outing.
  • Note: Anibal Sanchez left his last start with a bruised hip but he does expect to make his next start. Monitor his injury update.


Carlos Rodon (TB, @NYY)

Jhoulys Chacin (@LAA, @LAD)

Trevor Cahill (MIL, @CHC)

Julio Teheran (@COL, NYM)

Eric Lauer (@SF, @ARI)

Homer Bailey (SEA, CLE)

  • What a start to the season for Carlos Rodon with 15 strikeouts in his first two outings. He’s throwing more sliders but at the expense of his changeup. He’s basically become a two-pitch pitcher. His slider is very good but I just can’t trust him against a sneaky good Rays team and a potential righty-heavy lineup in the Bronx.
  • What does Nick say, “Chacin will do well when Jhoulyst expect it?” I don’t expect Chacin to do well next week, so take that for what it’s worth. The Angels are off to a slow start, and Chacin can miss bats when his slider is working. I’d give him a shot in Anaheim, but the Dodgers are far too left-handed for me to throw him out there. Chacin has a career 4.87 FIP and a 1.50 WHIP against lefties.
  • Why is Trevor Cahill throwing his changeup (his best pitch) less often to start the season? I’m not entirely sure. Without utilizing his change as much, his strikeouts will be limited. I actually prefer the start on the road against the Cubs because Wrigley plays well for pitchers in the cool weather. Milwaukee is too deep and powerful for me to give Cahill a start at home.
  • Let’s just get this out of the way, Eric Lauer and Homer Bailey are not good pitchers. Their matchups next week, however, are not daunting at all. Lauer is a ratios play because he doesn’t miss many bats. Chase Field, thanks to the humidor, is no longer a hitter’s park and Oracle Park is best pitcher’s park in the game. Bailey struck out eight in his first start but he has not been good since 2013. He did throw his sinker less often and increased the usage of his splitter and curveball. It’s something to monitor, but I’m not trusting him yet.


Andrew Cashner (OAK, @BOS)

Marco Estrada (@BAL, @TEX)

Felix Hernandez (@KC, HOU)

Sean Newcomb (@COL, NYM)

Jason Vargas (MIN, @ATL)

Jose Urena (@CIN, PHI)

  • Not a ton of surprises here. Oh, did you think I’d start trusting Andrew Cashner after one good start? Well, there actually are a couple of positive signs with Cashner, he’s vastly decreased the usage of his sinker and slightly improved his velocity thus far. Even still, the Athletics in Camden Yards followed by a start in Fenway just scream “bench me!”
  • It’s not that the matchups are terrible for Felix Hernandez and Marco Estrada, but I just don’t think there’s any real upside with these guys. Estrada doesn’t strike anyone out and is an extreme fly ball pitcher in two great parks for home runs, no thanks. Prince Felix just isn’t going to miss many bats. You’re welcome to roll the dice against the Royals but don’t think about starting him versus the Astros.
  • I’m completely off of Sean Newcomb this year. Of course, he’s a sit in Coors but I’m keeping him on the bench against the Mets as well. His fastball velocity is down a tick early and he’s upped its usage at the expense of his change and curveball. Historically, his fastball is his best pitch but velocity is extremely important. Newcomb’s main issue is the lack of control and the Mets are patient. I don’t expect Newcomb to go deep in either game and will likely hurt your ratios.
  • Just no on Jason Vargas. He’s not bringing back any magic from his 2017 first half. Jose Urena lost over one mph on his fastball. Maybe he’ll work his way back up, but I’m not risking him in my lineup to find out.

Cover Photo by David Dennis/Icon Sportswire

Max Freeze

Max is the founder of the FreezeStats Blog and currently writes for PitcherList and FantasyPros. Max is a lifelong Cubs fan who used to pretend he was Andre Dawson while hitting rocks in his backyard as a kid.

15 responses to “Ranking Every Two-Start Pitcher for Week 2 (4/8-4/14)”

  1. J.C. Mosier says:

    Yahoo also has Brett Anderson, Max Fried, Derek Holland, and Jake Junis as two-start SPs next week.

    • Max Freeze says:

      The early season probable starters get moved around so much, its difficult to pinpoint the two-start guys. Things will hopefully shake out and become clearer next week. That being said, it looks like ATL bumped Newcomb to Sunday. If Fried goes in his place I’d bump him up to questionable: sit @COL, start vs NYM. Junis would slot in the probable spot while Anderson & Holland drop to questionable.

    • Ben says:

      Where do you find 2-start pitchers listed, Yahoo or otherwise? Thanks.

  2. Dolemite says:

    Vinny V in tier 2?
    Thats gotta be a goof right?

    • Max Freeze says:

      I debated dropping him a tier but I still believe in his upside. He’s got huge strikeout potential and in Miami could win someone their week. He’s risky vs WAS, so if you sit him there I wouldn’t blame you.

  3. v says:

    The Cubs’ pitching is what’s ice cold. They’re a top 5 offense so far this season with a line near .300/.400/.500 as a team.

    • Max Freeze says:

      I debated dropping him a tier but I still believe in his upside. He’s got huge strikeout potential and in Miami could win someone their week. He’s risky vs WAS, so if you sit him there I wouldn’t blame you.

    • Max Freeze says:

      My bad, the previous comment copied over. Most of the damage was against the Rangers in Arlington and the Rangers pitching is bad. I mean, really bad. The Cubs only scored 8 runs against the Braves and half of them were in the 9th inning of a 9-0 blowout last night. It’s a small sample for sure, but it’s all we have to work from. You’re right though, the Cubs pitching (Darvish & the bullpen) have been terrible.

      • v says:

        They struggled to put up runs against the Braves, but that was mainly just unfortunate sequencing. The lowest team OPS the Cubs have posted in a game this season is .881. I can still understand putting Taillon top tier, but I just think a deeper look tells you it’s not an easy matchup. Especially when the Cubs have historically mashed against Taillon.

        • Max Freeze says:

          That’s a good point about the offense to date. Taillon was actually very good against the Cubs in three starts last year. He was a different pitcher last year than in previous seasons with his slider. The Cubs don’t typically perform well offensively in April at home. Over the last three years, they have wRC+ of under 100 in April.

  4. Play Ball says:

    What about Buehler in Colorado this weekend?

    • Max Freeze says:

      Any pitcher in Coors is always a tough call. Buehler ended up with a mixed bag in his three starts there last year. His velocity looks great and if you need strikeouts, go ahead and throw him out there. If you want to protect your ratios from a blowup, leave him on the bench.

  5. Brian says:

    Noticed Hyun-Jin Ryu is listed as “probably” and not “definitely.” Why is that?

    Thanks for your time.

    • Max Freeze says:

      It was a tough decision. Both matchups are difficult and while he’s been great early, he’s been a bit lucky with his strand rate and BABIP. I worry a little about those coming back against STL and MIL.

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