Ranking Every Two-Start Pitcher for Week 22 (9/2-9/8)

Max Freeze breaks down and ranks all of the two-start pitching options for the week ahead.

Welcome back, Pitcher List community! 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, we have our deepest crop of pitchers in the top two tiers that we’ve had in weeks. Many fantasy owners are gearing up for the playoffs, so it’s now or never if you want to move forward. Let’s get to it!

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


Definitely Start


Gerrit Cole (@MIL, SEA)

Walker Buehler (COL, SFG)

Jack Flaherty (SFG, @PIT)

Max Scherzer (NYM, @ATL)

Mike Clevinger (CHW, @MIN)

Patrick Corbin (NYM, @ATL)

Noah Syndergaard (@WSH, PHI)

Jake Odorizzi (@DET, CLE)

  • You don’t need to think twice about the top four studs in this tier. You could make the argument that Buehler is the top dog next week over Cole and I wouldn’t quarrel. Cole is coming off a 14-strikeout performance and, of course, is matchup-proof. Buehler has piled up 19 strikeouts without allowing a run over his past two outings. Oh, and Flaherty has been the best pitcher in baseball since the All-Star break with a 0.98 ERA and 71 strikeouts!
  • That brings me to Scherzer. I’m still a little concerned about his back injury. Normally, he’d be a top-two option next week, but the Nationals are being cautious with him. He hasn’t reached five innings since his return from the IL, but hopefully next week he stretches out a bit more. All that being said, he showed his elite swing-and-miss stuff Wednesday, so he’s still a must-start for me.
  • So Clevinger is striking out more than 13 batters per nine innings this year, backed by an elite 34.7% CSW! He’s handled the Twins just fine this year, and the White Sox don’t pose much of a threat. Corbin has been a steady back-end ace this year. He’s compiled nine quality starts since the beginning of July but also has the ability to strike out 10 batters in any given start. Lock and load.
  • Am I really going to start Syndergaard after the thrashing he took against the Cubs this week? These blow-ups happen. He’s still carrying a 31.1% CSW and prior to that start had given up five earned runs across his past five outings. If you own Odorizzi, you’re starting him next week. It’s been a difficult second half, but most of the damage was done against the Yankees in New York (nine earned runs). His strikeout rate remains strong, and his matchups aren’t scaring me away.


Probably Start


Mike Soroka (TOR, WSH)

Lance Lynn (@NYY, @BAL)

Kyle Hendricks (SEA, @MIL)

Miles Mikolas (SFG, @PIT)

Jose Berrios (@BOS, CLE)

Ryan Yarbrough (BAL, TOR)

Tanner Roark (LAA, DET)

Aaron Civale (CHW, @MIN)

Jeff Samardzija (@STL, @LAD)

Mike Montgomery (DET, @MIA)

Mitch Keller (MIA,  STL)

  • There are some very good pitchers in this tier, but matchups have pushed them below the top aces next week. Lynn and Berrios have been must-starts this season, but both have started to struggle of late. Lynn has been tagged for a total of 11 earned runs in his past three games, but I think he was BABIP’d a bit. Obviously, the Yankees are tough and Baltimore is more difficult at home (96 wRC+ compared with 78 wRC+ on the road). Berrios may be running out of gas. His home run and walk rates are way up. Given his tough matchups, I had to drop him down.
  • Steady as she goes, Mikolas and Hendricks just keep getting it done. Hendricks has maintained a sub-3.50 ERA (again) and Mikolas has been solid. Since June 17, he’s managed a 3.87 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. That’ll do in today’s era. Nothing flashy, just straight producing.
  • The next pitcher is tied for 10th in MLB with 27 wins since the start of 2018 but has only started 15 games over that span. Are you surprised to find out that it’s Yarbrough? Yes, the opener is a huge reason why but he’s also improved his game, limiting walks and home runs. His two home starts are more than manageable, so he’s in my lineups next week.
  • The next two pitchers have CSW rates below 26% but have been thriving of late. For Roark, his fastball has actually been good this year with a 28.8% strikeout rate and an 80 wRC+. He’s at home, and one of his starts is against the Tigers, who are essentially a Triple-A club. Feel free to deploy him. Civale has one good and one bad start. He’s been pitching way over his head. He won’t keep a 0.25 HR/9 and a .255 BABIP, but his walk rate is a scant 4.3%. I’m anticipating a great start against the White Sox and a so-so outing in Minnesota.
  • I have a feeling I’m going to get some heat for this Keller ranking. Checking in with Nick’s gorgeous list, we see these are arguably his two easiest remaining matchups. Forget this week’s bombing, he has a 26.8% strikeout rate, a 19% K-BB rate, and an unlucky .479 BABIP. You read that right. Both the Marlins and Cardinals are in the bottom half offensively over the past 30 days. I’m rolling the dice but completely understand if you want stay away next week.




Anthony DeSclafani (PHI, ARI)

Mike Leake (SDP, @CIN)

Sandy Alcantara (@PIT, KCR)

Masahiro Tanaka (TEX, @BOS)

Joe Ross (NYM, @ATL)

Vince Velasquez (@CIN, @NYM)

Patrick Sandoval (@OAK, @CHW)

Adrian Wojciechowski (@TBR, TEX)

  • I debated bumping DeSclafani up into the probably start tier because of his recent success. He dominated the Marlins last time out, and while the results were good in the two previous outings, they showed less-than-stellar peripherals. His opponents are moderately difficult, and he carries a 1.71 HR/9 at the GABP.
  • Leake and Alcantara are here for their relatively easy matchups. Neither provides a ton of upside, but of the two, I’d lean Alcantara for the higher ceiling in his two-step. Leake provides the higher floor, however. If anyone tells you they know what Velasquez is going to do, THEY ARE LYING! OK, sorry about the yelling. He’s very frustrating, which makes him difficult to trust on the road. If you’re the ride-or-die type, go ahead and start him; otherwise, steer clear.
  • I don’t trust Tanaka this year. What happened to his splitter? It was back in his most recent start, but it’s far too inconsistent. His swinging-strike rate is down nearly 4%, and his CSW is a near league average 28.6%. He’s coming off a great outing in Seattle, but the Mariners have been terrible in the second half. I might see if he can carry his momentum into his home start against the Rangers but bench him in Boston. The Red Sox lit him up for 12 runs last time they met. Weekly leaguers can feel free to sit him.
  • Sandoval is an interesting option. He’s sporting a very solid 27.3% strikeout rate but also has an ugly 10.1% walk rate. He’s generating a ton of swinging strikes but has trouble finding the zone. Ah, your classic Cherry Bomb. In daily leagues, I’d start him against the White Sox but not in OAK. Go ahead and lump Wojciechowski in the same boat as Sandoval, but his matchups are a tick tougher.



Adrian Houser (HOU, CHC)

Rick Porcello (MIN, NYY)

Alex Wood (PHI, ARI)

Daniel Norris (@KCR, @OAK)

Dylan Cease (@CLE, LAA)

Drew Smyly (@CIN, @NYM)

Derrick Rodriguez (@STL, @LAD)

Jordan Zimmermann (MIN, @OAK)

Ross Detwiler (@CLE, LAA)

Peter Lambert (@LAD, @SDP)

Justus Sheffield (@CHC, @HOU)

Ariel Jurado (@NYY, @BAL)

  • It’s unfortunate that Houser draws the Astros and Cubs next week because I think he’s talented. He has a solid 29.2% CSW. His swinging-strike rate of under 10% doesn’t portent to a high strikeout rate however. Neither the Cubs nor the Astros swing and miss a ton, so I’m betting against the “house” next week.
  • The Yankees have Porcello’s number this year. He’s logged an ungodly 11.45 ERA against them this season in three starts. Needless to say, I don’t like his chances against them next week. I prefer his start against the Twins, but why risk it? He provides little upside outside of a cheap win.
  • I’m not sure where Wood’s strikeouts have gone, but without them, he’s toast in this era of baseball. Forget the Marlins start, he was getting whiffs but serving up dingers all over the yard. His swinging-strike rate is just over 10%, but his CSW is an unsightly 25.2%. He should not be trusted at this point in the season with playoffs on the line.
  • The probability of at least one meltdown is in play for both Cease and Smyly next week. Smyly is having one of the all-time bad seasons with a 6.95 ERA and serving up nearly three homers per nine innings. Cease has some upside but is far too inconsistent to start given his matchups next week.
  • Rodriguez outside of Oracle Park is a nightmare. Adding the Dodgers to the mix puts this two-step on another level. Not in a good way. I’ve sworn off Zimmermann. Late last year and early this season, I saw some positive signs. But, at age 33, I’m struggling to see success in this era for Zim.
  • You’re not really thinking about starting Lambert or Detwiler, are you? Coors or no Coors, Lambert is never a streaming option, let alone someone you should start. Detwiler somehow has a 30.2% HR/FB rate. That’s likes facing Joey Gallo every time he gives up a fly ball. That’s not likely to sustain, but he doesn’t miss many bats either with just a 7.3% swinging-strike rate. No thanks.
  • Sheffield’s control is not big-league ready. The Cubs and Astros will make sure he doesn’t make it out of the third inning in either start. Here’s a fun fact: Jurado has three strikeouts over his past 18 innings pitched! You can’t make this stuff up. There’s absolutely zero value in his two-step next week.

(Photo by Tim Spyers/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.

10 responses to “Ranking Every Two-Start Pitcher for Week 22 (9/2-9/8)”

  1. JV says:

    Jake Junis?
    Doesn’t he line up for DET and at Mia this week? EXCELLENT MATCHUPS

    • Marty the Celery Salesman says:

      Duffy coming back this week has pushed Montgomery to Tuesday and Junis to Wednesday next week. Unless they shuffle again, it looks like Montgomery on Tuesday/Sunday with Junis only pitching on Wednesday.

      • Marty the Celery Salesman says:

        FYI, Cockcroft projects a 6-man rotation for KC next week; so he’s showing no doubles there.

    • Max Freeze says:

      It’s looking like a six-man rotation for the Royals with Duffy’s return. If anyone would get to starts, it would be Montgomery who goes Tuesday.

  2. Pat G says:

    Corbin is scheduled for Sunday

    • Max Freeze says:

      You’re right! Looks like Joe Ross may get the 2nd two-start for the Nationals. I’d lump him in with the questionable start tier. He’s a decent play at home vs NYM but I’d bench him in Atlanta.

  3. Harley Earl says:

    Just curious, I didn’t see anything on Jordan Lyles. He gets Houston on Tuesday and the Cubs on Sunday. Yeah, real tough matchups. But I wondered what category you’d slide him in. Any thoughts on him?

    • Max Freeze says:

      Houser is currently lined up for two starts but was pulled from his last outing with a hip issue. If Lyles gets bumped up, I’d still keep him on my bench. I know he’s been better lately but the Astros & the Cubs make it difficult to get any value outside of strikeouts, which neither team does all that often.

  4. Bob F says:

    Wainright? Trevor Richards (TB)

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