Welcome to this week’s two-start pitcher rankings!
I am filling in for the great Anthony Tucker, and I am honored to take the stage to help you navigate through the next week of two-start pitchers. Our 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 the wire.
As a friendly reminder, the projected starters are just that, projections and subject to change.
Set and Forget
- Zack Wheeler will look to rebound after a tough outing his last time out on the road against the Texas Rangers. He only gave the Phillies 4 1/3 before getting the hook from interim manager Rob Thomson. This was his shortest outing since his second start of the season, where he went three innings, giving up seven runs while walking three and striking out 3. Wheeler feels like he has been off all year, but that is probably due to how high he raised the bar last year. Outside of his first two starts of the year, Zack Wheeler has been as reliable as any pitcher in the National League. The biggest issue in the start against the Rangers on 6/22 was the walks. Adding to his struggles was the lack of solid defense behind him as well. He issued three walks, and for some perspective, he had only issued seven walks in his previous eight starts. Look for him to return to form this week, even against two very worthy offenses.
- Since returning from his month and change stint on the IL, Clayton Kershaw has been fine but not overly impressive until his last outing against the Reds, going 6 innings strong and striking out 7 while walking 1 and giving up 1 ER. In totality, the wily veteran Kershaw rocks a 5-1 record paired with a 2.00 ERA and 0.91 WHIP through eight starts this season. He seems to be building more momentum and getting some more strength in that arm as he tries to be reliable for the first-place Dodgers down the stretch. Pitching at Coors is usually a no-go for most pitchers, but a familiar opponent awaits Kershaw in his two times out in the coming week. Muscle memory is a thing, and Clayton Kershaw can turn back the clock and dominate on any given night.
- Robbie Ray has returned to 2021-level performance in his last two starts, and he certainly has two favorable matchups coming up to continue that trend. He is pitching against the Orioles in Seattle and getting a second stab at Oakland, which he just pitched well against. The Mariners paid Robbie Ray, and they are finally seeing some return on investment after a touch-and-go start to his Mariner career.
- One has to think that Miles Mikolas will not be able to continue the stretch he’s been on, but the 33-year-old continues to defy the odds. A date against Miami certainly does not scare you but the second start of the week with the Phillies on the road for Mikolas makes us a little leery. Despite their initial struggles that saw Joe Girardi get fired, their offense is a top-5 run-scoring team in all of Major League Baseball. Be careful.
- Tyler Anderson was blocked from getting his ninth win of the season on Wednesday, but he has yet to take a loss in 2022, where he sits at 8-0. With a league-average ERA and a Dodgers offense that can slug anyone to submission, he can be saved even when he is not at his best. Most impressively, Anderson has a 0.97 WHIP, which is 12th best in the league. He is bordering on must start, but the start at Coors does make you wince. He does not tout as much success as his Dodger counterpart, Kershaw, in that ballpark despite starting his career there. Maybe this will be an exorcising of some demons for Mr. Anderson.
- Frankie Montas has been a reason for fans in Oakland to come out and cheer for the last-place Athletics. Most don’t, but that’s a different story. He recently shrunk his ERA to 3.21. Come the trade deadline, it is a certainty that contenders will be kicking the tires on Montas to see what it would take to get him. For as good as he is, it’s hard to overcome match ups and he has a doozy to start his week. He will face the juggernauts of the Bronx on the road in Yankee Stadium, which should be the first of two starts in the week. For as difficult as the first matchup is, the second is penciled to be as good against the Mariners team that he teased a no-hitter against.
- Adam Wainwright continues to inspire baseball fans everywhere with his resurgence while towing the slab in his age 40 season. However, right now, he is trying to bounce back after he has given up three or more runs in three of four starts in June. Pitching against Miami might be what the doctor ordered to fix the issue,
- Kevin Gausman twirled six innings on Tuesday against the White Sox and earned the QS. Gausman allowed seven hits, but only two earned runs and struck out seven for good measure. This was a bounce-back performance from Gausman as he struggled mightily against his former Baltimore teammates. Probably just a blip on the radar, but there’s no denying that Gausman has had an inconsistent month of June. It’s been a roll of the dice which version of himself comes out, and he has more AL East matchups ahead with both Boston, and Tampa Bay lined up.
- Luis Garcia has been much better than his record indicates, as he sits at 5-5 on the season. He earned a win his last time out against the Mets as he went five strong IP, only allowing three runs and striking out five. He struggled midway through the game after having a 4-0 lead to start, but he coughed it up. The Astros offense bailed him out, and he was good enough to get the win. He has been more than solid for Houston, the proud owner of a 3.68 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP. For a young pitcher, he has been pretty reliable. He will get the Miracle Mets his next time out again. As a young pitcher, it’s tough to face the same lineup this close together because hitters can learn.
- Jameson Taillon has been good for the Yanks, but not much has been bad in the Bronx in 2022. A bit of cause for concern during his last outing as hitters were making much more contact than we have been used to seeing. Taillon was hung with ten hits and that was the highest mark of the season. The Astros are a good team, so it’s not something to overreact to, but he should be able to get back to where he was with a solid matchup against Oakland and the middle of the pack offensively Guardians, who are 16th in runs scored on the year.
- Lucas Giolito has got to be better than he was against the Blue Jays last Wednesday. Giolito gave up eleven hits and mixed in seven earned runs. The White Sox stuck with him despite the struggles, and he labored through 5 IP. He continues to be on a downward trend, but we know that he can turn it on. This may be the week he wakes up from his beginning of summer slumber.
- Sonny Gray is building himself back up, and the Twins had him pitch four innings last time out. He was not bad against the Guardians his last time out, but you can tell that Sonny Gray is still getting comfortable out there since his return from the IL. This may be the week that the Twins take the leash off and allow him to pick up where he left off before being taken down with an injury. Sonny is rocking a sneaky good 2.53 ERA and 9.70 K/9. Sonny days should be ahead.
- Do you like roller coasters? Eric Lauer is the guy for you. He has given up four or more runs in three straight starts putting up a 6.94 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in four starts in June.
- Monty would be on the avoid list if not for the matchups vs. OAK and @ CLE. Jordan Montgomery is still risky as he struggled his last time out against the Rays, and you always have to be worried about him turning back into a pumpkin some nights. Most concerning from the lefthander is that he let 11 get on base and struck only two. Not missing bats and having guys reach at that rate is a recipe for disaster.
- Pablo López hasn’t looked great as of late, but he bounced back from a string of bumpy starts when he secured his 5th win of the season. We know how good he can be, but June was inconsistent for him. Let’s see if he can end it on a good note.
- Luis Castillo has pitched better since returning from the IL back in May. He is another one of those rollercoaster starts that managers may look at for the name that he used to provide. He has been the topic of trade discussions the past week, and the Reds are certainly hoping he can pitch better so they can get the biggest return. He faces the rebuilding Cubbies in a semi-favorable matchup.
- Don’t look now, but George Kirby is on a bit of a roll. He has now gone at least six innings in four of his last five starts. Length helps teams, and it starts to shrink the ERA. But mostly, the best thing he is doing is keeping the free passes to a minimum as he has given up no more than one walk in every single start of the nine career starts.
- Looking at the recent numbers, Jon Gray has been pretty good. He has shown the ability to flash ace-like stuff with double-digit strikeouts. The first start against the Royals looks good but playing against the Mets does not elicit the most confidence.
- Shane Baz is hoping to build on what he was able to do against the most dynamic offense in all of baseball. He held the Yankees pretty quiet for the first few innings of his start against them before it came crumbling down. Baz is still getting his legs under him after dealing with the injury for a large portion of the 2022 campaign. The matchup in Toronto can be a pipe bomb tossed into his stats so let’s tread lightly.