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
- There’s only a small handful of staff aces on the bump for two starts this week. Max Scherzer, Tyler Glasnow, and Hyun Jin Ryu all have at least one great matchup against below-average offenses. Those who roster Mad Max or Glasnow, in particular, are poised to have a nice advantage over their opponents in the strikeout department this upcoming week (Note: At the time of writing, it’s unclear how the Nationals will set up their rotation given Thursday evening’s rainout. I’ve left him in the Two-Start SP rankings, but Scherzer may only get one start.).
- Aaron Nola hasn’t looked like the rock-solid SP1 that you drafted him to be this year, but I’m not ready to suggest he shouldn’t be an automatic play in a two-start week, even with a tough matchup against the Dodgers. Hope that he treads water against LA and can start to turn things around against the Giants.
- You’ll notice this week’s second tier has a couple more question marks than usual. With a larger group of more questionable arms below, this a group that I still mostly trust despite either a) a pair of tough upcoming matchups or b) a rough last outing.
- Sean Manaea headlines this tier, and deservedly so. His velocity has trended up this season and the results have largely been excellent. Since the second half of May, Manaea has been on an absolute tear. He’s tallied a 1.38 ERA over his last five starts, including two where he excelled against the Angels, the team he’ll be facing off against first next week.
- In most scenarios, Freddy Peralta is an automatic start without hesitation. Next week, however, he gets a potent Reds lineup and a trip to Coors. He handled Winker, Castellanos, and company in a rain-delay shortened last appearance. It can, however, be a tall task to duplicate the effort against the same lineup, especially with the hot streak the best Reds’ bats are currently on. As for Peralta’s second start, we all know that Coors is undefeated. Despite these potential pitfalls, I think Peralta has earned your trust and belongs in your lineup.
- As with any rookie pitcher with a short track record, Alek Manoah carries some risk. He handled the White Sox, but can he do it again against the Red Sox? In a daily league, I could understand benching him, but I’ll personally be taking the chance. In a second start against the Orioles, Manoah should be able to put his electric stuff and strikeout ability on full display and hopefully stuff the stat sheet for your teams.
- Tony Gonsolin had a tantalizing opportunity in his return from the IL, but it ended up turning into a disaster for your WHIP in the form of five walks over 1.2 IP. We know, though, that five walk outings aren’t really who Gonsolin is. If he’s on your roster in a daily 12-teamer, a start against the Phillies isn’t quite enough to cause me to lose faith. Assuming he works out his command issue, a start in Arizona seems relatively safe. I’m likely holding onto a little more confidence in Gonsolin than most, so it wouldn’t surprise me to see many view him as more “questionable” than “probable” when it comes time to set lineups.
- The third tier is where things get really interesting this week. There’s a collection of young pitchers who have experienced some degrees of success in 2021, formerly reliable arms that you likely drafted as mainstays for your rotation, and serviceable streamers with the right matchups. Depending on the depth of your league’s rosters, you might be able to find some quality options on the wire to fill out your staff for the week.
- Two up-and-comers find themselves at the top of this group. Shane McClanahan is going through some growing pains in his last couple of starts for the Rays. It wouldn’t shock me to see him perform well against the White Sox, but it might be best to have him on your bench early in the week if you are risk-averse. As with most any pitcher in 2021, you can start McClanahan against the Mariners. Casey Mize has turned in seven quality starts in his last eight appearances so it’s unlikely he’ll still be on your waiver wire. I am, however, a bit skeptical of his ability to continue it moving forward. A lack of whiffs and some pretty hard contact allowed suggest he may be performing a bit over his skis. You should start him against the Royals, but it’s a bit more questionable against the Angels.
- Rostering Dylan Bundy, Luis Castillo, and Patrick Corbin has been a high wire act to put it lightly. After seeing a line of 5.2 IP with 2 ER and a win in his last start against the Royals, you might be tempted to believe Bundy is fully back on track. While the outcome was favorable, he was playing with fire with his four-seamers. It’s a coin flip whether or not to start him against the Athletics. If you do, he’ll need to be sharper to avoid damage from Mark Canha and Matt Olson who have slugged .611 and .630 against fastballs this season. You should keep Castillo on the bench against the Padres and Corbin on the bench (or back to the wire) against the Mets.
- Adam Wainwright (@MIA), Jake Odorizzi (TEX), Nathan Eovaldi (@KCR), and Jake Arrieta (MIA) are best used as one-start streamers this week. My favorite of the group of veterans for this week is Wainwright, who hasn’t let fantasy managers down this season when paired against below-average opponents. The Marlins lineup is bolstered by the return of Starling Marte, but their team strikeout rate of 26.5% is in the bottom five of the league and still a team you can target for streamers. While Arrieta also gets the Marlins and is worthy of some consideration, I’d prefer to look elsewhere.
- Austin Gomber has been a revelation as of late, but he should stay on the wire for a Coors start against the Padres. I’d only consider Gomber in his second home start against the Brew Crew if your options are limited and you’re willing to stomach the potential for poor ratios.
- Tyler Anderson is a definite bench against the lefty-crushing Nationals. Cleveland is 13% below average against lefties, so this wouldn’t be the worst play, but pitching for the Pirates really caps his upside in category leagues where you’re often trying to stream in search of pitchers Wins.
- Tucker Davidson has been impressive thus far in his rookie year. He likely deserves to be on your radar for the rest of the season when good matchups arise. I wouldn’t be willing to trust the rookie to successfully navigate the Red Sox lineup. The Cardinals have struggled as of late, but they’re a veteran group with some power. I’d like to avoid there as well.
- Dallas Keuchel and Marco Gonzales are two established arms who have historically been able to provide your fantasy teams with decent ratios and floor. That hasn’t been the case this season. Until they prove otherwise, they probably belong on your bench against stronger lineups.
- The two best schedules of the week find their way in the Avoid tier, unfortunately. It doesn’t get much better than @SEA/@TEX and BAL/@PIT. Half the battle of streaming is picking the right matchups, but it’s important to remember that the other half is finding the right pitchers. Neither Randy Dobnak nor Jean Carlos Mejía appears reliable enough to take advantage of the soft landing spots in their schedule.
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)