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 are very few bona fide high-end starters who get two turns on the bump next week. You’ll gain an advantage over your opponent next week if you have one of the few top-30 quality SPs with two-starts, even if one of the matchups isn’t ideal (such as at Coors Field or against the Blue Jays)
- With two off days on the schedule, it seems likely the Dodgers won’t turn to a fifth starter or a bullpen day next week as they continue to think through their rotation options until Tony Gonsolin or David Price is ready. As a result, Walker Buehler is lined up for a pair of excellent matchups.
- Lance McCullers continues to throw the ball well and is truly putting it all together for the Astros and fantasy teams. His first opponent, the Angels, sports the second-lowest strikeout rate in the league. It’ll be an interesting game to watch if McCullers can get Trout & Co. to chase his signature knuckle curve and new slider.
- Coors Field is undefeated, but Sonny Gray has shown enough in his last two dominant outings against the Dodgers and White Sox for you to not overthink it. It’s less than ideal, but the reward here significantly outweighs the risk.
- Coming off perhaps the best pitching performance in Orioles history, John Means is scheduled to get the Mets and Yankees. He’s looking like one of the best values from draft season and has pushed himself into the territory of starting pitchers who you auto-start regardless of their opponent.
- There is a little more risk than usual in the Probably Start tier this week, but all likely have a place in your lineup given the alternatives. Within the group, there are a few players who likely weren’t drafted in 12-teamers but have shown they belong on rosters. If any of these players are still available on the wire, I’d prioritize getting them onto your roster.
- Pablo López is a little bit of an outlier amongst this group. He was drafted amongst the top-40 starting pitchers and his performance has been strong in six of his seven starts on the season. The Marlins’ righty has given you no reason to second guess him this season. The reason he isn’t in the first tier is because of a trip to Chavez Ravine against the defending champs. López has enough of a track record where you should still start him against an always dangerous, but currently scuffling Dodgers team.
- We’ve waited for this version of Robbie Ray to return for a few seasons. I admittedly didn’t think he’d ever get his command under control, but in his last three starts, he’s turned in a remarkable 23/0 strikeout-to-walk ratio. It’s likely too late to add him if you haven’t already bought in, but I’d be willing to get him in my lineup for both of his starts. If you have some hesitation for his start against the Braves, it’s worth noting that Atlanta has struggled early this season in a limited sample against lefties. While only 187 plate appearances against lefties aren’t enough to judge an entire team, the Braves have a 52 wRC+ against LHP so far in 2021 and were merely league average in 2020.
- Chris Bassitt has been on a roll as of late, tallying four straight quality starts with 7+ strikeouts in each. He faces a pair of strong lineups that might give you some cause for pause, but he’s shown enough that he belongs in your lineup until he proves otherwise.
- Alex Wood has been impressive this year, fueled by success with his slider. I’m not sure whether he’ll keep it up all year, but I am confident that he can navigate the Rangers’ and Pirates’ lineups. It’s worth noting that with Johnny Cueto re-entering the rotation, it’s possible that Aaron Sanchez ends up getting the nod on Monday and the two starts. If it is Sanchez, he is a potential streamer for both matchups.
- Dylan Cease put it all together in his last two starts and it’s hopefully a sign of things to come for the former highly-regarded prospect. Given his past issues tallying high WHIPs, I’m not sure I totally buy in after just two good starts, but I think it’s worth it to roll the dice to see if he can keep it going.
- Coming off a strong outing against the Dodgers, Adbert Alzolay has two starts against offenses you can target. He finds himself in the Questionable tier because he’s a two pitch pitcher with below-average command. I’d recommend starting him for both, but don’t discount the potential for an unexpected poor outing.
- It’s hard to know what to do with Dinelson Lamet. His average fastball velocity was notably down over two innings in his return from the IL. He’s lined up for two starts, but given the tenuous state of his arm health, it feels unlikely he’ll actually be allowed to make the second on normal rest. If he does, it’s almost certain he won’t be stretched out to a normal workload. He’s a definite avoid at the Rockies, but I’d also recommend passing on his start against the Cardinals. Despite this, it’s likely that you spent high draft capital on Lamet so I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to give him a shot against St. Louis.
- Brady Singer is a strong streaming option against the Tigers, who he held to one run over 7 IP with 8 Ks in a prior matchup this year. The matchup against the injury-riddled White Sox is still probably to avoid.
- Madison Bumgarner and Luke Weaver both have streaming appeal against the Marlins. I’d be tempted to start Bumgarner against Washington after he performed well against them in April, but the Nats have hit lefties pretty well this season.
- J.A. Happ carries a pristine 1.91 ERA and 0.85 WHIP into his two-start week against the White Sox and Athletics. The surface stats can certainly be deceiving as Happ is being supported, in part, by an unsustainable .171 BABIP. His 21.8% CSW suggests he’ll come tumbling back down to earth when opposed by an above-average offense. I’d expect that to come as soon as this week and would recommend benching for both. If you’re willing to bet he can keep it going for another start or two, certainly be aware of the potential downside.
|Kwang Hyun Kim
- Casey Mize managed to log a quality start against the Red Sox in his last start, but he’s not getting enough whiffs where I’d be confident to start him moving forward. While the long-term upside is still there, I wouldn’t count on him against either the Royals or Cubs.
- Jeff Hoffman hasn’t shown anything yet this season that would put him on your streaming radar. He gets the Pirates at pitcher-friendly PNC Park, but there are more reliable one-start streamers out there.
- Has Jon Gray done it? Has he figured out how to defeat Coors Field? Through five starts at home this season, Gray boasts a 2.08 ERA to go with a 4-0 record (to go with a 6.30 ERA and 0-2 record away from Coors). Unfortunately, I’m not quite convinced. It feels like we’re in The Upside Down with Gray this season and I don’t quite have an explanation for it. I’d strongly caution against picking him up or starting him against the powerhouse Padres or Reds.
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)