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Two-Start Pitchers: Week 3 (8/10-8/16)

Two-start pitchers have been a messy situation to track this season, with postponed games, schedule changes, and many players hitting the Injured List. Last week, multiple starts changed from the time I completed the article to the following morning when it was published. Things have been changing fast.

I have continued working to refine a formula to rank each two-start pitcher. I have incorporated three factors that I think are the most effective when looking to determine who you should start or sit. Team wRC+(versus left-handed or right-handed pitching), ballpark factors(wOBA), and the starting pitchers xFIP are all incorporated. With the season still new and numbers not stabilized, I will be using 2019 data as well as numbers over the last 14 days. For ballpark factors, I am using Derek Carty’s “The Bat Park Factors.” Taking all of these factors into effect is helpful when looking at whether a two-start pitcher is a viable start for the upcoming week.

It is also important to note that just because a pitcher will make two starts does not make that pitcher more valuable than a single start pitcher. In a weekly head-to-head league, two bad starts will likely cost you in the ratio categories.

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Two-Start Pitcher’s Tier Description:

Must-Start: These pitchers are no doubters for the week. Most of these two-start pitchers should be started every time they pitch.

Should-Start: Two-start pitchers in the should-start tier are good options for the week but may have some hesitations for different reasons.

Questionable: Two-start pitchers in this tier may be used for deeper leagues but should most likely not be started.

Sit: Do not start these pitchers.

*Reminder that this article was published Friday morning, starters for the following week are subject to change.


PitcherStart 1Team wRC+ (LHP/RHP)Start 2Team wRC+ (LHP/RHP)
Aaron NolaAtlanta 136New York Mets108
Stephen Strasburg@New York Mets108@Baltimore89
Yu Darvish@Cleveland57Milwaukee77
Zack WheelerBaltimore89New York Mets108
Dustin MaySan Diego127@Los Angeles Angels125
Hyun-Jin RyuMiami130Tampa Bay105
  • Aaron Nola looked like an ace in his last outing against the Yankees, striking out 12 hitters in six innings of one-run ball. Nola is striking out 45.2 percent of the hitters he has faced while only walking 2.4 percent. He gets a tough start against the Braves, then follows it with a matchup against the Mets. He might be the safest two-start pitcher of the week.
  • Stephen Strasburg still has question marks surrounding his two-start week. If he continues to progress and has no setbacks, he will likely get starts in New York against the Mets and in Baltimore. It would be two favorable for Strasburg’s return to the mound. Again, there remain questions regarding when his next start will be.
  • Dustin May has found himself as one of the top two-start pitchers for the upcoming week after a hot start to the season. May has increased his velocity from last season and has seen his strikeout rate increase and is pitching to a 2.63 ERA after his first three starts. He gets the Padres and the Angels next week in two matchups where he can continue his hot start. My jaw is still on the floor from the incredible movement one of his fastballs from earlier in the week.

  • Yu Darvish has settled in nicely after a rough first outing against the Brewers, where he allowed three earned runs in four innings. Darvish has now settled into a 2.12 ERA with 16 strikeouts in 17 innings of work. His starts next week are against Cleveland and Milwaukee, who have both been struggling offensively.
  • Zack Wheeler has two favorable matchups with Baltimore and the Mets next week. He is one of the better two-start pitchers for the week after a strong start to the 2020 season. Wheeler has a 2.08 ERA in 13 innings, but his strikeout numbers have been meager with only six so far. His two-starts next week are an excellent chance for him to get his strikeouts back.
  • Hyun-Jin Ryu looked rough in his first two starts but showed why the Blue Jays signed him to a four year, 80 million dollar deal by pitching five shutout innings against the Braves. He starts against the Marlins and the Rays next week, which is an excellent chance for him to continue to build on the success against the Braves.


PitcherStart 1Team wRC+ (LHP/RHP)Start 2Team wRC+ (LHP/RHP)
Tyler MahleKansas City 74Pittsburgh38
Alex CobbMiami92@Washington55
Dallas Keuchel @Detroit78St. Louis41
Ross StriplingSan Diego127@Los Angeles Angels125
Garrett Richards@Los Angeles Dodgers124@Arizona87
Lance McCullers Jr. San Francisco103Seattle109
Randy Dobank@Milwaukee77Kansas City74

This tier has some interesting names, as there are not a ton of great two-start pitchers in week three. These two-start pitchers are all reasonable options for next week, despite some interesting names in this group.

  • Alex Cobb, yes, that Alex Cobb is someone you should consider starting next week. A first start against the Marlins should be a great chance to continue to build on his strong 2020 start. A start against the Nationals could present problems, but they have struggled to hit right-handed pitching so far. Cobb has a 2.51 ERA with a 24.2 percent strikeout rate while seeing an increase in velocity in his four-seam fastball, according to Baseball Savant. He is likely a streamer option, but I would start him against the Marlins.
  • Dallas Keuchel is a favorable two-start pitcher thanks to matchups with Detriot and St. Louis, who have not hit left-handed pitching well this season. His strikeout rate is down from his career mark but is staying true to his calling card as a ground ball pitcher. Keuchel has a 2.55 ERA with a 0.96 WHIP in 17.2 innings of work in 2020. These two-starts give him a high chance of continuing his strong start.
  • Tyler Mahle has been very impressive in his first ten innings of work in 2020. After a six-inning shutout against the Indians, Mahle has a 1.80 ERA and ten strikeouts on the season. He may have the two best matchups of the week, facing Kansas City and Pittsburgh. Mahle has reworked his pitch mix and has increased his fastball velocity, which gives him an excellent chance to continue to build on his early success.
  • Lance McCullers got lit up in his last start against the Diamondbacks, allowing eight earned runs in just 3.2 innings. He struggled to locate his pitches well and has struggled with his command in general, which is normal as a pitcher returns from Tommy John surgery. I left McCullers in the should-start category because he has an excellent chance to rebound against the Giants and the Mariners next week, which are favorable matchups.


Pitcher Start 1Team wRC+ (LHP/RHP)Start 2Team wRC+ (LHP/RHP)
Martin PerezTampa Bay105@New York Yankees117
Ryan Yarbrough @Boston140@Toronto50
Touki Toussaint @New York Yankees142@Philadelphia112
Adrian HouserMinnesota118@Chicago Cubs125
Josh LindblomMinnesota118@Chicago Cubs125
Elieser Hernandez@Toronto 96Atlanta 136
Steven MatzWashington222@Philadelphia141
Rick PorcelloWashington55@Philadelphia112
Kwang Hyun KimPittsburgh128@Chicago White Sox145
Julio TeheranOakland101Los Angeles Dodgers125
Sean Manaea@Los Angeles Angels73@San Francisco107
Kyle GibsonSeattle109@Colorado86
Jon GrayArizona87Texas54

There are quite a few pitchers in the questionable tier this week, as some pitchers either have tough matchups or are struggling.

  • Kwang Hyun Kim has been moved from the bullpen to the rotation and will have two-starts against Pittsburgh and the White Sox. Kim has some intrigue as a starter and gets a favorable matchup with the Pirates, but Kim has only pitched one inning this year. On Opening Day, he allowed one run but closed out the game for the save. I want to see Kim’s first start before I consider starting him moving forward.
  • Jon Gray would have some intrigue as a two-start pitcher if it were not for the fact he gets two starts at home. Gray has a 3.31 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP through his first 16.1 innings of 2020. His two-starts are against the Diamondbacks and the Rangers, which are not tough starts but could easily have a blow-up start in Coors. I generally avoid most pitchers in Coors unless they are an ace, and two-starts at home for Gray has a recipe for disaster.
  • Touki Toussaint has settled in nicely after a disastrous first outing against the Rays. His last two starts against the Mets and Blue Jays, Toussaint has combined to pitch 10.2 innings with 14 strikeouts and allowing three runs. He does have tough matchups at Yankee Stadium and on the road in Philadelphia.


PitcherStart 1Team wRC+ (LHP/RHP)Start 2Team wRC+ (LHP/RHP)
Robbie Ray@Colorado111San Diego90
Sean Newcomb@Philadelphia141@Miami130
Logan Webb@Houston125Oakland101
  • So much for the mechanical changes that Robbie Ray made during the offseason. Ray has been atrocious so far in 2020 and has a 9.45 ERA and a 1.95 WHIP in 13.1 innings. The strikeout numbers have been solid, but do not start Robbie Ray this week, especially in his first start in Coors Field. With the struggles and a start in Colorado, Ray is one of the worst two-start pitcher options for week three.
  • Logan Webb has begun the 2020 season strong, pitching to a 2.13 ERA in 12.2 innings. His FIP and SIERA suggest that his ERA should be over 4, which does lead to some concern. A start at Houston and home against Oakland is enough to make me put him in the sit category for the week.

Be sure to check out Justin Johnson’s piece on “Post-Hype Dynasty Hitters.

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