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Two-Start Pitchers: Week of August 21, 2017

We roll into Week 20 as some fantasy baseball playoff positioning is coming to a close. Quite a few leagues have been decided or soon will be in the coming days. This week’s list of two-start pitchers is not necessarily the week to find a boost to kick you over the top unless you are fortunate enough to own one of the top-tiered performers. The talent in the lower tiers really drops off and offers little projection to find those few extra points. The lack of depth really points owners to utilizing the best matchup opportunities in their rotations this week.

Regardless, I am here every week ranking these two-start pitching performances, and I have to say the top two tiers look awfully good. Any owner fortunate enough to own starters in these tiers should feel confident about their chances. That isn’t to say that, like always, some surprise performer won’t emerge from one of the lesser ranked groups. Especially with some of the underachievers populating those ranks this week.

These are projected starts and as such are subject to change due to rain outs, injury, performance issues, or managerial whims. I only offer my the opinion on the matchups; there are no guarantees on the actual starts.

Strong Options As Usual…

  • Alex Wood – (8/21 @ PIT-Gerrit Cole; 8/26 vs. MIL-Chase Anderson)
  • Cole Hamels – (8/21 @ LAA-Tyler Skaggs; 8/26 @ OAK-Jharel Cotton)
  • Carlos Carrasco – (8/22 vs. BOS-Eduardo Rodriguez; 8/27 vs. KC-Danny Duffy)
  • Yu Darvish* – (8/22 @ PIT-Jameson Taillon; 8/27 vs. MIL-Jimmy Nelson)
  • Aaron Nola – (8/22 vs. MIA-Jose Urena; 8/27 vs. CHC-John Lackey)
  • Charlie Morton – (8/22 vs. WAS-Tanner Roark; 8/27 @ LAA-Ricky Nolasco)
  • Marcus Stroman – (8/22 @ TB-Jacob Faria; 8/27 vs. MIN-Kyle Gibson)

[the_ad id=”384″]You have to feel pretty confident starting any one of the pitchers going in tier one. To start the year, I’m not sure anyone would have thought Alex Wood would be this consistently good, including his own team. After all, he started the year in the bullpen before becoming a rotation mainstay on April 21st.  He has 122 strikeouts in 117 innings and a 1.01 WHIP on the season. His 14 wins are tied for second in the NL behind only rotation mate Clayton Kershaw’s 15. If he had enough innings to qualify, his 2.30 ERA would rank third. If he keeps up this performance, at some point he enters the conversation for a dark horse Cy Young candidate. Another starter out-pitching preseason projections, Charlie Morton, has been a steady performer for the Houston Astros. His strikeout potential has been an obvious improvement, with 119 whiffs over 107.1 innings. Couple that with a 3.69 ERA and 1.24 WHIP, and he has been a revelation for fantasy owners. He will get a Bryce Harper-less Nationals team at home before he goes on the road to face the Angels. Keep an eye on Yu Darvish’s status, as he left his last start due to back tightness. No word yet on if he’s making his next scheduled start on Tuesday.

Second Tier Is Not Going To Disappoint…

  • Patrick Corbin – (8/22 @ NYM-Steven Matz; 8/27 vs. SF-Matt Cain)
  • Lance Lynn – (8/22 vs. SD-Clayton Richard; 8/27 vs. TB-Jacob Faria)
  • Gerrit Cole – (8/21 vs. LAD-Alex Wood; 8/26 @ CIN-Luis Castillo)
  • Danny Salazar – (8/21 vs. BOS-Rick Porcello; 8/26 vs. KC-TBD)
  • Rick Porcello – (8/21 @ CLE-Danny Salazar; 8/26 vs. BAL-Kevin Gausman)
  • Carlos Rodon – (8/21 vs. MIN-Bartolo Colon; 8/25 vs. DET-Michael Fulmer)
  • Jon Gray – (8/22 @ KC-Danny Duffy; 8/27 @ ATL-Mike Foltynewicz)
  • Jose Urena – (8/22 @ PHI-Aaron Nola; 8/27 vs. SD-Clayton Richard)

There is not a lot keeping any of the pitchers in this tier from moving up. Any one of them could potentially be a tier-one performer in the right matchups. Patrick Corbin is stringing together quite a nice run lately. Since July 20, he is 4-2 with a 3.11 ERA and 39 punchouts in 37.2 innings. Additionally, he hasn’t allowed a run in his last two starts spanning 15.1 innings. If you don’t dig a little deeper to uncover his recent success, his 4.25 ERA and 1.47 WHIP on the year might cause you to pass him over. His games against the Mets and Giants are entirely winnable, so look for him to have a very strong week. Carlos Rodon is another young lefty to take notice of this week. He is going to take his lumps pitching for a rebuilding White Sox team, but he is definitely doing his part. He has a 2.35 ERA and 1.04 WHIP to go along with 19 strikeouts in 23 innings during his last three starts. In those three starts, he faced quality opponents in the Red Sox, Astros, and the Dodgers, proving he can hold his own against tough competition. The Twins and Tigers aren’t nearly as formidable, so this is a promising two-start week.

Goes To Show You Can’t Always Trust First-Half Performances…

  • Eduardo Rodriguez – (8/22 @ CLE-Carlos Carasco; 8/27 vs. BAL-Wade Miley)
  • Jimmy Nelson – (8/21 @ SF-Matt Cain; 8/27 @ LAD-Yu Darvish)
  • Danny Duffy – (8/22 vs. COL-Jon Gray; 8/27 @ CLE-Carlos Carasco)
  • Tanner Roark – (8/22 @ HOU-Charlie Morton; 8/27 vs. NYM-Steven Matz)
  • Reynaldo Lopez* – (8/21 vs. MIN-TBD; 8/26 vs. DET-Justin Verlander)
  • Jameson Taillon  – (8/22 vs. LAD-Yu Darvish; 8/27 @ CIN-Homer Bailey)
  • Dan Straily – (8/22 @ PHI-Nick Pivetta; 8/26 vs. SD-Dinelson Lamet)
  • Clayton Richard – (8/22 @ STL-Lance Lynn; 8/27 @ MIA-Jose Urena)

You have a few pitchers in this tier that had great first halves but are starting to falter here in the second half, when fantasy owners need them the most.  Looking at you, Jimmy Nelson and Dan Straily! However, the talent remains to revisit those levels of success if the right circumstances present themselves. Eduardo Rodriguez had a great start to the season in April and May, but he saw his performance dip in June and July. In three August starts, he’s struck out 18 over 17 innings. In those three starts, he has a 1.10 WHIP and 3.12 ERA. Pitching for a top-tier team in Boston will give him plenty of opportunities to reach his previous levels of success. On a side note, keep an eye on the injury report for White Sox rookie Reynaldo Lopez, who was removed in the fifth inning of his last start due to some discomfort in his right side.  As of now, he is still scheduled to make his regular start.

Meh, You Might Be In Trouble If Counting On Production Here…

  • Edwin Jackson – (8/23 @ HOU-Mike Fiers; 8/27 vs. NYM-Chris Flexen)
  • Tyson Ross – (8/22 @ LAA-Ricky Nolasco; 8/27 @ OAK-Chris Smith)
  • Taijuan Walker – (8/21 @ NYM-Robert Gsellman; 8/26 vs. SF-Madison Bumgarner)
  • Mike Foltynewicz – (8/21 vs. SEA-Andrew Albers; 8/27 vs. COL-Jon Gray)
  • Jaime Garcia – (8/22 @ DET-Matthew Boyd; 8/27 vs. SEA-Andrew Albers)
  • Wade Miley – (8/21 vs. OAK-Chris Smith; 8/27 @ BOS-Eduardo Rodriguez)
  • Ricky Nolasco – (8/22 vs. TEX-Tyson Ross; 8/27 vs. HOU-Charlie Morton)
  • Nick Pivetta – (8/22 vs. MIA-Dan Straily; 8/26 vs. CHC-Kyle Hendricks)
  • Tyler Skaggs – (8/21 vs. TEX-Cole Hamels; 8/26 vs. HOU-Brad Peacock)

As much as it pains me to say it, the well-traveled Edwin Jackson seems to be on a little bit of a roll right now. I would rank him a tier higher if I felt he was likely to sustain this recent success, especially since his last two starts came against inferior offenses in the Giants and Padres.  As of now, I’m interested but cautious. On the season, he owns a serviceable 3.43 ERA and 1.33 WHIP, with 31 whiffs in 42 innings. I will temper my expectations, at least until after the Houston matchup.

Stay Away, Far Far Away…

  • Steven Matz – (8/22 vs. ARI-Patrick Corbin; 8/27 @ WAS-Tanner Roark)
  • James Shields – (8/22 vs. MIN-Kyle Gibson; 8/27 vs. DET-Matthew Boyd)
  • Kyle Gibson – (8/22 @ CHW-James Shield; 8/27 @ TOR-Marcus Stroman)
  • Matt Cain – (8/21 vs. MIL-Jimmy Nelson; 8/27 @ ARI-Patrick Corbin)
  • Homer Bailey – (8/22 vs. CHC-John Lackey; 8/27 vs. PIT-Jameson Taillon)
  • Robert Gsellman- (8/21 vs. ARI-Taijuan Walker; 8/26 @ WAS-Gio Gonzalez)
  • Matthew Boyd – (8/22 vs. NYY-Jaime Garcia; 8/27 @ CHW-James Shields)
  • Andrew Albers – (8/21 @ ATL-Mike Foltynewicz; 8/27 @ NYY-Jaime Garcia)
  • Chris Smith – (8/21 @ BAL-Wade Miley; 8/27 vs. TEX-Tyson Ross)
  • Jacob Faria – (8/22 vs. TOR-Marcus Stroman; 8/27 @ STL-Lance Lynn)

What in the world happened to Steven Matz? Picked by many to build off a nice introduction in 2015 and a solid 2016, the left-handed Matz has fallen flat on his face. Prior to ever throwing a pitch this season, his career ERA sat at tidy 3.16, and he had shown the ability to strike batters out at a decent clip with 163 over 168 innings. We roll into Week 20, and he is setting at an abysmal 6.08 ERA and 1.53 WHIP over 13 starts. There are no reports of a current injury, though he did miss a large portion of the first half due to a lengthy DL stint with lingering elbow discomfort. His injury history, coupled with his poor performance, leads many to speculate there may be an underlying physical issue he is dealing with. With the Mets’ rotation in shambles due to injury much of the season, I wonder if he’s been pressed into duty when less than 100%. Avoid using him until we see some signs of life. Let’s hope he isn’t doing more harm than good by continuing to take the ball every fifth day.

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