Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitcher Rankings: 8/14 – 8/20
Welcome to another week of two-start pitcher rankings here at FantasyPros. It’s a bit better week for streaming than last week was, but far from stellar. That’s to be expected, though, because reliable pitching options are hard to come by in 2017.
As always, probable pitchers are subject to change, so double-check your two-start options before lineups lock. And if you’ve got any questions for me, just shoot me a message on Twitter.
Too Big To Fail
1. Madison Bumgarner (8/15 @MIA, 8/20 vs. PHI)
Bumgarner’s first two starts back from the disabled list were just alright, but he’s looked like vintage MadBum over his last four turns (1.38 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 8.7 K/9). He was always a must-start option, but now it’s even more of a complete no-brainer, especially with two above-average matchups on tap.
2. Zack Greinke (8/14 vs. HOU, 8/19 @MIN)
Greinke currently ranks fourth among starters in CBS points leagues, so he’s another obvious must-start despite the tough matchup against the Astros and the rough outing he had at Wrigley Field last week.
3. Jacob DeGrom (8/15 @NYY, 8/20 vs. MIA)
DeGrom is just one spot behind Greinke on the CBS points league leaderboard. He gave up 15 earned runs over two starts in late May/early June, but he has an impressive 1.82 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, and 9.6 K/9 rate over 11 starts since then. The Yankees matchup won’t be easy, but you’re starting DeGrom regardless. He was hit with a comebacker in his most recent start, but X-rays were negative and all signs point to him making his next scheduled start.
4. Gio Gonzalez (8/15 vs. LAA, 8/20 @SD)
Gio’s plum matchups against the two worst teams in OPS vs. left-handers get him the promotion to must-start status this week. I do still expect him to eventually get hit around a bit, but it doesn’t seem like this is the week it will happen. We’re now in mid-August and Gio is the seventh-best starting pitcher in CBS points leagues, so he deserves some respect.
5. Justin Verlander (8/14 @TEX, 8/20 vs. LAD)
It’s safe to say that Verlander is back. It’s easy to forget, but he had a 4.07 ERA at the All-Star break last year before cruising to a 1.96 ERA in the season’s second half. This year, Verlander’s ERA at the All-Star break was 4.73, but in seven starts since July 8, he has a 1.91 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and 9.6 K/9 rate. The matchups aren’t ideal, but it doesn’t really matter because Verlander is back to must-start status.
The Next Best Thing
6. Sonny Gray (8/15 vs. NYM, 8/20 @BOS)
Gray hasn’t been working deep into games lately, but he’s been getting good results all the same. He’s given up two-or-fewer earned runs in eight straight starts, and he has a 1.75 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9 rate over that span. His matchups are just middle-of-the-pack, but he’s a fine option regardless.
7. Danny Salazar (8/15 @MIN, 8/20 @KC)
Salazar has been fantastic since returning from the disabled list, posting a 1.42 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, and 12.8 K/9 rate over four starts since July 22. He’s still giving up a lot of walks, and he’s not exactly known for his consistency. But it would be very tough to justify sitting him, especially with two favorable matchups coming up.
8. Masahiro Tanaka (8/14 vs. NYM, 8/19 @BOS)
Tanaka’s results have been a bit up-and-down of late, but overall he is looking a lot more like the pitcher we saw from 2014-2016 than the nightmare version of Tanaka we saw at the beginning of this season. Since the All-Star break, Tanaka is sporting a 3.13 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, and 10.8 K/9 rate. Start him with confidence.
9. Kyle Hendricks (8/15 vs. CIN, 8/20 vs. TOR)
Hendricks has a 2.57 ERA in four starts since he returned from the disabled list. But the problem is that he’s failed to exceed five innings in three of those starts, which has taken a toll on his value in leagues that count wins and/or quality starts. Hendricks is a long way off from last year’s elite season, but if he can just improve his efficiency a bit, he can still be an asset in mixed leagues.
10. Marco Estrada (8/15 vs. TB, 8/20 @CHC)
I recently wrote that Estrada could return to form, but that I wouldn’t consider starting him until he puts together at least three good starts. Well, Estrada has a 1.71 ERA and 0.95 WHIP over his last three starts, and the start before that wasn’t bad, either. This is a pitcher who was a major under-the-radar asset in fantasy leagues the last couple seasons, so while three good starts isn’t enough to prove Estrada is back, it’s likely worth the leap of faith. Estrada is a good example of a player you pick up to stream in a two-start week and end up using the rest of the season.
11. Brad Peacock (8/15 @ARI, 8/20 vs. OAK)
Peacock has been very impressive since he joined the Astros’ rotation. He had a rare off night against the Blue Jays on August 4 (7 ERs in 6 IP), but he rebounded with 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball against the White Sox on August 10. The trip to Chase Field is a bit scary, but Peacock has earned a bit of leash and having the Astros’ lineup backing him doesn’t hurt, either.
12. Dinelson Lamet (8/15 vs. PHI, 8/20 vs. WAS)
Lamet’s ERA stands at an even 5.00 on the season, but there are some reasons for optimism. He has a 2.31 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and 8.9 K/9 rate over his last four starts, and gets two starts at Petco Park this week, including one against the hapless Phillies.
13. Jerad Eickhoff (8/14 @SD, 8/19 @SF)
Eickhoff hasn’t had a great year, but he has a solid 3.04 ERA and 1.23 WHIP over his last four starts. But his best selling point is that he gets appealing road matchups against the Padres and Giants, which are each in the bottom five in OPS against right-handed pitching.
If You’re Desperate
14. Luis Castillo (8/15 @CHC, 8/20 @ATL)
Castillo has talent but his results have just been so-so — he’s given up three or more runs in six of his last eight starts, and only completed seven innings once this season. The biggest difference from his performance at Triple-A is that his BB/9 rate has gone from 1.46 to 3.88. Castillo has benefited from a low .255 BABIP allowed, but he’s also been giving up more home runs than he did in the minors despite inducing more ground balls, so perhaps some positive regression is due there. Castillo should continue to improve, but he’s a dicey option at the moment.
15. Ty Blach (8/14 @MIA, 8/19 vs. PHI)
Blach has been pitching surprisingly well lately — he has a 2.98 ERA and 1.22 WHIP since June 28. He also gets a couple of fairly enticing matchups. On the other hand, he’s striking out less than one batter every two innings this year, which is far and away the lowest strikeout rate of any qualified starter in the league. Caution is advised.
16. Jose Quintana (8/14 vs. CIN, 8/19 vs. TOR)
Quintana’s strikeout rate is up this year, but so is his walk rate. The tradeoff has not been a beneficial one for him — his ERA is over 4.00 for the first time in his career and his FIP and xFIP both indicate that he’s only due for a little positive regression. The matchups aren’t terrible, but it’s hard to get excited about Quintana at this point.
17. Mike Leake (8/15 @BOS, 8/20 @PIT)
Leake’s season-long numbers are still decent, and the trip to PNC Park is appealing. But Leake hasn’t been any good in months (he has a 4.71 ERA since May 29), so I would recommend sitting him if at all possible.
18. Ivan Nova (8/15 @MIL, 8/20 vs. STL)
Nova fits in the same category as Leake — his overall numbers are still alright but he’s been no good of late. In fact, he has an awful 6.67 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break, so you’d need to be pretty desperate to use him.
19. Trevor Bauer (8/14 @BOS, 8/19 @KC)
Bauer has pitched well in three straight starts, but that’s not enough to outweigh his lengthy record of poor performances. His career ERA is 4.48 through 672 innings. He’s a risky choice, even with favorable matchups on the slate.
20. Julio Teheran (8/14 @COL, 8/19 vs. CIN)
Teheran has looked lost on the mound all season, and he’s been particularly bad lately. Over his last three starts, Teheran has given up 16 earned runs in 14 2/3 innings. He also has to travel to Coors Field this week, so it’s highly likely that his troubles will continue.
21. Kevin Gausman (8/14 @SEA, 8/20 vs. LAA)
I am not a member of the Kevin Gausman fan club, but it should be noted that he had pitched very well in four straight starts before a subpar effort against the Angels on August 9. His matchups this week are also above average. Still, we’re talking about a pitcher with a hideous 5.21 ERA and 1.63 WHIP on the season, and that makes him a fringy streamer, at best, no matter the matchups.
Just Say No
Vince Velasquez (8/15 @SD, 8/20 @SF)
Collin McHugh (8/14 @ARI, 8/19 vs. OAK)
Sean Newcomb (8/15 @COL, 8/20 vs. CIN)
A.J. Griffin (8/14 vs. DET, 8/19 vs. CHW)
Doug Fister (8/14 vs. CLE, 8/20 vs. NYY)
Adam Conley (8/14 vs. SF, 8/20 @NYM)
Jharel Cotton (8/14 vs. KC, 8/20 @HOU)
Antonio Senzatela (8/14 vs. ATL, 8/19 vs. MIL)
Yovani Gallardo (8/14 vs. BAL, 8/20 @TB)
Anthony Banda (8/15 vs. HOU, 8/20 @MIN)
Bartolo Colon (8/15 vs. CLE, 8/20 vs. ARI)
Asher Wojciechowski (8/14 @CHC, 8/19 @ATL)
Miguel Gonzalez (8/15 @LAD, 8/20 @TEX)
Travis Wood (8/14 vs. PHI, 8/19 vs. WAS)
Rafael Montero (8/14 @NYY, 8/19 vs. MIA)
Martin Perez (8/15 vs. DET, 8/20 vs. CHW)
Nick Tepesch (8/14 vs. TB, 8/19 @CHC)
Velasquez has good stuff and nice matchups, but he’s been getting hit hard this season. And he left his last start with numbness in his finger, so he’s no sure bet to even make two starts this week…McHugh has struck out a batter per inning through his first 22 innings this year, but that’s where the good news ends. His ERA is on the rise for the fourth consecutive season, and his peripherals don’t offer much hope for improvement. The matchups are also ugly.