Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitcher Rankings: 9/11 – 9/17

Sep 9, 2017

Welcome to your weekly two-start pitcher rankings. We’re approaching the end of the regular season, which means it’s time for teams to start messing with their rotations as they start reaching the innings limits for rookies and resting veterans for the playoffs.

Even so, there are still plenty of big names with two starts this week. However, remember that probable pitchers are always subject to change, so double-check your two-start options before your lineup gets locked in.

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Too Big To Fail

Corey Kluber (9/12 vs. DET, 9/17 vs. KC)
Kluber gets a surprise two-start week with Danny Salazar moving to the bullpen, but he immediately jumps to the top of the rankings. He is the best pitcher in baseball right now, as he’s actually been unlucky with his 2.56 ERA according to his 2.48 xFIP. The Tigers and Royals are good matchups as well, so expect more top-quality performances from Kluber this week.

Zack Greinke (9/11 vs. COL, 9/16 @SF)
While Greinke has to face Colorado, at least he gets to do it at home. Chase Field isn’t much friendlier to pitchers than Coors is, but Greinke has a 2.31 ERA there vs. a 4.00 mark on the road. Then he gets to face off against an anemic Giants offense at one of the most hitter-friendly parks. It doesn’t get much better.

Carlos Carrasco (9/11 vs. DET, 9/16 vs. KC)
There may not be a hotter pitcher out there than Carrasco. In his past three outings, he’s pitched 23 innings, allowing a total of two runs and striking out 25 while walking none. He’s allowed zero or one run in five of his last six starts, and I expect that to continue this week.

The Next Best Thing

Jose Quintana (9/12 vs. NYM, 9/17 vs. STL)
He had a 5.73 ERA in August, but don’t let that deter you. That number’s at 4.32 for the season and, and his FIP is even lower at 3.92. His strikeout rate is impressive as well, as he’s struck out 30 batters over his past 23 innings, compared to just seven walks. Both opponents are essentially average against lefties, so expect the usual from Quintana.

Eduardo Rodriguez (9/12 vs. OAK, 9/17 @TB)
Rodriguez’s ERA of 4.33 may seem a little high for his placement here, but his metrics indicate he’s been slightly better than that. He has a FIP of 4.03 and is striking out more than a quarter of the batters he faces this season, which makes his upcoming matchups even more appetizing. Both the Athletics and Rays are in the bottom third offensively against lefties and have one of the six highest strikeout rates.

Justin Verlander (9/12 @LAA, 9/17 vs. SEA)
Verlander will be making his second and third starts for his new team, but despite the change in uniform, his performance should see no such adjustment. He’s another player who’s been hot of late, allowing two or fewer runs in his last four starts and seven of his last eight. With him rediscovering his velocity as of late, he’s as dangerous as ever.

Sonny Gray (9/12 @TB, 9/17 vs. BAL)
Gray may have a 3.36 ERA this season, but his underlying metrics indicate he hasn’t been quite that good. He’s walked at least two batters in all but one of his starts with his new team, which is a trend that can’t continue if he wants to find success. Both the Rays and Orioles can hit righties, but Gray should be able to limit the damage and get at least one win in games that will likely be extremely competitive.

Jon Gray (9/12 @ARI, 9/17 vs. SD)
Gray No. 2 gets one easy matchup and one hard one, but he’s shown enough to be placed in this group regardless. His FIP of 3.47 is significantly lower than his 4.26 ERA, and the Diamondbacks aren’t actually all that scary against righties. He’ll still have to pitch in the two most hitter-friendly ballparks in the game, but at least he gets to face the lowly Padres in one of them.

Gerrit Cole (9/11 @MIL, 9/17 @CIN)
Cole has been his typical solid self all season, posting a sub-4 ERA for what would be the fifth straight season to start his career. This week, though, he faces the Brewers and Reds, two teams that are above-average against righties. Both games are also on the road, and while Cole doesn’t have any kind of bad away split, both ballparks fall into the hitter-friendly category. Cole should be fine, but there’s some uncertainty.

Decent-ish Options

Gio Gonzalez (9/12 vs. ATL, 9/17 vs. LAD)
Gonzalez escaped unscathed in his last outing, but he also struck out just four batters compared to three walks. That’s been the trend all season, as despite a 2.50 ERA, he has a 3.88 FIP and 4.27 xFIP. Now he has to face the Braves and Dodgers, two of the top 10 offensive teams against lefties.

Taijuan Walker (9/12 vs. COL, 9/17 @SF)
Like Greinke, Walker also gets to face off against the Rockies without having to travel to Coors. This ends up being extremely beneficial, since the Rockies and Giants are the two worst offenses against righties according to wRC+, which takes park effects into account. Coming off four straight starts of allowing one or fewer run, the floor is extremely high this week for Walker.

C.C. Sabathia (9/11 @TB, 9/16 vs. BAL)
Sabathia is coming off an appearance in which he allowed five runs to the very same Orioles that he’s playing this week, which doesn’t exactly inspire confidence. He allowed one run in each of his games before that though, and he also gets a start against the Rays who haven’t been great against lefties. He could have a decent week, but he won’t pile on the strikeouts.

Garrett Richards (9/12 vs. HOU, 9/17 vs. TEX)
There are a number of things working against Richards this week. He’s coming off his first outing in five months, one where he threw just 52 pitches over 3 1/3 innings. Plus, he has to face the Astros and Rangers, two teams in the top third offensively against righties. That being said, he’s put up ace-like numbers in the past, so he’s a risk/reward play this week.

Marco Estrada (9/11 vs. BAL, 9/16 @MIN)
Inconsistency is the name of the game for Estrada. In his past six starts, he’s allowed zero runs in two of them, three runs in another two, and six in the others. Your best guess is as good as mine as to what kind of performance to expect from him this week, but at least he has some upside.

If You’re Desperate

Sean Manaea (9/12 @BOS, 9/17 @PHI)
Coming off his best performance in over three months, Manaea draws a soft week against the Red Sox and Phillies, both of whom are below-average offenses against lefties. If he can regain his form from the first half of the season, then this week would be no problem. However, he went all of August though without getting more than three strikeouts in a game, so we’ll have to see whether his most recent start was a fluke or not.

Kyle Freeland (9/11 @ARI, 9/16 vs. SD)
Freeland has one of the easiest slates of the week. He faces the Diamondbacks first, a team that is fourth-worst offensively against lefties. Then he returns home, but gets to do so against the Padres, the worst offensive team against lefties. Of course, while the matchups are solid, his numbers haven’t been. His 3.99 season ERA is hiding a 4.58 FIP, and he’s striking out less than 16 percent of batters (6.26 K/9).

Jason Hammel (9/11 vs. CHW, 9/16 @CLE)
Admittedly, this isn’t Hammel’s best year, but there’s some upside to him this week. His first matchup is against the White Sox, the fifth-worst offense against righties. He has to travel to Cleveland after that, but he should get at least one win as well as the possibility of another, as he’s gone at least five innings in every game since June.

Brandon Woodruff (9/11 vs. PIT, 9/17 @MIA)
He’s only started four games at the major league level, but the early returns look promising. He has an ERA of just 1.52 in those games, but a 3.39 FIP and 4.43 xFIP tell the real story. Matchups against the Pirates and Marlins may help him keep the success going though.

Dylan Bundy (9/12 @TOR, 9/17 @NYY)
Like Hammel, Bundy gets one easy matchup and one difficult one this week. Unlike Hammel, Bundy has serious strikeout potential, having recorded eight or more in four of his past five games. He should be able to keep the runs down against the Blue Jays, but the Yankees will not be so easy to get through.

Kyle Gibson (9/12 vs. SD, 9/17 vs. TOR)
Gibson’s numbers are not good this season. He has a 5.19 ERA, which is only marginally worse than his 4.84 FIP. I’m willing to give him a chance here though, going against two weak offenses. The Padres and Blue Jays are two of the worst offenses against right-handed pitchers, and Gibson has allowed two runs or fewer in four consecutive starts.

Nick Pivetta (9/12 vs. MIA, 9/17 vs. OAK)
Pivetta’s season ERA of 6.49 is undoubtedly ugly, but he also has a 4.38 xFIP that indicates he’s been a little unlucky. Neither of these opponents are particularly easy though, although he did recently give up just one run over six innings against Miami. I don’t have much confidence in him, but if you’re desperate, there are worse options.

Cole Hamels (9/12 vs. SEA, 9/17 @LAA)
Hamels has not been good as of late. He’s allowed 14 runs over his past three starts, making it more than five innings just once. He walks too many batters and doesn’t strike out enough, but a week against the Mariner and Angels may be just what the doctor ordered. Don’t expect lights out stuff, but he can provide a win or two.

Just Say No

Brian Reiff is a correspondent at FantasyPros. For more from Brian, check out his archive and follow him @briansreiff.


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