Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitcher Rankings: 9/25 – 10/1
We’ve done it. We’ve reached the end of baseball season.
It’s hard to believe there’s only one week left, but that’s how it is. Soon, football will get all the attention, but for one more week, there’s still baseball to be played and pitchers to be streamed.
Perhaps this week more than ever, remember that probable pitchers are subject to change, so double-check your two-start options before your lineup gets locked in. Many teams will be resting their starters for the playoffs, so it’s difficult to tell as of this writing which pitchers will be the ones to make two starts this week.
Too Big To Fail
- Chris Sale (9/26 vs. TOR, 10/1 vs. HOU)
Even a matchup with the Astros isn’t enough to scare Mr. 300. Sale has 47 strikeouts in his past five starts, emerging unscathed in three of those. The only concern here is that he might not get to make that start against the Astros if he gets rested for the playoffs, but even one-start Chris Sale is a valuable commodity.
The Next Best Thing
- Luke Weaver (9/25 vs. CHC, 9/30 vs. MIL)
In Weaver’s past six starts, he’s allowed six total runs, struck out 49, walked four, and won six times. What more could you want? With a 2.05 ERA for the year and heading into two divisional matchups, expect Weaver to continue his recent dominance.
- Luis Severino (9/26 vs. KC, 10/1 vs. TOR)
There’s little doubt anymore that Severino is one of the game’s best young pitchers. He’ll almost certainly have his innings in check in his final two games, but even five innings of Severino is better than what you’re going to get from most other pitchers. Don’t think too much about it.
- Brad Peacock (9/25 @TEX, 9/30 @BOS)
Did you know that Peacock has struck out over 30 percent of the batters he faced this season? Well, now you do. A 2.97 FIP supports his 2.98 ERA on the year, showing he hasn’t just been getting lucky. His matchups against the Rangers and Red Sox shouldn’t scare you, as Peacock looks to be an excellent two-start option for the final week of the season.
- Zack Godley (9/25 vs. SF, 10/1 @KC)
Any week that you face the Giants, you’re going to be rated highly in this column. If you have a 3.20 ERA, are striking out over 26 percent of batters, and your name is Zack Godley, then that’s even better. He hasn’t been at his best lately-he allowed five runs over five innings to the Padres-but he’s still racking up the strikeouts and gets two easy matchups this week.
- Carlos Martinez (9/26 vs. CHC, 10/1 vs. MIL)
Martinez is the second Cardinals pitcher to appear here, which is surprising given the team’s lack of easy matchups. But even despite his recent struggles, Martinez has a 3.63 ERA for the season and is striking out over a quarter of batters. He’s prone to allow a few runs here and there, but he can also get you 15+ strikeouts over the two matchups if things click for him.
- Mike Clevinger (9/26 vs. MIN, 10/1 vs. CWS)
He’s allowed just two runs over his past five starts. He’s struck out 34 batters during that time as well. He may not be Corey Kluber, but he doesn’t have to be if he keeps pitching this well. There’s not much right now that could get him out of his rhythm.
- Gio Gonzalez (9/26 @PHI, 10/1 vs. PIT)
Hello, ladies. Look at Gio Gonzalez’s FIP. Now back to his ERA. Now back to his FIP. Now back to his ERA. Sadly, his FIP isn’t his ERA. Still, matchups against the Phillies and Pirates are some of the best you could hope for, especially for a lefty, and they are enough to make me comfortable starting Gonzalez.
- Tanner Roark (9/25 @PHI, 9/30 vs. PIT)
The matchups are easier for a lefty, but only marginally-both teams are bottom-10 offenses against righties as well. Roark has been the better National as of late, striking out at least six batters in six straight appearances and not allowing more than three runs in a start since July. Both teammates get the nod, although be wary of the Nationals giving one or both of them rest for the playoffs.
- Jon Lester (9/25 @STL, 9/30 vs. CIN)
Lester has not been himself this season, but he’s still managed to get by. A 4.56 ERA and 4.18 FIP are more than good enough these days, even if it’s not what we’re accustomed to getting from Lester. It’s worth noting that his last time out against Cincinnati, he allowed seven runs and didn’t make it out of the second inning. But that can’t happen again, right? Right!?
- Drew Pomeranz (9/25 vs. TOR, 9/30 vs. HOU)
The 3.15 ERA looks good, but the 3.77 FIP and 4.09 xFIP paint a different picture. He’s still absolutely worth starting, but he walks too many batters to be completely trusted, especially with a matchup against the Astros coming up. He should be able to limit the damage as he’s done recently, but there’s a reason he’s only a decent-ish option.
- Jake Arrieta (9/26 @STL, 10/1 vs. CIN)
Making his return from injury on Thursday, Arrieta pitched about as well as you could expect, allowing one run over five innings. He only struck out two though, although the strikeouts should pick back up as he gets back into more regular action. His second-half performance has been vintage Arrieta (as much as “vintage” can apply to two years ago”, but the injury and possible innings limit is what concerns me here.
- Dallas Keuchel (9/26 @TEX, 10/1 @BOS)
They resist explanation. You know they exist, but you have trouble believing that they’re real. You feel like you’re being led on every time you hear about them. No, I’m not talking about fans of The Phantom Menace; I’m talking about Dallas Keuchel’s home/road splits. His career ERA at home is 2.94. His career ERA on the road is 4.46. He plays two road games this week.
- Johnny Cueto (9/25 @ARI, 10/1 vs. SD)
A trip to Chase Field certainly isn’t ideal, although a home matchup against the Padres more than balances that out. Cueto has been getting the strikeouts recently, with 21 in his past three games, although he’s also walked nine batters and allowed seven earned runs during that time. He hasn’t been the ace that he formerly was, but he should be fine for this week.
- Felix Hernandez (9/25 @OAK, 10/1 @LAA)
He’s allowed four or more runs in three of his past four starts, although, to be fair, there was a month and a half break between starts No. 3 and 4. He hasn’t made it out of the fourth inning in either of his two most recent starts though, so it’s hard to know how much we can trust him. He has a long history and something to play for in the final week, so maybe he can redeem himself in his final two starts of the season.
If You’re Desperate
- Anibal Sanchez (9/26 @KC, 10/1 @MIN)
Nineteen strikeouts in two games are certainly one way to restore confidence after a seven-run blowup. His 6.68 ERA is unsightly, but at least his 5.74 FIP and 4.55 xFIP are a little more owner-friendly. He has a high ceiling this week, but also a low floor; deploy him at your own risk.
- Blake Snell (9/26 @NYY, 10/1 vs. BAL)
Snell has allowed one run or fewer in three of his past four starts, although to be fair, the one exception was a four-inning, six-run outing against the Twins. He seems to have his walk problem under control, which was the main cause of concern for him earlier in the season. With a 4.01 ERA and 4.29 FIP, you can trust Snell this week to at least provide you something.
- C.C. Sabathia (9/25 vs. KC, 9/30 vs. TOR)
Sabathia isn’t sexy-neither in appearance nor results-but he gets the job done. If you’re scraping the bottom of the barrel, you could certainly do worse than him, as he’s allowed two or fewer runs in five of his last six outings. And, now that they have Luis Severino around, the Yankees probably won’t be as worried about keeping Sabathia fresh for the playoffs.
- Seth Lugo (9/25 vs. ATL, 9/30 @PHI)
A matchup against the Phillies is a near-automatic qualification for this list. Lugo is another player whose 5.03 ERA isn’t the prettiest in the world, but he makes up for it with a 4.13 FIP. Assuming he can go at least five innings in both of his starts, he has a decent chance to pick up two wins this week.
- Daniel Mengden (9/26 vs. SEA, 10/1 @TEX)
Half the reason Mengden makes this list is his mustache. The other half is his the numbers he’s put up this season, including his most recent two starts in which he’s pitched 16 innings of shutout baseball while striking out 11 and walking none. He’s gotten a little lucky, but this isn’t a bad pitcher, and he has the possibility of shutting down an offense anytime he’s out there.
Just Say No
- Rafael Montero (9/25 vs. ATL, 10/1 @PHI)
- Carson Fulmer (9/26 vs. LAA, 10/1 @CLE)
- Tyler Chatwood (9/25 vs. MIA, 9/30 vs. LAD)
- Ricky Nolasco (9/25 @CWS, 9/30 vs. SEA)
- James Shields (9/25 vs. LAA, 9/30 @CLE)
- Ian Kennedy (9/25 @NYY, 10/1 vs. ARI)
- Trevor Williams (9/26 vs. BAL, 10/1 @WSH)
- Daniel Gossett (9/25 vs. SEA, 9/30 @TEX)
- Luke Sims (9/25 @NYM, 9/30 @MIA)
- R.A. Dickey (9/26 @NYM, 10/1 @MIA)
- Parker Bridwell (9/26 @CWS, 10/1 vs. SEA)
- Cole Hamels (9/26 vs. HOU, 10/1 vs. OAK)
- Odrisamer Despaigne (9/26 @COL, 10/1 vs. ATL)
- Brett Anderson (9/25 @BOS, 10/1 @NYY)
- Rookie Davis (9/26 @MIL, 10/1 @CHC)
- Travis Wood (9/25 @LAD, 10/1 @SF)
- Aaron Wilkerson (9/26 vs. CIN, 10/1 @STL)
- Bartolo Colon (9/26 @CLE, 10/1 vs. DET)
- Andrew Cashner (9/25 vs. HOU, 9/30 vs. OAK)