Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers: 8/13 – 8/19
As we stare Week 19 of the Fantasy Baseball season square in the face, it’s important to remember the interesting swings in fate that got us to this point in the calendar. A couple high-end two-start pitchers on next week’s slate are on a different team than they were to begin 2018. A few have spent lengthy durations of time of the disabled list, limiting their overall impact on this campaign. Also, somehow, Jacob Turner’s back starting for the Tigers? It’s been a long and weird season, but don’t become desensitized to the flurry of roster moves. You never know where we might find value that could change the outcome of your fantasy squad.
Don’t Think Twice
Justin Verlander (8/14 vs. COL, 8/19 @OAK)
Clayton Kershaw (8/13 vs. SF, 8/19 @SEA)
Jacob deGrom (8/13 @NYY, 8/18 @PHI)
Max Scherzer (8/13 @STL, 8/18 vs. MIA)
Luis Severino (8/13 vs. NYM, 8/18 vs. TOR)
Zack Greinke (8/13 @TEX, 8/19 @SD)
Mike Clevinger (8/13 @CIN, 8/19 vs. BAL)
Miles Mikolas (8/13 vs. WAS, 8/18 vs. MIL)
Mike Foltynewicz (8/13 vs. MIA, 8/18 vs. COL)
Madison Bumgarner (8/13 @LAD, 8/18 @CIN)
It’s not exactly an ideal week for the veteran, with AT&T Park nowhere in sight, but Bumgarner has pitched well enough as of late to get the benefit of the doubt. Though his cutter velocity hasn’t returned to the peaks we saw just a couple seasons back, the veteran has surrendered only a .267 wOBA to opponents since June 21st – a period of time where he’s maintained a 2.08 ERA with an acceptable 22.9 percent strikeout rate. Is he vintage Madison Bumgarner? Not quite. But 80 cents on the dollar will do.
Chris Archer (8/14 @MIN, 8/19 vs. CHC)
Archer’s transition to the National League has been less than seamless, yet, there’s still always a pull to play him with his elevated ceiling. It’s really a classic case of seeing what you want to see in his numbers. On the one hand, you could tell yourself that he hasn’t allowed more than three earned runs in an outing since May 12th, sporting a 3.38 FIP over that 52.2 inning span. However, one might also point out that Archer has only pitched more than five frames in half of those 10 starts. For me, the tie-breaker comes in the form of the Twins. Over the past two weeks, a period in which they traded both Eduardo Escobar and Brian Dozier, Minnesota possesses just a .113 ISO and .288 wOBA. Those are pretty pathetic marks. I’d trust that Archer can take advantage of such a situation.
Andrew Heaney (8/13 @SD, 8/18 @TEX)
While Heaney has definitely had a few hiccups across the past week or two, his Week 19 schedule features two of the five teams in baseball to feature a strikeout rate above 24.0% entering play on Thursday. If that doesn’t scream upside, I’m not quite sure what does. Plus, specific to the Rangers, they lead the league in left-on-left plate appearances by a significant margin. That might be an issue for their offensive prosperity considering Heaney has held LHBs to just a .220 wOBA over 21 starts in 2018.
J.A. Happ (8/14 vs. TB, 8/19 vs. TOR)
Without even getting into the revenge factor of next Sunday’s game against the Jays, Happ simply provides strikeout upside that is unparalleled by most in MLB. With Thursday’s nine-strikeout performance versus the Rangers, Happ pushed his K/9 back up to an elite 10.07 mark, while continuing to maintain an FIP below 4.00. Sure, there are some long ball issues, but, with two games at home in Week 19 facing inferior competition from the American League East, Happ has a good chance to walk away from his next two outings with a pair of wins.
Anibal Sanchez (8/14 vs. MIA, 8/19 vs. COL)
Sanchez had to leave his Thursday afternoon start for precautionary reasons after taking a comeback line drive off the calf in the second inning. That’s not quite what you want to hear when it comes to a two-start pitcher, especially with reports that he could “barely walk” when exiting the ballpark postgame, but at least the Braves seem confident he’ll make his scheduled outing next Tuesday. If we take that optimistic stance at face value, we’re left with a pitcher who has amassed a 2.83 ERA across 86 frames. One that also draws the lowly Marlins and a non-altitude aided Rockies squad in Week 19. Make sure to keep an eye on his health this weekend, yet, if he’s good to go, you’re putting him out there.
In the Danger Zone
Sean Manaea (8/13 vs. SEA, 8/19 vs. HOU)
It’s hard to fault Manaea too much for a poor outing against a very talented Dodgers team in his most recent appearance, however, with the 26-year-old now almost completely devoid of strikeout upside, there’s just so little room for error. In his past 82.2 innings pitched, a span of time that stretches back to May 19th, Manaea has only mustered a meager 14.2% strikeout rate – a figure that would represent the second-lowest mark in all of baseball if prorated across the entire season. It makes Oakland’s “ace” exceedingly hard to trust in a fantasy capacity. Plus, by the time next Sunday rolls around, we could be looking at an Astros’ team with George Springer, Carlos Correa, and Jose Altuve all back in the fold. That’s a daunting opposition for a pitcher so reliant on contact suppression.
Marco Gonzales (8/13 @OAK, 8/19 vs. LAD)
You couldn’t ask much more of Gonzales this season, but Week 19 is shaping up to be reminiscent of a two-start draw a few weeks prior, where Seattle’s young LHP was asked to circumnavigate both the Yankees and Red Sox in a single seven-day span. Unsurprisingly, that didn’t work out so hot for Gonzales. Oakland has carried the fifth-highest team wRC+ in baseball the past 30 days (115) and, while the Dodgers have slumped as of late, you know they’re a dormant offensive giant. With Gonzales allowing a .441 wOBA to opposing batters through two August starts, this seems like as good a time as any to quit while you’re vastly ahead with the 26-year-old. You don’t have to drop him, however, a seat on the bench would be my recommendation next week.
Streamers Under 50%
Look, I’m always searching for some obscure stat to convince someone to play an under-owned and under-appreciated starting pitcher, however, sometimes, there’s just a simple stat too pressing to ignore. When it comes to Marquez there’s a very easy rule of thumb: don’t start him at Coors Field. You know, Coors Field? That place where the altitude turns even the most reliable fantasy commodity into a question mark? Well, Marquez won’t have to be anywhere near Denver in Week 19 and that makes him extremely viable in all formats. For the season, a .385 opponent wOBA at home – the highest qualified mark in the National League – turns into a pristine .268 figure when Marquez is blessed with an outing on the road. His 3.48 FIP in these 67.0 innings is almost a run-and-an-half lower that it is at Coors. Toss in the fact that the Rockies’ hurler draws Houston early enough where he might catch them at less than full strength, and you’ve got a reliable streaming option wherever available.
Streamers Under 25%
There’s so, so much benefit to pitching in the American League Central. Sure, because he’s rostered by the White Sox, Lopez doesn’t get the opportunity to face one of the most strikeout-prone offenses in baseball on a consistent basis, but he still gets to face the Tigers and Royals more than his fair share. Really, I won’t pretend for a second that this highlighting of Lopez isn’t entirely about matchups. The 24-year-old is actually coming off two solid outings, yet, that just serves as icing on the cake. Detroit is hitting below the Mendoza Line across the last 30 days (.196), combining that embarrassing accomplishment with league-worst marks in wOBA (.240) and wRC+ (45). As for Kansas City? They only sport the lowest ISO of any AL club at .132 for the year. Two-start weeks don’t come much better than this from an opposition standpoint. Take advantage if you can.
Not Unless You’re Desperate
Garion Thorne is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Garion, check out his archive and follow him @GarionThorne.