Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers: 3/28-4/7
We did it, everyone. Opening Day is here (sorry, Mariners and Athletics, but this is the real Opening Day). And like last year, fantasy owners are treated to a long first week in the second straight season starting on a Thursday. All 30 teams play on Opening Day, so if you need an excuse to take a PTO day from work and fire up your MLB.tv account, this is as good as any.
The first week and the week after the All-Star Game are always interesting when it comes to streaming pitchers. Throughout the season, you’re looking for available players who will give you two starts in a given week. It’s hard to do that this week with teams throwing out their aces or de facto top options.
With Week 1 running from March 28 to April 7, a lot of guys will get multiple starts in those 11 days. Let’s break down the number of games per team in the first scoring period:
- 11 games – Red Sox, Blue Jays, A’s
- 10 games – Rays, Tigers, Rangers, Astros, Angels, Marlins, Reds, Brewers, Giants, Diamondbacks, Dodgers, Padres, Rockies
- 9 games – Orioles, Yankees, Indians, Mariners, Mets, Braves, Pirates, Cubs, Cardinals,
- 8 games – Twins, White Sox, Royals, Nationals, Phillies
For those keeping score at home, the A’s will play 13 games by April 7.
While not every team has finalized its rotation, we have a general idea of who will make multiple starts and who won’t. Let’s first look at those slated to make three.
Chris Sale (BOS): 3/28 at Seattle, 4/2 at Oakland, 4/7 at Arizona
There was some concern for Sale entering spring training, but he put those worries to rest by striking out seven batters over four innings in his debut. He isn’t available anywhere, obviously, but he’s worth rolling out there even in the worst starts. Having Seattle, Oakland, and Arizona — all on the road in pitchers’ parks — makes Sale the clear No. 1 pitcher for the first week.
Mike Fiers (OAK): 3/28 vs L.A. Angels, 4/2 vs Boston, 4/7 at Houston
Bob Melvin is rolling with the same two starters that he used in the two-game Japan series, meaning Fiers and Marco Estrada get the nod in Oakland’s two games against the Angles. Unlike Sale, Fiers is not an ace and doesn’t have the benefit of great matchups to kick off his season.
If you’re in a points league, Fiers is worth gambling on if you have an open spot, but there’s no way I’m trusting him in any category-based league with Boston and Houston on the docket.
Marcus Stroman (TOR): 3/28 vs Detroit, 4/2 vs Baltimore, 4/7 at Cleveland)
Speaking of points leagues, Stroman has excelled in the format. I’m typically wary of pitchers with shoulder injuries, but he is one of few who provides consistent, valuable innings. In 2016 and 2017, the righty reached 200 innings in back-to-back years. Though he doesn’t offer many strikeouts, those innings are valuable in points formats.
I would feel comfortable starting Stroman in points and category-based leagues to start the season, as he has two plus-matchups in Detroit and Baltimore and a potentially great third matchup depending on the availability of Jose Ramirez and Francisco Lindor.
With the three-start guys now out of the way, let’s look at some two-start guys who may be available. A lot are already widely rostered, so let’s set the bar to a 30-percent ownership rate or lower on Yahoo.
Trevor Cahill (LAA): 3/28 at Oakland, 4/2 at Seattle
Two things needed to happen for Cahill to succeed over the past two seasons: health and a good ballpark. Luckily for the Angels’ Opening Day starter, he has both for now.
Cahill will draw two road starts, but both are in spacious ballparks against good, not great, lineups. Primarily a fly-ball pitcher, he is a top streaming option for me at Oakland and Seattle. He’s a great option in points leagues and is a good ratio play in category leagues, too.
Trevor Richards (MIA): 3/29 vs Colorado, 4/3 vs N.Y. Mets
Richards has been one of my guys all offseason. Although mainly a fastball/changeup pitcher, he added a cutter and curveball to his repertoire this spring. The Marlins are doing the right thing by going with an all-upside rotation, and I trust Richards the most out of these young options.
Richards’ changeup is a true punchout pitch, and he’ll display it in two home starts against the Rockies and Mets. Both teams have good offenses, but Miami’s spacious ballpark should neutralize those advantages.
If you’re in a wins league, I’m less enthusiastic given the state of the Marlins’ lineup, but would still feel OK rolling out Richards. However, he’s a fantastic option in a quality starts or points league.
Eric Lauer (SD): 3/28 vs San Francisco, 4/2 vs Arizona
All of the talk about San Diego’s rotation begins with Matt Strahm and Chris Paddack, but don’t forget about Lauer. He gets the Opening Day nod — a great matchup against the Giants — and another beatable NL West offense in the Diamondbacks. Lauer is mainly a fastball/slider guy, and though the final numbers didn’t look great, he had a fantastic June and September with a 2.76 and 1.33 ERA, respectively. A deep option for now, he can return value as a streamer in leagues with 15 or more teams.