Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers: 6/3-6/9
Here’s the good news: Baseball fans will get to watch some of the game’s premier aces take the mound twice next week. On the downside, that leaves limited streaming options for fantasy managers to pluck off the waiver wire.
Two of the top available choices deserve to be rostered regardless of a two-start schedule. In many active leagues, they likely already are. After those hurlers, gamers will need to dig deep or take a significant risk in order to compile extra stats from someone pulling double duty.
As Michael Waterloo has done every other week thus far, I’ll break down the two-start pitchers into these six categories:
- Don’t Think Twice – These are your aces that you start no matter what.
- Widely-Owned Options – Players owned in the majority of leagues who should provide a positive return.
- In the Danger Zone – It’s a dice roll to start them given matchups or other factors.
- Streamers Owned in Under 50% of Leagues – These guys should live on the waiver wire, but you can start them this week.
- Streamers Owned in Under 25% of Leagues – Same as above, but applied to deeper leagues.
- Not Unless You’re Desperate – I don’t recommend these guys unless you’re swinging for the fences.
Let’s examine Week 10’s two-start pitchers, estimated with help from CBS, ESPN, and FantasyPros’ projected probables. Keep in mind that plans can change, and some rotations are in flux because of a pair of Saturday doubleheaders. Boston’s rotation is particularly questionable following Thursday’s rainout, which could lead to two starts for David Price. If so, he’s a trustworthy option again the Royals and Rays.
Don’t Think Twice
- Stephen Strasburg (6/4 vs. CWS, 6/9 @SD)
- Blake Snell (6/4 @DET, 6/9 @BOS)
- Max Fried (6/4 @PIT, 6/9 @MIA)
- Luis Castillo (6/4 @STL, 6/9 @PHI)
- Chris Paddack (6/4 vs. PHI, 6/9 vs. WAS)
- Aaron Nola (6/3 @SD, 6/9 vs. CIN)
- Noah Syndergaard (6/4 vs. SF, 6/9 vs. COL)
- Walker Buehler (6/3 @ARI, 6/9 @SF)
- Kyle Hendricks (6/4 vs. COL, 6/9 vs. STL)
Although also falling short of expectations, Nola and Buehler are also definite starts. Philadelphia’s ace is slowly turning the corner with 26 punchouts in his last three turns. Plagued by the long ball, Buehler still possesses a 3.37 FIP this season while amassing 34 strikeouts to three walks in May.
Shane Bieber (6/4 vs. MIN, 6/9 vs. NYY)
After getting shelled for six runs by the Red Sox, Bieber faces two thunderous lineups ranked among the top 10 in wOBA and home runs. The Twins top each column. The Cleveland righty could easily see his 3.67 ERA balloon over 4.00 by the end of this treacherous week, but it’s awfully hard to bench a two-start hurler with 85 strikeouts in 68.2 innings. Close your eyes and hope for the best.
Madison Bumgarner (6/4 @NYM, 6/9 vs. LAD)
As of Thursday, the Mets and Dodgers respectively rank sixth and seventh in wRC+ against lefties. That makes Bumgarner far from a comfortable lock while wearing a 4.01 ERA, but there’s also a lot else to like. He has upped his K-BB% from 12.0 to 19.6 with his highest swinging-strike rate since 2016. He has also worked at least six innings in all but a dozen starts, going 5.2 in the other. Bumgarner may not dominate, but he’s a strong bet for strikeouts in quality starts.
Masahiro Tanaka (6/4 @TOR, 6/9 @CLE)
Tanaka will never truly be trustworthy, but he sports a 3.20 ERA and will draw two bottom-10 offenses away from Yankee Stadium. He has rebounded from a late-April rough patch with a 2.80 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 35.1 May innings.
Frankie Montas (6/4 @LAA, 6/9 @ TEX)
Perhaps a pitcher with a 2.81 ERA and 2.87 FIP deserves a Don’t Think Twice distinction, and this tier drop isn’t made to question Montas’ legitimacy. However, he just surrendered five hits and four runs to the Angels in his shortest outing (4 IP) of the season. After that rematch on the road, he travels to Arlington to face a Rangers offense that collected nine hits against him in Oakland. Start him, but temper expectations.
Robbie Ray (6/3 vs. LAD, 6/9 @TOR)
Ray’s walk woes always create some added risk, especially when opening the week against the Dodgers. He has still managed a 3.59 ERA despite his second rough trip to Coors, and there’s simply too much strikeout upside to miss out on a double-dip.
Zach Davies (6/4 vs. MIA, 6/9 vs. PIT)
Davies is bound to fade back to earth soon, and I’d feel much better if both of these matchups were on the road. (That layout makes Max Fried one of next week’s premier options.) Respectively 23rd and last in wRC+, the Pirates and Marlins aren’t the lineups to bring his 2.19 ERA closer to his 4.06 FIP. The opponents make Davies a borderline must-start option after he silenced the red-hot Twins on Tuesday.
In the Danger Zone
Yusei Kikuchi (6/4 vs. HOU, 6/9 @ LAA)
Kikuchi would lean much closer to sit than start if not for injuries to Jose Altuve, George Springer, and Carlos Correa. The other matchup with the Angels, however, is no walk in the park. He learned that Thursday night when surrendering 10 hits and six runs in 3.1 ugly innings, bumping up his ERA to 4.43. He has mustered a lukewarm 50 strikeouts in 67 innings, and his upcoming opponents wield baseball’s two-lowest strikeout rates.
Jon Lester (6/3 vs. COL, 6/8 vs. STL)
Lester has followed an exceptional start by surrendering 25 hits and 19 runs (16 earned) in his last three outings. His ERA has jumped from 1.16 to 3.59. He’d be a sit if at Coors, but the Rockies strike out in spades against southpaws. Consider Lester a high-risk, high-reward option better suited for points leagues.
Pablo Lopez (6/4 @MIL, 6/9 vs. ATL)
I’m president of the Pablo Lopez Fan Club, but you’re playing with fire by trusting him at Milwaukee. Even after a strong outing at San Francisco, the 23-year-old righty has a 1.84 ERA at home and an 8.26 ERA on the road. He’s a decent streamer hosting the Braves, but that Brewers start will likely offset any value in weekly leagues.
Dylan Bundy (6/4 @TEX, 6/9 @HOU)
In typical Bundy fashion, the erratic righty has recovered from a disastrous start to post a 2.54 ERA in May. Yet you’d really need to be a strikeout-obsessed daredevil to take a chance on him in a Texas two-step against the Rangers and Astros. Given Houston’s injuries, the Rangers at Arlington is actually the deal-breaker here.
Corbin Martin (6/3 @SEA, 6/8 vs. BAL)
Martin hasn’t lasted past the fourth inning since his MLB debut on May 12, and he has a ghastly eight walks to seven strikeouts in those three starts. The Baltimore start makes him enticing, but he’s too dicey to deploy despite the misleading opening gem against Texas.
Streamers Owned in Under 50% of Leagues
Griffin Canning (6/3 @CHC, 6/8 vs. SEA)
Canning is owned in just 10% of ESPN leagues, but CBS (68%) and Yahoo (37%) competitors are apparently a bit sharper. They’re still all too low. It feels wrong touting him under the streamer section, as he’s someone to add and hold for the long haul. In six stellar starts, the Angels’ 23-year-old rookie has recorded a 3.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, and 34 strikeouts in 32.1 innings. He ranks third in opposing contact rate (66.8%) and sixth in swinging-strike rate (15.1%) among starters with at least 30 innings. Keep him around after these two starts.
Wade Miley (6/4 @SEA, 6/9 vs. BAL)
Miley also might be working himself into a mixed-league mainstay. Looking at his 3.25 ERA and 4.38 FIP, skeptics are going to expect regression. Maybe not. He posted a 2.57 ERA and 3.59 FIP last season, and the lefty has stockpiled 17 strikeouts in two superb starts against the Cubs and Red Sox with 14 swinging strikes in each turn. The Mariners, who have cooled down considerably in May, rank ninth in strikeout rate against lefties. The Orioles are a great matchup away from Camden Yards, so audition Miley for a long-term stay next week.
Streamers Owned in Under 25% of Leagues
Eric Lauer (6/3 vs. PHI, 6/8 vs. WAS)
Lauer has a 2.67 ERA at home and has allowed one or two earned runs in six of his last seven turns. The outlier came at Coors Field. With a 3.40 ERA outside of May 10’s eight-run shellacking at Colorado, also the last time he issued a walk, the lefty is Week 10’s top true streamer.
Devin Smeltzer (6/4 @CLE, 6/9 @DET)
This is assuming Smeltzer sticks in the Twins’ rotation, which he should after recording seven strikeouts in six scoreless innings against the Brewers during his MLB debut. The 23-year-old may have a chance to extend his feel-good story against two feeble AL Central adversaries on the road. He has now allowed 10 runs (seven earned) in 10 starts across all levels this season, so he’s an interesting deep-league flier if given both nods. Minnesota could also skip his next turn and pitch Martin Perez on regular rest Tuesday.
Jeff Hoffman (6/4 @CHC, 6/9 @NYM)
Looking for another deep Hail Mary? After relinquishing a 7.20 ERA in three starts at Coors to begin his 2019, Hoffman finally escapes his unforgiving home park for two road trips. Although not particularly great anywhere, he holds a serviceable 4.00 ERA and 10.6 K-BB% in 63 career innings outside of Colorado. Wrigley Field has actually stifled home runs more than any other park in 2019, so the righty is a viable deep-league dart throw.
Not Unless You’re Desperate
- Jakob Junis (6/4 vs/ BOS, 6/9 vs. CWS)
- Genesis Cabrera (6/4 vs. CIN, 6/9 @CHC)
- Drew Smyly (6/4 vs. BAL, 6/9 vs. OAK)
- Wade LeBlanc (6/3 vs. HOU, 6/8 vs. LAA)
- Clayton Richard (6/4 vs. NYY, 6/9 vs. ARI)
- Ryan Weber (6/4 @KC, 6/9 vs. TB)
- Ryan Carpenter (6/4 vs. TB, 6/9 vs. MIN)