Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers: 7/1-7/7
The top section in this column every week is called “Don’t Think Twice.” But really, how many pitchers can we truly say that about? It’s a good name for a section when it comes to breaking pitchers down into tiers, but it’s hard to take literally.
It’s time to reconsider how we evaluate pitchers and hitters. With hitters, there has to be something special to differentiate them from their competition. Every player, seemingly, has the ability to hit 40 home runs. If a player only hits 20 homers now, it’s not considered impressive or even that good. You need to see a high walk rate, a change in approach, or increased stolen bases. Besides injuries, few teams in 12-team leagues should have holes in their offense. It’s why it’s so hard to trade hitting for pitching.
But yet, on draft day, we still favor hitting over pitching. And this year, more than ever, it’s been the right call. Outside of Max Scherzer and Justin Verlander, who can we trust start to start? Even Verlander’s peripherals and home run rate make you do a double-take. Pitchers like Jack Flaherty are struggling with their FIP and HR/FB rate. Blake Snell and James Paxton are looking like pitchers that you have to think twice about putting in your lineup each week, but is what out there really better?
For now, we have to keep rolling the dice with the pitchers we thought would be stud contributors to our team. In the offseason, though, it may be time to rethink our approach.
Like I do every week, I’ll break the two-start pitchers into 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 take a look at those pitchers scheduled to make two starts for the upcoming week, as projected on CBS as of June 28 at 9 a.m. ET.
Don’t Think Twice
Chris Sale (7/3 @TOR, 7/7 @ DET)
Patrick Corbin (7/2 vs. MIA, 7/7 vs. KC)
Trevor Bauer (7/2 @KC, 7/7 @CIN)
Charlie Morton 7/1 vs. BAL, 7/6 vs. NYY)
David Price 7/2 @TOR, 7/6 @DET)
Widely Owned Options
James Paxton (7/2 @NYM, 7/7 @TB)
As I mentioned above, you have to be concerned about Paxton. Could he still be dealing with a knee injury? Is he overcompensating, which could lead to further injuries? I’m rolling him out there next week, but if he struggles like he did Wednesday, I’m officially hitting the panic button. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an IL stint soon.
Mike Minor (7/1 vs. LAA, 7/6 @MIN)
There’s really not a lot to say about Minor. He continues to be a stud this year. He’s put together four straight great outings, but I bump him down a tier with Minnesota on the schedule. They lead baseball in average against lefties, and they’re second behind only the Astros in wRC+.
Jake Odorizzi (7/2 @OAK, 7/7 vs. TEX)
Odorizzi has cooled down as of late, as he’s failed to record a quality start in three straight outings. He’s still a must-start pitcher this week in pitcher-friendly confines.
Matthew Boyd (7/2 @CHW, 7/7 vs. BOS)
Boyd is another early-appointed ace who has struggled recently. He’s given up 13 runs in his past three starts. The White Sox matchup is outstanding, but there’s pause against Boston. He should net positive value still.
Jack Flaherty (7/2 @SEA, 7/7 @SF)
Outside of the ERA and home run rate, Flaherty has still been good. The control hasn’t hurt him, and he’s still striking out more than a batter per inning (9.91 K/9). Flaherty is a good buy-low option, and two starts in great ballparks help him next week. The Mariners offense is still hitting for power despite cooling down from the red-hot start to the season (seventh-most home runs in the month), but the Giants are ahead of only the Marlins for the fewest home runs by a National League team in June.
Yu Darvish (7/1 @PIT, 7/7 @CHW)
The walks are still there, but they have been a lot better than where they were to begin the season. Darvish has issued five walks over his past 18 innings, which you’ll take, especially since he’s had 24 strikeouts over the same timespan. The Pirates and White Sox are 17th and 20th, respectively, in team wRC+ this year.
In the Danger Zone
Ross Stripling (7/2 vs. ARI, 7/7 vs. SD)
Stripling is the guy to own for the Dodgers, but it’s going to be an annoying few weeks until he gets fully stretched out as a starter. Julio Urias may snake the value early on, as he’ll enter the game to get the win. I’m using Stripling as a relief option in points leagues, but that’s it.
Dallas Keuchel (7/2 vs. PHI, 7/7 vs. MIA)
It’s still early for Keuchel, but he gets two more starts before I drop him. Luckily, he faces the Marlins, which should net positive results. He’s coming off of a long layoff, but pitching in simulated games should curve the time it takes him to return to form.
Griffin Canning (7/2 @TEX, 7/7 @HOU)
I’m not concerned about any innings limit with Canning, which gives him a nice season-long boost. But he’s been just average in three of his last four outings, recording just one quality start. It’s hard to get away from him, but I’d be OK benching him if you have a good one-start option with road starts at Texas and Houston on the schedule.
Zac Gallen (7/2 @WAS, 7/7 @ATL)
Are the Marlins keeping Caleb Smith in the minors because they can’t figure out who to take out of the rotation? It seems like every time Gallen, Elieser Hernandez, and Jordan Yamamoto pitch, it’s to audition for a job. That’s the main concern I have with Gallen this upcoming week; we don’t know for sure that he will get two starts. Also, the Braves’ offense has been out of this world in June. Gallen was charged with three runs over five-plus innings against the same Nationals he’s in line to face next week, but two of those came when Wei-Yin Chen gave up a three-run bomb right after Gallen exited in the sixth.
Joe Musgrove (7/2 vs. CHC, 7/7 vs. MIL)
Musgrove is coming off his best starts in quite a long time against the Padres and Astros. While both of next week’s starts are at home, they are against two tough offenses. I’m using him only if I need a two-start pitcher in an underdog matchup.
Streamers Owned in Under 50% of Leagues
Nick Pivetta (7/2 @ATL, 7/7 @NYM)
Matt Strahm (7/2 vs. SF, 7/7 @LAD)
Logan Allen (7/1 vs. SF, 7/6 @LAD)
I really like what we’ve seen from Allen, but you have to monitor the Padres day by day to see if any of their pitchers will get two starts. They are getting Dinelson Lamet back, too, which makes things more complicated. Strahm, in a points league, is probably the best option here.
Streamers Owned in Under 25% of Leagues
Dylan Bundy (7/2 @TB, 7/7 @TOR)
Tyler Mahle (7/1 vs. MIL, 7/7 vs. CLE)
Chase Anderson (7/2 @CIN, 7/7 @PIT)
Jeff Samardzija (7/1 @SD, 7/7 vs. STL)
Jake Junis (7/2 vs. CLE, 7/7 @WAS)
Trent Thornton (7/2 vs. BOS, 7/7 vs. BAL)
This … isn’t an attractive group. Like I wrote about in my category analysis, there are things to like with Thornton and Bundy, who both were blown up in their latest outings, but they are hard to trust. Mahle is underrated, but that Milwaukee matchup is scary. All things considered, I’d go with Thornton and just pray the Orioles matchup can make up for the Boston one.
Not Unless You’re Desperate
Ariel Jurado (7/2 vs. LAA, 7/7 @MIN)
Reynaldo Lopez (7/2 vs. DET, 7/7 vs. CHC)
Jason Vargas (7/2 vs. NYY, 7/7 vs. PHI)
Wade LeBlanc (7/2 vs. STL, 7/7 vs. OAK)
Daniel Mengden (7/2 vs. MIN, 7/7 @SEA)
Adrian Houser (7/1 @CIN, 7/6 @PIT)
Glenn Sparkman (7/1 @TOR, 7/6 @WAS)
Clayton Richard (7/1 vs. KC, 7/6 vs. BAL)