Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers: 6/17-6/23
Should you start a player straight off an injury? That’s the question fantasy managers will have to answer this upcoming week with Mike Clevinger’s return to the Cleveland rotation. Clevinger went on the IL in April with a back injury, from which he considers himself “lucky” to have not suffered more damage.
Clevinger looked fantastic in his rehab outings, hitting 99 on the radar gun. But do fantasy managers start him this week?
It really all depends on the comfort of the fantasy player. Jimmy Nelson was dreadful in his return to the mound, but it was off a much longer absence. Not all injuries and returns are made the same. It’s a hitter vs. a pitcher, which is always a tough and unfair comparison, but look at Matt Olson. Coming off a hamate injury, the Oakland slugger bucked the trend of zapped power that has impacted so many hitters with the same injury before him.
I’ll examine Clevinger in a little bit, but as a spoiler, I’m running him out there. You should, too.
Like I do every week, I’ll break the pitchers down 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 11 a.m. ET on June 14.
Don’t Think Twice
Justin Verlander (6/18 @CIN, 6/23 @NYY)
Jose Berrios (6/17 vs. BOS, 6/22 @KC)
Clayton Kershaw (6/18 vs. SF, 6/23 vs. COL)
Jacob deGrom (6/18 @ATL, 6/23 @CHC)
Mike Soroka (6/17 vs. NYM, 6/23 @WAS)
Widely Owned Options
Luis Castillo (6/17 vs. HOU, 6/22 @MIL)
Normally, Castillo would be a set-and-forget guy, and honestly, that’s what you’re doing with him next week. But it is worth mentioning that he faces two of the top offenses in baseball. The breakout hurler may not be at his absolute best against the Astros and Brewers.
Brandon Woodruff (6/18 @SD, 6/23 vs. CIN)
I was this close to making Woodruff a guy you don’t think twice about. The matchups are good, and he’s been an absolute stud since the beginning of May. He’s a top-25 pitcher going forward.
Mike Clevinger 6/17 @TEX, 6/22 vs. DET)
And here. We. Go. It’s nice that Clevinger is back, and honestly, I think people forget how good he was before getting hurt. While he only pitched two games, he didn’t allow a run and had 22 strikeouts. I’m usually risk-averse when it comes to players coming off an injury, but when it’s someone of this caliber with two starts, I’m starting him right away.
Patrick Corbin (6/17 vs. PHI, 6/22 vs. ATL)
In four of his last five games, Corbin has struggled mightily. And the competition hasn’t even been that good either. He’s stumbled against the White Sox, Reds, Padres, and Mets while dominating the Marlins. I’m not starting him if I’m worried about my ratios until he gets things moving in the right direction.
Cole Hamels (6/18 vs. CHW, 6/23 vs. NYM)
I will start Hamels, though. He has two fantastic matchups and should return a positive value.
James Paxton (6/17 vs. TB, 6/22 vs. HOU)
Speaking of players struggling when coming off the IL, Paxton has been dreadful. He’s been a disappointment so far in his first season in pinstripes. I’m not writing him off at all, but I’m only starting him in points leagues with the Rays and Astros on deck.
Kenta Maeda (6/17 vs. SF, 6/22 vs. COL)
Maeda has pitched six innings just once in his last six outings, and he only lasted 4.1 his last time out against the Angels. He has two great matchups this week, so he should right the ship.
Jack Flaherty (6/18 vs. MIA, 6/23 vs. LAA)
Flaherty has disappointed in his sophomore season considering where he was going in drafts. He failed to record a strikeout for the first time in his career last weekend against the Cubs, and he just gave up four runs to the Mets. I’m starting him because of the matchups, but I can’t say I feel overly confident about it.
Yonny Chirinos (6/17 @NYY, 6/22 @OAK)
Chirinos is quietly really, really good. The only thing stopping him from becoming a must-start fantasy asset is that he bounces back and forth between the bullpen and the rotation too frequently.
In the Danger Zone
J.A. Happ (6/18 vs. TB, 6/23 vs. HOU)
Happ has been better of late but struggled his last time out against the White Sox, where he allowed four earned runs in five innings. He’s a streamer with the right matchups, and these are them.
Zach Eflin (6/18 @WAS, 6/23 vs. MIA)
After two back-to-back great starts, I feel confident in running Eflin out there most weeks. The Nationals’ bats have been better of late, but not good enough to make me shy away.
Miles Mikolas (6/17 vs. MIA, 6/22 vs. LAA)
Mikolas acknowledged that he had luck in his favor last year, and he hasn’t had it this year. I feel OK with the matchups, but he’s not a guy I’m starting each week.
Jake Arrieta (6/17 @WAS, 6/22 vs. MIA)
Take away the name value, and you have a bad pitcher. I’m fine dropping him for any enticing streamer or bat on the wire.
Rick Porcello 6/17 @MIN, 6/23 vs. TOR)
Porcello put up a solid line against Texas earlier this week after struggling his past two times out. The Toronto matchup should balance out the Twins matchup. He’s a preferred points-league starter over category leagues.
Joey Lucchesi (6/17 vs. MIL, 6/23 @PIT)
Lucchesi has been on a roll lately, and the best part is he’s been going deeper into games. He’s pitched at least six innings in four out of his past five starts.
Lance Lynn (6/17 vs. CLE, 6/22 vs. CHW)
Maybe I’ve been hurt too many times before, but I’m having trouble buying into Lynn. Even during his good season two years ago, it was mostly fluky. The matchups are good enough to stream him, but that’s all he is still — a streamer.
Zach Plesac (6/18 @TEX, 6/23 vs. DET)
Plesac has been mostly impressive this year despite struggling his last time out. I’ll run him out this week, especially for the Detroit matchup.
Marcus Stroman (6/18 vs. LAA, 6/23 @BOS)
A points-league specialist, Stroman is no more than a streamer in category-based leagues. These aren’t the matchups you want for that purpose.
Owned in Under 50% of Leagues
Adrian Sampson (6/18 vs. CLE, 6/23 vs. CHW)
Tyler Skaggs (6/18 @TOR, 6/23 @STL)
Yusei Kikuchi (6/18 vs. KC, 6/23 vs. BAL)
Not surprisingly, the Red Sox knocked around Sampson for six runs at Fenway Park. I still don’t fully buy into his fly-ball profile because of his home ballpark, but he’s my favorite from this group because of the matchups on the table.
Owned in Under 25% of Leagues
Merrill Kelly (6/18 vs. COL, 6/23 vs. SF)
Mike Fiers (6/17 vs. BAL, 6/22 vs. TB)
Jordan Yamamoto (6/18 @STL, 6/23 @PHI)
Michael Pineda (6/18 vs. BOS, 6/23 @KC)
Brett Anderson (6/18 vs. BAL, 6/23 vs. TB)
Danny Duffy (6/17 @SEA, 6/22 vs. MIN)
Freddy Peralta (6/17 @SD, 6/22 vs. CIN)
Erick Fedde (6/18 vs. PHI, 6/23 vs. ATL)
Tommy Milone (6/17 vs. KC, 6/22 vs. BAL)
There are a few names I like here. Milone is the ultimate bad pitcher going up against bad offenses dice roll. Fedde has been good, but unspectacular of late. Peralta is only usable against teams who struggle against the fastball. Yamamoto was fantastic in his debut, but will he make both starts? My favorite, though, is Kelly. He’s given up just two earned runs in 22.1 innings in June so far. The matchups are great, so I’m making him a priority add for his two-start week.
Not Unless You’re Desperate
Gabriel Ynoa (6/18 @OAK, 6/23 @SEA)
Elieser Hernandez (6/17 @STL, 6/22 @PHI)
David Hess (6/17 @OAK, 6/22 @SEA)
Tyler Beede (6/17 @LAD, 6/22 @ARI)
Edwin Jackson (6/17 vs. LAA, 6/22 @BOS)
Shaun Anderson (6/18 @LAD, 6/23 @ARI)
Antonio Senzatela (6/18 @ARI, 6/23 @LAD)
Homer Bailey (6/18 @SEA, 6/23 vs. MIN)
Daniel Norris (6/18 @PIT, 6/23 @CLE)
Jason Vargas (6/17 @ATL, 6/22 @CHC)
Anthony DeSclafani (6/18 vs. HOU, 6/23 @MIL)
Felix Pena (6/17 @TOR, 6/22 @STL)