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Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers: Week 3 (2021)

by Brendan Tuma | @toomuchtuma | Featured Writer
Apr 16, 2021

In order to break down all the two-start pitchers into easy-to-understand categories, I’ll be using the same breakdowns that my colleague Michael Waterloo used last week.

  • Don’t Think Twice – These are your aces that you start no matter what.
  • Widely-Rostered Options – Players rostered 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 Rostered in Under 50% of Leagues – These guys should live on the waiver wire, but you can start them this week.
  • Streamers Rostered 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.

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Don’t Think Twice

Widely-Rostered Options

Carlos Rodon (4/19 @BOS, 4/25 vs TEX)
Of course, the former top prospect is coming off Wednesday’s no-hit performance versus the Indians. Facing the red-hot Red Sox in Fenway Park is a much tougher task, but this week’s no-no didn’t come out nowhere. Rodon has been a popular sleeper option since spring training. His fastball velocity is averaging 95.2 mph after clocking in at 92.8 mph in 2020. He’s a legitimate mixed league option as of this writing.

Kevin Gausman (4/19 @PHI, 4/24 vs MIA)
Personally, I’ve never been one of Gausman’s biggest supporters, but he has two starts with reasonable matchups coming up. After an impressive showing with the Giants in 2020, the right-hander is off to another respectable start.

Eduardo Rodriguez (4/19 vs CWS, 4/24 vs SEA)
E-Rod has a 12:1 K:BB ratio through his first two starts of the season. Concerns over his late-spring “dead arm” have subsided, and he’s back to being a weekly mixed league consideration. When we last saw Rodriguez for a full season in 2019 he posted a 3.81 ERA in over 200 innings pitched.

Griffin Canning (4/20 vs TEX, 4/25 @HOU)
When looking for streamers early in the season, we’re looking for SPs who could become season-long options. Therefore, I’m seeking a change in someone’s profile. That’s what we have in Canning, who has increased his slider usage from 22.7% in 2020 to 47.4% through two starts in 2021. We’ll see if this ultimately pays off, but it’s at least different, which gives an already talented pitcher more theoretical upside.

In the Danger Zone

Zack Wheeler (4/19 vs SF, 4/24 @COL)
This is simply a Coors Field thing for me. In points leagues I’d be more willing to start Wheeler based on volume, but he isn’t someone I want to start in Colorado in roto/categories leagues.

Zach Plesac (4/20 vs CWS, 4/25 vs NYY)
On the other side of Rodon’s no-no was Plesac, who’s command has been downright bad so far. We aren’t dropping him yet or anything, but sitting him for two tough matchups seems like the wise decision.

Lance McCullers (4/20 @COL, 4/24 vs LAA)
McCullers got hit hard in his last start and now he’s traveling to Coors before facing Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout. Again, I’d be more willing to use him in points leagues.

Chris Paddack (4/20 vs MIL, 4/25 @LAD)
This just isn’t the same pitcher we saw in 2019. The book is out on Paddack only have one plus pitch. Offseason stories of him embracing the analytics on his fastball haven’t come to fruition — at least in terms of results. The Dodgers matchup here is downright frightening.

Jameson Taillon (4/20 vs ATL, 4/25 @CLE)
The 29-year-old wasn’t as sharp in his second start after impressing in his first. We’re still figuring out what we have in Taillon the Yankee, and I’m willing to be patient with using him until we learn more.

Chris Bassitt (4/19 vs MIN, 4/24 @BAL)
Bassitt hasn’t necessarily been bad this year, but I just don’t see a whole lot of upside with these matchups. I’d rather use a better pitcher who only has one start.

Zach Eflin (4/20 vs SF, 4/25 @COL)
If Wheeler didn’t pass my Coors test, then Eflin certainly isn’t either.

Streamers Rostered in Under 50% of Leagues

Joe Ross (4/19 vs STL, 4/25 @NYM)
The 27-year-old Ross isn’t doing anything exceptionally different in terms of missing bats, but he’s up to 11 scoreless innings so far this season. The contact suppression skills are still there, which makes him a serviceable “ride the hot hand” option.

Brad Keller (4/19 vs TB, 4/25 @DET)
Keller’s first two starts of the year were disastrous, but he bounced back in a big way against the Angels last time out. Not only did he have an improved spin rate on his fastball, but his velocity is up from the shortened 2020 campaign. Keller is also throwing more sinkers at the expense of his slider, which is something to monitor moving forward. This isn’t an upside play, but Keller looks to be serviceable right now.

Streamers Rostered in Under 25% of Leagues

Michael Fulmer (4/20 vs PIT, 4/25 vs KC)
The 2016 American League Rookie of the Year sort of fell off the fantasy radar for a few seasons, but he’s now two full years removed from Tommy John surgery and has been utilizing a new pitch mix. Fulmer’s fastball is averaging 95.4 mph so far (>2 mph more than 2020) but he’s simultaneously using it less than ever. Additionally, his slider usage is at an all-time high. Add in a couple of plus matchups and Fulmer is an interesting, under-the-radar option for Week 3.

Not Unless You’re Desperate

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Brendan Tuma is a correspondent at FantasyPros. To read more from Brendan, check out his archive and follow him @toomuchtuma.

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