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Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers: Week 18

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Jul 30, 2021
Kenta Maeda

There are slow deadlines, and then there was what we saw at the trade deadline this year.

I’m writing this at 7 a.m. Friday morning, six hours ahead of the actual deadline, and we’ve already seen far more players – big-name players, at that – switch teams than we may have expected.

Of the two-start pitchers this week, there are only a couple (Kenta Maeda and Chad Kuhl) that I can see being moved by the deadline, so we still should be good with a tentative schedule moving forward as we start to plan for Week 17.

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-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.

Let’s take a look at those pitchers scheduled to make two starts for the upcoming week, as projected on CBS as of Friday afternoon.

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Don’t Think Twice

Widely-Rostered Options

Kenta Maeda (8/3 @CIN, 8/8 @HOU)
We’ll leave him here for now, but there’s a chance that Minnesota sends Maeda packing before the deadline. If he stays, well, I don’t exactly love the matchups for him given the ballparks, but he’s coming off two excellent starts and a good month overall, sans the strikeouts. I’d lean toward starting him here.

Anthony DeSclafani (8/2 @ARI, 8/7 @MIL)
In five starts against the Dodgers this year, DeSclafani has a 9.43 ERA, a 5.16 xFIP, and allowed 22 earned runs. Against the rest of the league, he has a 1.78 ERA, a 3.69 xFIP, and allowed 20 earned runs in 16 starts. He’s not facing the Dodgers this week. Fire him up.

Max Fried (8/3 @STL, 8/8 vs. WAS)
I wanted to put Fried in the don’t think twice category, especially with the Nationals on the schedule, but he hasn’t shown the consistency we need to see from him to move him up to the top tier. 

Taijuan Walker (8/3 @MIA, 8/8 @PHI)
Shoutout to Chris (@baseballpods on Twitter) for the note on Walker: In seven starts since the “Sticky Memo,” Walker has a 6.00 ERA, 1.52 WHIP, and 25 strikeouts in 33 IP. I like the matchups, but we could continue to see regression for the All-Star.

In the Danger Zone

Adam Wainwright (8/3 vs. ATL, 8/8 vs. KC)
I caught heat over at The Athletic for not having Wainwright in my Top 400 going forward, and I get it. I do. But it’s tough to continue to buy into a near 40-year-old with middling stuff to keep this up. The matchups are fine, I guess, but I’m just waiting for the blowup. 

Sandy Alcántara (8/2 vs. NYM, 8/7 @COL)
I’d typically have Alcantara higher, but you know the drill by now with Coors Field. 

Zach Plesac (8/2 @TOR, 8/7 vs. DET)
While it’s not Buffalo or Dunedin, the Blue Jays are back home in Toronto, which is anything but a pitcher’s park. I’m leaning toward benching Plesac this week.

Yusei Kikuchi (8/3 @TB, 8/8 @NYY)
The steps that Kikuchi has taken this year to be a must-start pitcher are super encouraging based on his 2019 and 2020. I’d typically roll with him in a two-start week, but it’s hard given the matchups with the revamped offenses in Tampa and New York. I’d fade. 

Chris Flexen (8/2 @TB, 8/7 @NYY)
See Kikuchi, Yusei.

Streamers Rostered in Under 50% of Leagues

Tylor Megill (8/2 @MIA, 8/7 @PHI)
In my streamer piece last week, I wrote that Megill wouldn’t appear again because he’d go past the 30 percent threshold. And he did, but he’s still not rostered enough. This kid is legit, folx. Buy in and buy-in with these two good matchups.

Johnny Cueto (8/3 @ARI, 8/8 @MIL)
While the Milwaukee matchup scares me now even more with the addition of Eduardo Escobar, the matchup at Arizona is too good to pass up. Cueto should return a positive value. 

Streamers Rostered in Under 25% of Leagues

Adrian Houser (8/2 vs. PIT, 8/8 vs. SF)
I gotta tell you, I don’t really love this call, but we need someone in this spot. Houser has bounced back and forth between starter and reliever and isn’t the whole way stretched out, but the Pirates matchup makes him a viable streamer in 15-team leagues.

Not Unless You’re Desperate

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Michael Waterloo is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Michael, check out his archive and follow him @MichaelWaterloo.

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