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Fantasy Baseball Two-Start Pitchers: Week 23

by Michael Waterloo | @MichaelWaterloo | Featured Writer
Sep 3, 2021
Elieser Hernandez

Elieser Hernández gets the dysfunctional Mets and the Braves in what’s a high-risk, high-reward schedule.

This is it. It’s win or go home time. It’s Week 23, which means it’s the start of the fantasy playoffs in most leagues. Hopefully, you secured a bye, and you have a week off to regroup, but if not, we march on with our streaming suggestions for the upcoming week.

Now, we will be a little bit careful here, as we aren’t going to stream guys who can definitely hurt us. It’s time to be cautious and smart, but if you’re a massive underdog going in, feel free to take a chance on Bailey Ober or Mike Minor this week.

Oh, and pro-tip – if you have a bye, look at the Wednesday and Thursday probables for this week and scoop them up now to beat the rush ahead of Week 2 of the playoffs.

Best of luck, all!

Like I do every week, I’ll break the pitchers down the two-start pitchers into six categories:

  • Don’t Think Twice – These are the 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

Kevin Gausman (9/6 @COL, 9/12 @CHC)
It’s all about the splitter for Gausman, and as hard as it is to have him out of the top tier for the type of season he’s had, Coors Field is no joke still. I’m starting him, but in a daily league, I’m leaving him on my bench.

Triston McKenzie (9/7 vs. MIN, 9/11 vs. MIL)
It looks like McKenzie’s shoulder was magically not fatigued anymore as Cleveland found a way to manage his workload as the season nears its end. I don’t like the Milwaukee matchup, but McKenzie has been on a hot streak that you can’t really bench him. The Minnesota matchup should even out any bad outcome from the Brewers game. 

In the Danger Zone

Steven Matz (9/7 @NYY, 9/11 @BAL)
Matz has been on a nice roll of late, lowering his season-long ERA to 2.80. Mike Petriello on Twitter pointed out that Matz has changed where he stands on the mound, and it’s led to great success. No matter where he’s at on the mound, he’ll face a tall task against the Yankees this week, which bumps him down to this tier. I’ll start him in 12-team leagues with the Orioles game to fall back on.

Carlos Carrasco (9/7 @MIA, 9/12 @NYY)
Things haven’t been great for Carrasco so far in his return, and even with the Marlins matchup on the schedule, I’m benching him. He hasn’t shown me enough yet to trust him against the Yankees – especially with his first-inning struggles.

John Means (9/8 vs. KC, 9/12 vs. TOR)
Means was a spin-rate darling earlier in the season, and his numbers have regressed, as you’d expect. But he’s been solid in his past two starts, putting together two straight quality starts. I’ll bank on a third against the Royals, but I do not want to start him against Toronto if I can help it.

James Kaprielian (9/7 vs. CHW, 9/12 vs. TEX)
I hate the White Sox matchup for Kaprielian, and while he’s been so consistent this year, I’m benching him this week. He’s had two straight blow-up games, and the White Sox are as likely as any other team to make it three. In a daily league, I’ll use him against Texas.

Yusei Kikuchi (9/6 @HOU, 9/12 vs. ARI)
Kikuchi has shown great flashes this year, but he’s been inconsistent. I expect much of the same this week with one tough matchup and one cake matchup. I’ll start him in 12-team leagues and deeper.

Streamers Rostered in Under 50% of Leagues

Tarik Skubal (9/6 @PIT, 9/12 vs. TB)
Skubal was roughed up for the first time all month his last time out, so a perfect way to rebound from that outing is to get the lowly Pirates. Skubal should start seeing his innings restricted, so keep an eye out for that. He’s going to be one of my favorite arms to target for 2022.

Elieser Hernández (9/7 vs. NYM, 9/12 @ATL)
If you followed my writing the past few years, you know my love for the Marlins, especially Hernández. It’s been injury after injury for him, but he’s making his case for the 2022 rotation over the final month in Miami. He gets the dysfunctional Mets and the Braves in what’s a high-risk, high-reward schedule.

Streamers Rostered in Under 25% of Leagues

Mike Minor (9/7 @BAL, 9/12 @MIN)
Bailey Ober (9/6 @CLE, 9/11 vs. KC)
If you’re a massive underdog this week, screw it. Swing for the fence. Minor has two plus matchups, and Ober looks like he could be a nice sleeper for 2022 with a solid fastball. I like Ober more than Minor, but I’d use either guy this week if I need a miracle.

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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