Fantasy baseball two-start pitching options for Week 2

Arizona Diamondbacks' Taijuan Walker throws during spring training baseball workouts, Thursday, Feb. 16, 2017, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Matt York)
(AP Photo/Matt York)

Each week I will take a look at all the two-start fantasy pitchers and give recommendations on who is “safe” to start. Inclement weather conditions could postpone or cancel games at any time; keep this in mind when planning your weekly lineup. A mid-week cancellation could push starters up a day, which means any of those two-start pitchers who were slated to go on Sunday may be getting two starts next week instead.

As I stated last week, pitchers will be somewhat unpredictable for the first few weeks. Until pitchers get some regular-season games under their belt, all we have to go on are last year’s numbers and the hope these pitchers can do what they’ve done in the past. Sure, some starters have put up decent numbers in spring training games, but we all know better than to put too much stock into those numbers.

This week’s notes

 The Los Angeles Angels placed starter Garrett Richards on the 10-day DL. No official word has been made on who will take his place. With an off-day on Monday, expect the rest of the rotation to go on normal rest. That would line up Tyler Skaggs to pitch Tuesday vs Texas and Sunday at Kansas City. I would list him as questionable after getting roughed up by Oakland Thursday.

The Los Angeles Dodgers placed starter Rich Hill on the 10-day DL. Alex Wood (listed below) is rumored to start. Double check Monday’s starters before setting your lineup.

I have seen several posts listing Yankees starter Luis Severino as a two-start pitcher. You can ignore these; he starts Wednesday against Tampa Bay which lines him up for two starts next week.

Must Start

  • Chris Sale at Detroit and vs Tampa Bay
  • Jon Lester vs Los Angeles (NL) and Pittsburgh
  • Jacob deGrom at Philadelphia and Miami
  • Carlos Carrasco vs Chicago (AL) and Detroit
  • Justin Verlander vs Boston and at Cleveland
  • Cole Hamels at Los Angeles (AL) and Seattle

The must-start pitchers are just that – they need little to no explanation. A basic rule of thumb when it comes to two-start pitchers early in the season: If a pitcher was ranked in the Top-30 he is a must-start until he gives you a reason to doubt him.

Solid Start

  • J.A. Happ vs Milwaukee and Baltimore
  • Tanner Roark vs St Louis and Philadelphia
  • James Paxton vs Houston and Texas
  • Jameson Taillon vs Cincinnati and at Chicago (NL)
  • Matt Harvey at Philadelphia and Miami
  • James Shields at Cleveland and Minnesota
  • Ian Kennedy vs Oakland and Los Angeles
  • Jerad Eickhoff vs New York (NL) and at Washington
  • Charlie Morton at Seattle and Oakland

Happ should be listed as a must-start; I just can’t bring myself to list him there. The same goes for Roark and Taillon, who have picked up where they left off in 2016. Paxton had a great spring, a strong first start against the Astros, and gets two home games. This could be his breakout season. Harvey has looked good and the velocity is there so give him the benefit of the doubt this week.

Shields is a little hard to swallow as a solid start. If not for his decent start and track record against Cleveland I might have listed him under 50/50. Kennedy is not off to a great start, but he did have a great spring and will rack up the strikeouts even in a bad game. Eickhoff is just the opposite; good start but shaky spring numbers. His 2016 season paints a nice picture so we’ll roll with that.

Morton is the wild card here. He has given us no reason to trust him over the years. However, we have all seen what Morton can do when he is on a hot streak. Four earned runs over 23 innings this year constitutes a hot streak – ride it.

September 3, 2016: Chicago White Sox Starting pitcher James Shields (25) [6104] delivers a pitch during a MLB game between the Minnesota Twins and the Chicago White Sox at Target Field in Minneapolis, MN. (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire)

Questionable start

  • Adam Wainwright at Washington and New York (AL)
  • Kyle Gibson at Detroit and vs Chicago (AL)
  • Brandon Finnegan at Pittsburgh and vs Milwaukee
  • Taijuan Walker at San Francisco and Los Angeles (NL)
  • Alex Cobb at New York and Boston
  • Wily Peralta at Toronto and Cincinnati

Is Wainwright done like his 2016 and spring numbers suggest, or do we get the guy we saw in that first start? If not for a terrific spring, Gibson would be listed under “start at own risk.” He is still a risk, but at least he’s showing signs of life.

The walk issues were still there this spring for Finnegan, but he looked dominant in his first start. This will be his third season, and you know what they say about third-year pitchers. Walker was up and down all spring. He has the pedigree, upside, and two nice road starts in his favor.

Cobb is still working his way back so we’ll ignore his spring numbers. That also means you should not put too much stock in his first regular-season start. Peralta has looked really good so far. His track record and two hitter-friendly venues this week play against him. I see more risk than reward.

50/50 options

  • Drew Pomeranz vs Baltimore and Tampa Bay
  • Tyler Chatwood vs San Diego and at San Francisco
  • Trevor Cahill at Colorado and Atlanta
  • Alex Wood at Chicago (NL) and vs Arizona
  • Matthew Boyd vs Minnesota and at Cleveland

Starting Pomeranz fresh off the DL is not recommended. If he does not look good Tuesday I would scratch the second start versus Tampa Bay as well. Chatwood was hammered in Colorado last year, even by the lowly Padres. I’m on the fence for the Giants start as well, making him a risky start overall. I’m not a Cahill fan, but he has done enough the past few years and this spring to warrant consideration for a start against Atlanta.

Wood is not properly stretched out, and the six innings against Cincinnati at the end of spring shows there is work to be done. Maybe one day he’ll be ready for the Cubs, but for now just start him against Atlanta. Boyd beat out Anibal Sanchez for the final rotation spot and then threw that fine spring out the window. I’ll give him another chance against the lowly Twins, but he hasn’t earned my trust enough to face Cleveland.

Start at Own Risk

  • Michael Pineda vs Tampa Bay and St Louis
  • Matt Moore vs Arizona and Colorado
  • Jeff Samardzija vs Arizona and Colorado
  • Tyler Glasnow vs Cincinnati and at Chicago (NL)
  • Dan Straily vs Atlanta and New York (NL)
  • Jharel Cotton at Kansas City and vs Houston

Underlying metrics suggest Pineda should be getting much better results that we have seen. Until he starts to live up to that potential consistently, you roll the dice with each start. Moore and Samardzija have not shown any consistency this spring or throughout their careers. Given both games are in San Francisco you can bump them up to questionable at best.

Glasnow came down with a case of the walks last year. Those control issues trickled down to contaminate the rest of his elite game. He is an ace in the making, but he is also young and prone to volatility. In 2016, Straily showed signs of being the productive pitcher we saw in 2013. So far this year we’ve seen glimpses of that man sprinkled in with the 2013-2014 versions. His home park is the saving grace here.

Everyone loves the upside of Cotton; I’ll admit to being one of those people. He could qualify as a questionable start, but his blowup against the Angles and blowout against the Mariners this spring leave me hesitant. Like Straily above, at least he draws two nice parks.

Oakland Athletics pitcher Jharel Cotton works against the Los Angeles Angels in the first inning of a baseball game Wednesday, Sept. 7, 2016, in Oakland, Calif. (AP Photo/Ben Margot)

(AP Photo/Ben Margot)


  • Dylan Bundy at Boston and Toronto
  • Antonio Senzatela vs San Diego and at San Francisco
  • Rookie Davis at Pittsburgh and vs Milwaukee

Mediocre 2016, bad road numbers and poor spring equals a sit for Bundy. Senzatela is a 21-year-old with very little experience above A-Ball. The numbers are good, and given his lack of exposure there could be a surprise factor given the limited scouting on him. That might be worth a Hail Mary in leagues with more than 14 teams. Davis lived up to his rookie first name during his Thursday debut. He may have won a spot in the rotation, but I don’t see it lasting.

I can probably make a case for every pitcher listed under “start at own risk” to appear here as well. If you are in a roto league I see little reason to gamble on bad innings early on. Those in H2H leagues can afford to be a little more reckless, especially toward the end of the week. Still, I would probably roster a quality one-start pitcher over a bottom-tier two-start guy.

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