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Fantasy baseball two-start pitching options for Week 3

September 28, 2016: Detroit Tigers starting pitcher Michael Fulmer (32) pitches during a regular season game between the Cleveland Indians and the Detroit Tigers played at Comerica Park in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire)

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.

This is the one of the ugliest weeks for two-start pitchers. There are very few aces and just a handful of number two/three starters. This week we get the bottom-feeders – the dregs of the waiver wire, pitchers most teams would not roster, let alone start. Personally I would not touch anyone listed below questionable, and even some of the questionable players worry me. You might be safer going with your one-start options.

This week’s notes

– Philadelphia starter Clay Buchholz will visit Dr. James Andrews Monday, meaning his season is basically done. No starter has been named to replace him. Vince Velasquez could slide up with an off day Monday. He would draw the Mets on the road and the Braves at home. Nice matchups, but Velasquez isn’t off to a great start, putting him between questionable and risky.

Must Start

  • Max Scherzer at Atlanta and New York (NL)
  • Yu Darvish at Oakland and vs Kansas City
  • Danny Salazar at Minnesota and Chicago (AL)
  • Michael Fulmer at Tampa Bay and Minnesota

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. Fulmer doesn’t fit those requirements. However, he has picked up where he left off in 2016 and is pitching like he belongs.

Solid Start

  • John Lackey vs Milwaukee and at Cincinnati
  • Ivan Nova at St Louis and vs New York
  • Marcus Stroman vs Boston and at Los Angeles (AL)
  • Jimmy Nelson at Chicago (NL) and vs St Louis
  • Chase Anderson at Chicago (NL) and vs St Louis
  • Mike Leake vs Pittsburgh and at Milwaukee
  • Jaime Garcia vs San Diego and at Philadelphia

Even at 38 years of age, Lackey continues to get the job done. The mistakes that Nova has made since arriving in Pittsburgh are few and far between. Keep rolling him out until advised to do otherwise.

Stroman had a solid spring and has two strong starts under his belt. I’m not too crazy about the Boston start, but overall I’m confident. Nelson and Anderson are getting some BABIP love and luck in strand rate. I expect regression, but believe this good fortune could carry on for at least a few more games.

I don’t trust or like Leake, but he has three solid games in a row and is facing two teams that are not exactly hitting well. Keep riding the hot hand. Despite the slow start I’ll give the nod to Garcia. He can be quite useful at times and can turn things around with these two matchups.

MIAMI, FL - APRIL 12: Atlanta Braves starting pitcher Jaime Garcia (54) throws a pitch during the first inning in  a game of the 2017 season between the Miami Marlins and the Atlanta Braves on April 12, 2017 at Marlins Park, in Miami, FL (Photo by Juan Salas/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Juan Salas/Icon Sportswire)

Questionable start

  • Lance Lynn vs Pittsburgh and at Milwaukee
  • Zach Wheeler vs Philadelphia and Washington
  • Mike Fiers vs Los Angeles (AL) and at Tampa Bay
  • Joe Musgrove vs Los Angeles (AL) and at Tampa Bay
  • Matt Andriese vs Detroit and Houston
  • Jesse Hahn vs Texas and Seattle
  • Andrew Triggs at Texas and Seattle
  • Tom Koehler at Seattle and San Diego
  • Eduardo Rodriguez at Toronto and Baltimore
  • Jordan Montgomery vs Chicago (AL) and at Pittsburgh
  • Ariel Miranda vs Miami and at Oakland

Lynn and Wheeler are still working out the kinks. Lynn handled the Cubs nicely but was wild versus the Nationals. Wheeler was roughed up by the Marlins but showed improvements against Philly. Flip a coin.

Fiers, Musgrove and Andriese are not the most questionable starters this week, but they are not exactly solid either. Expect the definition of a quality start from each and be happy if you get more than that.

Two quality starts and home-field advantage get Hahn and Triggs the nod this week. They each have a smidge of upside, which is more than I can say for most of the players below.

Koehler is a borderline solid start with questionable stuff. The venues do play in his favor, though. Rodriguez will give you solid strikeout numbers regardless of the score. His lack of control and fly ball ways will make both games nail biters.

Rookie nerves aside in his first start, Montgomery showed a lot of promise in the minors. We’ll find out real soon if he can carry those numbers over. Miranda has nice matchups and home-field advantage. I’m listing him as questionable because quite honestly, I don’t know enough about him to give a fair assessment.

50/50 options

  • Shelby Miller at San Diego and vs Los Angeles (NL)
  • Jason Hammel vs San Francisco and at Texas.
  • Brandon McCarthy vs Arizona and at Arizona
  • Robbie Ray at Los Angeles (NL) and vs Los Angeles
  • Derek Holland at New York (AL) and vs Cleveland
  • Blake Snell at Boston and vs Houston

Realistically, Miller is a “start at own risk,” but I find it hard to sit anyone in San Diego. Hammel is much better than we’ve seen; that is the only reason I am considering him against the Giants.

McCarthy and Ray have back-to-back games against the same opponent – each other. That’s never a good thing, especially when the second matchup is in a bandbox. Stick to the game in Los Angeles if possible. I do trust Ray more than McCarthy for that second start.

The flyball percentage and hard-hit rate scare me off Holland at New York. The Indians game worries me as well, but he just one-hit them on Wednesday. I love the upside for Snell, but spring didn’t go well and he isn’t generating the strikeouts. A Houston start at home is all I’m willing to risk.

22 September 2016: Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) delivers a pitch during the Major League Baseball game between the New York Yankees and Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg Florida.  (Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Mark LoMoglio/Icon Sportswire)

Start at Own Risk

  • Jerad Weaver at Atlanta and vs Miami
  • Yovani Gallardo vs Miami and at Oakland
  • Phil Hughes vs Cleveland and Detroit
  • Mike Foltynewicz vs Washington and at Philadelphia
  • Kyle Gibson vs Cleveland and Detroit
  • Ricky Nolasco at Houston and vs Toronto
  • Steven Wright vs Tampa Bay and at Baltimore
  • Amir Garrett vs Baltimore and Chicago (NL)

The only reason Weaver isn’t listed under “avoid” is because he draws two nice matchups. I still wouldn’t touch him. Double that sentiment for Gallardo; he is a shell of the man he was prior to 2016. Hughes gets the home field nod here, and his career numbers versus both teams puts him in quality-start territory. I would feel safer with a solid one-start pitcher.

I’m trying to stay positive on the upside of Foltynewicz, but he is not making things easy. These same sad Phillies hit 4 home runs in 10 innings against him last year. After a fine spring, Gibson has erased all hope there may have been for him in just two starts. Playing in Minnesota is the only reason he is not listed as a sit, and that’s pushing it.

Nolasco has had a few useful seasons. Unfortunately, the reviews are mixed on what type of season this will be. The knuckleball isn’t working right now for Wright, and I’m probably avoiding him until the pitch comes around.

I am not giving Garrett a hall-pass like I did several others with lucky BABIP and strand rate numbers. I’m not sure if I’m being too harsh or overly cautious with this one.

Avoid/Sit

  • Ubaldo Jiminez at Cincinnati and vs Boston
  • Jesse Chavez at Houston and vs Toronto
  • Zach Lee vs Arizona and Miami
  • J. Griffin at Oakland and vs Kansas City
  • Josh Tomlin at Minnesota and Chicago (AL)

We are headed into week three and Jimenez still has not made it out of the fifth inning. Look at his numbers for the last six years if you need more convincing. Chavez has been subpar as both a starter and reliever, and I don’t see him holding a rotation spot for long.

I labeled Lee as a desperation streaming options in this week’s minor league report. The home-field advantage cannot offset his horrific Triple-A season last year. Griffin has a scary flyball percentage and hard-hit rate. Until that changes he is a dangerous start. Maybe (and I stress maybe) stream him at Oakland.

Last year Tomlin might have been a solid or questionable option. This year he has been getting wrecked since spring training. If you have any confidence you can slide him under “start at own risk.”

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