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Fantasy baseball two-start pitching options for Week 12

PHOENIX, AZ - MAY 22: Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Zack Greinke (21) heads to the dugout during the MLB baseball game between the Chicago White Sox and the Arizona Diamondbacks on May 22, 2017 at Chase Field in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Kevin Abele/Icon Sportswire)
(Photo by Kevin Abele/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 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 might get two starts next week instead.

Note that Tuesday starts are highlighted in a lighter font. Take this into account when making your decisions weekly – especially for those players listed under questionable and lower. If you do not love the pitcher’s first start you might want to sit him in case he does not get his second turn. Must and solid start pitchers should be in your lineup regardless.

This week’s notes

– Angels placed Matt Shoemaker on the DL Saturday. As of now Parker Bridwell will get the start Tuesday in New York against the Yankees. Given his track record I would not trust him here or in Boston on Sunday. There is even a chance Daniel Wright gets recalled to make that Sunday start, further complicating matters.

– Rangers placed Andrew Cashner on the DL Saturday. No replacement has been named for his Tuesday start against Toronto and subsequent start Sunday at New York (Yankees). Given the parks and opponents I would avoid whoever the Rangers decide to call up – at least for now.

– Anibal Sanchez will rejoin the Tigers rotation and start Monday in place of Jordan Zimmermann. He will get Seattle and San Diego Sunday, both on the road. The Tigers will also employ a six-man rotation for now which means both Zimmerman and Justin Verlander are no longer two-start options this week. I would not start Sanchez, but he might be worth a speculative grab should he perform well.

MUST START

  • Clayton Kershaw vs. NYM, vs. COL
  • Jon Lester vs. SD, @MIA
  • Johnny Cueto @ATL, vs. NYM
  • Corey Kluber @BAL, vs. MIN
  • Zack Greinke @COL, vs. PHI
  • Michael Pineda vs. LAA, vs. TEX

Kershaw is. … Well, Kershaw. That’s all the explanation anyone needs. Lester doesn’t look like the ace we’ve seen the past three years, but we should see some flashes of that this week given his opponents. The same goes for Cueto who is posting the lowest contact rate of his career. Things will click soon, and games against the Braves and Mets could be the launching pad.

Kluber’s numbers are slightly inflated because of his missed time in May. His past three games are a testament to that – vintage Kluber. Greinke faced the Rockies on April 29 and May 5 and posted solid numbers. That and his numbers this year take away any questions I might have had. In seven home starts Pineda has allowed more than two earned runs once (three runs over 6.2 innings vs Houston). Disregard that last start against the Angels; they aren’t that good.

SOLID START

  • Jake Odorizzi vs. CIN, vs. BAL
  • Tanner Roark @MIA, vs. CIN
  • Zack Wheeler @LAD, @SF
  • Dylan Bundy vs. CLE, @TB
  • Mike Montgomery vs. SD, @MIA
  • Brandon McCarthy vs. NYM, vs. COL
  • Mike Leake @PHI, vs. PIT
  • Derek Holland @MIN, vs. OAK

Odorizzi can be counted on for a quality start more often than not and is great at home. Roark has had a few rough outings and deals with an occasional bout of gopheritus. Both of his opponents were on the low end of the scoring spectrum in May, and both parks play in his favor.

Before Wheeler’s last start he held opponents to three or fewer runs in seven straight games. He is looking like the 2014 Wheeler. A 2.38 ERA and 1.01 WHIP at home give me confidence in Bundy against the Indians. His numbers on the road are average at best, but so are the Rays.

Montgomery might not give you more than five innings, but what he does give you will be high-quality. Just consider him a super middle reliever that will help with ERA, WHIP and strikeouts. The strikeouts are hit and miss, but overall McCarthy has been surprisingly good this year. I am concerned about Colorado, but am confident in the numbers for both games combined.

The Wheels appear to be coming off the Leake train. I’ll still give him one more shot this week, even with Pittsburgh picking things up of late. It might seem like a stretch to some to call Holland solid this week. Both the Twins and Athletics have issues with lefties, Holland has had better luck at home, and the Twins game is in Minnesota – all these give the advantage to Holland.

Chicago White Sox's Yolmer Sanchez (5) greets starting pitcher Derek Holland after the White Sox beat the Seattle Mariners 8-1 in a baseball game, Sunday, May 21, 2017, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

QUESTIONABLE START

  • Edinson Volquez vs. WASH, vs. CHC
  • Brad Peacock @OAK, @SEA
  • Jason Hammel vs. BOS, vs. TOR
  • Sam Gaviglio vs. DET, vs. HOU
  • Zach Davies vs. PIT, @ATL
  • Josh Tomlin @BAL, vs. MIN
  • Ariel Miranda vs. DET, vs. HOU
  • Julio Teheran vs. SF, vs. MIL
  • Sonny Gray vs. HOU, @CHW

Volquez should probably be listed under solid start, but my own personal bias will not allow it. I would start him, but note the Washington game could be trouble. Peacock can’t seem to make it through the fifth inning so his endurance is more of the question here. One misplaced pitch is all it takes to unhinge a four-inning start.

That’s three consecutive quality starts for Hammel. He has a 2.21 ERA and 0.89 WHIP in June, and neither opponent is hitting or scoring much in June. The June BABIP, strand rate and xFIP says there is some luck involved, though. I listed Gaviglio under questionable because I don’t know what to make of him. Minor league numbers are solid as are his brief major league numbers. However, the BABIP and contact rate could reverse his fortunes at any time.

Davies has been textbook quality start good. If you expect nothing more than that you will not be disappointed. He’s questionable because I can also see two games of four runs over six innings. Tomlin is usually good for a quality start and has already handled the Twins this year nicely. I believe (but am not 100 percent certain) that whatever damage the Orioles might do will be offset by that Minnesota start.

Six runs on 10 hits to the Twins in Minnesota is a testament to Miranda’s potential volatility. Detroit and Houston rank in the Top-12 for batting average, OBP and home runs against lefties and in June. Teheran now has three consecutive solid home starts after struggling there earlier. Is that enough to put him back in the circle of trust? Gray is good at home with a bad matchup, and bad on the road with a good one. I would probably still start him and hope for the best.

50/50 OPTIONS

  • Scott Feldman @TB, @WASH
  • German Marquez vs. ARZ, @LAD
  • Matt Moore @ATL, vs. NYM
  • Francisco Liriano @TEX, @KC

Feldman has a quality start in two of his past six and four of his last 10. The other six were five innings or fewer with four or more earned runs. The strength of opponent also doesn’t matter or factor into things, making him hard to predict. I would sit him, but feel free to stream him against Tampa Bay if you’re feeling froggy. Marquez has not allowed more than three earned runs in any road start. At home is another story so avoid Arizona at all costs.

Moore looks like a viable two-start option until you see that 9.24 ERA and .364 BAA on the road. He could post a quality start against Atlanta, but he could just as easily get blown out. Two rough outings in May makes Liriano look much worse than he actually has been. Even so, there are enough flaws here to play it safe and bench him in Texas.

START AT OWN RISK

  • Gerrit Cole @MIL, @STL
  • Marco Estrada @TEX, @KC
  • Hector Velazquez @KC, vs. LAA
  • Matt Garza vs. PIT, @ATL
  • Kyle Gibson vs. CHW, @CLE
  • Clayton Richard @CHC, vs. DET
  • Robert Gsellman @LAD, @SF

Cole has a 5.67 ERA and .304 BABIP on the road, and has allowed four or more earned runs in four of his past five starts – in four of those he didn’t make it past the fifth inning. I was tempted to list him under 50/50 for the Cardinals start, but even that is risky given his recent numbers.

I’ve always been skeptical of Estrada because of his high fly-ball rate. He has failed to make it through six innings in his past three starts, allowing a total of 17 runs (including four home runs) over 12.2 innings. I don’t know if he is even streamable against the Royals the way they are playing now.

Despite the excellent numbers in Triple-A and high ground-ball rate, I’m having trouble buying Velazquez who posted mediocre numbers in the Mexican league for seven years before the Sox signes him. I do like the matchup and he could surprise, making him a high-risk low-end stream in larger leagues.

Garza started strong, but things have fallen apart over his last four starts. I can’t even hype the matchups as both teams have hit well in June. Sit him in 12-team formats, but consider him a high-risk last resort in larger leagues.

Gibson has quality starts in three of his last four, but his last start resembles the Gibson we all know and expect. The White Sox, who were a pushover early, are now hitting so even a stream is risky.

Both Detroit and Chicago and better than average against lefties; that plays against Richard. He does draw the Tigers at home, and the Cubs are struggling offensively. I wouldn’t do it, but that’s me.

Gsellman avoids the sit column due to park factor and strength of opponent. Bump him up to questionable if you believe he has turned the corner since mid-May.

23 AUG 2016: New York Mets starting pitcher Robert Gsellman (65) pitches against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Busch Stadium in St. Louis Missouri. (Photo by Scott Kane/Icon Sportswire)

(Photo by Scott Kane/Icon Sportswire)

AVOID/SIT

  • R.A. Dickey vs. SF, vs. MIL
  • Daniel Gossett vs. HOU, @CHW
  • Nick Martinez vs. TOR, @NYY
  • Chris Tillman vs. CLE, @TB
  • Vance Worley vs. WAS, vs. CHC
  • Francis Martes @OAK, @SEA
  • Jeremy Hellickson vs. STL, @ARZ
  • Chad Kuhl @MIL, @STL

Dickey has allowed four or more earned runs in three of his past four – one of which was a six-run shelling by the Giants. The minor league numbers for Gossett are good, but he was absolutely obliterated in his first start (at Miami). Was it basic rookie jitters or a sign he’s not ready? Take a wait-and-see approach here.

A lucky BABIP, low strikeout numbers, career high contact, and a 5.86 FIP are just a few of the reasons not to start Martinez. Since coming off the DL Tillman has pitched fewer than six innings in six of eight and has allowed four or more runs in each of his past five starts. A desperation stream at Tampa Bay is the best I can halfheartedly recommend.

Worley has a rotation spot out of necessity and should not be owned, let alone started. The same goes for Martes, who issued 28 walks over 32.1 innings in Triple-A before getting the call, though I would not rule him out in larger leagues due to the matchup venues.

Hellickson is right there with Tillman, but a little less broken. A best-case scenario against the Cardinals is a quality start, something he (barely) managed against them on June 9. The elevated home runs and lack of strikeouts decrease his value even more.

An ERA of 5.61, 10 consecutive starts of five innings or fewer, high walks, low strikeouts – Kuhl doesn’t have much fantasy relevance outside of a 30-team league.

*****

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