The Two-start Pitcher Weekly Preview looks ahead at which hurlers will toe the rubber more than once in a fantasy week. Gamers don’t need to be told the top arms on this list such as Stephen Strasburg, Jordan Zimmermann and Matt Harvey (among others) are must starts in all games. Sometimes, though, a top-flight starter is best kept on the bench in leagues with weekly roster changes due to a matchup or matchups with tough offenses in a hitter-friendly park or parks. Other pitchers will get a pick-me-up due to positive variables. And a pitcher preview wouldn’t be much of a pitcher preview without a look at potentially strong stream options. Question marks in the table below are the result of a probable starter not being listed on the given day(s) indicated. All probable start dates are those listed on ESPN.com.
|First Name||Last Name||Start Days||Opponents|
|Aaron||Harang||M, Sa||@NYM. @WAS|
|Jacob||DeGrom||M, Sa||PHI, MIA|
|Anibal||Sanchez||M, Su||@PIT, CHW|
|Gerrit||Cole||M, Su||DET, MIL|
|Jordan||Zimmermann||M, Sa||@BOS, PHI|
|Rick||Porcello||M, Sa/Su?||WAS, BAL|
|Danny||Duffy||M, Su||@MIN, OAK|
|Trevor||May||M, Su||KC, CLE|
|Matt||Garza||M, Su||@STL, @PIT|
|Adam||Wainwright||M, Su||MIL, CIN|
|Eddie||Butler||M, Su||@SF, @LAD|
|Chris||Heston||M, Sa?||COL, ARI|
|Michael||Pineda||M, Su||@BAL, @TB|
|Wei-Yin||Chen||M, Su||NYY, @BOS|
|Jake||Odorizzi||M, Sa||@TOR, NYY|
|R.A.||Dickey||M, Sa||TB, ATL|
|Mat||Latos||M, Sa||@ATL, @NYM|
|Shelby||Miller||M, Su||MIA, @TOR|
|Matt||Shoemaker||M, Su||@TEX, @HOU|
|Ross||Detwiler||M, Su||LAA, @SEA|
|Mike||Leake||M, Su||@CHC, @STL|
|Jon||Lester||M, Su||CIN, SD|
|Scott||Kazmir||M, Su||@HOU, @KC|
|Scott||Feldman||M, Su||OAK, LAA|
|James||Paxton||M, Su||@LAD, TEX|
|Brandon||McCarthy||M, Su||SEA, COL|
|Rubby||De La Rosa||M, Sa||@SD, @SF|
|Andrew||Cashner||M, Su||ARI, @CHC|
|Matt||Harvey||Tue, Su||PHI, MIA|
|Stephen||Strasburg||Tue, Su||@BOS, PHI|
|Tim||Hudson||Tue, Su||COL, ARI|
|Daniel||Norris||Tue, Su||TB, ATL|
|Tom||Koehler||Tue, Su||@ATL, @NYM|
|Jeremy||Hellickson||Tue, Su||@SD, @SF|
Sitting a Stud?
If you’re in a weekly lineup change league, sitting Gerrit Cole is a prudent move. No offense has been better than the Tigers this season, and that lines up with expectations entering the year. In other words, don’t chalk up their hot start to a small sample fluke. No, they aren’t going to continue to post an OPS north of 1.000, and their designated hitter Victor Martinez could get the day off Monday with the team traveling to a National League park. Even with him out, the Tigers offense would remain formidable. Gamers in roto leagues with a low innings limit will also want to sit Cole against the Tigers. The power pitcher belongs back in lineups on Sunday against a Brewers squad that should be above average offensively but is off to a slow start. One positive for both starts is that Cole will be pitching at home. PNC Park is a run-suppressing venue.
Start With Confidence
The reigning NL Rookie of the Year, Jacob deGrom, was a tough luck loser in a good first start of the year. He entered the year on the fringe of SP2 and SP3 status for me, and he has a great matchup with the Phillies to kickoff the week and a start against the slow starting Marlins over the weekend. In a few weeks, expect deGrom to ascend to the status of no-doubt starter in all matchups (save for Coors, perhaps).
Michael Pineda was superb in an injury-shortened 2014 campaign. He got things off to a promising start this year with a six inning start in which he allowed two earned runs on six hits, with one walk and six strikeouts. The Orioles could present some challenges, as could Orioles Park at Camden Yards, but pitching against the Rays at Tropicana Field looks like a juicy matchup. Even a rocky start at Baltimore could be offset by a sterling effort over the weekend, so feel free to use him in weekly lineup leagues.
Brandon McCarthy’s first start as a member of the Dodgers was a mixed bag. He picked up a win with nine strikeouts and just one walk in five innings pitched. He did, however, allow four earned runs and a pair of dongs. He’s at home for two starts this week, and Dodger Stadium reduces runs to lefties by 4% and to righties by 11%, according to StatCorner. The Rockies aren’t as scary when they’re out of Coors, and McCarthy’s excellent 14 start stint to cap last year with the Yankees remains fresh in my mind. In those 14 starts, he totaled a 3.22 FIP, 49.1% groundball rate, 22.2% strikeout rate and 3.5% walk rate. Start him in both turns in all league types.
The non-obvious safe starts are rounded out by Scott Kazmir. Pitching against the Astros at Minute Maid Park carries some boom-or-bust potential. The Astros have a ton of punch and the ballpark boosts run scoring, but they also strikeout a ton. The Royals are off to a hot start and their lineup includes some rebound and breakout candidates, so it might not be a total mirage. Having said that, Kazmir was studly in his first start and resembled the pitcher who was so good in the first half of last year.
The Volatile Bunch
Matt Shoemaker is one of my favorite pitchers in the SP3 range this year, but he’s pitching in two hitter-friendly ballparks this week. The strikeout potential is immense when facing the Astros, as was noted in Kazmir’s write-up, but his low groundball rate could result in homer problems. I’d use him in both starts, but there is some risk.
I love James Paxton against the Rangers on Sunday, but I’d pass on using him against the Dodgers tonight in daily lineup change leagues. The southpaw owns a 20.2% strikeout rate in his young career, but his 8.8% walk rate points to the biggest shortcoming in his game, his control. Weekly leaguers will have a tougher call as to whether or not to use him, but I’d lean in favor of using him.
Daniel Norris is another electric southpaw. The rookie broke camp with the Blue Jays and earned a win in his first start of the year. He can pile up strikeouts, but like Paxton, he occasionally battles himself as evidenced by his walk rates in the minors. His flyball tendencies could be problematic in a pair of home starts since the Rogers Centre enhances home run production. Neither the Rays nor Braves project to be world beaters against southpaws, and that keeps Norris in play. Unlike with Paxton, though, I’d lean away from using him in weekly leagues. In leagues with daily changes, he’s usable against the Braves at the end of the week as long as he’s not a train wreck in his start against the Rays earlier in the week.
Jake Odorizzi’s start against the Blue Jays is one I’d assume avoid using him in. He cedes flyballs at a high rate and the Jays’ lineup and Rogers Centre don’t forebode well to a favorable outcome — unless he misses bats. Odorizzi can do that, as his 24.2% strikeout rate last year would suggest, but I’ll pass. A home start against the Yankees is more favorable but not enough to convince me to use him in leagues with weekly lineup changes.
Before I address any specific pitchers, it’s important to keep context in mind with stream options. In large leagues, some of the options suggested won’t be available. Conversely, some of the pitchers suggested aren’t ideal for usage in shallow mixed leagues where the talent who is rostered is very high.
Tim Hudson had uncharacteristic struggles with his control in his first start of the year issuing five free passes in 6.1 innings pitched. He navigated trouble, though, allowing zero earned runs and coaxing groundballs on 68.4% of the balls put in play against him. He has two home starts. AT&T Park is one of the best pitcher’s parks in the league, and as I noted above, the Rockies aren’t the same juggernaut lineup they are at Coors when they’re on the road. The Diamondbacks are in a rebuild and the offense isn’t a scary bunch.
A pair of Diamondbacks pitchers make for intriguing deep league stream options. Both Ruby de la Rosa and Jeremy Hellickson will be pitching in run suppressing parks Petco Park and AT&T Park. The Giants tagged de la Rosa at Chase Field hitting two homers and scoring six earned runs on eight hits and two walks in 5.1 innings. The revamped Padres offense has been hit-or-miss out of the gate. Gamers in deep roto leagues with a high innings pitched limit or those in head-to-head formats can give de la Rosa a looksy. Hellickson was also messy in his first start this year, but as a flyball pitcher, he’ll be happy to get away from Chase Field for a pair of starts. Both Petco Park and AT&T Park take a bite out of homers. Gamers in the same league types who should be considering de la Rosa should be doing the same with Hellickson. Of the two, I’d prefer Hellickson to de la Rosa since the former Ray has enjoyed more big league success.