DOUBLE DIPPIN': August 12-18

There are a few low-owned two-start pitchers who could make solid adds this week, including Jose Suarez, who is owned in just seven percent of NFBC 15-team leagues. Teammate Dillon Peters is also likely to get two starts, and he's unowned across the board in the 15-teamers. We'll dig into more options below, and as always, a look at all of the matchups for the week can be found in our 8-day scan.


Strong 2-start options

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Gerrit Cole 4.25 @CHW 3.17 @OAK 3.71
  Clayton Kershaw 2.21 @MIA 2.06 @ATL 2.14
  James Paxton 2.39 vBAL 1.18 vCLE 1.79
  Zack Greinke 2.24 @CHW 1.29 @OAK 1.77
  Lance Lynn 1.82 @TOR 1.64 vMIN 1.73
  Brendan McKay 1.3 @SD 1.95 vDET 1.63
  Jack Flaherty 1.81 @KC 1.44 @CIN 1.63
  Michael Clevinger 1.46 vBOS 1.36 @NYY 1.41
  Zack Wheeler 1.43 @ATL 1.31 @KC 1.37
  Joey Lucchesi 0.83 vTAM 0.95 @PHI 0.89
  Jose Quintana 0.53 @PHI 0.95 @PIT 0.74
  Jose Suarez 0.94 vPIT 0.52 vCHW 0.73
  Domingo German 1.17 vBAL 0.26 vCLE 0.72
  Anthony DeSclafani 0.3 @WAS 0.82 vSTL 0.56
  Alex Wood 0.37 @WAS 0.67 vSTL 0.52


Jose Suarez (LHP, LAA) has taken a step back in his last two starts, one of which was a soft matchup against the Tigers, allowing a total of 10 ER in 9.1 IP, with 3 K and 4 BB. He'll look to get back on track this week, and the first matchup couldn't be any better, as the Pirates rank dead last in wRC+ and Eye ratio against LHP. The White Sox are 12th in wRC+ vs lefties, but rank 24th in ISO against them, along with the 3rd lowest BB% and 9th highest K%. Suarez may not make it through five innings twice (he's done so in four of 10 starts, and one of his last six), but he's still a decent bet for double digit strikeouts, and his 6.22 ERA and rough couple starts leading up to this will scare some people away.

Alex Wood (LHP, CIN) has had mixed results in three starts since returning from a back injury that sidelined him for nearly four months. He has walked just one batter in each start, but has a 17 percent K%, and has already surrendered 4 HR in 14.1 IP. After lasting just three innings last time out, Wood will look to get back on track against a Washington offense that owns the 8th highest wRC+ and 8th lowest K% vs lefties. Next up is a Cardinal team that ranks 20th in wRC+ vs LHP, and 24th in wRC+ over the past month, with the 4th highest K%. Wood may have some more ups and downs in the short-term following a lengthy layoff, but is still probably worth rolling with in most formats this week.


Judgment calls

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Eduardo Rodriguez 0.03 @CLE 0.92 vBAL 0.48
  Max Fried 0.37 vNYM 0.52 vLA 0.45
  Merrill Kelly 0.25 @COL 0.55 vSF 0.40
  Dylan Cease -0.14 vHOU 0.87 @LAA 0.37
  Zac Gallen 0.03 @COL 0.50 vSF 0.27
  Jonathan Gray -0.36 vARI 0.53 vMIA 0.09
  Yusei Kikuchi 0.26 @DET -0.13 @TOR 0.07
  Brad Keller 0.39 vSTL -0.38 vNYM 0.01
  Chase Anderson -0.23 vMIN -0.21 @WAS -0.22
  Jason Vargas 0.01 vCHC -0.53 vSD -0.26
  Zach Plesac 0.03 vBOS -0.69 @NYY -0.33
  Jordan Yamamoto -0.46 vLA -0.20 @COL -0.33
  Peter Lambert -1.17 vARI 0.41 vMIA -0.38


Eduardo Rodriguez (LHP, BOS) has been scuffling a bit lately, allowing 6 ER and 21 base runners in 11.2 IP over his last two starts, with 9 K and 9 BB, He'll face the Indians and Orioles this week, teams that rank 24th and 25th, respectively, in wRC+ vs LHP, while Baltimore also boasts the 3rd highest K%, and 4th lowest BB%. Rodriguez has allowed just 3 ER in 13.2 IP against the Orioles this season,, with 12 K and 0 BB, and offers too much upside to consider benching. His win chances are enhanced by the fact he's tentatively scheduled to face off against Zach Plesac and Tom Eshelman, so don't be surprised if he comes through with a big week.

Coming off back-to-back 6 K performances, Dylan Cease (RHP, CHW) will be hard-pressed to keep the streak going this week, as the Astros strike out at the lowest rate vs RHP, while the Angels check in with the 3rd lowest. The Astros also rank 2nd in wRC+ and 4th in ISO vs righties, while the Angels are 6th and 12th, respectively, in those categories. A 4.76 xERA shows that Cease hasn't been nearly as bad as his 6.00 ERA would suggest, but despite the strong rating he gets in his second start, I view him as a pretty risky play in mixed leagues this week.

The dominance Zac Gallen (RHP, ARI) displayed in the minors this season is starting to surface, as he has whiffed 23 batters in 19 IP over his last three starts, with just 2 ER allowed. He'll face a stiff challenge to open the week, as he'll head to Coors Field for the first time, where the home team boasts a league best .894 OPS. Gallen will get a softer test over the weekend, as even though the Giants' team OPS goes up more than 100 points on the road (.646 to .749), they own the 5th lowest wRC+ against RHP. Gallen clearly carries risk in his first start, but could be worth using nonetheless.

Dillon Peters (LHP, LAA) isn't listed on our 8-day scan for Sunday just yet, but he is likely to get the same matchups as teammate Suarez, who was covered in the "strong" start section, and Peters gets a 0.21 rating for his start against the Pirates. He has worked both as a starter and primary pitcher over the past month, allowing 11 ER and 6 HR in 28.2 IP in five appearances (3.45 ERA), with a 23/5 K/BB ratio, which includes an 8 K performance against Boston in his last outing. Peters shouldn't be expected to miss many bats going forward, but games against the Pirates and White Sox should put him on the radar of deep league owners looking for a two-start pitcher this week.  

It's been a pretty tough year for Yusei Kikuchi (LHP, SEA), who is sporting a 5.34 ERA through 24 starts. He'll look to build off a solid outing last time out, when he allowed 1 ER with 8 K and 14 swinging strikes in 5 IP against the Padres, despite throwing a first pitch strike to just six of 22 batters. The first matchup is a good one, as the Tigers rank 25th in wRC+ and 26th in ISO vs lefties, with the 8th highest K%, and they own the 3rd lowest OPS at home. Kikuchi will face the Blue Jays in his second start, a team that is 21st in wRC+ vs LHP, and 26th in home OPS. He probably won't be a reliable option through the rest of the season, but this looks like a good week to use Kikuchi.

Brad Keller (RHP, KC) has shown some improved skills lately, adding some velocity, and recording an uncharacteristic 5.0 Cmd over the past month, during which time he's posted a 3.05 ERA. He'll start this week against a Cardinal offense that has been struggling, ranking 23rd in runs and 24th in wRC+ in the last 30 days, along with the 4th highest K%. Even with the red hot Mets coming to town over the weekend, Keller should be worth starting in most formats this week.

Jason Vargas (LHP, PHI) has been throwing even softer lately, as both his four-seam fastball and sinker have averaged 83 MPH in each of his last three starts. Somehow, with just a 5 MPH gap between fastball and changeup, he's been missing more bats, racking up 14 or more swinging strikes in five of his last eight starts, after reaching double digits just once in his first 12 starts. Vargas will kick off this week against a Cub team that ranks 16th in wRC+ vs LHP, with the 6th highest K%, followed by the Padres, who are 10th in wRC+ against lefties, with the 7th highest K%. This could all blow up at any time, especially since Vargas isn't pitching half his games at Citi Field anymore, where he put up a 2.93 ERA, compared to a 4.98 mark in all other venues. Use at your own risk.

Following a brief demotion around the All-Star break, Zach Plesac (RHP, CLE) has returned to allow a total of just 6 ER in 27 IP over a span of five starts. His skills, both during that time (21/10 K/BB), and for the season (4.89 xERA, 2.0 Cmd) don't come close to supporting his 3.13 ERA, even though he's faced a pretty soft schedule, including a recent six-start run in which he faced only KC, DET, and BAL, the latter of which got him for 7 ER in 3.2 IP. Plesac's opponents will be extremely tough this week, as he'll first take on a Boston offense that is 4th in wRC+ vs RHP, followed by a Yankee offense that leads the league in the category. The Red Sox aren't quite as potent on the road, where their OPS dips by 117 points, while the Yankee team OPS slips by 53 points (from .859 to .806) when at home. Even so, Plesac carries a lot more risk than his ERA to date would suggest.


Weak two-start options

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Martin Perez -0.07 @MIL -0.94 @TEX -0.51
  Brett Anderson -0.03 @SF -1.25 vHOU -0.64
  Ivan Nova -1.74 vHOU -0.06 @LAA -0.90
  Mitch Keller -0.9 @LAA -1.43 vCHC -1.17
  Ariel Jurado -0.98 @TOR -1.44 vMIN -1.21
  Drew VerHagen -3.2 vSEA -3.98 @TAM -3.59


After a promising start to the season, Martin Perez (LHP, MIN) has really struggled for the past couple months, recording a 6.26 ERA, 2.0 Cmd, and 1.8 hr/9 across his last 13 starts. This week's opponents aren't overly imposing, as the Brewers are 17th in wRC+ vs southpaws, while the Rangers are 23rd, while whiffing at the 4th highest rate. Both teams are tougher at home, as Milwaukee's team OPS rises 60 points (from .740 on road to .800), while Texas enjoys a 77 point boost (.727 to .804). Given the ongoing struggles for Perez, he's probably one to avoid unless desperate for wins and strikeouts.

Ivan Nova (RHP, CHW) has been on a nice little roll lately, allowing a total of just 2 ER in 28 IP over his last four starts. He deserves some credit for his 29 percent Hard% during that time, but he has struck out only 13 percent of the batters he's faced, and also benefited from a 17 percent hit rate and nine percent home run per fly ball rate. Nova will have his hands full this week against the Astros and Angels, teams that, as noted above, rank 2nd and 6th, respectively, in wRC+ vs RHP, and he may not get more than five strikeouts, as they both own a bottom three K% vs righties. Owners chasing wins will also be disappointed to learn he'll be facing Gerrit Cole in his first start. Most signs point to Nova being a poor gamble this week.

Mitch Keller (RHP, PIT) is expected to be called back up on Monday, which will set him up for two starts this week. He made three starts earlier in the season, and got rocked in his first two, but recorded 6 K and 13 swinging strikes against the Tigers June 18, and for the year in Triple-A, he owns a 3.56 ERA, 10.7 Dom, 3.0 Ctl, and 0.6 hr/9. Keller will be put to the test right away, as the Angels boast the 3rd lowest K% vs RHP, with the 8th highest OPS against them. His weekend matchup is attractive, as the Rockies own the 4th lowest wRC+ vs RHP, along with the 2nd lowest OPS and 2nd highest K% on the road. There's a wide range of outcomes for Keller, but the weekend start gives him some appeal in deeper mixed leagues.  



Looking Ahead

Sometimes you have to be a step ahead of the game when looking to acquire a player, so it can help to look ahead a little bit. Here is a list of some pitchers that may be available, at least in some mixed leagues, who as of now, are lined up for a two-start week beginning next Monday, August 19. These are subject to change, but we will go into more depth on some of these matchups in next week's column.


Lg      Pitcher         Team    Opponents
==  ==================  ====  ==============
AL  Aaron Sanchez        HOU  vs CLE, at ATL
NL  Elieser Hernandez    MIA  at ATL, vs PHI
AL  Marco Gonzales       SEA  at TAM, vs TOR
NL  Adam Wainwright      STL  vs MIL, vs COL
NL  Dakota Hudson        STL  vs MIL, vs COL
AL  Kolby Allard         TEX  vs LAA, at CHW


There are roughly 150 starting pitchers in MLB rotations at any given time. For different league sizes, we can estimate the number of SP in the useable pool, and then determine the overall ratings that correspond to worst, 25th percentile, median, and 75th percentile SP.      

                 Overall SP Rating
                    SP      by SP league percentile
League size       Pool*     .00    .25    .50    .75
==============    =====    ====   ====   ====   =====
12-team “only”     120     -.73   -.22   +.22   +.74
10-team “only”     110     -.54   -.11   +.30   +.79
20-team mixed      110     -.54   -.11   +.30   +.79
15-team mixed      105     -.46   -.05   +.34   +.82
12-team mixed       80     -.07   +.22   +.55   +.97
10-team mixed       60     +.22   +.46   +.74   +1.12

So if you’re in a 12-team “only” league, the median start should have a rating of about 0.2. The 120th start is around -0.7. In a shallower, 15-team mixed, the median start is 0.34 and a top pitcher +0.82.


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  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.