DOUBLE DIPPIN': July 29- August 4

This is a pretty light week for two-start pitchers, as just five teams play seven games, while five others are scheduled for just five games. The mid-week trade deadline is sure to shake up some rotations, and may cause some pitchers (like Stroman, Syndergaard, Roark) to lose out on a second start. Here's a look at who is currently projected to make two starts, and our 8-day scan will be updating all the changes throughout the week.

Strong 2-start options

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Max Scherzer 3.35 vATL 3.39 @ARI 3.37
  Charlie Morton 1.9 @BOS 3.20 vMIA 2.55
  Patrick Corbin 2.68 vATL 2.39 @ARI 2.54
  Justin Verlander 1.53 @CLE 2.68 vSEA 2.11
  Shane Bieber 1.6 vHOU 2.56 vLAA 2.08
  Noah Syndergaard 2.1 @CHW 1.08 @PIT 1.59
  Sonny Gray 1.35 vPIT 1.57 @ATL 1.46
  Kenta Maeda 1.4 @COL 1.51 vSD 1.46
  Yu Darvish 1.5 @STL 1.34 vMIL 1.42
  Chris Paddack 1.13 vBAL 0.48 @LA 0.81
  David Price 0.89 vTAM 0.42 @NYY 0.66
  Marcus Stroman 0.88 @KC 0.20 @BAL 0.54


Judgment calls

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Tyler Beede 0.4 @PHI 0.36 @COL 0.38
  Drew Smyly 0.02 vSF 0.59 vCHW 0.31
  Caleb Smith 0.32 vARI 0.18 @TAM 0.25
  Jake Odorizzi 0.56 @MIA -0.13 vKC 0.22
  Merrill Kelly 1.01 @MIA -0.64 vWAS 0.19
  Reynaldo Lopez -0.14 vNYM 0.36 @PHI 0.11
  Jordan Lyles -0.27 @CIN -0.07 vNYM -0.17
  Tanner Roark -0.53 vPIT -0.01 @ATL -0.27
  Dallas Keuchel -0.6 @WAS 0.05 vCIN -0.28
  Jaime Barria 0.41 vDET -1.13 @CLE -0.36
  Kyle Freeland -0.08 vLA -0.66 vSF -0.37
  Jordan Zimmermann -0.79 @LAA -0.01 @TEX -0.40
  Brad Keller -0.24 vTOR -0.69 @MIN -0.47
  Julio Teheran -0.97 @WAS -0.02 vCIN -0.50


Tyler Beede (RHP, SF) has been really good lately, allowing 8 ER in 27.1 IP across his last four outings, with 23 K, 2 BB, and a 14 percent SwK. He'll be put to the test this week, as he'll first head to Philadelphia to take on a team that boasts the 2nd highest BB% at home, while ranking 15th in OPS, and vs RHP, they're 19th in wRC+ and 20th in ISO. A trip to Coors awaits him over the weekend, where he'll face a team that owns the 3rd lowest wRC+ vs RHP, but in home games, their .894 OPS leads the league by a wide margin. Beede should come through with a healthy dose of strikeouts, but there's obviously some ratio risk with the trip to Coors on the docket.

After putting up an 8.42 ERA with a 6.0 Ctl in 51.1 IP with the Rangers, Drew Smyly (LHP, PHI) got his Phillie career started off on the right foot, allowing just 1 ER and 4 H, along with 8 K against the Pirates. The soft matchup surely had a lot to do with his success, but he gets another nice one to open this week, as the Giants rank 29th in wRC+ and ISO against southpaws. Assuming he's still in the rotation, Smyly would then get the White Sox, who are 15th in wRC+ vs LHP, with the 4th lowest BB% and 9th highest K%. The increased cutter usage he showed in his last outing probably isn't the answer, as he recorded just two swinging strikes on the pitch, and batters have a .462 ISO against it this season. The ratings are favorable, but I think I need to see more before getting behind Smyly.

Caleb Smith (LHP, MIA) has been pretty good since coming off the injured list in early July, making four starts, and recording a 3.00 ERA with 28 K and 10 BB across 24 IP. He will face a stiff test to kick off this week, as the Diamondbacks are 3rd in wRC+, OPS, and ISO against lefties. Over the weekend, he'll see a Tampa team that ranks 20th in wRC+ vs LHP, and whiffs at the 3rd highest clip. Despite one tough matchup, Smith should be worth starting again this week.

Merrill Kelly (RHP, ARI) got lit up in his last start, but stands a good chance of getting back on track Monday, when he'll head to Miami to face an offense that is dead last in OPS and ISO vs RHP. Start number two will be against the Nationals, who rank 20th in wRC+ vs righties on the year, but 10th in wRC+ this month, along with the 2nd lowest K%. The start against the Marlins should be enough to make Kelly usable in most formats.

After a July 4th start in which he got rocked by the Tigers, Reynaldo Lopez (RHP, CHW) was the owner of a 6.34 ERA, highest in the league among starting pitchers. He has quickly turned things around, though, as his velocity is up, and he's allowed just 4 ER in 21 IP over his last three starts, with 25 K and just 4 BB. He'll kick off this week against the Mets, who are 14th in wRC+ and 21st in ISO vs RHP, with a league average K%. Up next is a Philadelphia offense that, as noted above, is 19th in wRC+ vs RHP, and 15th in home OPS. Given his recent run of success and pretty nice matchups, Lopez is probably worth rolling with in most formats.

Julio Urias (LHP, LA) isn't listed above, as it's not clear if he'll get a turn over the weekend, but he's set to step in for Ross Stripling for at least one turn through the rotation. It's not clear yet whether he'll start the game Tuesday at Coors Field or follow an opener, but the latter would be preferable, as he hasn't topped 61 pitches or three innings in an outing since April. Urias may get a shot at the Padres over the weekend, a team that ranks 11th in wRC+ against lefties, with the 8th highest K%. Stay tuned regarding the team's plans on Tuesday, as Urias could be well worth a gamble this week if he serves as a bulk reliever.

Jordan Lyles (RHP, PIT) generated some buzz earlier this season, but he's been an absolute train wreck for two months now, with a 9.57 ERA in 36.2 IP over his last nine starts. The Reds own the 5th lowest wRC+ vs RHP, and rank 17th in home OPS, and Lyles has faced them twice already this season, pitching a total of 9 IP, with 3 ER allowed and a 5/5 K/BB ratio. The Mets, meanwhile, rank 14th in wRC+ vs righties, and 18th in road OPS. The matchups aren't too bad, and a 40 percent hit rate and 28 percent home run per fly ball rate have surely played a role in his aforementioned struggles, but Lyles is extremely difficult to trust right now.

Dallas Keuchel (LHP, ATL) was dominant in his most recent outing, whiffing 12 Royal batters in six innings of work, lowering his ERA to 3.50 through seven starts. Things probably won't be as easy in his first start of the week, as Washington ranks 6th in wRC+ vs lefties, with the 5th lowest K%. Keuchel already faced them once, in his season debut, when he allowed 3 ER and 8 H in 5 IP. Up next will be the Reds, who make for a pretty nice matchup, as they are 16th in wRC+ vs LHP, and 23rd in road OPS. Keuchel's ERA is a little better than his skills to date, and the start against Washington will be tough, but owners should feel pretty comfortable deploying him this week.

Jaime Barria (RHP, LAA) has a 6.63 ERA and 1.7 hr/9 in 38 IP, following up on an 8.73 ERA and 2.8 hr/9 he had in 44 IP at Triple-A. He has shown some respectable swing and miss stuff, with a 22 percent K% and 11 percent SwK in his 38 innings of work. He'll open this week with the ideal matchup, as the Tigers rank dead last in wRC+ vs RHP, with the highest K%, and 3rd fewest home runs, and they'll have Jordan Zimmermann on the mound. Up next is a Cleveland team that is 16th in wRC+ vs right-handers on the season, but since the calendar turned to July, they rank 5th in wRC+, with the lowest K% against them. The Detroit start puts Barria in play as a deeper mixed league streaming option, but he clearly owns some blowup risk.

Brad Keller (RHP, KC) has been on a roll lately, allowing just 4 ER in 27 IP over his past four starts, but his skills have been up and down during that time.  Two 7 K performances have been sandwiched in between two starts in which he's recorded 5 K and 6 BB, and while he has his ERA under 4.00, he has a 4.75 xERA and 1.6 Cmd on the year. Keller's last bad start (5 IP, 6 ER) was against a Toronto team he'll start this week off against, and they rank 27th in wRC+ vs RHP, with the 8th highest K%. His weekend start is against a Minnesota offense that leads the league in ISO vs RHP, while ranking 4th in wRC+. Bottom line, despite the recent results, Keller makes for an extremely risky play this week. 


Weak 2-start options

  SP Rating1 Opp1 Rating2 Opp2 Week Rating
  Jonathan Gray -1.05 vLA -0.06 vSF -0.56
  Adrian Houser -0.52 @OAK -0.61 @CHC -0.57

Jon Gray (RHP, COL) gets the Coors Field two-step this week, a place where he's managed to post a 3.90 ERA through 55.1 IP this season. He has struggled with lefty bats (.804 OPS, 1.8 Cmd), and the Dodgers will surely stack their lineup with them. Gray has already made two home starts against the Dodgers this season, compiling a line of 12.2 IP, 7 ER, 12 K, and a 1.50 WHIP, and one against the Giants, who touched him up for 6 ER and 14 base runners in 5.1 IP. The strikeouts Gray provides this week may be negated by his high ratios.


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, July 29. 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
==  ==================  ====  ==============
NL  Vincent Velasquez    PHI  at ARI, at SF
NL  Gio Gonzalez         MIL  at PIT, vs TEX
NL  Shaun Anderson        SF  vs WAS, vs PHI
AL  Jakob Junis           KC  at BOS, at DET
AL  Jose Suarez          LAA  at CIN, at BOS
AL  Daniel Norris        DET  vs CHW, vs KC


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.