2015 Fantasy Baseball: Week 20 Two-Start Pitchers
A fantasy owner’s best friend is the waiver wire—where finding value can make the difference between a great week and a very disappointing week. Most pitchers see the mound once a week, but if you want to maximize the number of starts per week, it’s important to look for pitchers pitching twice and exploit favorable matchups if they exist. With that being said, let’s take a look at some pitchers you should be starting this week and some you should just leave on your bench.
Corey Kluber | Cleveland Indians
Opponents: Jon Lester (CHC), Mat Latos (LAD)
Kluber hasn’t been the stud that fantasy owners were hoping for when they drafted him early, but he’s my number one recommendation for week 21. The 29-year-old got roughed up in his last outing against Boston (6 ER, 4 HR allowed), but prior to that start, he has been lights out (18 IP, 2 ER, 4H, 17K). He gets the strikeout friendly Cubs in his first start followed by the average hitting Dodgers in his second start. He’s either really good or really bad, but I’m confident this week will be one of those really good weeks for Kluber. Lock him in and watch him go.
Jacob DeGrom | New York Mets
Opponents: Adam Morgan (PHI), Eduardo Rodriguez (BOS)
Even with the Red Sox hitting .312 as a team in the month of August, I’m still all in on DeGrom this week. The 27-year-old has been lights out all season and continues to dominate his opponents. He has a sexy 1.98 ERA and a crazy 0.89 WHIP in 23 starts so far this season. The Phillies have been better as a team since the start of August, but the Mets refuse to lose, and they’re just crushing the ball left, right and center. Even if DeGrom is average in both his starts (which he won’t be), he still has the potential to pick up two quality starts and provide fantasy owners with all the points they need to win their weeks. Don’t bet against DeGrom and the Mets.
Stephen Strasburg | Washington Nationals
Opponents: James Shields (SD), Brad Hand (MIA)
Straburg has been up-and-down for most of the season, but he’s been pretty darn good over his last three starts and he’s got two great matchups this week. On paper the Padres and Marlins have been better over the last 21 games—both are above average hitting teams and are in the bottom half in strikeouts per game—but let’s face it, Strasburg has the stuff to strike out hitters and both teams haven’t been great the previous months. I can’t see the San Diego native getting destroyed in front of his friends and family, and Miami isn’t a dangerous team without their slugger Giancarlo Stanton. I’m more than willing to take the risk on Strasburg and expect him to finish with double-digit strikeouts.
Other must start pitchers: Jake Arrieta, Jon Lester, Noah Syndergaard
Hisashi Iwakuma | Seattle Mariners
Opponents: Felix Dubront (OAK), Jeff Samardzija (CHW)
Since the begging of August, Iwakuma hasn’t given up more than three runs in a game and has pitched at least seven innings in each start, including 8.2 innings at Minnesota and a no-no at home against Baltimore. He’s been elite over that stretch, but I expect him to come back down to earth over the next few games. I’m not saying he’s going to stink, but he’s due for a let down at some point and it could come this week. Both Oakland and Chicago are middle of the pack hitting teams against right-handed pitchers, and the A’s aren’t a team that strikes out a lot (6.64 K/GP). He’s still a great start for fantasy owners who want to use him, but don’t expect this hot streak to continue for the rest of the season.
Lance Lynn | St. Louis Cardinals
Opponents: Robbie Ray (ARI), TBD (SF)
Lance Lynne is a player I just can’t wrap my head around. He’s 9-8 on the season with a 1.31 WHIP, but he also sports a very nice 2.94 ERA in 23 starts. The 28-year-old hasn’t been exceptional over his last four starts—including failing to make it out of the first inning against Pittsburgh—but he can occasionally pitch seven plus innings while allowing under two runs. With Lynn, he’s either really good or really bad, so if you want to start him, be ready for a long night of praying to the fantasy gods.
James Shields | San Diego Padres
Opponents: Stephen Strasburg (WAS), Jerome Williams (PHI)
Shields has had some problems with the long ball this year, giving up 24 home runs in 26 starts, but his strikeout potential and ability to work deep into games gives him a ton of upside. The Nationals continue to disappoint in the month of August (.242 BA in 22 games) and the Phillies aren’t a very good hitting team, even with their recent success. Shields may give up a few home runs with both starts being away from PetCo, but I’ll take the risk and run with the upside here. If he can pick up QS in both matches this week, then fantasy owners can call it a success. Anything more than that is extra.
Other pitchers to consider: Julio Teheran, Jeff Samardaija, Alex Wood, Ubaldo Jimenez, Alfredo Simon, J.A Happ, Nathan Eovaldi, Mark Buehrle, Jamie Garcia.
John Lamb | Cincinnati Reds
Opponents: Alex Wood (LAD), Willy Peralta (MIL)
Lamb is one of those talented young players that just isn’t quite there yet. He’s made two starts since being traded to Cincinnati and both starts haven’t been spectacular. He’s proven his ability to strike out hitters, but his 6.35 ERA and 1.68 WHIP are signs that he still has a long way to go before fantasy owners can start to trust him. The rookie will one day be an excellent pitcher for the Reds for many years to come, but it’s not going to start this week. Fantasy owners shouldn’t bother adding him.
Derek Holland |Texas Rangers
Opponents: Mark Buehrle (TOR), Miguel Gonzalez (BAL)
If you want to start a left-handed pitcher against the Toronto Blue Jays, be my guest. However, the Jays have destroyed left-handed pitching all year and Holland is making only his third start of the season after missing four months due to a shoulder injury. He survived his first outing against the Mariners, but he won’t make it past the Jays or the O’s. He’s available on the waiver wire, but he should probably remain there for another week or two to see how things play out.
Other pitchers to avoid: Mike Montgomery, Charlie Morton, Adam Morgan, Patrick Corbin, Buck Farmer, Kris Medlen, Felix Doubront, Brad Hand, Matt Cain, Jerome Williams.