2015 Fantasy BaseballFantasy Baseball

2015 Fantasy Baseball: Week 14 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, let’s take a look at some pitchers you should be starting this week and some you should just leave on your bench.

Elite

Corey Kluber | Cleveland Indians

Opponents: Vincent Velasques (HOU), Jesse Hahn (OAK)

When it comes to Kluber, you know exactly what you’re going to get from him every week. The Cleveland ace hasn’t won a game since May 28, but it has more to do with his team not giving him any run support than his play on the field. Kluber will face the Astros in his first start, a team that’s hitting .243 since the beginning of the year and striking out over nine times per game, and the Athletics in his second start, who are a better team on paper than the Astros (statistically speaking) but pose no real threat to opposing pitchers. The 29-year-old has racked up 24 strikeouts in his last two starts and could easily rack up 15+ Ks against the Astros alone. He may not get the win, but the ceiling for Kluber is so high, it doesn’t matter if he wins or loses. Start him with confidence and don’t look back.

Johnny Cueto | Cincinnati Reds

Opponents: Max Scherzer (WAS), Dan Haren (MIA)

Facing the red-hot Scherzer is never ideal, but facing Cueto is never an easy task for any team. Both the Nationals and Marlins love to strike out, and with Cueto averaging 7.2 strikeouts in his last five games, it wouldn’t be surprising to see him reach the 10 K mark in both starts. The 29-year-old has pitched six or more innings in all but one game since May 3, making him of the most reliable pitchers to lean on. He’s going to have his hands full with the Nationals on Tuesday, but if he can keep the ball in the park, Cueto should provide fantasy owners with another exceptional start.

Francisco Liriano | Pittsburgh Pirates

Opponents: Tyson Ross (SD), Jamie Garcia (STL)

Liriano is another pitcher I’ll be using this week because of his wonderful matchup against a terrible-hitting Padres team. San Diego has had very little success hitting against lefties, making Liriano a prime 7/2/7 candidate (7IP, 2ER or less, 7+ strikeouts). The last time the southpaw took on the Padres, he pitched six innings of scoreless baseball, allowed three hits and struck out 11. His matchup against the Cardinals also grades out to be an above average start for Liriano. The Cardinals are hitting .233 as a team against left-handed pitchers, behind only the terrible White Sox and Mets. With both his matchups being way above average, don’t be surprised if Liriano finishes the week with two wins and a bunch of strikeouts.

Other Must Start Pitchers: James Shields, Dallas Kuechel, Jake Arrieta, A.j Burnett, Jon Lester, Carlos Carrasco.

Mediocre

Chris Heston | San Francisco Giants

Opponents: Jonathan Niese (NYM), Chad Billingsley (PHI)

The last time Heston took on the Mets at home, he threw a no-hitter. I’m not saying he will repeat his spectacular performance again, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he did. Heston has come back down to earth since throwing the no-no, but both his matchups against the Mets and Phillies are so good, he’s almost a must-start candidate. I’ll proceed with some caution because the Phillies were actually a decent hitting team in the month of June, but with Billingsley on the mound for the Phillies, I expect the Giants to provide Heston with more than enough run support to help him pick up the win. Roll him out there and hope history repeats itself.

Yovani Gallardo | Texas Rangers

Opponents: Robbie Ray (ARI), James Shields (SD)

When you think of elite pitching, Gallardo isn’t the first name that comes to mind, but the 29-year-old has been absolutely outstanding in his last few starts. Since June 15, Gallardo hasn’t given up a run (26.1 innings), helping his team win in three of those four starts. He’s not going to strike out a ton of batters, but at this point it doesn’t make a difference. Some regression should be expected in the next few weeks, but it’s not starting this week. His first start against the Diamondback will be a difficult one, but Gallardo has been able to shut down the Jays, the Orioles and the Dodgers on his currently scoreless streak. As I started earlier, the Padres love to strikeout, and despite Gallardo not being a strikeout pitcher, I expect him to rack up at least seven strikeouts before the end of the night. He’s firing on all cylinders right now, so ride him while he’s hot before he comes back down to earth.

Taijuan Walker | Seattle Mariners

Opponents: Alfred Simon (DET), C.J Wilson (ANA)

Walker started off the season very slow, but he’s completely turned it around in the last few starts. Since June 6th, the righty has gone 5-0 and has allowed one run in four of those five starts. He’s lowered his ERA from 5.80 to 4.34 and is starting to look like the stud fantasy owners were expecting when they drafted him. If you didn’t give up on Walker earlier in the season, he’s finally starting to pay off. Seattle remains one of the worst hitting teams in the league and the 22-year-old will need to be at his best to help his team pick up some wins from now until the end of the season. He may be a risky start, but I’ll take my chances and ride his hot streak till it burns out.

Other Pitchers to Consider: John Lackey, Phil Huges, Brett Anderson, Mark Buehrle, Jesse Hahn, Doug Fister, Matt Moore.

Bench

Chad Billingsley & Sean O’Sullivan | Philadelphia Phillies

Opponents: doesn’t really matter.

Billingsley has made four starts this season and they haven’t been good. He’s given up five or more runs in three of those starts and has never gone past the sixth inning. As for O’Sullivan, he’s given up 12 runs on 22 hits in his last two starts. I can’t imagine anyone being desperate enough to use either one, but if you were thinking about it, I hope I helped change your mind.

Carlos Rodon | Chicago White Sox

Opponents: Mark Buehrle (TOR), Jon Lester (CHC)

I like Rodon as a pitcher, but this week isn’t going to be a good one for the 22-year-old. The White Sox starter has to face the powerful Blue Jays and the always-dangerous Chicago Cubs. Rodon has the stuff to rack up the strikeouts, but his 1.64 WHIP is something to worry about. With the White Sox being such a terrible team offensively, Rodon would need to be absolutely perfect to give his team a chance of winning, and it’s very unlikely that he’ll be able to do that. Sit him this week and look for other options.

Stats and references provided by www.MLB.com and www.ESPN.com

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