2015 Fantasy Baseball: Week 23 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
Garrett Richards | Los Angeles Angels
With the playoffs starting next week, its now or never for fantasy owners who need to get in. My top play of the week is Garrett Richards. He hasn’t been very consistent this season, but his matchup is one I’ll be looking to exploit. He’s pitched a quality start in six of his last seven starts and has punched out 21 batters over his last three starts. Since the All-Star break, the Mariners and Twins are in the top ten in strikeouts per game, giving Richards an extra boost in value. The 27-year-old is always a risky start, but this week he’s worth all the risk and more. Plug him in your lineup and watch him go.
Sonny Gray | Oakland Athletics
Sonny Gray has been excellent all season and that shouldn’t change this week. He’ll be entering next week with a 2.28 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 28 starts and those numbers should get even better. The White Sox are 13th in team batting average against righties and the Astros sit second in the league in strikeouts. Gray doesn’t give up a lot of base runners are he also has the stuff to strike out opposing hitters. Despite both his starts being on the road, the 25-year-old should be locked into every this week and in the playoffs.
Stephen Strasburg | Washington Nationals
There’s one thing everyone in baseball can agree on; when Strasburg is healthy, he’s one of the best pitchers in the game. He showed flashes of his old self last week when he went 7.1 innings against the Mets, giving up three runs and striking out a season high 13 batters. This week he gets the Phillies and the Marlins, two teams that are building for next season. His last outing against Miami wasn’t great, but his outing against the Phillies back in June was classic Strasburg. Both the Phillies and Marlins aren’t teams that strikeout often, but we can still expect Strasburg to finish with at least six strikeouts in both starts. Fantasy owners should trust he recent success and hope it continues again this week.
Gerrit Cole | Pittsburgh Pirates
Don’t let Cole’s matchup scare you away. The Cubs lead the league in strikeouts against righties (993) and the Dodgers are 22nd in team batting average against righties (.248). The Pirates have been on a roll since being swept by the Brewers at the beginning of September, going 6-3 and gaining ground on the division leading Cardinals. If the offence can find a way to score some runs and give their starter some support, Cole should have no problem locking things down after that. Roll him out there and watch him dominate.
Cole Hamels | Texas Rangers
Opponents: Scott Kazmir (HOU), Taijuan Walker (SEA)
Hamels was supposed to make two starts last week, but the Rangers pushed his Sunday start back to Monday. The lefty hasn’t been stellar since coming over from the Phillies, but this week he has two excellent matchups that I just can’t pass on. Both the Mariners and Astros are top three in strikeouts against lefties, making Hamels are great candidate for a big week, but he struggled his last time out against the Mariners are both his starts will be at home. The veteran is a boom-or-bust candidate in both his starts, but his upside is too much to pass up on, especially at this point of the year.
Jon Lester | Chicago Cubs
Opponents: Gerrit Cole (PIT), Carlos Martinez (STL)
Lester has had his struggles this season, but the 31-year-old has been better of late and fantasy owners are hoping it continues this week. His matchup against the Pirates isn’t ideal, but they rank 13th in team batting average against lefties and the game is away from Wrigley Field. The Pirates are hot, so there’s risk that they will hit him hard and often, but Lester has given up three or more runs in only two of his last ten starts, making the risk minimal. His matchup against the Cardinals is as bad, with the Cards currently hitting .228 in the month of September. If you drafted Lester to be an ace, now is the time to use him as one.
James Shields | San Diego Padres
Opponents: TBD (ARI), Kyle Kendricks (COL)
James Shields has given up 29 homeruns this season and is pitching at Coors field on Sunday. That sentence alone should be enough to scare you away from starting him this week. His last outing against the Rockies at home wasn’t great, giving up four runs in six innings while striking out six. Shields is going to rack up his strikeouts, but his homerun problem isn’t something I want to deal with, especially this week. Bench him and wait till next week to start him.
Carlos Martinez | St. Louis Cardinals
Opponents: Ariel Pena (MIL), Jon Lester (CHC)
Martinez is going to be a great pitcher for many years to come, but he’s struggled over his last few starts and can’t be trusted this week. His ERA has gone from 2.51 to 3.12 in his last ten starts and he’s given up at least three runs in his last eight starts. He’s hasn’t pitched past the seventh inning since August 11th and has pitched into the sixth just twice in his last five starts. With the Cardinals not hitting very well, the 23-year-old has very little upside and should be benched.