Two-Start Pitchers 2014: June 23-29: Are There Gambles Worth Taking?

by Ray Kuhn

It is going to be hard for Clayton Kershaw to top his last start, but he gets two chances this week to try. He is part of a top heavy group of hurlers taking the mound twice this week, but there are plenty of other options as well, some of which are riskier than others.  For example:

  • Edinson Volquez is frustrating. He took a streak of five straight successful starts (29 innings, 8 earned runs, 25 strikeouts) into his last start and promptly imploded. If any fantasy owners were hoping to catch lightning in a bottle, they were quite disappointed. The right-hander lasted only 2.1 innings against the Reds allowing eight runs on six hits and three walks, inflating his ERA to 4.67 while also doing damage to your ratios. This week he faces two struggling offenses, Tampa Bay and the Mets, in an effort to rebound. While you are well within your rights to be scared off by him and want to avoid him, I would tend to take the opposite view. Volquez has generally pitched pretty well this season, even though he is not striking many batters out (55 in 81 innings).

How do all of the options stack up?  Let’s a take a look:

Pitcher Opponent #1 Opponent #2
Tier 1
Clayton Kershaw at Kansas City vs. St. Louis
Felix Hernandez vs. Boston vs. Cleveland
Chris Sale at Baltimore at Toronto
Zack Greinke at Kansas City vs. St. Louis
Tier 2
Alex Cobb vs. Pittsburgh at Baltimore
Jeff Samardzjia vs. Cincinnati vs. Washington
Lance Lynn at Colorado at LA Dodgers
Homer Bailey at Chicago Cubs at San Francisco
Andrew Cashner at San Francisco vs. Arizona
Chris Archer vs. Pittsburgh at Baltimore
John Lackey at Seattle at NY Yankees
Tier 3
Tim Hudson vs. San Diego vs. Cincinnati
Mark Buerhle vs. NY Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox
Shelby Miller at Colorado at LA Dodgers
Alfredo Simon at Chicago Cubs at San Francisco
Yovani Gallardo vs. Washington vs. Colorado
Matt Cain vs. San Diego vs. Cincinnati
Gio Gonzalez at Milwaukee at Chicago Cubs
Tier 4
Nathan Eovaldi at Philadelphia vs. Oakland
Matt Garza vs. Washington vs. Colorado
Andrew Heaney at Philadelphia vs. Oakland
Bartolo Colon vs. Oakland at Pittsburgh
Wei-Yin Chen vs. Chicago White Sox vs. Tampa Bay
Marcus Stroman vs. NY Yankees vs. Chicago White Sox
Jose Quintana at Baltimore at Toronto
Jeremy Guthrie vs. LA Dodgers vs. LA Angels
Tier 5
Drew Smyly at Texas at Houston
Kyle Gibson at LA Angels at Texas
Chase Whitley at Toronto vs. Boston
Justin Masterson at Arizona at Seattle
Jeff Locke at Tampa bay vs. NY Mets
Edinson Volquez at Tampa bay vs. NY Mets
Jorge De La Rosa vs. St. Louis at Milwaukee
Tier 6
Aaron Harang at Houston at Philadelphia
Scott Feldman vs. Atlanta vs. Detroit
Jhoulys Chacin vs. St. Louis at Milwaukee
David Buchanan vs. Miami vs. Atlanta
Hector Santiago vs. Minnesota at Kansas City
Colby Lewis vs. Detroit vs. Minnesota
Roberto Hernandez vs. Miami vs. Atlanta



  • Gio Gonzalez entered the season as a top starter, then proceeded to struggle in nine starts prior to hitting the disabled list for inflammation in his pitching shoulder. He returned last week against the Astros and he picked up right where he left off, which was not what his owners were hoping for. The southpaw allowed four runs in five innings on five hits and three walks. He missed a month so some rustiness is to be expected, but his two starts prior to hitting the disabled list were just as bad, if not worse. On the bright side he did strike out six Astros and has 59 strikeouts in 55.2 innings, with a 4.85 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. Gonzalez says that he is fine, though his return has to give you some doubt.  After waiting a month for him to come back, you are well within your rights to start Gonzalez. If he was only making one start then I would be a little more skeptical, but with the southpaw facing the Brewers and Cubs on the road, he is worth a start. At the very least, the strikeouts should be there.
  • Prior to his promotion Andrew Heaney was a name fantasy owners were well aware of. He pitched in 13 games, 12 starts, between Double and Triple-A prior to being promoted and did a pretty good job of dominating minor league hitters. The top prospect had a 7-2 record to go with a 2.47 ERA, 1.10 WHIP and 79 strikeouts in 76.2 innings. After allowing a solo home run in the first inning, he cruised through the next five innings keeping the Mets off the scoreboard while allowing three hits and one walk, striking out three. To say Heaney looked comfortable and natural on the mound would be an understatement, but at the same time it would be foolhardy to expect this every time out. I would certainly get him in your starting lineup this week as he pitches in Philadelphia and at home against the A’s.
  • Chase Whitley did not enter the season on any fantasy radars, but that has changed quickly over the last few weeks. In fact, he was not even a true starting pitcher before this year which makes his performance that much more remarkable. The Yankees really didn’t even know what they would be getting when they promoted him, they just were out of any other options. For as good as Whitely has done, the issue is lack of stamina since he has not been able to pitch deep into games averaging only 5.53 innings per start. He owns a record of 3-0 with a 2.56 ERA and 1.03 WHIP, it is hard to argue with the overall production and he is starting to show that he can pitch deep into games (7.0 and 7.2 IP in two of his past three starts). Whitley’s start in Toronto is a little concerning, though he allowed just two runs over five innings in his start against them at home, and if you are looking for starting pitching help this week he could prove to be a useful option.
  • If you are looking for an under the radar option, David Buchanan is only owned in four percent of CBS leagues. Yes he does have a 4.95 ERA and 1.21 WHIP, but he is coming off the best start of his career against the Cardinals (7.2 innings, earning his second consecutive victory, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk). Prior to his promotion he had a 3.98 ERA in nine starts and last season between Double and Triple-A he had a 4.40 ERA. That is not the pedigree of a top prospect, so that is another reason why Buchanan has not gotten a great deal of respect. While the idea of a two start pitcher is appealing, there is some risk involved here. He is slated to face the Marlins and Braves, both at home, and he might be worth a look depending on your situation and who your other options are.
  • A veteran option that might be worth a look is Jeremy Guthrie, who is owned in just 19% of CBS leagues. The Royals are surging and Guthrie’s ERA now sits at a very respectable 3.86 after defeating the Dodgers in his last start. In fact out of the right-hander’s last six starts, four have been quality starts while the other two were quite close (7 innings, four runs and 5.2 innings, two runs). In his last six starts he has pitched 38.1 innings allowing 11 runs in total. Perhaps even more importantly is that has struck out nine batters in each of his last two starts, even though that puts his season total at just 59 in 98 innings. Guthrie faces both LA teams at home, and if you need starting pitching help from the waiver wire he very well could be the way to go.


  1. Frank says:

    With Wacha hitting the DL, who is the better substitute this week? Kuroda, McHugh or Stroman?

    I had planned to start Wacha, along with Fister, Tanaka, Zimmermann, and Heaney.

    Pitching stats are Ks, QSs, WHIP, ERA and BAA.

  2. Rotoprofessor says:

    Stroman is risky, but I’d lean in his direction. If you own a pitcher and aren’t willing to use him in a 2-start week, why own them? Plus, it’s not like Kuroda or McHugh are guarantees to produce.

  3. Adam says:

    16-team H2H points league and I have two more pitching spots to fill for this week. Taking into account the number of start this week for these guys, how would you rank the following: Alex Wood, Marcus Stroman, Jeff Locke, and Yordano Ventura? This is the order that I would have them in.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I might have Stroman #1, Wood #2, but that’s splitting hairs. I’d go with those two this week.

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