Two-Start Pitchers 2017: June 12-18: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Tanaka/deGrom Debates & More)

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

As we hit the middle of the season we have learned who the best options are and who the worst options are…  At least we think we do, and deciding whether or not to utilize those pitchers is easy.  It’s the pitchers in the middle, especially those who we had high expectations for entering the season, that makes for tricky decisions.  It feels like almost every one of those pitchers are taking the ball twice this week (they aren’t, of course, it just feels like it), making for an intriguing set of rankings.  Who do we trust?  Who should we be skeptical about?  Let’s take a look:


Tier 1 – The Elite

  • Stephen Strasburg – Washington Nationals – vs. Atl, at NYM

This season Stephen Strasburg has pitched well against both the Braves (2.45 ERA in two starts) and Mets (3.86 ERA in 1 start).  Couple that success with 89 K over 80.1 IP and a 1.02 WHIP, and it’s impossible to argue against him as the best option in the league for the coming week… 


Tier 2 – The Nearly Elite

  • Jimmy Nelson – Milwaukee Brewers – at Stl, vs. SD
  • Yu Darvish – Texas Rangers – at Hou, vs. Sea

Any time you have the Padres on your schedule you are going to be pushed up the rankings, but the Cardinals are also struggling (slash of .235/.309/.358 in June) so the matchups are ideal.  With Jimmy Nelson also pitching well, showing strikeouts (9.09 K/9), control (2.18 BB/9) and enough groundballs (47.7%), it’s hard not to consider him among the best options in the league…


Tier 3 – The Solid Options

  • David Price – Boston Red Sox – vs. Phi, at Hou
  • CC Sabathia – New York Yankees – at LAA, at Oak
  • Jason Vargas – Kansas City Royals – at SF, at LAA

The start against the Phillies makes David Price well worth using, but after getting touched up by the Yankees would it be surprising if he struggled against Houston?  He’s allowed 4 HR in three starts this season and could easily give up a few in that one…


Tier 4 – The Not Quite Must Play, But Nearly Options

  • Masahiro Tanaka – New York Yankees – at LAA, at Oak
  • Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – vs. CHC, vs. Was
  • Brandon McCarthy – Los Angeles Dodgers – at Cle, at Cin
  • Mike Leake – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Mil, at Bal
  • Lance Lynn – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Mil, at Bal

It’s been a disastrous stretch for Jacob deGrom (15 ER over 8.0 IP in his past two starts) and he draws two difficult matchups.  It’s still going to be difficult to bench him, but at this point it would be a somewhat justifiable decision…  As we talked about recently (click here for the article) Lance Lynn appears to have an implosion coming, it’s just a matter of when.  Either the Brewers or Orioles could conceivably light him up, so while it’s hard to say he should be sat down it’s fair to be hesitant to run him out there…  For as bad as Masahiro Tanaka has been, these are two favorable matchups and in what may be his “last stand” for fantasy owners.  He’s worth rolling the dice on…


Tier 5 – The Possibilities

  • Kyle Freeland – Colorado Rockies – at Pit, vs. SF
  • Joe Ross – Washington Nationals – vs. Atl, at NYM
  • Mike Foltynewicz – Atlanta Braves – at Was, vs. Mia
  • John Lackey – Chicago Cubs – at NYM, at Pit
  • Jake Odorizzi – Tampa Bay Rays – at Tor, at Det
  • Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – vs. Phi, at Hou
  • Tyler Chatwood – Colorado Rockies – at Pit, vs. SF
  • Wade Miley – Baltimore Orioles – at CWS, vs. Stl
  • Zack Wheeler – New York Mets – vs. CHC, vs. Was
  • Joe Musgrove – Houston Astros – vs. Tex, vs. Bos
  • Christian Bergman – Seattle Mariners – at Min, at Tex
  • JC Ramirez – Los Angeles Angels – vs. NYY, vs. KC
  • Trevor Bauer – Cleveland Indians – vs. LAD, at Min
  • Alex Meyer – Los Angeles Angels – vs. NYY, vs. KC

Jake Odorizzi has struggled with home runs (1.87 HR/9), something that isn’t a new phenomenon (1.39 HR/9 in ’16) and faces two of the Top 10 home run hitting teams over the start of June (including one game in Toronto).  Things could get ugly…  It’s easy to write off John Lackey, who has struggles all season long, but a lot of his issues are tied to home runs allowed at home (2.68 HR/9).  That’s not to say that he’s a lock to produce a pair of big starts (it would’ve looked better if Yoenis Cespedes hadn’t just returned to the lineup), but if you were going to “gamble” he’s one to consider…  Does anyone trust Trevor Bauer right now?  He’s struggled in interleague play (8 ER over 9.0 IP against the Rockies and Diamondbacks) and his “best” month was a 5.82 ERA in May…  There is some risk in utilizing Kyle Freeland, since his strikeout rate appears to be limited (5.66 K/9 over 12 starts).  That said the game against the Pirates isn’t going to scare you and he’s pitched well at home (3.50 ERA).  He’s worth considering…  There are questions about Alex Meyer, but in his three home starts he owns a 2.25 ERA (5.59 on the road).  Of course that has come with 8 BB over 16.0 IP, so that number is a bit deceiving.  You can roll the dice if you are desperate, but he’s hard to trust…


Tier 6 – The Untouchables

  • Adalberto Mejia – Minnesota Twins – vs. Sea, vs. Cle
  • Luis Perdomo – San Diego Padres – vs. Cin, at Mil
  • Ty Blach – San Francisco Giants – vs. KC, at Col
  • Jharel Cotton – Oakland A’s – at Mia, vs. NYY
  • Jerad Eickhoff – Philadelphia Phillies – at Bos, vs. Ari
  • Bronson Arroyo – Cincinnati Reds – at SD, vs. LAD
  • Derek Holland – Chicago White Sox – vs. Bal, at Tor
  • Ben Lively – Philadelphia Phillies – at Bos, vs. Ari
  • Mike Pelfrey – Chicago White Sox – vs. Bal, at Tor
  • Yovani Gallardo – Seattle Mariners – at Min, at Tex
  • Chad Kuhl – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Col, vs. CHC
  • Kyle Gibson – Minnesota Twins – vs. Sea, vs. Cle
  • Alex Asher – Baltimore Orioles – at CWS, vs. Stl


Sources – Fangraphs,, CBS Sports

Make sure to check out all of our updated rankings:

CatcherJune 1
First BaseJune 3
Second BaseJune 5
Third Base--
Starting Pitcher--
Relief Pitcher--


  1. TG says:

    I believe Buck Farmer is going 2x. Where would he rank?

  2. Brans says:

    What’s up Professor? Sooooo I’m currently holding on to Gausman and now Kenta M has gone to pen. Can’t afford to hold both. I can’t use Kenta as a RP. Who are you dumping? Thanks for the time. I can add Fiers, Newcome, Giolitto, Z Davies or Chance Adams. Maybe you have a prospect recommendation soon to arrive.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Check out the Prospect Page for all the prospect recommendations (including our Top 10 on the Cusp list!)

      As for the drop, I think at this point Gausman is getting to the cuttable range. I still believe in him, but it’s tough

  3. Alex says:

    It appears that Jameson Taillon may have two starts this week if he pitches on Monday. Unfortunately, those starts are at home against the Rockies and the Cubs. Is he a Tier 5 kind of guy?

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