Two-Start Pitchers 2017: June 19-25: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Martes, Gossett & More)

by Ray Kuhn

At this point, in most leagues, the waiver wire has been picked dry as injuries have taken their toll and options are limited. Some teams have been hit harder than others, but for the most part it has been an uphill battle. While there are some legitimate options taking the mound twice this week, including Clayton Kershaw, it gets risky pretty quickly. Let’s take a look at how those options rank:

Tier One:

  1. Clayton Kershaw – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. New York Mets; vs. Colorado
  2. Corey Kluber – Cleveland Indians – at Baltimore; vs. Minnesota

Tier Two:

  1. Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks – at Colorado; vs. Philadelphia
  2. Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs – vs. San Diego; at Miami
  3. Justin Verlander – Detroit Tigers – at Seattle; at San Diego
  4. Johnny Cueto – San Francisco Giants – at Atlanta; vs. New York Mets

Tier Three:

  1. Michael Pineda – New York Yankees – vs. Los Angeles Angels; vs. Texas
  2. Sonny Gray – Oakland A’s – vs. Houston; at Chicago White Sox
  3. Ervin Santana – Minnesota Twins – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Cleveland
  4. Gerrit Cole – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Milwaukee; at St. Louis

Tier Four:

  1. Edinson Volquez – Miami Marlins – vs. Washington; vs. Chicago Cubs
  2. Brandon McCarthy – Los Angeles Dodgers – vs. New York Mets; vs. Colorado
  3. Francisco Liriano – Toronto Blue Jays – at Texas; at Kansas City
  4. Zach Davies – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Pittsbugh; at Atlanta
  5. Tanner Roark – Washington Nationals – at Miami; vs. Cincinnati
  6. Jake Odorizzi – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Cincinnati; vs. Baltimore
  7. Dylan Bundy – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Cleveland; at Tampa Bay
  8. Jordan Zimmermann – Detroit Tigers – at Seattle; at San Diego
  9. Mike Leake – St. Louis Cardinals – at Philadelphia; vs. Pittsburgh
  10. Marco Estrada – Toronto Blue Jays – at Texas; at Kansas City

Tier Five:

  1. Jason Hammel – Kansas City Royals – vs. Boston; vs. Toronto
  2. Brad Peacock – Houston Astros – at Oakland; at Seattle
  3. Zack Wheeler – New York Mets – at Los Angeles Dodgers; at San Francisco
  4. Mike Montgomery – Chicago Cubs – vs. San Diego; at Miami
  5. Ariel Miranda – Seattle Mariners – vs. Detroit; vs. Houston
  6. Francis Martes – Houston Astros – at Oakland; at Seattle
  7. Jeremy Hellickson – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. St. Louis; at Arizona
  8. German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – vs. Arizona; at Los Angeles Dodgers
  9. Matt Moore – San Francisco Giants – at Atlanta; vs. New York Mets
  10. Matt Shoemaker – Los Angeles Angels – at New York Yankees; at Boston
  11. Sam Gaviglio – Seattle Mariners – vs. Detroit; vs. Houston

Tier Six:

  1. Daniel Gossett – Oakland A’s – vs. Houston; at Chicago White Sox
  2. Chris Tillman – Baltimore Orioles – vs. Cleveland; at Tampa Bay
  3. Chad Kuhl – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Milwaukee; at St. Louis
  4. Scott Feldman – Cincinnati Reds – at Tampa Bay; at Washington
  5. Clayton Richard – San Diego Padres – at Chicago Cubs; vs. Detroit
  6. Matt Garza – Milwaukee Brewers – vs. Pittsburgh; at Atlanta
  7. Derek Holland – Chicago White Sox – at Minnesota; vs. Oakland
  8. Josh Tomlin – Cleveland Indians – at Baltimore; vs. Minnesota
  9. R.A Dickey – Atlanta Braves – vs. San Francisco; vs. Milwaukee
  10. Nick Martinez – Texas Rangers – vs. Toronto; at New York yankees


  • Ervin Santana is a very serviceable Major League pitcher, but he is not an elite option. After posting a 0.77 ERA in April and following that up with a 2.57 mark in May, things have taken a turn in June. In his last three starts Santana has a 1-2 record with a 6.00 ERA. While it is a small sample size and the results are extreme, his struggles shouldn’t be a surprise. There isn’t enough here to convince me not to continually roll him out in seasonal leagues, but we have already seen the best he has to offer. With a .171 BABIP, the time to sell is just about here as the right-hander’s ERA of 2.56 (along with his 0.95 WHIP) will likely continue to rise as he is sporting a 4.68 FIP (4.89 xFIP). The other factor that limits his fantasy value is that he has just 68 strikeouts in 95 innings.
  • For the majority of the season Michael Pineda has been remarkably consistent. After allowing four runs in his first start the right-hander limited opponents to three earned runs in each of his subsequent starts until he reached June. Over his last three starts Pineda has a 6.00 ERA as he has sandwiched two outings of five earned runs each around a seven inning shutout at home against the Red Sox. Talent has never been an issue for Pineda, he has 77 strikeouts in 77.2 innings so far this season, and for the most part has appeared to have turned a corner in finding consistency. Overall he has a 3.71 ERA with a 1.18, helped in part by his 2.6 walks per nine innings, and with an xFIP of 3.45 we are able to feel comfortable in his performance. It also helps that this week both of his starts come at home where he has a 6-1 record with a 1.96 ERA in ’17.
  • Last season was a disaster for Sonny Gray. Health was an issue, as he managed a 5.69 ERA in 22 starts between trips to the disabled list, but he did have a 4.13 xFIP. He now has nine starts under his belt in 2017, and while he has a 4.44 ERA on the season he actually has been a pretty solid option. Aside from the seven runs Gray allowed in Cleveland and the four runs in his season debut, the right-hander has been able to limit the damage to three runs or less in each of other seven outings. Despite his 1.35 WHIP, he has done a good job of limiting walks (2.91 walks per nine innings) and has been the victim of a .329 BABIP and 60.7% strand rate. The more starts Gray gets, the better his numbers will look considering his FIP of 3.33 (3.27 xFIP).
  • Brandon McCarthy is not an exciting option. After making just 13 starts over the past two season due to injury he already has 11 starts this season. While length hasn’t been the right-hander’s forte, he is averaging 5.7 innings per start, McCarthy does have five victories thanks to the run support he receives and Los Angeles’ strong bullpen. Both of McCarthy’s starts come at home this week, against the Mets and Rockies, where he has a 2.83 ERA in 35 innings. Overall he has a 3.14 ERA along with a 1.10 WHIP, and while he has 51 strikeouts in 63 innings, that will be mitigated by the fact that he is taking the mound twice. With a 3.20 FIP and 4.00 xFIP, McCarthy should be a solid option who, while he doesn’t possess much upside, gives you a chance at two wins.
  • After a 2016 season that saw Francis Martes put up a 3.30 ERA in 25 games at Double-A while striking out 9.41 batters per nine innings, the right-hander was elevated to the top of multiple prospect lists. However 2017 wasn’t as kind to him as his ERA in Triple-A prior to his promotion was 5.29 in eight games. That didn’t stop Houston from bringing him to the majors when a need presented itself, and Martes didn’t disappoint in his starting debut. After three hitless innings he ultimately allowed one run in five innings on three hits and two walks while striking out seven. Houston will likely manage his innings carefully and remove him at the first sign of trouble, but with the Astros’ powerful lineup he has the chance at two wins. Both of Martes’ starts come on the road, in Oakland and Seattle, and you have to like his strikeout upside.
  • If you really want to go deep and look for upside, both for this week and remainder of the season, then Daniel Gossett is worth a look. As of Saturday afternoon he was owned in just 2% of CBS leagues, and once you get past his Major League debut there is some upside. Gossett was rudely welcomed to the big leagues as he allowed seven runs, six earned, on six hits and a walk in 3.1 innings of work, but he previously was successful. In 11 starts at Triple-A he had a 3.41 ERA while striking out eight batters per nine innings. Last year was when Gossett truly made his mark. He began the season in High-A, and ended it in Triple-A. Overall, he logged 153.2 innings and finished the season with a 2.69 ERA and 1.08 WHIP.

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. Bartonrp says:

    How about Hector Velazquez for AL-only leagues this week? He has starts against the Royals and Angels. Weak opponents. Too risky anyway?

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