Two-Start Pitchers 2018: August 13-19: Ranking The Options & Finding Those Worthy (Clevinger, Happ & More)

by Ray Kuhn

As we make our way to the mid-point of August things are getting both easier and more difficult for fantasy owners. Trading deadlines have either passed or will be doing so shortly, and the impact pitchers can make on your team will be diminishing with each start they make. The good thing is that there are number of teams that don’t offer up much in the way of resistance offensively, so it is getting easier to find streaming options. However, the quality of pitchers taking the mound also bring some risk, though this week there is plenty of top tier talent to chose from. With that being said, let’s take a look at how are our options look:

Tier One:

  1. Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – at NY Yankees; at Philadelphia
  2. Clayton Kershaw – LA Dodgers – vs. San Francisco; at Seattle
  3. Justin Verlander – Houston Astros – vs. Colorado; at Oakland
  4. Luis Severino – New York Yankees – vs. NY Mets; vs. Toronto
  5. Zack Greinke – Arizona Diamondbacks – at Texas; at San Diego
  6. Madison Bumgarner – San Francisco Giants – at LA Dodgers; at Cincinnati

Tier Two:

  1. Mike Clevinger – Cleveland Indians – at Cincinnati; vs. Baltimore
  2. Miles Mikolas – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Washington; vs. Milwaukee
  3. Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – at Philadelphia; vs. Tampa Bay

Tier Three:

  1. Mike Foltynewicz – Atlanta Braves – vs. Miami; vs. Colorado
  2. Chris Archer – Pittsburgh Pirates – at Minnesota; vs. Chicago Cubs
  3. J.A. Happ – New York Yankees – vs. Tampa Bay; vs. Toronto
  4. Gio Gonzalez – Washington Nationals – at St. Louis; vs. Miami
  5. Jose Quintana – Chicago Cubs – vs. Milwaukee; at Pittsburgh

Tier Four:

  1. Nick Pivetta – Philadelphia Phillies – vs. Boston; vs. NY Mets
  2. Sean Manaea – Oakland A’s – vs. Seattle; vs. Houston
  3. Marco Gonzales – Seattle Mariners – at Oakland; vs. LA Dodgers
  4. German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – at Houston; at Atlanta

Tier Five:

  1. Anibal Sanchez – Atlanta Braves – vs. Miami; vs. Colorado
  2. Jamie Barria – LA Angels – at San Diego; at Texas
  3. Reynaldo Lopez – Chicago White Sox – at Detroit; vs. Kansas City
  4. Jake Odorizzi – Minnesota Twins – vs. Pittsburgh; vs. Detroit
  5. Ryan Borucki – Toronto Blue Jays – at Kansas City; at NY Yankees
  6. Pablo Lopez – Miami Marlins – at Atlanta; at Washington
  7. Andrew Heaney – LA Angels – at San Diego; at Texas
  8. Blaine Hardy – Detroit Tigers – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Minnesota

Tier Six: 

  1. Brad Keller – Kansas City Royals – vs. Toronto; at Chicago White Sox
  2. Clayton Richard – San Diego Padres – vs. LA Angels; vs. Arizona
  3. Andrew Suarez – San Francisco Giants – at LA Dodgers; at Cincinnati
  4. Heath Fillmyer – Kansas City Royals – vs. Toronto; at Chicago White Sox
  5. Tommy Milone – Washington Nationals – at St. Louis; vs. Miami
  6. John Gant – St. Louis Cardinals – vs. Washington; vs. Milwaukee
  7. Jason Vargas – New York Mets – at Baltimore; at Philadelphia
  8. David Hess – Baltimore Orioles – vs. NY Mets; at Cleveland
  9. Artie Lewicki – Detroit Tigers – vs. Chicago White Sox; at Minnesota


  • As he searches for his 200th career victory Justin Verlander’s last start was not what we have come to expect. He made it through just two innings as he allowed six runs to the Mariners. It was just the third time all season that he has allowed more than five runs, and his 2.50 ERA reflects that. With a 0.91 WHIP he is keeping the bases empty, and if they do reach base his 86.5% strand rate is minimizing potential damage. Sporting a career strand rate of 74.4% it is likely that regresses over the remainder of the season, but with a 3.02 FIP his ERA shouldn’t dip too much. The fact that free passes are minimal, 1.59 per nine innings, while Verlander strikes out 11.71 batters per nine innings means that traffic on the base paths is relatively non-existent. There is no reason not expect a rebound performance this week as he faces the Rockies and A’s.
  • Remember what we said about match-ups at this point in the season? This week Mike Clevinger is the beneficiary as he starts off by facing the Reds and then things get even better with Baltimore visiting Cleveland. He is up to 14 quality starts this season, and with a 3.38 ERA and 3.35 FIP what you see is what. The main thing for Clevinger, who is striking out 8.84 batters per nine innings, is the improved control. After walking 4.44 batters per nine innings last season, it is down to 2.82 in 2018. Additionally, for the second straight season he is succeeding thanks to his ability to limit the long ball with just 0.80 per nine innings. While he did have a 3.11 ERA last season, with a 3.85 FIP, we can believe in Clevinger’s success.
  • Mike Foltynewicz always had talent, but the results were inconsistent prior to this season. The right-hander’s ERA in 2017 was 4.79, although with a 4.33 FIP, and a 4.31 ERA in 2016, it seemed that is where he might level off. This season he has taken the next step and his ERA has improved to 2.98; albeit with a 3.49 FIP. Even still, at 26 the right-hander has appeared to find his groove. He makes both of his starts at home, where he has a 3.16 ERA, against the Marlins and Rockies and the overall results should be favorable. In the strikeout department he has taken big strides as he is striking out 10.52 batters per nine innings compared to 8.36 last season. Additionally he is producing more ground balls, 43.7% compared to 39.4%, while his control continues to be an issue (3.70 walks per nine innings). With the overall solid body of work, plus the strikeouts, this is certainly a week where Foltynewicz can be an asset.
  • J.A. Happ doesn’t jump off the page as an exciting option, but the veteran gets results. Overall he has a record of 12-6 and he has been victorious in both of his starts with the Yankees while allowing four runs in 12 innings of work. With a 4.07 ERA and 3.93 FIP (3.73 xFIP), Happ is dependable and his 1.13 WHIP helps to maintain your ratios. The big thing is that he has taken his strikeouts to another level; 10.57 per nine innings compared to 8.79 in 2017. He has done this while maintaining his control, 2.65 walks per nine innings, and a big part of the reason is the 14% increase to his four-seam fastball usage (per Pitch Info via Fangraphs). The fact that both of his starts come at home against beatable opponents, Tampa Bay and Toronto, also helps.
  • If only Ryan Borucki was facing the Royals in both of his starts this week, then we could start him without hesitation. However, since he will be taking the mound in Yankee Stadium for his second start there is some risk involved. Through eight starts his ERA is a solid 2.81 with a 2.97 FIP. When we look at his xFIP, 4.55, more of the concern begins to present itself. With only 32 strikeouts in 48 innings the upside is limited, and Borucki’s 1.38 WHIP doesn’t do him any favors. Tread carefully based on the southpaw’s second start of the week.
  • For those of you looking to dig deep for a streamer Pablo Lopez should garner some attention. As of Saturday night the right-hander is owned in just seven percent of CBS leagues, and he is coming off two strong starts against the Phillies and Cardinals. In 13 innings he has allowed three runs, and for the season he has a 4.32 ERA (1.13 WHIP) in 41.2 innings. With 33 strikeouts Lopez hold his own in that department, but he can’t be considered an asset either. His track record at the major league level is limited, but for the risk averse, facing Atlanta and Washington it might behoove you to look elsewhere.
  • Make sure to check out all of our Midseason Prospect Rankings:

    First Baseman
    Second Base
    Third Baseman


  1. Dirtbag Soup says:

    Any comments on Milone’s two-start week?

  2. Sawyer says:

    Would you take 2 starts from Archer next week, or 1 start from Carrasco (vs Baltimore)?

  3. bbboston says:

    Question: Can you expound on why Heaney is ranked so lowly? THANKS!

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I can’t speak for Ray, but I’m personally not a big fan myself. Opponents have hit the ball hard against him fairly regularly (nearly 40% Hard%) and he also runs the risk of being homer prone

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