The Trade Deadline, and all of the rumors associated with it, has passed with things ultimately being quieter than expected. A few starting pitchers did get moved, but with the exception of Houston turning Aaron Sanchez into an ace overnight there wasn’t much with large fantasy implications. With that being said we now have less than two months to go in the regular season, so the time really is now to lock in on those standings and guide your team to victory. One area in which you can do that is with two-start pitchers, so let’s take a look at how your options rank for this week:
- Gerrit Cole – Houston Astros – vs. Colorado; at Baltimore
- Jacob deGrom – New York Mets – vs. Miami; vs. Washington
- Luis Castillo – Cincinnati Reds – vs. LA Angels; vs. Chicago Cubs
- Jose Berrios – Minnesota Twins – vs. Atlanta; vs. Cleveland
- Charlie Morton – Tampa Bay Rays – vs. Toronto; at Seattle
- Masahiro Tanaka – NY Yankees – at Baltimore; at Toronto
- Kyle Hendricks – Chicago Cubs – vs. Oakland; at Cincinnati
- Mike Soroka – Atlanta Braves – at Minnesota; at Miami
- Lucas Giolito – Chicago White Sox – at Detroit; vs. Oakland
- Zack Wheeler – NY Mets – vs. Miami; vs. Washington
- James Paxton – NY Yankees – at Baltimore; at Toronto
- Jon Lester – Chicago Cubs – vs. Oakland; at Cincinnati
- Max Fried – Atlanta Braves – at Minnesota; at Miami
- German Marquez – Colorado Rockies – at Houston; at San Diego
- Jeff Samardzjia – San Francisco Giants – vs. Washington; vs. Philadelphia
- Michael Pineda – Minnesota Twins – vs. Atlanta; vs. Cleveland
- Zach Plesac – Cleveland Indians – vs. Texas; at Minnesota
- Anibal Sanchez – Washington Nationals – at San Francisco; at NY Mets
- Chris Bassitt – Oakland A’s – at Chicago Cubs; at Chicago White Sox
- Vince Velasquez – Philadelphia Phillies – at Arizona; at San Francisco
- Daniel Norris – Detroit Tigers – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Kansas City
- Jake Arrieta – Philadelphia Phillies – at Arizona; at San Francisco
- Dinelson Lamet – San Diego Padres – at Seattle; vs. Colorado
- Michael Wacha – St. Louis Cardinals – at LA Dodgers; vs. Pittsburgh
- Jordan Yamamoto – Miami Marlins – at NY Mets; vs. Atlanta
- Rick Porcello – Boston Red Sox – vs. Kansas City; vs. LA Angels
- Andrew Cashner – Boston Red Sox – vs. Kansas City; vs. LA Angels
- Dylan Cease – Chicago White Sox – at Detroit; vs. Oakland
- Griffin Canning – LA Angels – at Cincinnati; at Boston
- Sandy Alcantara – Miami Marlins – at NY Mets; vs. Atlanta
- Trent Thornton – Toronto Blue Jays – at Tampa Bay; vs. NY Yankees
- Jordan Lyles – Milwaukee Brewers – at Pittsburgh; vs. Texas
- Jake Junis – Kansas City Royals – at Boston; at Detroit
- Ariel Jurado – Texas Rangers – at Cleveland; at Milwaukee
- Dario Agrazal – Pittsburgh Pirates – vs. Milwaukee; at St. Louis
- Tyler Alexander – Detroit Tigers – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Kansas City
- Aaron Civale – Cleveland Indians – vs. Texas; at Minnesota
- Jacob Waguespack – Toronto Blue Jays – at Tampa Bay; vs. NY Yankees
- Mike Montgomery – Kansas City Royals – at Boston; at Detroit
- Drew VerHagen – Detroit Tigers – vs. Chicago White Sox; vs. Kansas City
- David Hess – Baltimore Orioles – vs. NY Yankees; vs. Houston
- Over his last three starts Charlie Morton has a very unexpected ERA of 5.71. To say it is his toughest stretch of the season would be an understatement, as his ERA has risen from 2.35 to 2.78 even with a seven inning start in which he allowed two runs mixed in. I think the conclusion we can draw , as one start was against the Yankees and the other against Boston, is that we should just ignore Morton against those teams. Against all other opponents this season he hasn’t allowed more than four earned runs (and that was just once against the Angels). Overall Morton is pitching better than he did last season (3.13 ERA) while striking out close to 11 batters per 9 inning and seeing a decrease in both his walks (2.85) and home runs (0.66). At this point, there’s no reason not to have confidence and things do get easier for him this week as he faces the Blue Jays and Mariners.
- At some point I would expect the Braves to take some steps to reduce Mike Soroka’s work load leading into the playoffs. We aren’t there yet and you should take full advantage of the rookie taking the mound twice this week, as he is showing no signs of slowing down. After throwing 57.1 innings last year Soroka is at a combined 123.1 innings this season, but he does have some time until he reaches his career high of 153.2 innings from 2017. Since we do have to account for the playoffs it is a situation that bears at least a little monitoring. The one thing that does hold him back, from a fantasy perspective because it is hard to argue with a 2.37 ERA, is the fact that he strikes out just 7.42 batters per nine innings. At the same time it is pretty easy to get behind Soroka walking just 2.21 batters and only allowing 0.47 home runs per nine innings. That should help him as he faces the Twins in his first start of the week, but ending with the Marlins should help.
- As far as three start stretches go, you aren’t going to see much better from German Marquez than we just did. After two straight starts of seven innings and two earned runs, the right-hander threw six shutout innings at home against the Dodgers before exiting with cramps. Over that stretch, the erratic right-hander allowed just 10 hits and two walks in 20 innings pitched while striking out 22 batters. Now if the 24 year old could just repeat that… Each of Marquez’s two starts this week come on the road, in Houston and in San Diego, where he has a 3.20 ERA (you aren’t going to see much bigger splits than his 6.45 ERA at home). The problem is that Astros’ lineup, but if Marquez is on your roster you have to, or at least you probably should, start him in the weeks where he is making two starts. Of course that is not without risk, but at least he is striking out a batter per inning and only walking 1.80. While it obviously hasn’t fully translated into results, he also has an xFIP of 3.52.
- If you look at the match-ups, at Arizona and at San Francisco, the name and the track record, Jake Arrieta is a solid option for this week. Sure his 4.44 ERA and 1.45 WHIP could certainly be better, and you want more than 7.05 strikeouts per nine innings, but with an 8-8 record in 22 starts he should at least give you a chance at victory. The problem is that he left his last start after four innings of one run ball due to a bone spur in his elbow. I’m not exactly a doctor, but I’m going to venture to guess that it was not the first time all season it has bothered, and therefore effected, Arrieta. Even though he says that he will be able to pitch through it there are no guarantees, and his body of work doesn’t dictate taking on much in the way of risk.
- Six shutout innings has its way of changing how you look at a pitcher, but when it happens against the Tigers there really should be no change. Griffin Canning hasn’t had a bad rookie campaign, but it could also have been better than a 4.76 ERA. For me, when I see that as an ERA I also expect to see a WHIP worse than 1.20, but that is what happens when you allow 1.59 home runs per nine innings. The fact that Canning strikes out 9.76 batters per nine innings and does keep the traffic on the base paths to a relatively solid level does help his case, but traveling to Boston for his second start, after facing the Reds so start the week, could be a little problematic. I would tread carefully.
- At 12% ownership, if you are streaming than Daniel Norris is likely available to you. Both of his starts are at home, against the White Sox and Royals, so that makes it hard to argue with his situation. Just don’t spend too much time looking at his 4.67 ERA and 1.40 WHIP in 22 games, 19 starts, so far this season. In his last three starts Norris’ ERA is just 1.76, and the majority of his starts this season haven’t been epic blowouts. In fact, what also puts a hold on his ERA, remember a 4.50 ERA does qualify as a quality start, is the fact that he doesn’t go much more than five or six innings per start. In just five of his 19 starts has Norris allowed five or six earned runs, the left-hander has limited opponents to three earned runs or less in 13 starts. While he does only strike out 7.66 batters per nine innings, I would take my chances this week given his opponents.