Two-Start Sleepers (August 10-16): Which Under-the-Radar Options Should Be Targeted?

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In the 2020 sprint maximizing your opportunities is going to be key to your success.  That means being smart with your two-start pitcher targets, because every added start brings that much more value.  Let’s identify a few potential streaming options scheduled to take the mound twice this week (to be eligible the pitcher had to be owned in less than 60% of CBS Sports formats):

Randy Dobnak – Minnesota Twins
at Mil, vs. KC

In terms of luck Dobnak has nowhere to go but down, as he’s benefited from a .205 BABIP and 92.3% strand rate over his first three starts.  That said, the underlying numbers scream of a pitcher who should have success.  To start let’s look at the “plate discipline” numbers:

  • SwStr% – 10.1%
  • O-Swing% – 40.2%

His control has always been a strength, and the SwStr% supports significantly more strikeouts (4.80 K/9 in ’20).  An improvement there will immediately help to offset any regression in his luck metrics, and he continues to prove to be a groundball machine (68.2% over his first three starts, 58.0% for his MLB career).

Obviously it’s not all rosy, as he owns a 43.5% Hard% over his MLB career.  That could easily catch up with him at some point, especially if he fails to improve his strikeout rate. 

While his start against Milwaukee is concerning (even though they rank 26th in team OPS), the matchup against the Royals is promising.  Given his early season success, upside for more strikeouts and elite groundball rate, those looking to maximize starts/innings should roll the dice (barring news that the Twins move to a six-man rotation if/when Homer Bailey and/or Rich Hill are ready to return).

Tyler Mahle – Cincinnati Reds
vs. KC, vs. Pit

It’s easy to claim that this pick is solely due to the matchups, and that’s fair.  Mahle certainly draws two of the “lighter” offenses in the league.  Just look at their ranking in OPS, as of Friday morning:

  • Royals – 10th with .740 OPS
  • Pirates – 30th with .607 OPS

Sure the Royals are actually strong, thus far, but do they really scare you? That alone puts him on radars for those in deeper formats, and the production he’s shown over his first two starts only reinforces it.  While it’s a tiny sample size, Mahle is showing more swing and miss stuff this season (12.6% SwStr%) and has also built on the improved control he showed last season (2.36 BB/9 in ’19, 2.70 in ’20).  He’s also working to fine-tune his repertoire, doubling his usage of his cutter from ’19 (14.37%), reintroducing his slider (11.98%) and virtually shelving his curveball (1.80%).

Mahle is throwing harder this season, averaging 94.44 mph on his fastball, which should help his other pitches play up that much more.  While the “luck” should regress (.269 BABIP, 81.8% strand rate), there’s enough in the numbers and the matchups to make him a highly intriguing sleeper for the coming week.

Sources – Fangraphs, Brooks Baseball, MLB.com

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