Fantasy First Pitch for Week 2
No shortage of potential two-start options to consider for Week 2. Our Al Melchior helps you set the best possible rotation for the upcoming scoring period.
If you still have the same Fantasy rotation that you had when lineups locked on opening night, it might be time to pay the waiver wire a visit.
In Fantasy Week 2 (April 7-13), it's largely the third and fourth starters for major league teams that are getting two starts. In other words, there are many more two-start pitchers up for grabs in the free agent pool, and though very few are close to ace quality, at least a few of them are good enough to try in standard mixed leagues. Kyle Lohse , Charlie Morton , Jason Vargas and Felipe Paulino are all available in at least 30 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com, and while you may be able to find better options for your final rotation slot, each is at least worth considering.
Then again, you may not need to pick up a free agent to upgrade your rotation. In Week 1, both Scott Kazmir and John Lackey showed the form that made them useful Fantasy starters last season, not to mention notable comeback stories. A large share of owners slotted Kazmir into their rotations over the weekend, but Lackey is still being started in fewer than 75 percent of our leagues. If you own one or both of them and you don't help to raise their activation rates, you'll likely regret it by the end of next week.
|1. Max Scherzer||at LAD, at SD|
|2. Michael Wacha||vs. CIN, vs. CHC|
|3. Tony Cingrani||at STL, vs. TB|
|4. Gio Gonzalez||vs. MIA, at ATL|
|5. C.J. Wilson||at HOU, vs. NYM|
|6. Hiroki Kuroda||vs. BAL, vs. BOS|
|7. Scott Kazmir||at MIN, at SEA|
|8. Matt Moore||at KC, at CIN|
|9. John Lackey||vs. TEX, at NYY|
Ervin Santana is another option to come off the bench, as he is scheduled to make his Braves debut Wednesday. Mat Latos (knee) will make another rehab start Tuesday, so there is some chance he could take the mound Sunday against the Rays. Santana is a viable standard mixed league start, ranking between Zack Wheeler and A.J. Burnett , while Latos should be viewed as a last resort, given the continuing uncertainty about his return date..
If these bench and DL options aren't available to you, then you might as well look into the pitchers featured below. And remember, sometimes the best two-start addition is no addition at all. You are probably better off with a solid one-start pitcher than with any of the two-start pitchers who made the "avoid" list further below.
Monday update: Due to having his next start pushed back a day, Tyson Ross is no longer a two-start option for Week 2, but Robbie Erlin now gets two starts for the Padres ... After having his start rained out last Friday, Chris Young now moves temporarily into the Mariners' bullpen. His exit from the rotation opens the door for a likely two-start week from James Paxton ... Josh Beckett (ankle, thumb) is a candidate to get activated from the DL for Wednesday's start against the Tigers. The addition of a fifth starter to the Dodgers' rotation, whether it's Beckett or minor leaguers Stephen Fife or Matt Magill , endangers Dan Haren 's chances to make a second start this week ... Should Latos return on Sunday, Tony Cingrani could theoretically lose his second start, but it seems unlikely, given that he can start in place of Alfredo Simon on Saturday and still be on regular rest ... Tyler Chatwood (hamstring) is on track to return from the DL on Sunday, but if he has a setback, Jordan Lyles would get a two-start week.
Two-Start Pitchers on the Bubble
10. Ubaldo Jimenez , BAL (at NYY, vs. TOR)
From late May forward, Jimenez was sensational last season for the Indians, as he posted his highest swinging strike rate in three seasons. He also improved his control but was still all too amenable to the flyball. Jimenez gave owners a scare against the Red Sox on Wednesday, as he yielded only one ground ball over six innings in his Orioles' debut. Two of the 15 airborne balls resulted in home runs, which in turn produced four runs. While Jimenez is flyball-leaning, he is certain to get more grounders in his starts this week. Benching a pitcher who was superb over his last 23 starts last year because of one start would be an overreaction in the vast majority of mixed leagues.
Start Jimenez over the following one-start pitchers: Justin Masterson , Hyun-Jin Ryu , Jon Lester
11. Ivan Nova , NYY (vs. BAL, vs. BOS)
Nova got the Astros to hit 11 grounders on Thursday, but otherwise, it was a very atypical start for the 27-year-old. He got one lone swinging strike in 5 2/3 innings and threw only 53 percent of his pitches for strikes, resulting in one strikeout and five walks. We have seen our share of aberrant performances in this first week so far, and Nova's was about as bizarre as anyone's. Unless he strings a few of these together, look for him to rediscover his command in Week 2. And as a groundball pitcher, Nova is not to be feared with two starts at Yankee Stadium, where he actually posted a 2.44 ERA last season.
Start Nova over the following one-start pitchers: Lance Lynn , Clay Buchholz , Tyson Ross
12. Corey Kluber , CLE (vs. SD, at CHW)
Kluber continues our run of pitchers who fell short of expectations in their season debut. The A's clobbered Kluber for eight hits and five runs in 3 1/3 innings, as hitters easily squared up on his sinker. According to BrooksBaseball.net, he limited himself to 12 sliders, which was his most effective pitch in 2013. These are trends worth watching, but as with Jimenez and Nova, Kluber's more extended track record should guide owners, rather than an uncharacteristic first start. Last season, Kluber established himself as a pitcher who can miss bats and minimize walks.
Start Kluber over the following one-start pitchers: Lance Lynn , Clay Buchholz , Tyson Ross
13. Kyle Lohse , MIL (at PHI, vs. PIT)
If we shouldn't expect Jimenez and Kluber to be flyball dispensers going forward, then in all fairness, we shouldn't look to Lohse to be a strikeout machine. His eight-strikeout performance against the Braves was a pleasant surprise -- and also likely matchup-driven, as the Braves like to swing the bat. What Lohse has done exceedingly well and consistently since 2011 is throw strikes, and with ultra-low walk rates, he has been helping owners with ERA and WHIP, if not Ks. Lohse's matchups look good, as the Pirates have struggled to score and the Phillies don't have many on-base threats. It could be an especially good week for ERA and WHIP, and with two starts, strikeouts are less of a concern.
Start Lohse over the following one-start pitchers: R.A. Dickey , Chris Archer , Zack Wheeler
14. James Paxton , SEA (vs. LAA, vs. OAK)
The penchant for throwing strikes that Paxton showed during his four-game trial in Seattle last season seemed too good to be true, given the control issues that sometimes plagued him in the minors. Then again, Paxton's control did improve steadily as he climbed the ranks of the Mariners' organization. Don't be surprised if he turns in some brief starts at times, but the lefty's upside makes him someone to use in two-start weeks in standard mixed leagues, at least for now. The only reason to hesitate at all for this scoring period is the possibility (which seems slim) of Chris Young getting inserted into the Mariners' rotation this week, which could push Paxton's Sunday start back.
Start Paxton over the following one-start pitchers: R.A. Dickey , Chris Archer , Zack Wheeler
15. Charlie Morton , PIT (at CHC, at MIL)
|22. Mark Buehrle||vs. HOU, at BAL|
|23. Trevor Cahill||at SF, vs. LAD|
|24. Felix Doubront||vs. TEX, at NYY|
|25. Henderson Alvarez||at WAS, at PHI|
|26. Tanner Scheppers||at BOS, vs. HOU|
|27. Robbie Erlin||at CLE, vs. DET|
|28. Kyle Kendrick||vs. MIL, vs. MIA|
|29. Zach McAllister||vs. SD, at CHW|
|30. Aaron Harang||vs. NYM, vs. WAS|
|31. Edwin Jackson||vs. PIT, at STL|
|32. Brett Oberholtzer||at TOR, at TEX|
|33. Jarred Cosart||vs. LAA, at TEX|
|34. Kevin Correia||vs. OAK, vs. KC|
Morton got 2014 started the right way, tossing six shutout innings against the Cubs. The North Siders appear to be one of the majors' friendlier matchups, and Morton gets them again in Week 2. Meanwhile, the Brewers have enough thump in their lineup that they will eventually shake their early-season doldrums, but Morton has been one of the majors' best pitchers at keeping the ball in the park. He's a poor bet to sustain the strikeout-per-inning pace of his first start, but Morton should lower your staff's ERA this coming week. That makes him a viable two-start option in some mixed leagues, but because his control is nowhere as good as Lohse's, he's a less attractive waiver option.
Start the following one-start pitchers over Morton: Lance Lynn , Clay Buchholz , R.A. Dickey
16. Tim Hudson , SF (vs. ARI, vs. COL)
If owners had concerns about Hudson's return from a fractured ankle, he assuaged them in his season debut. Hudson tossed 7 2/3 scoreless innings in which he allowed only three hits and no walks and induced 12 swinging strikes. High whiff counts probably won't be the norm for Hudson, but sharp control and a lack of extra-base hits should be. As a sinkerballer with a below-average strikeout rate, Hudson has similar appeal to Morton, and like his Pirates' counterpart, he's fringy in standard mixed leagues, even with two starts.
Start the following one-start pitchers over Hudson: R.A. Dickey , Chris Archer , Zack Wheeler
17. Dan Haren , LAD (vs. DET, at ARI)
Things could have gone much worse for Haren in his first start of the season, given that he induced only six swinging strikes and seven ground balls. Those are numbers one wouldn't normally associate with six innings of scoreless ball, so Haren's 2014 debut may be a bit misleading. He's not a good bet to improve on his ground ball rate, but he's long been a control artist with average-to- above-average strikeout rates. That profiles makes Haren sittable in some one-start weeks, but there should be few two-start weeks where you should bench him. The problem this week is knowing whether Haren will in fact be a two-start pitcher, since it's not yet known when Paul Maholm will make his next start and whether the Dodgers will give Hyun-Jin Ryu extra rest. That puts the order of their entire Week 2 rotation in question.
Start the following one-start pitchers over Haren: R.A. Dickey , Chris Archer , Zack Wheeler
18. Jason Vargas , KC (vs. TB, at MIN)
This is the sort of week in which I typically clear an active roster spot for Vargas. He has two starts against teams with generally mediocre lineups, and both of his venues are tough on home-run hitters. Because Vargas is prone to the long ball, he needs to be avoided outside of these scenarios, but because he is fairly stingy with walks and gets infield flies frequently, he usually registers low ERAs and WHIPs in pitchers' parks. Perhaps if the better hitters in the Rays' lineup weren't righties (plus switch-hitting Ben Zobrist ), I would rank Vargas a little higher. Given his .434 slugging percentage allowed against righties, there is enough risk involved with Vargas' one home start for owners to view the lefty as a last resort in standard mixed leagues.
Start the following one-start pitchers over Vargas: Ervin Santana , A.J. Burnett , Marco Estrada
19. Bartolo Colon , NYM (at ATL, at LAA)
Heading into the weekend, Colon is owned in 70 percent of the leagues on CBSSports.com. As a two- start pitcher, that percentage could climb even higher, but his new and current owners could wind up disappointed with his Week 2 results. Colon is still notoriously contact-friendly, in two seasons in Oakland, he was surprisingly effective due to low walk and home run rates. He showed against the Nationals this week that he still throws strikes, but he may have previewed a new proclivity for allowing homers, as Adam LaRoche and Jayson Werth took him out of the park. No longer protected by spacious O.co Coliseum, Colon could be due for a rude awakening, at least at homer-neutral Turner Field against a powerful Braves lineup.
Start the following one-start pitchers over Colon: Martin Perez , Yordano Ventura , Michael Pineda
20. Jose Quintana , CHW (at COL, vs. CLE)
After a miserable Cactus League season in which Quintana allowed 20 earned runs in 11 innings with six strikeouts and seven walks, he bounced back with a decent effort against the Twins. Quintana emerged with improved command (64 percent strikes thrown) and a higher K/9 ratio (8.2) from July forward last season, and he looked more like that pitcher in his season debut. Though Quintana allowed five runs in six innings versus Minnesota, only two of them were earned, and he threw 69 of 109 pitches for strikes and finished with eight strikeouts. In a normal two-start week, that might be enough to embolden owners to start him, but with his first start coming at Coors Field, it's probably best to save Quintana for another two-start week in standard mixed leagues.
Start the following one-start pitchers over Quintana: Michael Pineda , Dan Straily , Dillon Gee
21. Felipe Paulino , CHW (at COL, vs. CLE)
Paulino, like Quintana, turned in a mildly encouraging start against the Twins, and he too will have to tame Coors Field in a Week 2 start. In some ways, Paulino appears to be a better option than Quintana, as he throws harder and has been more of a strikeout pitcher over his career. With the harder cheese also comes more wildness, and he is just as much of a home run risk as his teammate. Though Paulino will likely allow less contact than Quintana, he's a bigger threat to your team's ERA, if not its WHIP.
Start the following one-start pitchers over Paulino: Dillon Gee , Jenrry Mejia , Tanner Roark