Shuffling the Rotations for Week 3

Quality two-start options have been in short supply over the season's first two weeks, but in Fantasy Week 3 (April 16-22), owners will be treated to a bounty of two-start studs.

Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander and Jered Weaver headline a list of 43 two-start pitchers, and if Tyson Ross can stick in the Oakland rotation beyond what could be a Tuesday spot start, that number will climb to 44. Instead of plumbing the depths of the waiver wire to add extra starts to your Fantasy staff, you are likely to find several of your existing pitchers with a pair of starts.

Despite the bevy of high-end two-start options, there are still a few unfamiliar faces (or arms) in this week's Top 70. Joe Blanton, Danny Duffy and Jake Arrieta are all worth a shot in standard mixed leagues, and believe it or not, so is Kevin Millwood (CLE, CHW), who has a pair of good matchups at home. He was the last pitcher to get cut from this week's list.

Francisco Liriano (@NYY, @TB) and Daniel Bard (TB, NYY) did not make the cut. Due to their recent struggles and tough matchups, both are too risky to start in standard mixed leagues this coming week, though both still have enough promise to be worth stashing if slots are available. Luke Hochevar (ankle), Nick Blackburn (shoulder) and Adam Wilk (shoulder) weren't likely to appear on the top 70 anyway, but all are at risk of missing their starts in Week 3 due to injury.

Finally, you may notice that I am starting to work some 2012 numbers into the "stat of note" column in the table below. Most pitchers have made only two starts so far, so these stats don't tell us anything definitive, but they point to possible trends that may emerge and deserve our attention. This week's rankings have their basis in each pitcher's longer-term history, rather than in the two-week statistical snapshots that are featured in some entries.

Starting Rotation breakdown for Fantasy Week 3
Rank Player Start 1 Start 2 Stat of note
1 Roy Halladay @SF (Lincecum) @SD (Luebke) Career 3.62 ERA before May 1
Halladay has not been at his best during the season's early weeks over his career, but he should excel with a pair of good matchups.
2 Justin Verlander @KC (Duffy) TEX (Feliz) 1.82 ERA at Kauffman Stadium in 12 career starts
A sub-2.00 ERA is what you get when you put a great pitcher in a great pitcher's park.
3 Jered Weaver OAK (McCarthy) BAL (Arrieta) 11.1 percent swinging strike rate in 2012
It's a very small sample, but Weaver is getting more whiffs again. It's a trend to watch.
4 Ian Kennedy PIT (Karstens) ATL (Delgado) Career 0.8 HR/9 at Chase Field
Even though Kennedy leans towards being a flyball pitcher, he hasn't been hurt by homers in his home park.
5 Dan Haren OAK (Ross) BAL (Chen) Allowed 8 HR vs. OAK in 40 1/3 career innings
Haren has allowed a surprising number of homers to the A's, but he still sports a career 1.09 WHIP against them.
6 Clayton Kershaw @HOU (Weiland) N/A Career .312 SLG allowed to opposing righties
Kershaw will likely face an Astros lineup stacked with right-handed batters, but he has been tough on all hitters, whether lefty or righty.
7 Yovani Gallardo LAD (Billingsley) COL (Guthrie) .611 Avg allowed on balls hit in the air in 2012
Gallardo hasn't had many easy flyball outs this year, but that will change as the sample gets larger.
8 Cole Hamels @SD (Volquez) N/A Career 1.23 ERA at PETCO Park
Hamels has taken full advantage of PETCO Park's spacious dimensions in five prior starts there.
9 Stephen Strasburg HOU (Weiland) MIA (Sanchez) Has faced 50 batters in first two starts
If his first starts are any indication, Strasburg will be going much deeper into games than he did as a rookie two years ago.
10 Cliff Lee @SF (Cain) N/A Career 0.82 ERA vs. SF
The Giants have scored only three earned runs against Lee in four career starts, so that earns him a spot in the top 10.
11 CC Sabathia MIN (Liriano) @BOS (Bard) Career 1.46 WHIP at Fenway Park
Sabathia has been utterly hittable at Boston over his career, but a home start against the Twins could still leave him with a good week.
12 James Shields @BOS (Bard) MIN (Pavano) 3.67 pitches per plate appearance in '12
Shields hasn't racked up as many Ks as usual, but he is still working efficiently.
13 C.J. Wilson OAK (Milone) N/A 60 percent of pitches thrown for strikes this year
With sharper control, Wilson was an improved pitcher last year, but he hasn't maintained that progress through his first two starts.
14 Felix Hernandez CLE (Tomlin) N/A 4 BBs in 21 1/3 innings so far
Owners can always count on Hernandez for a good K/BB rate, and it's been a sterling 4.8 through his first three starts.
15 Justin Masterson @SEA (Millwood) @OAK (Ross) .273 opponents' Avg on grounders through first two starts
Masterson had a rough start on Wednesday against the White Sox, but he's getting plenty of grounders as usual. Too many have found the holes for hits.
16 Zack Greinke LAD (Capuano) N/A Career 2.86 ERA at Miller Park
Greinke blows up at times, like he did at the Cubs on Thursday, but he has been reliable in his home starts.
17 David Price @TOR (Morrow) N/A Career 3.46 ERA at TOR
Price has done a good job over his four career starts at Rogers Centre, even though he has allowed five homers over 26 innings.
18 Ricky Romero TB (Niemann) @KC (Duffy) .147 BABIP in 2012
Wonder how Romero is managing to post an 0.83 WHIP even with mediocre K and BB rates? He's been lucky on balls in play so far.
19 Josh Johnson CHC (Dempster) @WAS (Gonzalez) 15 of 43 hit balls have been liners
Johnson hasn't been a victim of bad luck so far. He's getting whacked around, but you still have to respect his long-term track record.
20 Matt Cain PHI (Lee) N/A 3.2 K/BB vs. righties last season
Cain's command has improved over the years, and he could really thrive against a righty-heavy Phillies' lineup.
21 Tim Lincecum PHI (Halladay) @NYM (Gee) 13.5 percent swinging strike rate in '12
Velocity, schmelocity. Lincecum is getting swings-and-misses, but he has been hurt by a few line drive binges.
22 Gio Gonzalez HOU (Rodriguez) MIA (Johnson) 78 percent strand rate, 2011-12
Even if Gonzalez reverts to his usual wild ways, his history of stranding baserunners makes him a reliable source of low ERA.
23 Tommy Hanson NYM (Gee) @ARI (Saunders) 89 mph average fastball velocity in 2012
Hanson is getting fewer swinging strikes so far, but he is making up for it with more called strikes. If he can't keep that up, he could be in trouble.
24 Daniel Hudson PIT (McDonald) N/A 59 percent strikes thrown so far
Hudson has been a reliable strike-thrower over his young career, so his early struggles with command are a slight concern.
25 Madison Bumgarner PHI (Blanton) N/A 5 Ks in 11 1/3 innings this year
It's not clear why Bumgarner hasn't picked up a few more strikeouts, but his swinging strike rate is still higher than it was in 2010 (but not 2011).
26 Erik Bedard @ARI (Saunders) STL (Lohse) 3.00 ERA in first half of 2011
Bedard's stat of note is just a friendly reminder that he was highly effective before being limited by injuries in the second half. His hot start is no fluke.
27 Jordan Zimmermann HOU (Harrell) N/A 3.18 home ERA in 2011
A home start against one of the NL's weakest offenses should mean a productive week for the 25-year-old.
28 Matt Garza @MIA (Buehrle) N/A 51 percent ground ball rate in first two starts
Will Garza's conversion to ground ball pitching last year be short-lived? Based on the early returns, it doesn't appear so.
29 Johnny Cueto @STL (Lohse) @CHC (Dempster) 80 percent strand rate, 2011-12
Cueto doesn't appear to be a strikeout pitcher anymore, but he's skilled at stranding runners. He can keep his ERA below 3.00.
30 Brandon McCarthy @LAA (Weaver) CLE (Jimenez) 4.79 career ERA vs. LAA
Even during his strong 2011, McCarthy struggled against the Angels, but a start against the Indians (.196 team Avg) should help him this week.
31 Matt Moore MIN (Hendriks) N/A 9 popups out of 41 hit balls in majors
Moore has had very poor command so far this year, but he has the ability to get out of jams with easy outs.
32 Josh Beckett TEX (Holland) N/A 2.71 ERA at Fenway Park in 2011
Beckett's solid start against the Rays on Friday just added to his recent success at his home park.
33 Jon Lester TEX (Lewis) N/A Career 3.48 ERA vs. TEX
Lester had a tough time in his lone start against the Rangers last year, but overall, he has handled them with few problems.
34 Cory Luebke @COL (Guthrie) PHI (Halladay) Career 3.12 ERA at Coors Field
Luebke has pitched just 17 1/3 innings at Colorado, but at least that small sample doesn't send up any warning signs.
35 Mat Latos @STL (Garcia) N/A Career 3.3 K/BB vs. lefties
Latos has better command and allows fewer extra-base hits against lefties, and that will come in handy against the Cardinals.
36 Brandon Beachy @ARI (Cahill) N/A Career 3.20 road ERA
Beachy has actually been better when performing away from pitcher-friendly Turner Field, where he has a career 3.96 ERA.
37 John Danks BAL (Chen) @SEA (Millwood) Career 2.72 ERA vs. SEA
Danks' history of mastery over the Mariners gives him a cushion this week, and he may need it, given his career 4.31 ERA vs. BAL.
38 Ryan Dempster @MIA (Johnson) CIN (Cueto) .182 BABIP through first two starts
Dempster is off to a good start, but his 0.91 WHIP is an illusion. He has a low BABIP despite allowing eight line drives over his first two starts.
39 Ervin Santana OAK (Colon) N/A 7 HR allowed in 143 2/3 career innings vs. OAK
Santana hasn't always been a good ground ball pitcher, but he has had few problems keeping the ball in the park against the A's.
40 Colby Lewis @BOS (Lester) @DET (Smyly) 0.29 GO/AO ratio in 2012
Lewis isn't showing any signs of becoming less flyball-prone, but that may not get him into trouble at a couple of homer-neutral parks this week.
41 Wandy Rodriguez @WAS (Gonzalez) LAD (Billingsley) Three straight years of declining K/9
Rodriguez has seen a slow, steady erosion of his K-rate, but he is still an above-average contributor to the strikeout category.
42 Jeff Niemann @TOR (Romero) MIN (Liriano) Career 2.86 ERA vs. MIN
It's a good thing that Niemann has the Twins this week, because he has a career 5.23 ERA against the Blue Jays.
43 Hiroki Kuroda MIN (Marquis) N/A 51 percent ground ball rate in 2012
Kuroda's early improvement in his grounder rate bears watching, as it's an area where he declined last season.
44 Adam Wainwright CIN (Arroyo) N/A 3 of 7 flyballs allowed became HRs
Wainwright hasn't allowed many balls to go airborne, but he has been punished on the ones he has. The Ks and grounders are still there ... both good signs.
45 Philip Humber BAL (Arrieta) @SEA (Beavan) 6 out of 26 starts in '11 lasted fewer than 6.0 innings
Humber is not quite an average strikeout pitcher, but his ability to go deep into games gives him value, especially in two-start weeks.
46 Anibal Sanchez @WAS (Strasburg) N/A Career 2.06 ERA vs. WAS
Sanchez's first 17 starts against the Nationals have gone well overall, and with the team slugging .343 so far, his 18th could be a good one, too.
47 Ubaldo Jimenez @OAK (McCarthy) N/A 67 percent strand rate in 2011
Jimenez has been derided for last season's decline, but a big part of his problem was an unusually low strand rate, from which he could easily rebound.
48 Shaun Marcum COL (Chacin) N/A 9.8 percent popup rate since 2010
Marcum's flyball tendencies were in evidence in his season debut, but with the homers come infield flies in bunches.
49 Chris Sale @SEA (Noesi) N/A 10 grounders out of 17 hit balls in season debut
If Sale's first major league start (at Cleveland on Monday) was any indication, his ability to induce grounders will follow him into his new role.
50 Vance Worley @SD (Wieland) N/A 2.8 BB/9 in second half of '11
In many regards, Worley came back to earth in the latter part of last season, but he substantially improved his walk rate.
51 Yu Darvish @DET (Porcello) N/A 56 percent strikes thrown
Darvish has needed GPS to find the strike zone in his first two starts, and it will be risky to use him until he begins to show better command.
52 Clay Buchholz NYY (Nova) N/A 9 Ks in 10 2/3 innings vs. NYY in '11
Buchholz has typically had trouble avoiding contact against the Yankees, but he made progress in two starts last season.
53 Bartolo Colon @LAA (Santana) N/A 7.0 K/BB in 2012
Colon's command declined somewhat during last season's second-half slump, but it hasn't been a problem so far this year.
54 Ivan Nova @BOS (Buchholz) N/A 1.15 WHIP in second half of 2011
After dramatically improving his walk rate late last year, Nova appears to have put his command issues behind him.
55 Jeremy Hellickson @TOR (Alvarez) N/A Career .181 opponents' Avg vs. righties
Hellickson has been dominant against right-handed batters, so Jose Bautista and Brett Lawrie could have a long night against him.
56 Chad Billingsley @MIL (Gallardo) @HOU (Rodriguez) 13.5 percent swinging strike rate in '12
Has Billingsley rediscovered how to miss bats, or did he benefit from matchups against the Padres and Pirates? The Brewers should provide a more revealing test.
57 Kyle Lohse CIN (Cueto) @PIT (Bedard) No unintentional walks in first two starts
Lohse still has a lot to prove as a weekly start, but as long as he is showing pinpoint control, he is worth using in a two-start week.
58 Jonathon Niese SF (Zito) N/A Career 3.89 ERA in first half
Niese has faded down the stretch in past seasons, but he has been fairly reliable prior to the All-Star break.
59 Phil Hughes MIN (Blackburn) N/A Career 2.40 ERA vs. MIN
In four prior appearances, Hughes has breezed through the Twins' lineup, and given their early struggles (3.1 runs per game), he could continue the trend.
60 Joe Blanton @SF (Bumgarner) @SD (Bass) 2.1 BB/9 since 2010
Blanton is homer-prone, but between a pair of visits to pitcher's parks and an aversion to walks, he should escape with few earned runs this week.
61 R.A. Dickey @ATL (Jurrjens) N/A 2.60 ERA vs. ATL in 2011
Dickey reversed a trend of mediocre performances against the Braves with 27 2/3 solid innings against them last year.
62 Ricky Nolasco CHC (Samardzija) N/A GB rate increased from 40 to 47 percent, 2009-2011
Nolasco's ground ball rate after two starts is 56 percent, showing early signs of extending a two-year trend.
63 Jaime Garcia CIN (Latos) N/A Career 3.38 ERA vs. CIN
Garcia has been able to tame one of the NL's best offenses over his first two full seasons.
64 Danny Duffy DET (Verlander) TOR (Romero) 8.2 K/9 since July 2011
Duffy is still too wild, but if he can show better control like he did in the minors, the lefty will quickly become a weekly presence in standard mixed leagues.
65 Brandon Morrow TB (Price) N/A One line drive in 40 hit balls this year
Is this a new-look Morrow? He has just seven Ks in 14 innings, but he is not getting hit hard when batters do make contact.
66 Trevor Cahill ATL (Beachy) N/A Career .168 Isolated Power allowed to lefty batters
Cahill is generally good at avoiding long balls, but lefties have tagged him for extra bases frequently. That makes him a little risky against the Braves.
67 Ryan Vogelsong @NYM (Pelfrey) N/A 1.9 BB/9 last September
Overall, Vogelsong's control wasn't sharp during the second half last year, but he did show some late-season improvement.
68 Max Scherzer @KC (Hochevar) N/A 1 career HR in 33 2/3 innings at Kauffman Stadium
You can never be sure when Scherzer will suffer a bout of gopheritis, but he's been immune when visiting Kansas City.
69 Jhoulys Chacin @MIL (Marcum) N/A Career 0.7 HR/9 on the road
Chacin's ground ball tendencies really pay off when he leaves Coors Field, though he has yet to make a start at Miller Park.
70 Jake Arrieta @CHW (Humber) @LAA (Weaver) 63 percent strikes thrown in '12
Even in the minors, Arrieta had problems with keeping walks to a minimum, so it's encouraging to see him locate in the zone more often.

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Data Analyst

Al Melchior has been playing Fantasy Baseball since 1994, getting his start in the Southern Maryland Anthropomorphic Baseball League (SMABL). He has been writing about Fantasy Baseball since 2000, getting... Full Bio

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