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In most leagues, there should be a healthy selection of two-start pitchers on waivers for Fantasy Week 17 (July 27- Aug. 2), but it's a good time to be picky. It may seem like a good week to go fishing for pitchers on waivers, since some of the highly-owned two-start options look a little too risky to trust. Julio Teheran has been awful on the road (6.95 ERA), and with an average flyball distance of 287 feet allowed (per BaseballHeatMaps), it's tough to have confidence in him at the Orioles and Phillies (yes, even against the Phillies). Given their recent struggles, it's also time to stop thinking of Trevor Bauer, Ubaldo Jimenez and Mike Montgomery as must-starts with a pair of outings, if you were inclined to view them that way in the first place.
The risky options far outweigh the safe ones on waivers, even among those who are more highly owned. Chris Young depends heavily on good matchups for value, but with scheduled starts at the Indians and Blue Jays, he won't get them. Cody Anderson doesn't record many strikeouts, and he will be even more challenged to get them against the Royals and A's. Nathan Karns' long-standing long ball issues against right-handed hitters will have a meetup with the Tigers' lineup and then the Green Monster, and Robbie Ray's strong flyball tendencies could get exposed against the Astros, who possess the second-highest Isolated Power ratio against lefties (.172) in the majors.
That doesn't leave many viable two-start pitchers to pick up, so you may have to resort to adding a one-start pitcher with a decent matchup, such as Andrew Cashner (at NYM, 75 percent owned) or Erasmo Ramirez (at BOS, 52 percent owned). Before you completely give up on the two-start pitcher pool, it's worth checking your waivers to see if one of the handful of relatively safe options highlighted below is available.
Top pitching target for standard and shallow mixed leagues: Kyle Hendricks, Cubs (vs. COL, at MIL; 71 percent owned)
The Cubs' lineup has sputtered of late, but Hendricks could be up to the task of giving his offense a chance to win in his starts. With a 7.6 K/9 ratio, Hendricks is just enough of a contact pitcher to be avoided in one-start weeks, but enough of a bat-misser to be worth using with two starts. While his K-rate and ground ball rate are average, he excels as a control pitcher, so he presents the potential to lower your squad's WHIP. The Rockies are not an imposing opponent when they hit the road, and the Brewers have actually been striking out at home more often than on the road.
Hendricks may already be taken in some standard mixed leagues, but if he is available in those formats -- or even in shallower ones -- he needs to be owned for the coming week.
Last-ditch pitching target: Wade Miley, Red Sox (vs. CHW, vs. TB; 31 percent owned)
If this were a different week, I probably wouldn't be recommending Miley. His 6.5 K/9 ratio isn't awful for a two-start pitcher, but his 3.5 BB/9 ratio is less than ideal. However, there aren't many superior two-start pitchers on waivers, and many of the ones you may target, like Hendricks, Leake and Fiers, might not be available. Miley is certainly available outside of deep leagues, and since a difficult beginning to the season, he has not been bad. Over his last 14 starts, Miley has a 3.47 ERA with 10 quality starts, as he has been throwing more strikes and doing a better job of limiting extra-base hits.
What really makes Miley stand out as a potential pickup this week are his matchups. The White Sox have the lowest weighted on-base average (wOBA) against left-handed pitchers of any team in the majors, and the Rays have the second-lowest overall wOBA over the last 30 days, besting only the Mets.
Reality check: In the three-day scoring period that was Week 15, Tommy Milone was my top pitching target. Set to face the A's in Oakland, it seemed like an ideal matchup for a pitcher who had been on a roll. Milone had a long track record of success at O.co Coliseum, and in addition to the park being a favorable one, the A's have one of the majors' lowest home run-to-flyball ratios against lefties.
Things could have hardly gone worse for Milone, as he exited after 2 2/3 innings, having allowed seven runs (five earned) on five hits. Three of those hits were home runs, and each was off one of his changeups. While Milone is no one's idea of a ground ball pitcher, his changeup has normally been a reliable ground ball inducer for him. He got the A's to hit into just one grounder in his start, and he had less vertical movement on his changeup than has been typical.
This is a trend to watch for Milone, but if he bounces back at home against the Yankees on Saturday, the Twins' southpaw should be safe to use in future two-start weeks when he is in pitcher-friendly venues.