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With several teams moving to six-man rotations and pushing back starts on a moment's notice, it's hard to put too much stock in any announced rotation, especially a week or more in advance. The lesson for Fantasy owners is to not count too much on a pitcher getting a particular matchup or receiving two starts. That's why we offer this piece of advice at this time every year: Don't use someone with two starts whom you wouldn't use with one start.
By that criterion, there may not be a single pitcher worth picking up this week. The sweet spot for finding viable two-start pitchers on waivers is usually within the group that has an ownership rate in the 40 to 70 percent range in CBSSports.com leagues. As of this writing, there are five pitchers in that cohort, but none is trustworthy, even with two starts.
Kris Medlen may look like the obvious choice, but he has not overwhelmed in any of his four starts, and he has not been getting swings and misses. Josh Tomlin has been a popular pickup of late, but he's still homer-prone and hugely risky with two starts at Progressive Field. Erasmo Ramirez, Kevin Gausman and Ubaldo Jimenez have had their own struggles with keeping the ball in the park in recent weeks.
The best advice this week is to resist the urge to pick up any two-start pitcher on waivers. If you must, though, the good news is that your safest option is practically available in every mixed league.
Top target for standard mixed leagues: Tim Hudson, Giants (vs. CIN, vs. ARI, 10 percent owned)
Over the years, Hudson has slipped from being a rotation staple to a good streaming option, and this season, he had fallen a rung further to deep-leaguer. At least that's what happened prior to his DL stint for a shoulder injury. Though Hudson continued to induce grounders, he was allowing more extra-base hits than he had in the past, particularly away from AT&T Park. He also saw his strikeout rate, which had never been high in the first place, dip to a career low.
A number of signs point to Hudson being trustworthy this week, especially if he does make both of his scheduled starts. In three appearances, including one start, since coming off the DL, Hudson has performed well, posting a 65 percent ground ball rate while pitching with extremely sharp control (no walks in 8 1/3 innings, 74 percent strikes-thrown rate). He has also coaxed 12 swinging strikes, and even before he went on the DL, Hudson's 9 percent whiff rate was respectable. Given his ability to get swings and misses, he clearly has the potential to substantially improve upon the 4.7 K/9 ratio he compiled before missing nearly a month.
Though Hudson hasn't racked up many innings since his return, from what he has shown, he looks primed to finish out his career on a high note. It seems odd to have concerns about venues and home/road splits, given how many grounders Hudson gets, but if his 2015 road slash line (.284/.357/.457) gives you the willies, you can take comfort in knowing that he will be ensconced by the roomy confines of his home park this week.
SPARP me up: Hudson isn't the only highly-available starter to consider if you play in a standard Head-to-Head format. If you have been underwhelmed with your production from your RP slots, Vidal Nuno could provide you with at least a one-week upgrade. He currently lines up for two starts, but that could easily change if James Paxton rejoins the Mariners' rotation on Sunday against the Rockies, as expected. However, MLB.com reports that Nuno will likely remain in the rotation regardless of Paxton's status, and that would virtually assure him of a start against the light-hitting Angels this week. With a good matchup at home (2.11 ERA, .352 slugging allowed), Nuno could be one of this week's most productive starting pitcher-as-relief pitcher (SPARP) options.
The Marlins are a similarly plum matchup, and both Logan Verrett and Tanner Roark are scheduled to face them in Week 24. Verrett in particular could be worth using, as he was sensational in a recent spot start at Colorado (8 IP, 1 R, 8 K) and has posted a 23-to-5 K/BB ratio and a 14 percent whiff rate in his time with the Mets, albeit mostly out of the bullpen.