Fantasy Baseball: Two-Start Pitchers for Week 8

Ed Zurga

Alex Kantecki ranks the two-start pitchers for Week 8 and recommends a few worth using, including Jeremy Guthrie, Matt Garza, Scott Kazmir and Julio Teheran.

Welcome back! If you followed my advice last week, things are looking up, as Travis Wood, A.J. Griffin and Jason Vargas all had strong starts to Week 7. (Notice how I wisely left out my fourth recommendation, Hector Santiago, who couldn't make it out of the third inning against the Angels on Saturday.)

Wood, Griffin and Vargas all go today, and they all have a great shot at picking up another win before the week is out. I've again included an asterisk in the "Play the matchups" section to indicate the matchups I think are a safe play.

Start!
Clayton Kershaw: Mon-@MIL (Gallardo), Sun-STL (Miller)
Cole Hamels: Mon-@MIA (Sanabia), Sun-@WSH (Detwiler)
Jon Lester: Mon-@CWS (Axelrod), Sat-CLE (Kazmir)
Shelby Miller: Mon-@SD (Marquis), Sun-@LAD (Kershaw)
Max Scherzer: Tue-@CLE (Kluber), Sun-MIN (Pelfrey)
Hisashi Iwakuma: Mon-@CLE (Kazmir), Sun-TEX (Lindblom)
Johnny Cueto: Mon-@NYM (Marcum), Sun-CHC (Garza)
Patrick Corbin: Mon-@COL (Garland), Sun-SD (Marquis)
Yovani Gallardo: Mon-LAD (Kershaw), Sun-PIT (Rodriguez)
Pretty, pretty good
Jeremy Guthrie: Mon-@HOU (Harrell), Sat-LAA (Hanson)
Wandy Rodriguez: Tue-CHC (Garza), Sun-@MIL (Gallardo)
Matt Garza: Tue-@PIT (Rodriguez), Sun-@CIN (Cueto)
Scott Kazmir: Mon-SEA (Iwakuma), Sat-@BOS (Lester)
Julio Teheran: Mon-MIN (Correia), Sun-@NYM (Marcum)
Lucas Harrell: Mon-KC (Guthrie), Sun-OAK (Colon)
Jerome Williams: Tue-SEA (Harang), Sun-@KC (Davis)
Play the matchups

Phil Hughes: Mon-@BAL (Garcia), *Sun-@TB (TBD)
Shaun Marcum: Mon-CIN (Cueto), *Sun-ATL (Teheran)
Dylan Axelrod: Mon-BOS (Lester), *Sun-MIA (Sanabia)
Bartolo Colon: Mon-@TEX (Lindblom), *Sun-@HOU (Harrell)
Felix Doubront: *Tue-@CWS (Quintana), Sun-CLE (Kluber)

Not this week
Kevin Correia: Mon-@ATL (Teheran), Sat-@DET (Fister)
Wade Davis: Tue-@HOU (Keuchel), Sun-LAA (Williams)
Freddy Garcia: Mon-NYY (Hughes), Sat-@TOR (Ortiz)
Jon Garland: Mon-ARI (Corbin), Sun-@SF (Vogelsong)
Chad Jenkins: Tue-TB (Cobb), Sun-BAL (TBD)
Corey Kluber: Tue-DET (Scherzer), Sun-@BOS (Doubront)
Josh Lindblom: Mon-OAK (Colon), Sun-@SEA (Iwakuma)
Jason Marquis: Mon-STL (Miller), Sun-@ARI (Corbin)
Ramon Ortiz: Mon-TB (TBD), Sat-BAL (Garcia)
Mike Pelfrey: Tue-@ATL (Hudson), Sun-@DET (Scherzer)
Alex Sanabia: Mon-PHI (Hamels), Sun-@CWS (Axelrod)
Ryan Vogelsong: Mon-WSH (TBD), Sun-COL (Garland)
My picks

Jeremey Guthrie (87.5% ESPN; 58% Yahoo!)
2013: 5-1, 4.97 K/9, 2.82 BB/9, 2.82 ERA, 1.29 WHIP

A good approach to Week 8 might be to start all of your Royals pitchers, as Kansas City faces two of the league's most inept offenses in Houston and Los Angeles (AL). But the team's other two-starter for the week, Wade Davis, has burned me one too many times in the past to recommend him again. This pick is kind of a cheat because Guthrie's ownership has now climbed over the 80% mark in ESPN leagues, but a light schedule and some iffy options leaves me with no choice. It's rare that a pitcher leaves the NL for the AL and sees better results, but that's exactly what Guthrie has accomplished since his trade from the Rockies last year. In 22 starts with the Royals, the veteran right-hander is 10-4 with a 3.03 ERA and 1.19 WHIP. His K/9 is well below league average, but that allows him to go deeper into games. He's gone six innings or more in each of his eight starts this season and I expect that trend to continue. I'm not a true believer in Guthrie (he has a 4.62 xFIP and 4.78 SIERA), but with the Astros and Angels on deck, this isn't the week we see regression.

Matt Garza (29.9% ESPN; 57.7% Yahoo!)
2013: NA

Again, this pick is the result of a light schedule. I'm not so sure what ESPN owners are waiting for here. Two years ago, Garza went 10-10 with a 3.32 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 197 strikeouts in 198 innings. That's what I call rosterable. He last pitched in a big league game in July 2012 after suffering an elbow injury and he's looking to drive up his trade value with a fast start in 2013. A lat injury has kept him out of action this season, but he won't be on any strict pitch count after throwing a full six innings in his last rehab start in the minors. Garza gets two road starts in Week 8, starting with a beatable opponent in Pittsburgh followed by a tougher task in Cincinnati. If Garza looks fine against the Pirates, and I fully expect him to, I don't see the need to sit him against the Reds. This is a risky pick, but I think it's one that could pay off big time. Garza isn't an ace, but he has to stuff to be a No. 2.

Scott Kazmir (15.8% ESPN; 21% Yahoo!)
2013: 2-2, 9.95 K/9, 2.84 BB/9, 5.33 ERA, 1.46 WHIP

Kazmir has been popping up all over the place in fantasy articles these days after his 10-strikeout performance against the Athletics on May 9. Many owners probably look at that crooked 5.33 ERA and run for the hills, but Kazmir has actually pitched a lot better than his ERA indicates (3.89 xFIP; 3.44 SIERA). With 28 strikeouts in 25.1 innings, Kazmir has big strikeout upside, and those strikeout numbers should continue in Week 8. His opponents (Mariners and Red Sox) are among the league-leaders in terms of strikeout rate (21.8% for Seattle; 21.2% for Boston). I have no qualms about starting the former first-rounder against the Mariners, but things obviously get a whole lot tougher against the Red Sox at Fenway. If Kazmir isn't going to get pummeled by Boston, he must continue to pound the strike zone. His 49.5% Zone% (percentage of pitches seen inside the strike zone) is well above league average, so let's hope that continues.

Julio Teheran (9.0% ESPN; 24% Yahoo!)
2013: 2-1, 5.66 K/9, 1.74 BB/9, 4.57 ERA, 1.48 WHIP

Teheran was a trendy sleeper pick after a huge spring training that made him look like another homegrown Atlanta ace. After a rough start to open the year, Teheran has been pretty good of late, going 2-1 with a 2.84 ERA and 1.30 WHIP in his last four starts. Teheran has allowed 32 hits in that span, but he has walked just one batter, which is outstanding. With a pair of favorable matchups in Week 8, I look for the 22-year old to stay on a roll. He splits a home and away set against the Twins (home) and Mets (away), which are two of the league's bottom feeders among offenses -- the Twins rank 20th with a 93 wRC+, while the Mets rank 24th with a 90 wRC+. Minnesota is hitting the cover off the ball in May, however, and represents the trickier task for Teheran, so we should learn more about his good run starting Monday.

Alex Kantecki is a contributor for Fake Teams, Big Leagues Mag and Vigilante Baseball. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotodealer.

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