Two-Start Pitchers: Week 21 (Aug. 26-Sep. 1)

Andy Lyons

Alex Kantecki ranks the two-start pitchers for Week 21 and recommends a few worth using, including Jonathan Niese, Tyson Ross and Jarred Cosart.

My sister got married on Saturday, so today's intro is going to be short and sweet. Week 21 packs a light schedule and there's an obvious shortage of No. 1s and No. 2s taking the mound. Out of all the groupings below, the "Not this week" group has the most players, so, yeah, it's not the best week for starting pitchers. Good luck!

Start!

Zack Greinke (LAD) -- Mon-CHC (Arrieta), Sun-SD (Ross)
Anibal Sanchez (DET) -- Mon-OAK (Griffin), Sat-CLE (Kazmir)
Cliff Lee (PHI) -- Mon-@NYM (Wheeler), Sat-@CHC (Rusin)
Justin Verlander (DET) -- Tue-OAK (Milone), Sun-CLE (Salazar)
Hisashi Iwakuma (SEA) -- Tue-TEX (Holland), Sun-@HOU (Bedard)
James Shields (KC) -- Tue-@MIN (Correia), Sun-@TOR (Rogers)
C.J. Wilson (LAA) -- Tue-@TB (Hernandez), Sun-@MIL (Lohse)

Pretty, pretty good

Zack Wheeler (NYM) -- Mon-PHI (Lee), Sat-@WSH (Haren)
Kyle Lohse (MIL) -- Tue-@PIT (Cole), Sun-LAA (Wilson)
Jonathon Niese (NYM) -- Tue-PHI (Kendrick), Sun-@WSH (Ohlendorf)
Gerrit Cole (PIT) -- Tue-MIL (Lohse), Sun-STL (Lyons)
Tyson Ross (SD) -- Mon-@ARI (McCarthy), Sun-@LAD (Greinke)
Alex Wood (ATL) -- Tue-CLE (Salazar), Sun-MIA (Eovaldi)
Jarred Cosart (HOU) -- Mon-@CWS (Rienzo), Sat-SEA (Saunders)
Nate Eovaldi (MIA) -- Tue-@WSH (Ohlendorf), Sun-@ATL (Wood)
Ross Ohlendorf (WSH) -- Tue-MIA (Eovaldi), Sun-NYM (Niese)
Kyle Kendrick (PHI) -- Tue-@NYM (Niese), Sun-@CHC (Arrieta)

Play the matchups

Wei-Yin Chen (BAL) -- Tue-@BOS (Dempster), *Sun-@NYY (Hughes)
Jake Arrieta (CHC) -- Mon-@LAD (Greinke), *Sun-PHI (Kendrick)
A.J. Griffin (OAK) -- Mon-@DET (Sanchez), *Sat-TB (Hellickson)
Juan Nicasio (COL) -- *Mon-SF (Zito), Sun-CIN (Leake)
Danny Salazar (CLE) -- *Tue-@ATL (Wood), Sun-@DET (Verlander)
Ryan Dempster (BOS) -- Tue-BAL (Chen), *Sun-CWS (Rienzo)
Mike Leake (CIN) -- Mon-@STL (Lyons), *Sun-@COL (Nicasio)
Andre Rienzo (CWS) -- *Mon-HOU (Cosart), Sun-@BOS (Dempster)

Not this week

Erik Bedard (HOU) -- Tue-@CWS (Quintana), Sun-SEA (Iwakuma)
Travis Blackley (TEX) -- Mon-@SEA (Saunders), Sun-MIN (Correia)
Kevin Correia (MIN) -- Tue-KC (Shields), Sun-@TEX (Blackley)
Jeremy Guthrie (KC) -- Mon-TB (Hellickson), Sat-@TOR (Buehrle)
Jeremy Hellickson (TB) -- Mon-@KC (Guthrie), Sat-@OAK (Griffin)
Roberto Hernandez (TB) -- Tue-LAA (Wilson), Sun-@OAK (Milone)
Phil Hughes (NYY) -- Mon-@TOR (Rogers), Sun-BAL (Chen)
Brandon McCarthy (ARI) -- Mon-SD (Ross), Sun-SF (Zito)
Tommy Milone (OAK) -- Tue-@DET (Verlander), Sun-TB (Hernandez)
Esmil Rogers (TOR) -- Mon-NYY (Hughes), Sun-KC (Shields)
Joe Saunders (SEA) -- Mon-TEX (Blackley), Sat-@HOU (Cosart)
Barry Zito (SF) -- Mon-@COL (Nicasio), Sun-@ARI (McCarthy)

My picks

Jonathan Niese (32.2% ESPN; 37% Yahoo!)
2013: 5-6, 96 IP, 6.75 K/9, 3.56 BB/9, 4.03 ERA, 1.53 WHIP

Don't let Jonathan Niese's 1.53 WHIP fool you. The New York lefty has been a different pitcher since coming back from a partially torn rotator cuff. In his last two starts combined against the Padres and Braves, Niese allowed just two runs in 13 innings (1.38 ERA) while striking out 18 and walking four. Arguably the Mets most reliable starting pitcher entering the season (my apologies to Matt Harvey), Niese appears fully healthy and matchup worthy down the stretch. Niese gets the Phillies at home and the Nationals on the road in Week 21, and both offense struggle mightily against southpaws -- Philadelphia is batting .229 against lefties while Washington is batting .231.

Tyson Ross (21.5% ESPN; 33% Yahoo!)
2013: 3-6, 85.1 IP, 8.02 K/9, 3.48 BB/9, 2.85 ERA, 1.17 WHIP

Tyson Ross has been a man on fire since cracking the Padres' starting rotation, picking up three wins with a 1.96 ERA and 42 strikeouts in 40 1/3 innings. Over the last 30 days, Ross is the No. 11 starting pitcher on the ESPN Player Rater (as of Saturday morning) -- directly ahead of some dude named Adam Wainwright. Ross faces a pair of NL West offenses (Dodgers, Diamondbacks) on the road in Week 21, but he's been rather stingy away from Petco Park with a 3.06 ERA while holding opposing batters to a .224/.316/.294 slash. Since rejoining San Diego's starting five, Ross has gone six innings or more every time out, including five quality starts in six turns. A solid 22 percent strikeout rate and 53.5 percent ground ball rate should give you enough confidence to start Ross against capable offenses. If he's still available in your league, now is the time to pounce.

Jarred Cosart (4.5% ESPN; 12% Yahoo!)
2013: 1-1, 45 IP, 4.20 K/9, 4.20 BB/9, 1.60 ERA, 1.18 WHIP

Jarred Cosart's season stats include an underwhelming 11.9 percent strikeout rate and 11.9 walk rate, but the Astros' 23-year old right-hander is hot when it matters the most for fantasy owners. Cosart has allowed only eight runs in seven starts this season, including two donuts and a trio of one-run games. He's gone six innings or more in five of six starts, but he's been unlucky with only one win. While he's not going to give you a crooked number in the strikeout column, Cosart could be a sneaky source of wins in Week 21 if his Houston mates help him out at the plate. Cosart faces Rienzo and the White Sox in Chicago on Monday, followed by Joe Saunders and the Mariners in Houston on Saturday. He's been lucky with a .231 BABIP thus far, but I don't see Chicago or Seattle blowing him up this week.

Alex Kantecki also writes for Vigilante Baseball and The Dynasty Guru. You can poke him on Twitter at @rotodealer.

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