Two-Start Pitchers: Week 3 (April 14-20)

Jason O. Watson

Ranking and tiering the two-start pitchers for Week 3, including Jesse Chavez, Juan Nicasio and Brandon Morrow.

The first two weeks of the season have allowed me to recommend two-starters with ownerships in the 20 percent range (my ideal goal in this exercise), but Week 3's slate isn't as kind. With fewer options to my liking, all of my streaming suggestions below are currently owned in less than five percent of ESPN leagues. This might be a week to exercise caution when streaming. Good luck!

Here are my results through Week 1:

3-2 (Win-Loss)
7.34 K/9
1.19 BB/9
3.18 ERA
0.86 WHIP

*Two-start pitchers are subject to change.

Start!

Cliff Lee: Tue-ATL (Hale), Sun-@COL (Nicasio)
Stephen Strasburg: Tue-@MIA (Koehler), Sun-STL (Miller)
Masahiro Tanaka: Tue-CHC (Hammel), Sun-@TB (Odorizzi)
Anibal Sanchez: Tue-CLE (McAllister), Sun-LAA (Santiago)
Jordan Zimmermann: Mon-@MIA (Turner), Sat-STL (Lynn)
Gerrit Cole: Tue-@CIN (Leake), Sun-MIL (Estrada)
Homer Bailey: Mon-PIT (Rodriguez), Sun-@CHC (Jackson)
Shelby Miller: Tue-@MIL (Estrada), Sun-@WAS (Strasburg)

First Tier

Chris Archer: Mon-@BAL (Chen), Sat-NYY (Nova)
Yordano Ventura: Tue-@HOU (Harrell), Sun-MIN (Hughes)
Marco Estrada: Tue-STL (Miller), Sun-@PIT (Cole)
Ervin Santana: Mon-@PHI (Hernandez), @NYM (Colon)
Matt Garza: Mon-STL (Lynn), Sat-@PIT (Rodriguez)
Jake Peavy: Tue-@CHW (Johnson), Sun-BAL (Chen)
Lance Lynn: Mon-@MIL (Garza), Sat-@WSH (Zimmermann)

Second Tier

Zack Wheeler: Mon-@ARI (Arroyo), Sun-ATL (Hale)
Jesse Chavez: Mon-@LAA (Santiago), Sun-HOU (Harrell)
Juan Nicasio: Tue-@SD (Stults), Sun-PHI (Lee)
Brandon Morrow: Tue-@MIN (Hughes), Sun-@CLE (McAllister)
Robbie Erlin: Mon-COL (Morales), Sat-SF (Hudson)
Zach McAllister: Tue-@DET (Sanchez), Sun-TOR (Morrow)

Third Tier

Jake Odorizzi: Tue-@BAL (Gonzalez), Sun-NYY (Tanaka)
Bronson Arroyo: Mon-NYM (Wheeler), Sun-@LAD (Beckett)
Tim Lincecum: Tue-LAD (Beckett), Sun-@SD (Stults)
Josh Beckett: Tue-@SF (Lincecum), Sun-ARI (Arroyo)
David Hale: Tue-@PHI (Lee), Sun-@NYM (Wheeler)
Hector Santiago: Mon-OAK (Chavez), Sun-@DET (Sanchez)
Wei-Yin Chen: Mon-TB (Archer), Sun-@BOS (Peavy)

Not This Week

Roenis Elias: Mon-@TEX (Ross), Sat-@MIA (Alvarez)
Lucas Harrell: Tue-KC (Ventura), Sun-@OAK (Chavez)
Roberto Hernandez: Mon-ATL (Santana), Sat-@COL (Morales)
Phil Hughes: Tue-TOR (Morrow), Sun-@KC (Ventura)
Erik Johnson: Tue-BOS (Peavy), Sun-@TEX (Lewis)
Colby Lewis: Tue-SEA (TBA), Sun-CHW (Johnson)
Franklin Morales: Mon-@SD (Erlin), Sat-PHI (Hernandez)
Wandy Rodriguez: Mon-@CIN (Bailey), Sat-MIL (Garza)
Robbie Ross: Mon-SEA (Elias), Sat-CHW (Quintana)
Eric Stults: Tue-COL (Nicasio), Sun-SF (Lincecum)

My Week 3 Picks

Jesse Chavez (@LAA, HOU)
2014: 0-0, 9.00 K/9, 1.38 BB/9, 55.6 GB%, 1.38 ERA, 1.00 WHIP

Chavez dominated Minnesota in his previous outing, tossing six innings of one-run ball with nine strikeouts and no walks. It would have been Chavez's first win of the young season, but defunct closer Jim Johnson had other plans. It was the Twins, mind you, but the 30-year-old right-hander has at times looked unhittable through two turns in Oakland's rotation, recording a 13-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 13 innings and an elite 55.6 percent ground-ball percentage. While his career pitching slash of 5.27/4.56/4.20 paints a different picture, take advantage of Chavez's hot start and a pair of favorable matchups in Week 3. The Astros lead the majors with a 26.4 percent strikeout rate.

Juan Nicasio (@SD, PHI)
2014: 1-0, 9.00 K/9, 2.25 BB/9, 52.9 GB%, 3.75 ERA, 1.25 WHIP

I had high hopes for Nicasio last year, but inconsistencies and injuries led to an underwhelming campaign, including a 9-9 record and 5.14 ERA. There's always added risk whenever you start a pitcher in Coors, but Nicasio is one Rockies' starter I can't quit. The 27-year-old owns a career pitching slash of 4.87/4.01/3.99, but he did post a respectable 2.2 fWAR in 157 2/3 innings a year ago -- his previous high was 1.4 fWAR in 71 2/3 innings (2011). In five career starts against the Padres, Nicasio is 2-0 with a 2.87 ERA and a 38-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 31 1/3 innings. The Phillies, meanwhile, are middle-of-the-pack in home runs.

Brandon Morrow (@MIN, @CLE)
2014: 1-1, 10.64 K/9, 1.64 BB/9, 61.3 GB%, 5.73 ERA, 1.27 WHIP

I bought multiple shares of Morrow last season, only to see the 29-year-old go 2-3 in 10 starts with a 5.63 ERA. I don't own him anywhere this year, but don't think I haven't noticed his 13-to-2 strikeout to walk ratio in 11 innings, as well as his 12.1 percent swinging strike rate. His velocity is up (94.5 mph), and so far his command has been fantastic. I wouldn't bet on sustained success, but you have to like his chances of bringing home one win with a matchup against Minnesota's Phil Hughes. Give him a chance and hope for the best.

Going Deeper

Robbie Erlin (COL, SF)
2014: 1-0, 9.45 K/9, 0.00 BB/9, 29.4 GB%, 1.35 ERA, 0.60 WHIP

A strong spring earned Erlin a temporary place in the Padres' starting five after Josh Johnson (forearm) landed on the disabled list; the 23-year-old is expected to stay there for five weeks while Johnson recovers. Erlin pitched Game 2 of last week's double header against the Indians at Progressive Field, notching the win and quality start for the Friars, allowing one run in six frames with six strikeouts and no free passes. The southpaw has regularly posted strikeout rates north of 10 strikeouts per nine in the minors, but he hasn't enjoyed the same success against big-league bats (career K/9 of 6.90). Erlin is a fly-ball pitcher, which makes his first two starts of the year in spacious Petco Park manageable.

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