Two-Start Pitchers: Week 8 (May 19-25)

Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking and tiering the two-start pitchers for Week 8, including Josh Beckett, Dallas Keuchel and Jason Vargas.

Like most of the fantasy baseball industry, I recommended left-hander Tyler Lyons in last week's two-starter column, with appealing matchups against the light-hitting Cubs and strikeout-prone Braves. Lyons was a disaster against Chicago, allowing nine runs and nine hits over four innings. The news got worse from there, as the Cardinals placed their fill-in arm on the 15-day DL with shoulder soreness. My other two-starters helped dull the pain, as Tim Lincecum dominated the Braves -- striking out 11 batters in a win -- and Mike Leake continued to provide quality innings, giving up three runs and striking out nine in 15 innings.

Results (through Week 7)

17-10 (50 starts)
7.13 K/9
2.20 BB/9
3.23 ERA
1.06 WHIP

Start!

Masahiro Tanaka: Tue-@CHC (Arrieta), Sun-@CWS (Rienzo)
Stephen Strasburg: Mon-CIN (Cingrani), Sat-@PIT (Cole)
Madison Bumgarner: Tue-@COL (Morales), Sun-MIN (Nolasco)
Adam Wainwright: Tue-ARI (McCarthy), Sun-@CIN (Cingrani)
Justin Verlander: Tue-@CLE (Salazar), Sun-TEX (Lewis)

First Tier

Francisco Liriano: Tue-BAL (Gonzalez), Sun-WSH (Fister)
Hisashi Iwakuma: Tue-@TEX (Lewis), Sun-HOU (Feldman)
Julio Teheran: Tue-MIL (Gallardo), Sun-COL (Morales)
Garrett Richards: Mon-HOU (Keuchel), Sun-KC (Vargas)
Drew Smyly: Mon-@CLE (Kluber), Sat-TEX (Martinez)
Corey Kluber: Mon-DET (Smyly), Sat-@BAL (Jimenez)
Mike Minor: Mon-MIL (Peralta), Sat-COL (Nicasio)
A.J. Burnett: Tue-@MIA (DeSclafani), Sun-LAD (Beckett)
Doug Fister: Tue-CIN (Cueto), Sun-@PIT (Liriano)

Second Tier

Wily Peralta: Mon-@ATL (Minor), Sat-@MIA (Turner)
Yovani Gallardo: Tue-@ATL (Teheran), Sun-@MIA (DeSclafani)
Josh Beckett: Tue-@NYM (Montero), Sun-@PHI (Burnett)
Ian Kennedy: Tue-MIN (Correia), Sun-CHC (Arrieta)
Dallas Keuchel: Mon-@LAA (Richards), Sat-@SEA (Hernandez)
Tony Cingrani: Mon-@WSH (Strasburg), Sun-STL (Wainwright)
Jason Vargas: Mon-CWS (Carroll), Sun-@LAA (Richards)

Third Tier

Jake Odorizzi: Tue-OAK (Pomeranz), Sun-BOS (Doubront)
Rafael Montero: Tue-LAD (Beckett), Sun-ARI (McCarthy)
Miguel Gonzalez: Tue-@PIT (Liriano), Sun-CLE (Salazar)
Scott Feldman: Tue-@LAA (Skaggs), Sun-@SEA (Iwakuma)
Brandon McCarthy: Tue-@STL (Wainwright), Sun-@NYM (Montero)
Felix Doubront: Tue-TOR (Happ), Sun-@TB (Odorizzi)
Drew Pomeranz: Tue-@TB (Odorizzi), Sun-@TOR (Happ)
Jake Arrieta: Tue-NYY (Tanaka), Sun-@SD (Kennedy)

Not this week

Scott Carroll: Mon-@KC (Vargas), Sat-NYY (Nuno)
Anthony DeSclafani: Tue-PHI (Burnett), Sun-MIL (Gallardo)
J.A. Happ: Tue-@BOS (Doubront), Sun-OAK (Pomeranz)
Colby Lewis: Tue-SEA (Iwakuma), Sun-@DET (Verlander)
Franklin Morales: Tue-SF (Bumgarner), Sun-@ATL (Teheran)
Andre Rienzo: Tue-@KC (Ventura), Sun-NYY (Tanaka)

My Week 8 Picks

Josh Beckett, Dodgers
2014: 1-1, 41.2 IP, 8.64 K/9, 3.24 BB/9, 46.3 GB%, 2.38 ERA, 1.06 WHIP

Beckett earned his first win since the 2012 season last week, pitching a shutout and striking out six Marlins in 6 1/3 innings. The 34-year-old has gone six-plus innings in four straight starts, allowing seven runs over his last 27 2/3 innings (2.28 ERA), with 24 strikeouts and seven walks. I don't expect Beckett to continue a sub-3.00 ERA the rest of the way, but his Week 8 matchups (at Mets, at Phillies) should bring his owners two more quality starts. Entering play on Saturday, the Mets and Phillies ranked 26th and 29th, respectively, in terms of wOBA against right-handers. Philadelphia has scored the third-fewest runs (37) in May and are hitting just .224 as a team in 13 games. Ride Beckett's hot start through the weekend, and then sell high. He's still available in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros
2014: 4-2, 7.98 K/9, 1.87 BB/9, 65.1 GB%, 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP

Ray touched on Keuchel in Wednesday's Roto Roundup, telling you to buy the left-hander's services. The 26-year-old tossed his first complete-game shutout last week against the Rangers, holding Texas to seven hits and no walks while striking out seven. That makes six quality starts in his last seven turns, in which Keuchel has allowed 14 earned runs in 48 innings (2.62 ERA) with 42 strikeouts and nine walks. Keuchel remains a free man in over 90 percent of ESPN leagues, but that should change very soon. Houston's southpaw appears to be legit, with a 3.04 FIP and 2.82 xFIP. He's also inducing a 65.1 percent groundball rate, which is first among starters. The matchup against the Angels will be a tough test, but -- entering Saturday -- the Mariners have a team batting average of .234 against lefties.  Keep starting Keuchel, Astros be damned.

Jason Vargas, Royals
2014: 4-1, 60 IP, 6.00 K/9, 1.65 BB/9, 41.2 GB%, 3.00 ERA, 1.12 WHIP

Vargas is proving to be a very clever free-agent signing by general manager Dayton Moore. The veteran left-hander has been a workhorse for the Royals after throwing his fewest innings (150) as a starter last year with the Mariners. Vargas is often the forgotten man after James Shields -- and more recently Yordano Ventura -- but he's second on the team in wins and innings. After taking consecutive beatings at the hands of the Blue Jays and Tigers, Vargas has won two games in a row against the Mariners and Rockies, seeing his strikeouts go up in the process (14 strikeouts in 13 2/3 innings). That's not his game, but the White Sox, his Monday opponent, have a 23.3 percent strikeout rate against left-handers (seventh highest in baseball). Vargas has owned his second opponent, the Angels, and is 9-3 with a 2.93 ERA at Angel Stadium.

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