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Two-Start Pitchers: Week 23 (Sept. 14-20)

Ranking and tiering the two-start pitchers in Week 23, including Kevin Gausman, Erasmo Ramirez and Kris Medlen.

Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

My results so far

40-42 (118 starts, 64 quality starts)
4.31 ERA
1.31 WHIP
6.53 K/9
2.58 BB/9

Start!

Clayton Kershaw: Mon-COL (Gray), Sun-PIT (Cole)
Gerrit Cole: Tue-CHC, Gm. 1 (Lester), Sun-@LAD (Kershaw)
Cole Hamels: Mon-HOU (Kazmir), Sat-SEA (Paxton)
Jon Lester: Tue-@PIT, Gm. 1 (Cole), Sun-STL (Martinez)
Stephen Strasburg: Tue-@PHI (Buchanan), Sun-MIA (Koehler)
Sonny Gray: Mon-@CWS (Rodon), Sat-@HOU (Kazmir)

Tier 1

Danny Salazar: Tue-KC (Medlen), Sun-CWS (Samardzija)
Carlos Martinez: Tue-@MIL (Pena), Sun-@CHC (Lester)
Garrett Richards: Mon-@SEA (Nuno), Sat-@MIN (Pelfrey)
Jake Odorizzi: Tue-NYY (Sabathia), Sun-BAL (Jimenez)
Scott Kazmir: Mon-@TEX (Hamels), Sat-OAK (Gray)
Jordan Zimmermann: Mon-@PHI (Nola), Sat-MIA (Nicolino)
Collin McHugh: Tue-@TEX (Perez), Sun-OAK (Brooks)

Tier 2

Josh Tomlin: Mon-KC (Volquez), Sat-CWS (Rodon)
Kevin Gausman: Mon-BOS (Rodriguez), Sat-@TB (Ramirez)
Julio Teheran: Tue-TOR (Buehrle), Sun-PHI (Harang)
Erasmo Ramirez :Mon-NYY (Warren), Sat-BAL (Gausman)
James Shields: Mon-@ARI (Anderson), Sun-@COL (Kendrick)
Carlos Rodon: Mon-OAK (Gray), Sat-@CLE (Tomlin)
Kris Medlen: Tue-@CLE (Salazar), Sun-@DET (Lobstein)

Tier 3

Edinson Volquez: Mon-@CLE (Tomlin), Sat-@DET (Boyd)
Jeff Samardzija: Tue-OAK (Brooks), Sun-@CLE (Salazar)
Ubaldo Jimenez: Tue-BOS (Owens), Sun-@TB (Odorizzi)
Tom Koehler: Tue-@NYM (deGrom), Sun-@WSH (Strasburg)
Tyler Duffey: Tue-DET (Simon), Sun-LAA (TBD)
Tim Hudson: Mon-CIN (Sampson), Sun-ARI (Corbin)
Martin Perez: Tue-HOU (McHugh), Sun-SEA (Walker)

Not this week

Aaron Brooks: Tue-@CWS (Samardzija), Sun-@HOU (McHugh)
Kyle Lobstein: Mon-@MIN (Pelfrey), Sun-KC (Medlen)
Justin Nicolino: Mon-@NYM (Verrett), Sat-@WSH (Zimmermann)
Mike Pelfrey: Mon-DET (Lobstein), Sat-LAA (Richards)
Ariel Pena: Tue-STL (Martinez), Sun-CIN (Sampson)
Keyvius Sampson: Mon-@SF (Hudson), Sun-@MIL (Pena)

My Week 23 Picks

Kevin Gausman (BOS, @TB)
2015: 2-6, 4.43 ERA, 3.57 K/BB, 1.26 WHIP

It took until the third week of September, but Gausman might pay off for those savvy but bitter owners who stashed the 24-year-old right-hander hoping for a breakout. Gausman has only made 13 starts this season, also tossing 12 innings in in the pen, but he’s posted a sub-4 ERA in his past nine starts, including five quality. So far, Gausman owns a 4.43 ERA (4.45 FIP, 4.02 xFIP) and a solid 3.57 K/BB ratio in 87 1/3 innings, but he’s allowed far too many home runs (15), including a pair of long balls in three out of his past five turns. The Red Sox and Rays rank in the middle of the pack in big flies, but Tampa Bay is just 28th against RHP in terms of slugging. Gausman’s second start against the Rays will make or break his Week 23 slate, as Boston has scored the third most runs since the All-Star break.

Erasmo Ramirez (NYY, BAL)
2015: 10-5, 3.96 ERA, 2.44 K/BB, 1.16 WHIP

Ramirez has been good, not spectacular, posting a 3.96 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a 107/37 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings. He’s never thrown more than 75 1/3 innings (2014) in a season and he appears to have hit a wall without a quality start in his last three turns, but I’m going to trust the overall body of work from the 25-year-old righty in two favorable matchups. Specifically, I’m looking at Ramirez’s numbers at home where he owns a 2.71 ERA and 1.02 WHIP in 10 starts spanning 63 innings (compared to a 5.03 ERA on the road in 73 1/3 innings), while holding opponents to a .212/.279/.342 slash line. If Ramirez can hold serve against the Yankees, he has the opportunity to finish the week with a flourish against the Orioles, who have the 24th worst OPS (.717) in baseball in the second half.

Kris Medlen (@CLE, @DET)
2015: 3-1, 4.58 ERA, 3.00 K/BB, 1.15 WHIP

Medlen has had one stinker in four turns since returning from his second Tommy John surgery (11 hits, 7 runs against the White Sox on Sept. 4), but I have a soft spot for the Kansas City righty after he carried my fantasy staff to (almost) fantasy glory in 2012 with a second-half ERA of 0.94 over 95 1/3 innings (!). I’m not just living in the past, however, as Medlen has returned throwing faster than ever (91.2 mph, according to FanGraphs.com). The Cleveland start is the trickier of the two, but the Tigers are a team you can pick on right now. Use Medlen in deeper mixed leagues, but exercise caution.

Stats from FanGraphs.com