These two-start pitchers may be key to closing out fantasy baseball crown

By the end of this week, your league will be crowning its champion.

Assuming you’re still alive and haven’t been focused on fantasy football since June, there’s still more work to be done to make sure you’re the one wearing the championship belt.

Getting the most out of your rotation this week will be key to winning that title. That means making sure two-start pitchers such as Chris Sale, Logan Webb, Walker Buehler and Zack Wheeler are locked and loaded in your lineup. While those are the most reliable names taking the mound twice this week, they’re far from the only ones worth starting.

In 15 starts since July 4, Cleveland’s Cal Quantrill is 7-1 with a 2.12 ERA, 77-30 strikeout-walk rate and a .207 opponents average. During this impressive stretch, he has allowed more than three earned runs in only one start, and 12 of those outings were quality starts. He has allowed five runs (two earned) over his past three starts, going 3-0 with a 0.86 ERA and .181 opponents average.

Among qualified starters in the second half, Quantrill is tied for the fourth-most wins, and ranks 17th in homers per nine innings (0.99), 13th in ground-ball rate (47.9) and third in strand rate (89.1). Oh, he also ranks first in ERA (1.76) — one spot ahead of Max Scherzer (1.78).

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Zach Wheeler

AP

Quantrill’s only downfalls are the fact he has walked 8.3 percent of the batters he has faced in the second half (7.9 percent for the year), and his FIP (4.17), xFIP (4.42) and xERA (4.06) are all well above his 2.82 ERA.

Should any of those negatives be a concern? No, especially not with the teams he is lined up to face.

Quantrill will take the mound Monday, at home, against the Royals, a team that has hit .237 on the road this year. He is 2-0 with a 2.45 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in three appearances (two starts) against K.C in 2021. He is also slated to face the Rangers in the season finale in Arlington. The Rangers entered Friday hitting .230 as a team and averaging almost nine strikeouts per game.

Quantrill, owned in 73 percent of ESPN leagues, is not going to rack up strikeouts or make batters swing and miss a ton, nor will he escape a game without issuing some free passes (he has issued two or more in seven of his past eight games). What he will do is limit damage and give you a chance for a victory and, at this stage of the game, that’s all that’s needed.

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Cal Quantrill

AP

Here’s a look at some other two-start pitchers who can help get your team to the promised land this week:

Seattle’s Chris Flexen, owned in just 56 percent of ESPN leagues, is 2-0 with a 1.42 ERA, 11-4 strikeout-walk rate and .205 opponents average over his past two starts. He has allowed more than three earned runs in one of his past 10 starts, going 4-1 with a 3.12 ERA and 49 strikeouts in that span. His two starts will come against the Athletics and the Angels, a team he is 2-0 against this year with a 2.00 ERA and 0.94 WHIP.

Ian Anderson is 3-0 with a 3.76 ERA and .219 opponents average over his past six starts for Atlanta, and he will make two starts against division foes he has fared well against in his career. He will get one start against the Phillies, whom he has a 3.09 ERA and 24-7 strikeout-walk rate against in four career starts, and the hapless Mets, a team he is 1-1 against with a 3.31 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in three starts this season.

In his first four big league starts, Minnesota’s Joe Ryan is 2-1 with a 2.45 ERA, 0.59 WHIP and .133 opponents average. Ryan, the seventh-most added pitcher this who is still available in almost 80 percent of ESPN leagues, will get a home game against Detroit, a team hitting .241 with the fourth-most strikeouts in the majors, before pitching the season finale against the Royals.

Three other options, albeit a bit more risky, include Colorado’s German Marquez (vs. Nationals, at Diamondbacks), Miami’s Trevor Rogers (at Mets, vs. Phillies) and Houston’s Jose Urquidy (vs. Rays, vs. A’s), who is 4-0 with a 3.29 ERA and .193 opponents average over his past eight starts.

Big Hits

Lane Thomas OF, Nationals

Had at least one hit in 18 of his first 22 games this month, going 26-for-93 (.280) with six homers, 17 RBIs, 22 runs, two steals and a .913 OPS.

Robbie Ray SP, Blue Jays

Before taking the mound Saturday, he was 4-1 with a 2.07 ERA, 96-18 strikeout-walk rate and a .206 opponent average in his past 11 starts.

Tyler O’Neill OF, Cardinals

Despite striking out 63 times in 46 games since Aug. 1, he is 49-for-161 (.304) with 12 homers, 30 RBIs, 36 runs, four stolen bases and a .974 OPS in that span.

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Tyler O’Neill

AP

Alex Cobb SP, Angels

He is 1-0 with a 0.84 ERA and .162 opponents average in his first two starts off the injured list. He is 3-0 with a 1.02 ERA and .205 opponents average over his past six starts.

Big Whiffs

Jonathan Villar 2B/SS/3B, Mets

Entered Friday hitting .174 (8-for-46) with no homers or RBIs, 17 strikeouts and a .398 OPS over his previous 13 games.

Madison Bumgarner SP, Diamondbacks

Allowed 24 earned runs over his past 35 innings while going 0-3 with a 6.17 ERA, nine homers allowed and a .246 opponents average.

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Abraham Toro

Getty Images

Abraham Toro 2B/3B, Mariners

Over his past 12 games entering Friday, the 24-year-old was 4-for-45 (.089) with no homers, two RBIs, eight strikeouts and a .257 OPS.

Taijuan Walker SP, Mets

Since his last victory on July 3, the righty has allowed 53 runs (51 earned) while going 0-8 with a 7.40 ERA, 48-25 strikeout-walk rate, 20 homers allowed and a .267 opponents average.

Check Swings

  • The Cubs’ Frank Schwindel entered Friday night with an 11-game hitting streak — going 19-for-49 (.388) with three homers, seven RBIs, 10 runs, a stolen bases and a 1.117 OPS in that span. He is hitting .365 with 13 homers, 37 RBIs, 33 runs and a 1.086 OPS in x games since Aug. 3.
  • Despite giving up 10 homers over his past six starts, Seattle’s Marco Gonzales is still 4-0 with a 4.25 ERA (bloated because of one start in which he allowed five earned runs), 21-7 strikeout-walk rate and a .224 opponents average. Five of those outings were quality starts.
  • Max Scherzer has allowed five earned runs over his past six starts (all of which came on Thursday against Colorado), going 4-0 with a 1.08 ERA, 54-4 strikeout-walk rate and .139 opponents average. In 10 starts with the Dodgers, he is 7-0 with a 1.43 ERA, 85-8 strikeout-walk rate and a .163 opponents average.
  • Before Friday, Colorado’s Brendan Rodgers had at least one hit in 15 of his first 19 games this month — going 25-for-82 (.305) with five homers, 13 RBIs, 13 runs and a .866 OPS.

Team Name of the Week

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