For owners in weekly leagues, two-start pitchers are a key to maximizing wins and strikeouts. And oftentimes -- perhaps more often than you'd think -- they can be found on waivers or even your bench.
Let's take a look at the top two-start options heading into Week 11 of the fantasy baseball season.
Carsten Sabathia | Yankees | at Angels and at Athletics
Since allowing five earned runs in six innings in a start against the Reds on May 9, Sabathia has given up a combined four earned runs over his past five starts, spanning 32 1/3 innings. This dominant one-month stretch has lowered his ERA by more than two runs, from 5.77 to 3.66. The veteran southpaw was particularly impressive on Wednesday, blanking the Red Sox across eight innings.
Though it has taken some time for Sabathia to transition from being a hurler who relies heavily on a mid-90s heater to a successful crafty pitcher who tries to keep hitters off balance, the transformation appears to be complete. The 36-year-old is officially back on the mixed league radar, and he makes for a strong two-start option for next week. The Angels and A's rank among the bottom three teams in the AL in both runs scored and batting average, and Sabathia tossed 6 1/3 innings of two-run ball while striking out nine in an outing against Oakland on May 27.
Jimmy Nelson | Brewers | at Cardinals and vs. Padres
Very quietly, Nelson is enjoying a career-best season, sporting a 3.45 ERA, a 1.27 WHIP and better than a strikeout per inning through 12 starts. The Brewers righty heads into next week having notched five quality starts in his past six tries, and he should be started in the vast majority of league formats. The Cardinals and Padres rank in the bottom third of the Majors in both runs scored and OPS.
Kyle Freeland | Rockies | at Pirates and vs. Giants
The strong performance of the Rockies' pitching staff, which ranks in the top half of the NL in ERA, WHIP and strikeouts, has been one of this season's biggest surprises. Freeland, a rookie lefty, has played a major role in Colorado's pitching success. The 24-year-old should not be relied upon to post gaudy strikeout totals, but he has registered a quality start in nine of his 12 outings. Expect two more quality starts next week, as the Pirates and Giants both rank in the bottom third of the Majors in runs, batting average and OPS.
Mike Foltynewicz | Braves | at Nationals and vs. Marlins
Over his past two starts, Foltynewicz has strung together a combined 14 scoreless innings, and he's allowed three runs or fewer in five of his past six starts. The Braves righty will face a pair of divisional foes next week, and recent results are certainly in his favor. In two combined starts vs. the Nationals and Marlins this season, Foltynewicz boasts a 3.00 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. The fact that the Nationals rank first in the NL in runs scored, batting average and OPS adds some risk to starting Foltynewicz, but the risk is worth taking, especially in deeper mixed formats.
Zack Wheeler | Mets | vs. Cubs and vs. Nationals
Fresh off a stellar performance on Wednesday on the road vs. a potent Rangers offense (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER) that lowered his season ERA to a solid 3.45, Wheeler deserves serious starting consideration for next week in all league formats. The Mets righty will open the week by facing a Cubs offense that has disappointed so far this season, especially on the road, where they rank in the bottom third of the Majors in runs, batting average and OPS. The matchup against a high-powered Nationals lineup will be challenging, but Wheeler has pitched fairly well against Washington this season, registering a 3.86 ERA and a 1.29 WHIP across two starts.