Well, baseball fans. Championship week is here for most of us. It’s been a long season, and the dog days of summer are over but the finish line is in sight. If you made it to the big stage I wish you the best of luck, if you didn’t, well… there’s always next year as they say. So with that said let’s move on to the injuries of the week.

Here’s the injury news of the week. Hyun-Jin Ryu was placed on the 10 day IL with neck stiffness. In Yankee news, Jameson Taillon is set to make a rehab appearance this week. Also, Domingo German will make a rehab appearance this week and should be back in the majors soon. And finally! the long-awaited return of Luis Severino, he will be activated from the IL this week. Also, Framber Valdez will return to the Astros rotation on Monday. Chris Bassitt pitched in a simulated game last week and could be back sooner than expected after his horrific incident with a baseball. And lastly, the reigning AL Cy Young winner Shane Bieber made a rehab start last week and we could see him return to pitch a game before the season ends. That’s the news, now let’s go win some championships.

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Welcome to the beginning of the end, baseball fans. Playoffs in fantasy baseball are underway, and this list of two start pitchers might make or break your season. Before we get to the list, we need to take a moment to talk about the Cleveland Indians, soon to be Defenders. This name change is perfect for them because their lineup is actually, quite “offensive”, too hitters everywhere. The Indians were No-Hit yesterday for the 3rd time this season by Corbin Burnes and Josh Hader, striking out 16 times in the game. The “offensive” Defenders broke the MLB record for most times No-Hit in a season. This is a record that will most likely never be broken. Also, just so all you readers are aware, there will be no individual writeups this week. Now that, that is out of the way, lets get to the injury news.

To the news! Gerrit Cole is expected to return to the Yankees Rotation this week, they are hoping for Tuesday but we’ll see. Also, Jameson Taillon hit the 10 day IL with a tendon injury in his right ankle. Sadly, one of my favorite rookies this year Shane McClanahan was placed on the IL with lower back tightness, he pitched through it though. It looks like the Rays are just getting him rested for the playoffs. Adding to the spiraling Covid concerns of the Red Sox, Chris Sale is on the Covid IL. Also, the Astros are hopeful Zack Greinke will return to the mound for them at some point this week. And Lastly, the Cardinals are optimistic Jack Flaherty will be returning in some fashion before the season ends. So if you are in the hunt for a championship and have Flaherty, monitor his return closely. Good Luck!!

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Just when I thought I was out they pull me back in. Here I was thinking the no-hitters were done and over with. And I wasn’t going to have to pick one this week. Alas, that wasn’t the case and the Cubs threw one against the Dodgers. Although it was combined, started by Zach Davies and finished by Craig Kimbrel, the deed was done. So my No-Hitter candidate of the week is Robbie Ray. He has a start at home against the Mariners and I’m still working with the operating theory that all No-Hitters come against them, the Indians, and the Rangers.

Normally I have write-ups with facts, tidbits, and opinions coupled with the pitchers. This week they won’t be there due to a technical error and me losing the entire original post. So just for this week, it will just be rankings with no write-ups. Next week we’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program. Now with the house cleaning out of the way, let’s get to the news.

Some noteworthy news to get to. The Rays’ Tyler Glasnow believes he’ll be back this season which I find hard to believe but time will tell. Also, Mike Soroka re-tore his Achilles Tendon, so expect not to hear anything on him until next year. Also, Dinelson Lamet was pulled from his last start with forearm fatigue. Lastly, there is a top prospect in the Reds organization by the name of Hunter Greene. Greene is skyrocketing through the system and reached AAA last week. He regularly reaches 100 MPH and I wouldn’t be surprised to see him up at some point if his success continues. He could be a league winner for your team so monitor him closely. Now let’s get to the two start pitchers this week!

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Injuries are the story of last week. Two of the best pitchers in the game have gone down. Jacob deGrom is still not throwing due to an inflamed lat muscle, but he’s said to be progressing. It remains to be seen when he’ll start throwing again. What is more concerning is the injury to Zac Gallen. Gallen suffered what they are calling a “minor sprain” to his Ulnar Collateral Ligament. Let us pray he does not need Tommy John. Gallen has said he doesn’t think he’ll need Tommy John surgery, regardless he is shut down from throwing for two weeks and will be re-evaluated after the two weeks. Jose Urquidy also left his start with shoulder inflammation, he is shut down from throwing for now as well.

Returns to the hill are the story of this week. Stephen Strasburg is set to make a rehab start this week. David Price has already thrown a batting practice session and is set to return from the IL at some point this week. Both Astros pitchers Jake Odorizzi and Framber Valdez are set to start their rehab assignments this upcoming week as well. Valdez particularly is of note, he is a really good pitcher and if you have an open IL spot you should roster him immediately. Also of note, Shohei Ohtani was scheduled for a two start week but his first start this week has been pushed back due to general fatigue. Joe Maddon has said this is just precautionary, so there is nothing to worry about there.

At the time of the writing of this, Shane Bieber did not throw a No-Hitter in his first start but he still has a start against Seattle. My weekly No-No pick of the week is…Yu Darvish!!! He’s been so good this year and has juicy matchups, we’ll be talking about him soon. With that said…Let’s go talk about him!!

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I had Dane Dunning listed as a two-start pitcher last week, but I guess that didn’t happen for whatever reason. However, he was the headlining player of that article, and he’s back again for this week! Way back then I wrote: “I’ll give him this — the career 0.5 HR/9 over 449 professional innings will serve him well this week. Also working in his favor is he’s facing the 7th and 9th worst teams in K/rate to right-handed pitchers.” Well, he did allow a HR to the Twins last week, but still only held them to that 1 ER over 7 innings while tying his season-high with 7 K’s. JUST LIKE I TOLD YOU. So what about these Indians? They’re only hitting .230 against righties with a .373 slugging percentage. The ingredients are there for another delicious recipe for success from Dunning. I’m a little less optimistic about his start against the Cubs, although they have been middle of the road against righties with their third-highest K/rate against them. Take the risk if you can afford it. 

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I was a big Spencer Turnbull believer at the beginning of the season — but now I’m not too sure. And unfortunately, he has no one to blame but himself. He’s got the highest BB/9 in the league with a 5.97 mark. Yee-ikes! How bad is that number? Well since 2000 the worst BB/9 was Matt Clement’s 5.49 in 2000. He ended the season with a 5.14 ERA. In fact, you have to go all the way back to 1994 to find someone with a worse BB/9 than Turnbull right now. A young man by the name of Todd Van Poppel of the Oakland Athletics had a 6.87 BB/9. His ERA at the end of that year was 6.09. The Brewers shouldn’t be a tough team — they have the 3rd worst OPS vs righties in the league. However, he faced them his last start and — you guessed it — walked way too many guys (5 in 5 IP) and allowed 5 ERs. He’s never had the best control — but almost 6 per game is unprecedented. In the minors, he hovered around a 3.5 BB/9 mark. Right now he’s at the bottom of his tier and looking down because if you look through some of his previous starts this season when he keeps the walks below 4 he can have some success — but unfortunately, that often isn’t the case. 

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“But wait! The season has already begun!” Razzball nation cries out. 

Yes good people — but many teams didn’t announce their starting rotations until yesterday — and some still haven’t! So there’s going to be a bit of extrapolation on my part trying to predict exactly who is going to be starting, on what day, against which team, with what weapon and in what room. The San Francisco Giants for example have a game in a little over 5 hours as I’m writing this and the scheduled starter is that young, fire-balling, lefty from Korea: TBD. 

If you’ve found Razzball you know what to expect from a weekly two-start pitcher column. Every Saturday morning I’ll highlight the starting pitchers who have two starts in an upcoming week and I’ll rank ‘em and tier ‘em. Tier 1 — you can basically ignore reading this section each week. If you need me to tell you to start Gerrit Cole for both games of his two-start week — you don’t deserve Razzball’s content! But tier 2 through 5 is where your money is made, your bread is buttered and your week is won — well maybe not tier 5. Tier 5 is not for the faint of heart. That’s where your money is lost, your bread is burnt and your week is lost. 

As the season progresses I’ll be able to also recommend/reject certain pitchers based on their match-ups and stadiums. Again — for your top tier pitchers, this won’t matter. But German Marquez against the Dodgers in Coors Field? Maybe leave him on your bench for that match-up. Unfortunately, this early in the season, I can make predictions on who I think will be a tough offense to face — the Marlins are atop the NL East standings so who knows what will happen by week 5? 

One last thing to keep in mind — some teams will be implementing bullpen games. I won’t be including these in the two-start rankings. One or two innings pitched does not really constitute a “start” in my eyes.

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  • Last week of the regular season. Playoff teams may decide to adjust or sit their starters as they lock up their position and start getting ready for the playoffs. Did my best to recognize the 2 starters as best I could here.
  • There’s still some questions about who will start, but the situations I couldn’t nail down were:
    • Baltimore: Dylan Bundy is in line to start, but there’s a chance that Chandler Sheperd gets a chance in that spot instead.
    • Mariners have Marco Gonzales down to pitch both Sunday and Tuesday. It could be Tommy Milone or Justin Dunn if Marco goes Sunday.
    • The Reds could throw Kevin Gausman as an opener or could let Sonny Gray take the spot on Tuesday.
  • Oakland and San Diego are likely running a 6 man rotation.
  • Cincinnati may run a 6 man rotation, but have to monitor that situation.
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No Doubt

Name Team Opp. 1 Opp. 2
Justin Verlander HOU TB @TOR
Walker Buehler LAD @SD @ARI
Aaron Nola PHI @MIA NYM

I met him at 9:30 club in Washington DC
Where you drink a cold beer and it tastes just like a hoppy ale
N O L A Nola

He walked a batter every now and then
But the 3.02 2nd half ERA and 27% K rate had me wanting Nola
N O L A Nola la-la-la-la Nola

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No Doubt

Name Team 1st Opp. 2nd Opp.
Shane Bieber CLE @NYM KC
Clayton Kershaw LAD TOR NYY

For the second straight year, the Topps card company struggled to remember which Bieber plays baseball and which one is a pop star. At least Shane seems to take it all in stride, just look at his uniform from last year.

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No Doubt

Player Team Opp. 1 Opp. 2
Gerrit Cole HOU @CHW @OAK
Clayton Kershaw LAD @MIA @ATL

It wasn’t worth the effort to paste Gerrit Cole’s head on the GIF, but you get it, Cole is about to dive straight into a pile of money as he enters free agency next season.

After getting off to a rough start, Cole keeps cruising with a 1.98 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 36% K rate along with a 6.3% BB rate since his May 27th start. He may be getting a little lucky, but you have bigger concerns than whether he should be in your lineup.

Clayton Kershaw has been great this season as well, and performing even better since July started. 1.66 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, and a 32% K rate. As Mark Twain was famously quoted as saying, “Rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.” The back has held up this season and we’re getting a (potentially last) look at vintage Kershaw down the stretch.

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No Doubt

Player Team Opp. 1 Opp. 2
Lucas Giolito CHW @KC @TB
Luis Castillo CIN @CHC STL
Walker Buehler LAD @PHI MIA
Clayton Kershaw LAD @PHI MIA

Donkey Teeth and I have profiled everyone in this grouping, except Kershaw, at some point or another on the podcast. If you want some detailed profiles, go check out those various episodes. Outside of the first week of the season, this is the toughest week to figure out the 2 start pitchers. There’s a lot of educated guessing in here, and hopefully, it helps your preparation. The table at the bottom may end up being more helpful once more starters are announced Monday and Tuesday. Nothing more here, start these guys.

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