Fri Sep 6 12:05pm ET
By MIKE BARNER
We’re coming down to the wire for the fantasy baseball season. For those who need a jolt in the pitching department, Week 24 is littered with two-start pitchers who could provide significant returns. Let’s take a look at some of the options that stand out and discuss whether or not they should be locked into lineups for the majority of fantasy leagues.
Zack Greinke, Houston Astros: vs. OAK, at KC
The start of Greinke’s tenure with the Astros hasn’t been all smooth sailing. He’s been roughed up in his last two starts, allowing nine runs over 11 2/3 innings against the Rays and Brewers. However, before that, he had allowed two earned runs or fewer in each of his first four starts with the team. In general, he’s having yet another fantastic fantasy campaign with a 3.41 FIP and a 1.02 WHIP.
His first start of Week 24 comes against an A’s team who he held to one run across seven innings a few weeks ago. His second outing is an extremely favorable matchup against the Royals, who have scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball. No need to overthink this one, keep Greinke locked into your starting lineup if you’re lucky enough to have him on your squad.
Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants: vs. PIT, vs. MIA
The Giants had an opportunity to trade Bumgarner at the deadline for some young assets, but they decided to hold onto him with a Wild Card spot within reach. However, they wheels have come off of late, leaving them with several teams to surpass if they want to make a run. Bumgarner hasn’t exactly been a model of consistency since he’s allowed at least four runs in four of his last eight starts, but he did give up two runs or fewer in each of the other four games during that stretch.
The good news here is that both of his starts this week will be at home, where he has a 3.06 FIP and a 0.92 WHIP. The Pirates struggle mightily against left-handed pitchers, posting the worst wRC+ against them (72) in all of baseball. The Marlins don’t hit lefties or righties well, checking in with the second-fewest runs scored, overall. Start Bumgarner with confidence.
Max Fried, Atlanta Braves: at PHI, at WAS
Fried’s first full season as a starter in the majors has resulted in him winning 15 games already. Not only does he have a 3.86 ERA, but he has a slightly better FIP at 3.51 and he’s allowed just 1.0 HR/9. He’s even stepped up his production in the strikeout department in the second half, recording 62 strikeouts over his last 50 2/3 innings.
With that being said, these are two tough matchups. The Phillies have hit him hard, scoring 10 runs (nine earned) over 11 2/3 innings. Playing the Nationals at Nationals Park will be another difficult task considering they have a 110 wRC+ at home. Putting Fried on your bench might be the prudent decision to make.
Jose Quintana, Chicago Cubs: at SD, vs. PIT
Quintana might not be a sexy fantasy option, but he’s still provided value this season with his 4.00 ERA and 3.82 FIP. He’s only allowed 19 home runs across 157 1/3 innings, which is especially impressive when you consider the current state of baseball. The Cubs are making a push towards the playoffs and have to be thrilled with Quintana’s recent production considering he has a 2.66 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP across his last seven outings.
With Quintana at the top of his game right now, he has the potential to produce significant returns for fantasy managers when you also factor in these two favorable matchups. The Padres’ lineup has taken a step backward with Fernando Tatis Jr. (back) on the IL, averaging 3.2 runs over their last 15 games. With the Pirates’ struggles against left-handed pitchers already detailed, it’s not a surprise that he has limited them to six runs while recording 28 strikeouts over 27 innings this season.
Jordan Lyles, Milwaukee Brewers: at MIA, at STL
If you only look at Lyles’ season stats, he doesn’t seem all that impressive. His 4.46 ERA is backed by an even worse 4.72 FIP and he has a 1.34 WHIP. However, being traded to the Brewers has provided a significant boost to his value. In seven starts with his new squad, he’s only allowed 13 runs (11 earned) over 38 2/3 innings with one of the biggest reasons for his success being his 1.06 WHIP during that stretch.
A start against the Marlins at Marlins Park is about as good of a matchup as it gets. Facing the Cardinals won’t be as easy, but he did hold them to one run while recording nine strikeouts across 5 1/3 innings two starts ago. With that being said, they also crushed him for eight runs (five earned) during his last outing as member of the Pirates. Still, with the Marlins on tap, Lyles is a risk worth taking if you are searching for a streaming option.
Mike Barner has been covering fantasy sports since 2007. His work has appeared in Sports Illustrated, Yahoo, SportsLine and RotoWire. Mike was also a finalist for the 2018 FSWA Basketball Writer of the Year award. Follow Mike on Twitter @rotomikebarner.