Pitching Primer: Week 20

Sat Aug 13 4:17pm ET
Contributing Writer

We’ve reached the dog days of August in baseball. The added Wild Card spot has helped spice things up for many teams, but there are also plenty of other teams who are already out of it and have an eye towards next season. As we dive into the upcoming Week 20 schedule, let’s discuss what to possibly expect from five projected two-start pitchers.

Joe Ryan, Minnesota Twins: vs. KC, vs. TEX

Ryan’s ERA is all the way up to 3.95, which is a full run higher than where it was less than a month ago. The problem was, he had one start versus the Padres in which he allowed 10 runs over 4 2/3 innings, and another against the Dodgers in which he was tagged for six runs (five earned) across five innings. With that being said, he has allowed two earned runs or fewer in five of his last seven outings.

This could be a great bounce-back spot for Ryan. First up will be the Royals, who traded away two of their better hitters in Whit Merrifield and Andrew Benintendi. He’s already faced them twice this season, giving up one run across 11 2/3 innings. The Rangers are certainly more dangerous, but they have struck out the fifth-most times in baseball, so Ryan could provide some added production in that department during his second outing.

Sean Manaea, San Diego Padres: at MIA, vs. WAS

The Padres need to get Manaea back on track, He’s faltered down the stretch, recording an 8.35 ERA and 1.85 WHIP over his last four starts. If there is a silver lining, it’s that he recorded 22 strikeouts over 18 1/3 innings during that span.

As far as favorable matchups go, it doesn’t get much better than what Manaea is looking at for Week 20. The Marlins have been abysmal, scoring the fourth-fewest runs in baseball. The Nationals have scored the fifth-fewest and they no longer have the services of Juan Soto and Josh Bell. Manaea could provide plenty of value to fantasy managers who have tried to weather his recent issues.

Charlie Morton, Atlanta Braves: vs. NYM, vs. HOU

It’s been an inconsistent season for Morton, who seems to either look lights-out on the mound, or horrible. His last five starts are a perfect example. Two times, he didn’t allow a single run while pitching at least six innings. The other three starts, he gave up exactly five runs each time. He’s already given up 18 home runs over 122 2/3 innings, after being taken deep just 16 times across 185 2/3 innings last season.

With how Morton has pitched, he’s become a matchup-dependent option in fantasy. These two matchups are not good, to say the least. The Mets and Astros rank fifth and seventh in baseball, respectively, in team OPS. Morton’s strikeout upside is tantalizing for a two-start week, but with these two matchups, it might be best to bench him.

Jose Urquidy, Houston Astros: at CWS, at ATL

The Astros don’t generate many two-start pitchers since they deploy a six-man rotation. They won’t have an off day this week, though, setting up Urquidy to take the mound twice. None of his numbers really jump off the page, though, given his 3.85 ERA, 4.50 FIP and 18.9 percent strikeout rate. He’s even allowed a career-high 1.5 HR/9.

This could be a bit of a tricky situation for Urquidy in fantasy. The White Sox are a great matchup, especially with their lineup weakened because of the absence of Tim Anderson (hand). However, the Braves are as tough as they come, scoring the fourth-most runs in baseball. Given his lack of strikeout upside, a case can be made for benching him in 10-team leagues. However, if you play in 12-team or deeper formats, his matchup versus the White Sox alone probably still makes him worth deploying.

Madison Bumgarner, Arizona Diamondbacks: at SF, vs. STL

It’s been a rough stretch for Bumgarner, who has allowed five runs in four of his last five starts. During his last outing in what should have been a great matchup against the Pirates, he gave up five runs over six innings. His WHIP is up to 1.40 for the season, while he only has 88 strikeouts over 122 innings.

If Bumgarner is going to turn this around, he’ll do so in unfavorable conditions in Week 20. The Cardinals have the second-highest OPS in the league against left-handed pitchers, while the Giants have the ninth-highest mark. If we can’t even trust Bumgarner for a start against the Pirates, it’s difficult to make any sort of case to start him for these two matchups.

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.