Pitching Primer: Week 26

Fri Sep 15 9:41am ET
Contributing Writer

It’s going to be difficult to find viable two-start pitchers for Week 26. Between off days and the number of teams moving to six-man rotations, options are few and far between. With that in mind, let’s highlight five pitchers who are scheduled to start twice each and discuss what their matchups could mean for their production.

Freddy Peralta, Milwaukee Brewers: at STL, at MIA

Peralta has not allowed more than three runs in any of his last nine starts. During that span, he has a 0.75 WHIP and has recorded 82 strikeouts over 53.2 innings. He has normally done a good job of keeping hitters off base, posting a 1.12 WHIP for his career. Having already made 28 starts, Peralta is on pace to make at least 30 starts in a season for the first time in his career.

Week 26 brings the opportunity for Peralta to reach that 30-start mark. The Cardinals won’t be an easy matchup, put Peralta has shut down stellar lineups lately, including the Phillies and Rangers. His second start is a great matchup versus the Marlins, who have scored the fourth-fewest runs in baseball. For those who are lucky enough to have Peralta on their roster, sit back and enjoy the ride.

Javier Assad, Chicago Cubs: vs. PIT, vs. COL

Assad did not escape his last outing at Coors Field unscathed. He only lasted 3.1 innings, giving up four runs, five hits and four walks. That broke a streak for him in which he logged at least 5.1 innings and allowed three or fewer runs in six straight starts. His ERA checks in at 3.10, but his 4.49 FIP is a concern and he only has an 18.2 percent strikeout rate. That doesn’t leave him with a ton of upside in fantasy.

Even with his limited strikeout potential, Assad is worth deploying in most formats for his two-start week. The Pirates have the eighth-worst OPS in baseball, which has resulted in them scoring the seventh-fewest runs. He’ll dodge having to face the Rockies at Coors Field, where they have a .773 OPS. On the road, the Rockies have a paltry .651 OPS. 

John Means, Baltimore Orioles: at HOU, at CLE

After having not pitched since April of the 2022 season, Means made his return from the IL against the Cardinals. The threw 75 pitches over five innings, allowing three runs and two home runs. He only had one strikeout, which has been an area of weakness for him during his time in the majors. For his career, he has just a 21.0 percent strikeout rate.

Means has been able to be successful in his career despite his lack of strikeout upside. However, his lack of production in that department doesn’t make him as valuable in fantasy. His second outing against the Guardians is a good matchup, since they have scored the third-fewest runs in baseball. However, his first outing against the Astros has the potential to be a disaster. They are particularly productive against left-handed pitchers, posting a .815 OPS against them. The matchup against the Astros alone makes Means someone to avoid in most leagues.

Cal Quantrill, Cleveland Guardians: at KC, vs. BAL

It’s difficult to find encouraging stats for Quantrill this season. He has made 16 starts, posting a 5.40 ERA and a 4.77 FIP. His 8.0 percent walk rate is on pace to be the highest mark of his career and has contributed to his 1.45 WHIP. Never one to miss a ton of bats, he has been even worse this season with a meager 12.7 percent strikeout rate.

As bad as his overall numbers are, Quantrill has shown signs of turning things around since he came off the IL. He has made three starts since recovering from his shoulder issue, logging 18 innings and giving up just three runs. His first outing of the week could be a great one against the Royals, who have scored the fifth-fewest runs in baseball. The Orioles could be difficult, but Quantrill recently limited a potent Rays lineup to two runs over six innings. For those looking for a streaming option, Quantrill could be worth taking a chance on.

Paul Blackburn, Oakland Athletics: vs. SEA, vs. DET

The young starting pitchers on the Athletics have mostly struggled this season. The veteran Blackburn has put up a respectable campaign, recording a 4.14 ERA and a 3.87 FIP. His WHIP is a bloated 1.54, but he has had some back luck. Opponents are batting .355 against him, despite Blackburn allowing just a 32.2 percent hard-hit rate.

These two starts being in Oakland are noteworthy. Blackburn has a 4.12 FIP and a 1.72 WHIP on the road, but a 3.63 FIP and a 1.35 WHIP at home. The Mariners have some potent hitters within their lineup, but they have also struck out the second-most times in baseball. The Tigers have struck out the eighth-most times, while scoring the second-fewest runs. Blackburn is another viable streaming option for fantasy managers to consider. 

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.

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