2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Pitching Planner (April 12-18)

by Brandon Morrow
2021 Fantasy Baseball Week Two Pitching Planner (April 12-18)

Welcome to the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Pitching Planner (April 12-18) It was a shaky first week, but now that we have a better idea of rotations and what teams look like, streaming should become easier.

In the 2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Pitching Planner, we have added two-start pitchers and a two-start pitcher of the week.

2021 Fantasy Baseball Week 2 Pitching Planner (April 12-18)

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Start of the Week

Steven Matz at Kansas City (April 15), Toronto Blue Jays (41% Owned) 

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Steven Matz was outstanding in his first start for the Blue Jays. He went 6.1 innings, with nine strikeouts, one walk, and two hits allowed. While this was surprising, it aligned with what he had done in spring training (15.1 IP, 15 k’s, 1.76 ERA). 

With Matz, the stuff has always been there. A lefty with a 95 mph sinker paired with a devastating changeup and a usable curveball is a recipe for success. The problem has been his control and consistency, which has been trending in the right direction since joining the Jays. 

The Royals got off to a hot start against Texas, but have scored three or fewer runs in their past three games. I expect Matz to keep his hot streak going against this sneaky, but below-average offense. 

Pitchers To Target

Dane Dunning vs. Baltimore (April 17), Texas Rangers (12% Owned)

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After being acquired in the Lance Lynn deal, Dunning dazzled in his first start with the Rangers. He went five innings, with six strikeouts and one run allowed on a Bo Bichette home run. Although he only went five innings, he could’ve gone much longer as his pitch count was only at 70. I expect the Rangers to let him go deeper into games with each passing start, and with this being his third scheduled start he should be good to go.

Dunning pitched 34 innings with the White Sox last season and he found success. He had a respectable 3.97 ERA and 3.99 FIP, suggesting it was not a fluke. Dunning being 26 makes him a less exciting pitching prospect, and it is why he is only owned in 12% of leagues. After a few more starts I expect his roster percentage to increase dramatically. This is not a player to grab for just one start, but I would avoid using him against top competition. 

Despite their 4-2 start, the Orioles are a weak team. I expect Dunning to be able to take advantage of this plus matchup and deliver a strong performance. 

Jose De Leon vs. Cleveland (April 17), Cincinnati Reds (2% Owned)

This Indians lineup is very weak, as currently they are ranked 22nd in runs per game. Their lineup consists of basically three batters, Jose Ramirez, Eddie Rosario, and Franmil Reyes. Ramirez is an MVP candidate, but when pitchers know they can pitch around him it almost takes him out of the lineup as well. 

De Leon was great in his first start of the season, as he struck out nine over five innings while allowing only two runs. This was against the terrible Pirates, but the Indians lineup really isn’t that much better. 

This is more to do with the Indians lineup than De Leon, but he does have some good stuff. He is worth a stash in fantasy leagues and definitely worth a start against this Cleveland lineup. 

Drew Smyly at Chicago (April 16) Atlanta Braves (43% Owned)

Smyly was great in his first start of the season, as he registered eight strikeouts in six innings while only allowing two earned runs. He showed why he was regarded as a sleeper coming into the year, and he did it against a very formidable lineup in the Nationals.

Eight strikeouts in his first start after a 14.35 k/9 2020 is very encouraging, even if his 2020 only consisted of 26 innings. It seems evident that Smyly has found something, and I suggest grabbing him and holding him to see how long it can last.

The Cubs have a solid lineup, but nothing to be scared of. As of April 8th, they are 30th in hits per game and 25th in runs per game. I expect them to improve but I wouldn’t be shocked if they are a below-average lineup all season long. 

Wade Miley at San Francisco (April 12), Cincinnati Reds (3% Owned)

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While it was only against the Pirates, Miley was spectacular in his first start of the year. He cruised through six innings of shutout baseball, only throwing 78 pitches. Miley was actually a very solid pitcher in 2018 and 2019, and I think he can be useful this season.

He gave up a ton of weak contact against the Pirates, as he is in the 99th percentile in average exit velocity against. It is obviously extremely early but it shows that he gave up almost no hard-hit balls in this game. 

The Giants employ a ton of low-power hitters, and this works to Miley’s strength. He should be able to somewhat replicate his performance against this lineup, and I’d feel pretty confident starting him in this spot. 

Pitchers To Avoid

Kevin Gausman vs. Cincinnati (April 13), San Francisco Giants (95% Owned)

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Gausman has impressed early this season and looks like he’s going to be a stud. My problem is with how hot the Reds are, as they are currently first or second in every offensive category. 

Playing in San Francisco rather than Cincinnati helps Gausman, but the Reds are so hot I don’t think it will matter. They are currently averaging 9.5 runs per game, and while it should slow down a bit, I’ll be avoiding them for now. 

The Reds crushed the Pirates, but they also hung six earned runs on Wainwright in only 2.2 innings. It’s possible that Gausman has success here, but it could also crush your ERA for a week. It’s an avoid for me. 

Yu Darvish vs. Los Angeles Dodgers (April 17), San Diego Padres (99% Owned)

Darvish hasn’t been great in his first two starts with the Padres. He owns a 4.22 ERA in 10.2 innings pitched against the Diamondbacks and Giants. Most of that damage came on Opening Day, but he wasn’t dominant in his second start either, only recording 11 whiffs on his pitches. 

The Dodgers are the best team in baseball, and I would consider benching any pitcher outside of DeGrom and Cole against them. With Darvish getting off to a bit of a sluggish start, I wouldn’t want to put him out there against the Dodgers in this spot.

Benching your ace can always come back to bite you, but bold moves like this can also help you immensely. Let Darvish dominate the Pirates on Monday and then sit him on the 17th. 

Triston McKenzie at Chicago White Sox (April 13), Cleveland Indians (73% Owned)

Triston McKenzie came in relief against the Royals on the 5th and went 3.2 innings allowing only one run and five strikeouts. This was a solid start to the season, but he did walk four batters and it was only against the Royals. 

He won’t be able to get away with walking a batter an inning against the White Sox, as they have one of the stronger lineups in baseball. To me, McKenzie is a streamer at best, and somebody I am going to avoid using against any upper echelon lineups.

I’m not a huge fan of McKenzie because of his frame, as he stands at 6’5” 165 lbs. This doesn’t scream durable to me, and I doubt he’s ever going to be a guy who goes deep into games. He is an easy avoid for me in this spot. 

Zach Davies vs. Atlanta Braves (April 16), Chicago Cubs (73% Owned) 

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The Braves have had horrible BABIP luck, as they have the lowest BABIP at the plate and their pitchers have the highest BABIP against them. They are due for some good luck, and they are far too talented to not get hot soon. Davies is a pitch to contact pitcher, and the Braves will take advantage of that here. 

Davies is very solid, I just believe that this is the wrong place, wrong time. The Braves will correct their BABIP luck this week, and while strikeout pitchers can avoid it, Davies won’t be able to.

Avoid Davies in this spot, as best case scenario is probably five-six innings with a few strikeouts. 

Bullpen Updates 

Merryweather seems to have grabbed a hold of the 9th inning in Toronto, but Jordan Romano is still used against the heart of the other team's order. He could still get some save chances if the heart of the opposing team's order is due up in the 9th.

Melancon is the guy in San Diego, and Pagan has impressed early. If Melancon begins to falter, be quick to scoop up Pagan. 

Ian Kennedy has emerged as the guy in Texas and should be rostered in every league that counts saves. 

Two Start Pitchers Of Note

Shane Bieber (@CWS, @CIN)  Aaron Nola (@NYM, STL) Gerrit Cole (@TOR, TB) Kenta Maeda (BOS, @LAA)

Blake Snell (@PIT, LAD) Lucas Giolito (CLE, @BOS)  Zack Greinke (DET, @SEA) Yu Darvish (@PIT, LAD)

Tyler Glasnow (TEX, @NYY) Hyun-Jin Ryu (NYY, @KC) Clayton Kershaw (COL, @SD)  

Max Fried (MIA, @CHC) Stephen Strasburg (@STL, ARI)  Dallas Keuchel (CLE, @BOS)

Cristian Javier (DET, @SEA) Pablo Lopez (@ATL, SF) John Means (SEA, @TEX) 

Chris Bassitt (@ARI, DET) Freddy Peralta (CHC, PIT) Nathan Eovaldi (@MIN, CHW)

Ryan Yarbrough (TEX, @NYY) Taijuan Walker (PHI, @COL) Matt Boyd (@HOU, @OAK) 

Casey Mize (@HOU, @OAK) Dane Dunning (@TB, BAL) Wade Miley (@SF, CLE) 

Adbert Alzolay (@MIL, ATL)

Favorite Two Start Pitcher

Cristian Javier (DET, @SEA) Houston Astros, (63% Owned)

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Javier has pitched to a 2.08 ERA in his first two starts, collecting one win and 11 K’s in 8.2 innings. He was great last year and very underrated. I advise picking him up if he is available now because he probably won’t be after these starts. 

Check out the rest of our 2021 Fantasy Baseball content from our great team of writers.

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