#2xSP (4.17-23)

Now we’re off and running with the second week of #2xSP, and after an uneven but mostly good second week, we think we have some pretty good pitchers to give a look to as Week 2 gets underway.

Here’s how we’re doing so far this season (through half of Week 1):

0-1 record
2.93 ERA
8.2 K/9
1.3 K/BB
1.63 WHIP
2 quality starts

Brandon Finnegan (two innings, five walks) kind of blew up our rates, but Jerad Eickhoff and Dylan Bundy managed to give us a stretch of quality starts that only Meat Loaf could appreciate. This week, we have some familiar names who are a bit off the radar for some reason or another. Give ‘em a look.

Here are this week’s recs (with team wRC+ for this season in parentheses):

RHP Lance Lynn – 21.6% ESPN – v. PIT (67), @MIL (86)

The good thing from Lynn is that he’s run his pitch count up and around 100 for each of his first two starts after returning from Tommy John surgery which cost him all of the 2016 season. The bad thing is that he’s only managed 10.1 innings to show for it, with six earned runs (5.23 ERA), an 8-5 K/BB ratio and a WHIP of 1.45. On the positive side, he’s allowed a batting average of just .238 and is pretty much at his career groundball rate (44.1 percent). After allowing three home runs last time out I could see being gunshy about throwing him out there, but I’m taking a shot with a couple of weak inter-divisional offenses coming up on this slate. Sure, there’s a chance each of them turns it around just in time for Lynn to come to town, but I’ll take that gamble. When Lynn is right, he’s good for strikeouts, grounders and most importantly, wins/quality starts.

LHP Eduardo Rodriguez – 31.9% ESPN – @TOR (58), @BAL (109)

I absolutely love Rodriguez, who is coming off a fairly solid start in a no-decision against Pittsburgh on Thursday afternoon: 5.1 innings, eight strikeouts, three earned runs. Here’s something that’s really odd in his early-season work: his groundball rate is a meager 17.4 percent! He’s not much of a groundball guy to begin with — a career rate just over 35 percent — but that is just absurd and something that is begging for regression. Anyway, my Rodriguez obsession came about when I saw his second-half numbers last year: 3.24 ERA, 9.2 K/9 and 1.13 WHIP. That’s over nearly 80 innings too, so it’s not exactly small sample size nonsense. I think the burly lefty is madly talented, and I’m hoping he can continue the terrible slow streak to start the season for the Blue Jays. I guess we’ll see.

RHP Zack Wheeler – 20.5% ESPN – v. PHI (102), v. WAS (128)

This might be a mancrush getting in the way, but I’m a huge Wheeler rube dating back to the days when he was striking out a guy per inning with a walk rate near 55 percent. The grounders are back, the strikeouts are decent and he hasn’t walked too many hitters so far this season, so I think the framework of a really, really good pitcher is still in here even though he hasn’t pitched much since 2014. The velocity looks good (94.3 mph average) and the slider is biting (18.2 percent whiff rate against a career mark of 13 percent), so I’ll take a shot on him with a couple NL East matchups this week.

Some people have also expressed wondering who else was on my radar. This week, the pitcher who ran fourth was Andrew Triggs (4.8 percent ESPN). He’ll get Texas and Seattle at home, and I’m a big fan of his penchant for grounders though his strikeout rates have been slow to transfer from last year.

We hoped you liked reading #2xSP (4.17-23) by Brandon Warne!

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In addition to Rotographs, Warne writes about the Minnesota Twins for The Athletic and is a sportswriter for Sportradar U.S. in downtown Minneapolis. Follow him on Twitter @Brandon_Warne, or feel free to email him to do podcasts or for any old reason at brandon.r.warne@gmail-dot-com

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Moelicious
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Moelicious

Thoughts on Leake (PIT, MIL) and Shelby Miller (SD, LAD)? Leake shutting out the Nats was an eye opener.

feslenraster
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feslenraster

Not Brandon, but I wouldn’t sniff Miller except if you’re desperate-SD matchup for ugly win potential. Leake is doing well early as usual, take a chance for both opponents.

Moelicious
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Moelicious

Thanks. I have used Leake a lot through the years during his two start weeks. I see no reason why he can’t be a 3.75/1.25 guy with good wins/Ks during a two start week. Wheeler’s peripherals are good but the Phillies are hitting and the Nats are scary. Some of Brandon’s colleagues have been very bearish on Lynn while others are excited about Miller’s bump in velocity and strong K:BB this spring. Ultimately, I always get burned in my streaming slot, lol.