Each Friday, MLB.com's fantasy team will devote this space to recommending hurlers set for two-start stanzas during the upcoming week. The picks will be tailored most frequently for standard-league owners in 12-team formats, but the occasional deep-mixed or AL/NL-only pick will be suggested, as well.
And, of course, the suggestions will be limited to the "close calls." No one needs to be told to start Clayton Kershaw during a two-start week. On that note, let's get started.
12-team mixed leagues
Aaron Nola (vs. SD, vs. WAS): Nola certainly deserved a win on Wednesday night as he held the Reds to just one run on four hits with eight strikeouts across seven innings. Unfortunately, the Phillies bullpen was unable to preserve a one-run lead, so Nola had to settle for a no-decision. The 22-year-old righty may find wins tough to come by this year given his place on a rebuilding team, but he has already proven himself to be a "must-start" during all of his two-start weeks.
This edict is especially true for Week 2, as Nola's first opponent -- the Padres -- were shut out in each of their first three games this season.
Wei-Yin Chen (@NYM, vs. ATL): Chen had a tough opening outing against the Tigers, but fantasy owners should not be too concerned. After spending his entire career in hitter-friendly Camden Yards, the southpaw moved this offseason to more pitcher-friendly Marlins Park (and the DH-less National League).
Next week, owners in two-start formats should play Chen for his two outings against the Mets and light-hitting Braves. Like Nola, Chen should be viewed as an automatic start during his two-start weeks.
Anibal Sanchez (vs. PIT, @HOU): Sanchez is coming off a largely disappointing 2015 campaign, but he opened '16 with a solid (albeit less-than-dominant) performance against the Marlins. This Detroit hurler will have a pair of tough Week 2 starts against the Astros and Pirates -- both postseason contenders coming off campaigns in which they finished among the top-5 of their respective leagues in runs. Still, Sanchez -- at least for now -- deserves the benefit of the doubt given his lifetime track record.
Andrew Cashner (@PHI, vs. ARI): Fresh off a '15 campaign in which he posted his highest ERA and WHIP since his rookie effort, Cashner opened '16 by allowing the Dodgers to score five runs in just four innings. But the righty could bounce back next week, when he will open against a Phillies offense that should rank near the bottom in virtually every category. Cashner's second Week 2 start against Arizona should be a bit tougher, but at least that matchup will be at pitcher-friendly Petco Park. Last year, Cashner recorded a solid 3.86 ERA in 14 starts in San Diego.
Aaron Sanchez (vs. NYY, @BOS): It may take a daring owner to start Sanchez next week, given his tough matchups against AL East foes. Still, doing so would not be a crazy move given Sanchez's spring success and dazzling season debut against the Rays. Once a top prospect, Sanchez carries a great deal of upside and could break out before the summer is complete. Don't be surprised if Sanchez remains a Toronto rotation mainstay all year.
Deeper mixed leagues
Kyle Gibson (vs. CWS, vs. LAA): Given his mediocre season debut in Baltimore and lack of strikeouts, Gibson should be viewed as more of a deep-league play next week.
Still, both of his Week 2 outings will come at his pitcher-friendly home park, where he recorded a solid 3.55 ERA across 17 starts last year (4.15 ERA on the road). Should Gibson post a pair of quality starts, he could soon graduate into a dependable 12-team option at home.
Zach Steinhorn is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.