For owners in weekly leagues, two-start pitchers are a key to maximizing wins and strikeouts. And oftentimes -- perhaps more often than you'd think -- they can be found on waivers or even your bench.
Each Friday throughout the season, the MLB.com fantasy crew will recommend certain hurlers who are in line to make two starts during the upcoming week. The picks will be tailored most frequently for standard-league owners in 12-team formats, but the occasional deep-mixed pick will be suggested, as well.
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.
Jerad Eickhoff (vs. NYM, @WSH)
Eickhoff, who is coming off a stellar first full season in the big leagues, pitched well in his 2017 debut, limiting the Reds to two runs on five hits and one walk with six strikeouts over 6 2/3 innings. One of the key pieces acquired by the Phillies in the Cole Hamels trade, the 26-year-old righty could take a significant step forward this season if he can do a better job of keeping the ball in the park (30 homers allowed in 2016). Looking ahead to next week's matchups: In six combined starts vs. the Mets and Nationals last season, Eickhoff posted a 2.50 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP. He should be started with confidence in all formats.
Ian Kennedy (vs. OAK, vs. LAA)
The long ball has been Kennedy's weakness for much of his career, especially over the past two seasons, during which he has served up a combined 64 homers. For this reason, his ERA tends to fluctuate from year to year, frustrating his fantasy owners. Still, the veteran righty has proven to be a reliable source of strikeouts (career 8.3 K/9 rate), which makes him especially appealing in two-start weeks. Both of Kennedy's outings next week will come at home in Kauffman Stadium, where he pitched to a 3.41 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP in 14 starts last season. He's worth starting in mixed leagues of 12 or more teams.
Dylan Bundy (@BOS, @TOR)
Even with a pair of tough matchups on tap for next week, Bundy had an outstanding performance on Wednesday vs. the Blue Jays (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) and has earned serious starting consideration. The 24-year-old former top prospect could be on the verge of finally realizing his potential. Owners in shallower formats might want to play it safe and bench Bundy for this two-start stanza, but the Orioles righty deserves the nod in 12-team mixed leagues.
Brandon Finnegan (@PIT, vs. MIL)
Coming off an inconsistent 2016 campaign in which he registered a 4.4 BB/9 rate, Finnegan opened his '17 season in impressive fashion. The former highly touted prospect tossed seven shutout innings against the Phillies, allowing just one hit and issuing only one free pass with nine K's. Finnegan now heads into a favorable two-start week, when he will face a pair of teams that he found success against last season. In five starts combined vs. the Pirates and Brewers, the Reds southpaw recorded a solid 3.42 ERA.
Jharel Cotton (@KC, vs. HOU)
Despite his struggles vs. the Angels on Wednesday, Cotton remains a solid breakout candidate after registering a 2.15 ERA and a 0.82 WHIP in five down-the-stretch starts for the A's last season. Looking ahead to next week: The matchup against the Astros is a challenging one, but the Royals' offense has gotten off to a slow start this year, plating just five runs through their first three games. Do note, however, that Cotton is the riskiest play among this two-start pitcher group.
Zach Steinhorn is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.