Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 Two-Start Pitchers for April 30-May 6

Jay ClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterApril 30, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 Two-Start Pitchers for April 30-May 6

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    The following slideshow is a top-10 ranking of two-start pitchers for the week of April 30-May 6.

    The listing does not necessarily account for a pitcher's season-long prospects, nor does it promise sustained dominance from this point forward. It's merely an educated guess of which starters will shine the brightest over the next seven days.

    For a full listing of two-start pitchers, click here.

    Enjoy the show!

10: Adam Wainwright, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Let's see.

    If Wainwright has an ERA north of 7.00, a WHIP just south of 1.50 and zero wins on the season, then how in the world did he score a ranking this week over Jason Hammel, Mike Minor, Matt Moore and Vance Worley, among others?

    For starters, there are four consecutive years of fantasy brilliance in Wainwright's favor (2007-10).

    There's also the belief that, like Albert Pujols, he'll likely convert an incredibly poor April into a fruitful May.

    Perhaps most importantly, Wainwright draws the Pirates and Astros this week.

    Weekly targets: One win, 2.95 ERA and 14 strikeouts.

9: Brandon Beachy, Atlanta Braves

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    If Beachy (2-1, 1.05 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 20/7 K-BB ratio) didn't have a matchup with Cole Hamels or a trip to adventurous Coors Field on the docket, he'd easily rank a few spots higher.

    But the line of separation among the top-10 two-start pitchers is usually this incidental, this vain.

    In the broader view, Beachy has been one of the most surprising non-surprises of the season (yes, you read that right).

    I'm not shocked that Beachy has evolved into one of the best National League pitchers and perhaps the Braves' fantasy ace—he's just one full year ahead of schedule.

    Targets: One win, 3.10 ERA and 14 strikeouts.

8: Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Hellickson is on pace to post career highs in wins, ERA and strikeouts this season.

    And yet, it's easy to focus on the one bugaboo that's holding back his ultimate fantasy value: Walks.

    Three walks per game is too high. A 14/12 K-BB ratio is too narrow. And a 1.30 WHIP simply won't cut it when deciding which pitchers are untouchable in trade talks or just expendable luxuries.

    But hey, there's a short-term light at the end of the tunnel here, in the form of Hellickson's Week 5 opponents—the Mariners and A's (both at home).

    Targets: One win, 2.35 ERA and 13 strikeouts.

7: Yu Darvish, Texas Rangers

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    Darvish had solid fantasy numbers in his first three major league outings.

    But the monumental step forward came April 24 against the Yankees (10 strikeouts in 8.2 scoreless innings).

    For the first time, Darvish didn't surrender any walks. It was also the first time Yu took on the traits of a fantasy ace, bridging the gap between himself and closer Joe Nathan, with no bullpen assistance.

    Can the run of fantasy brilliance continue in two road clashes this week (Cleveland, Toronto)? I say yes, primarily because venue or city probably has no effect on Darvish right now.

    Whether it's the deep south or rainy Northwest in America, or a vibrant Canadian city, everywhere Darvish travels these days is a relatively new experience.

    Targets: One win, 3.30 ERA and 16 strikeouts.

6: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

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    Sale's transformation from reliever to starter has been incredibly smooth.

    Three outings of at least 6.2 innings. Four straight games of three or fewer runs surrendered. Four consecutive games of five-plus strikeouts (including 11 on April 20).

    With all this good news, you'd think Sale (2-1, 1.08 ERA, 26/7 K-BB ratio) might be approaching his ceiling for the year, but his career ERA (2.69) is considerably less than his ERA for April (3.12).

    That's something to shoot for in May, as Sale takes on the Indians (home) and Tigers (away) this week.

    Targets: One win, 3.20 ERA, 16 strikeouts.

5: Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

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    It was a tough call between Zimmermann (1-1, 1.33 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 16/2 K-BB) and the No. 4 asset in this countdown.

    Both pitchers have enjoyed great starts to the season, and both have home matchups this week.

    Of course, Zimmermann squares off against Trevor Cahill (Diamondbacks) and Cole Hamels (Phillies). That's difficult terrain to navigate.

    The matchups alone could impugn his chances of earning two pitching victories for the week.

    On the positive side, can Zimmermann maintain his four-game streak of only one earned run allowed?

    Surely the Nationals/Montreal Expos franchise record in that realm can't be too far away. Right?

4: C.J. Wilson, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

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    Fantasy owners should be thrilled with Wilson's prospects after four outings, yielding three or fewer earned runs in each start and then limiting hits allowed to six or fewer per game.

    But the big coup comes from his last two performances—both losses.

    In that span, Wilson combined for 19 strikeouts, including 11 against the Rays on April 25.

    Wilson (2-2, 2.42 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 26/11 K-BB) faces the Twins and Blue Jays at home this week.

    Targets: Two wins, 3.00 ERA, 16 strikeouts.

3: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

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    In a surprise to no one, Hamels has a great record of success against the Braves and Phillies—this week's opponents.

    His career marks against Atlanta: 11-6, 3.72 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 132 strikeouts in 142.2 innings.

    His record against Washington: 10-4, 2.71 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 136 strikeouts in 129.1 innings.

    With his red-hot April in the books (3-1, 2.73 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 30/3 K-BB), Hamels can focus on May while allowing others to dream about his National League Cy Young prospects.

    And that bid reconvenes this week on the road.

2: Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants

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    Cain (1-1, 2.37 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 26/5 K-BB) was part of this countdown last week, but a rainout bumped him into a two-start plan for Week 5.

    It also moved him into the enviable position of starting two games at home against the hot-and-cold Marlins and Brewers.

    Against Cincinnati last week, Cain committed the unpardonable sins of surrendering three earned runs and not going the distance for a third straight game. (Gasp!)

    Targets: Two wins, 2.80 ERA and 15 strikeouts.

1: Felix Hernandez, Seattle Mariners

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    Hernandez (2-1, 2.76 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 33/8 K-BB) has been one of the American League's best pitchers this season, despite only one dominant start fantasy-wise.

    Can you imagine how good Felix will be once he finds his groove?

    The road to stardom begins this week, with Hernandez taking on Jeremy Hellickson in St. Pete (Monday) and Jason Marquis in Seattle (Saturday).

    In fact, I'm willing to guarantee that Felix fans at least 10 Twins over the weekend, while undoubtedly thrilling his yellow-shirt-clad band of "King" admirers in left field at Safeco Field.

    Targets: Two wins, 3.00 ERA and 18 strikeouts.