Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 2-Start Pitchers for May 14-20

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterMay 14, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 2-Start Pitchers for May 14-20

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    The following slideshow is a top 10 ranking of two-start pitchers for the week of May 14-20.

    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: Kyle Lohse, St. Louis Cardinals

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    You know it's a good week for two-start pitchers when Ian Kennedy, Yovani Gallardo, Johnny Cueto, Jon Lester, Josh Johnson, Dan Haren, Colby Lewis, Drew Smyly and Anibal Sanchez are getting turned away at the door.

    But with his hot start (5-1, 2.08 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 27/8 K-BB), Lohse has essentially earned an automatic spot in this countdown, regardless of opponent. For Week 7, Lohse draws the Cubs and Dodgers.

    Targets: One win, 11 strikeouts and 3.05 ERA.

9: Zack Greinke, Milwaukee Brewers

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    Greinke's countdown inclusion comes with some risks.

    For starters, he had a miserable outing in his only appearance at Citi Field (31.50 ERA vs. the Mets), and against the Twins (his opponent later in the week), Greinke has a career ERA barely below 5.00.

    But this is Greinke (3-1, 3.35 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 46/10 K-BB) we're talking about. Hopefully, that lack of prior success will help him buckle down and focus even more on New York and Minnesota.

    Targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 3.30 ERA.

8: David Price, Tampa Bay Rays

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    In four career appearances at Toronto's Rogers Centre (I almost wrote SkyDome), Price has a 3-0 mark with a superb 23/4 K-BB ratio.

    But that's not why he warrants a coveted spot in this countdown.

    Coming off last week's dismal outing against the Yankees, I am supremely confident that Price (5-2, 2.98 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 39 strikeouts) will rebound against the Blue Jays and Braves in a big way this week.

    That's what separates fantasy aces...from pitchers who can't handle success or instantly forget their failures.

    Targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 3.10 ERA.

7: Jake Peavy, Chicago White Sox

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    Peavy (4-1, 1.89 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 44/7 K-BB ratio) has been one of the season's most pleasant pitching surprises.

    He's also been the anchor to a White Sox rotation that's still posting formidable spite of their manager's curious revolving-door approach to cultivating a staff (see Chris Sale).

    But there are two more reasons to love Peavy this week: He gets the travel-weary Tigers at home, followed by an intense weekend clash with the Cubs. In six career games at Wrigley Field (spanning 35 innings), Peavy has a 3.60 ERA and 37 strikeouts.

    Targets: One win, 15 strikeouts and 3.20 ERA.

6: Brandon Morrow, Toronto Blue Jays

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    It's almost criminal that Morrow (just two runs allowed in his last 27.2 innings) would be ranked No. 6, especially with home dates against the Rays and Mets this week.

    But for whatever reason, I don't see his streak of four wins/four starts carrying over much longer.

    Yes, Morrow (4-1, 2.27 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 39/12 K-BB) is on the precipice of being an elite pitcher; and yes, he has the rare capacity to post 10 strikeouts in back-to-back outings. For this week, though, there may be a razor-thin regression in front of the home folks.

    Targets: One win, 15 strikeouts and 3.00 ERA.

5: CC Sabathia, New York Yankees

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    This pick could easily be a dud by week's end—Sabathia facing the homer-happy Orioles in Baltimore, before getting a rare encounter with Joey Votto and the Reds in New York.

    Or more to the point, it will be Votto's first look at the short right-field porch at Yankee Stadium. (Ouch.)

    But Sabathia simply has too many positives in his favor to dwell on any hypothetical negatives: five straight wins, six outings of seven or more strikeouts and only four runs allowed in his last 24 innings.

    He also does a fantastic job of carrying the pinstriped torch of expectations, while the Yankees attempt to mend the holes in their starting rotation and bullpen.

    Targets: One win, 15 strikeouts, 2.85 ERA.

4: Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

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    This is likely the most controversial pick, even though Lee had a top-five overall ranking among starting pitchers back in March.

    He's missed some time with an oblique injury, he's yet to register his first victory and he may still be on a pitch count with Phillies coaches. That's not exactly a recipe for success (or borderline dominance) when dealing with elite pitchers.

    That aside, Lee (0-1, 2.17 ERA, 0.76 WHIP, 24/3 K-BB this season) has earned the right to be idealized by certain fantasy gurus (when healthy), and hopefully, he'll be given sufficient operating space to post superb numbers against the Astros and Red Sox this week.

    Targets: Two wins, 14 strikeouts and 2.90 ERA.

3: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

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    I'm well aware that Lincecum has allowed seven runs in his last two starts (10 innings total), along with his other season-long struggles on the mound (2-3, 5.89 ERA, 1.58 WHIP).

    But with home games against the Rockies and A's in the next seven days, I'm sensing that Lincecum is primed for two breakout performances against schizophrenic offenses.

    In fact, I'm willing to bet he tallies the most strikeouts for the week.

    Targets: Two wins, 18 strikeouts and 2.90 ERA.

2: Stephen Strasburg, Washington Nationals

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    No pitcher in this countdown has a greater short-term upside than Strasburg (3-0, 1.64 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 51/10 K-BB), who draws the Padres and Orioles at home this week.

    And yet, I'm a little cautious with this ranking.

    Even with the Nationals clicking on all cylinders (despite numerous injuries with hitters), it's reasonable to conclude that Strasburg is due for a clunker start at some point—and for him, "clunker" means racking up only six strikeouts in six innings, with three or four runs earned.

    Targets: Two wins, 15 strikeouts and 3.15 ERA.

1: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Kershaw (2-1, 2.56 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 41/9 K-BB) has been a quiet storm of fantasy goodness all season, unassumingly posting solid numbers across the board, while positioning himself for another Cy Young run after the All-Star break.

    But with home encounters against the Diamondbacks and Cardinals, Kershaw will likely take honors (or co-honors) in wins and ERA this week...adding to the belief he's gearing up for a sustained stretch of dominance.

    Targets: Two wins, 15 strikeouts and 2.05 ERA.