Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 2-Start Pitchers for May 28-June 3

Jay Clemons@ATL_JayClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterMay 28, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 2-Start Pitchers for May 28-June 3

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    The following slideshow is a top-10 ranking of two-start pitchers for the week of May 28-June 3.

    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: Juan Nicasio, Colorado Rockies

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    Nicasio earns this ranking ahead of stalwarts Doug Fister, Aaron Harang, Trevor Cahill, Jon Niese and James McDonald for three reasons:

    1. Nicasio has surrendered just two runs or less in four of his last six outings.

    2. His latest three-game stint produced a top-notch strikeout-to-walk ratio (22/8).

    3. He has two home matchups with the Astros and Dodgers (no Matt Kemp?).

    Weekly targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 3.35 ERA.

9: Lance Lynn, St. Louis Cardinals

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    Lynn (7-1, 2.54 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) has surrendered only seven runs in five road outings this season, so perhaps he's being unjustly penalized with this ranking.

    After all, two away clashes against the Braves and Mets likely won't diminish the great body of work he's posted, to date. Right?

    That said, there are some worries that Lynn's aura of dominance from his first six appearances—all victories—has faded in the last few weeks. He hasn't exceeded six innings in his last four outings, and he's allowed at least three runs in each of the last three starts.

    Targets: One win, 11 strikeouts and 3.15 ERA.

8: Tommy Hanson, Atlanta Braves

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    Of the top 30 pitchers in fantasy, Hanson may be the only one to have four consecutive outings on the road this season (May 7-23).

    For that stretch, he collected two wins, 20 strikeouts and allowed just six earned runs (spanning 24 innings). Very impressive!

    So, now Hanson gets a home date with the Cardinals...followed by a road clash with the Nationals. Can he maintain ERA and WHIP marks at 2.00 and 1.20 for this crucial two-game stretch?

    That may be a tad ambitious against quality competition.

    Targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 3.10 ERA.

7: Wandy Rodriguez, Houston Astros

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    Rodriguez (4-4, 2.14 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 45/15 K-BB ratio) has been a bedrock asset for fantasy owners throughout April and May; but it remains to be seen whether anyone has noticed.

    Wandy has allowed three runs or fewer in nine of his 10 starts and he's gone at least seven innings six times.

    In the walks category, he's a perfect 10-for-10 in yielding three or less walks.

    Bottom line: If you have a window of trade opportunity for a high-end No. 3 starter like it, by any means necessary.

    Targets: One win, 15 strikeouts, 3.25 ERA against the Rockies (away) and Reds (home) this week.

6: Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati Reds

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    It's rare to make a leap-of-faith pick on a non-elite pitcher with two road starts, but Arroyo has been amazing with the strikeout-to-walk ratio (26/5) in his last four outings.

    It also helps to draw the Pirates and Astros—bottom-feeder clubs in runs and hits (National League)—this week.

    Put it all together, and Arroyo (2-2, 3.22 ERA, 1.26 WHIP) is a sneaky-good candidate to post superb numbers.

    Targets: Two wins, 12 strikeouts and 2.80 ERA.

5: Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

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    Zimmermann (3-4, 2.47 ERA, 1.06 WHIP) has been stellar in fantasy circles, allowing just three runs or less in eight of nine starts. He also has the capacity for eight to 10 strikeouts with every mound appearance.

    Truth be told, Zimmermann should have merited a higher ranking this week, especially since the top four pitchers have tough matchups across the board.

    Not that Zimmermann has an easy road himself (Braves, Marlins)...he's just closer to the No. 1 spot than Nos. 9 or 10.

    Targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 2.80 ERA.

4: Jered Weaver, Los Angels of Anaheim

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    Weaver's middling ranking (for him) is a result of circumstances, not talent.

    After all, there aren't too many active pitchers roaming the earth with six wins, a sub-2.65 ERA, 0.90 WHIP and approximate 4/1 strikeout-to-walk ratio through May 28.

    But with home clashes against the Yankees and Rangers this week, Weaver likely won't flirt with a no-hitter or rack up 11 strikeouts in either appearance.

    However, he's still a good bet for solid stats and maybe two victories.

    Targets: One win, 15 strikeouts and 2.95 ERA.

3: Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox

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    Now that we've put the South Side Closer Experiment to bed, Sale (5-2, 2.50 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 46 strikeouts) can once again focus on being a reliable anchor in the White Sox's rotation.

    As part of that renewed commitment to pitching every five days, look for Sale (36/10 K-BB ratio since April 20) to have a stupendous week against the Rays (road) and Mariners (home).

    Something in the neighborhood of two wins, 14 strikeouts and 3.20 ERA.

    Not bad for a late-round fantasy afterthought from two months ago, huh?

2: Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers

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    For any other week, Verlander (5-2, 2.15 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 75/15 K-BB ratio) would rate as the No. 1 asset here.

    But with meetings against the Red Sox (away) and Yankees (home) on the docket, there's a temptation to be a little conservative with projections.

    In games against Boston and New York this season (spanning 14 innings), Verlander allowed four runs and registered 11 strikeouts. (Good, but not all-world production.)

    Targets: One win, 15 strikeouts and 2.55 ERA.

1: Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies

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    As of May 27, Hamels ranked first in wins (seven), seventh in ERA (2.17), seventh in strikeouts (66) and 11th in WHIP (1.01) throughout the major leagues; and yet, there seems to be some debate over whether Hamels is a top-five fantasy asset among starting pitchers.

    My take: Not only is Hamels the Phillies' fantasy ace right now (ahead of Roy Halladay/Cliff Lee), but also, his only peers in baseball are Justin Verlander and Clayton Kershaw.

    There's no need to clutter that statement or compartmentalize Hamels' fantasy impact with bite-sized stats. With seven straight wins (over eight outings), no more than three runs or walks allowed in all nine starts and a scintillating strikeout-to-walk ratio (66/13), the body of work speaks for itself.

    From the season's opening bell, Hamels has been an unstoppable force.

    Weekly targets: Two wins, 15 strikeouts and 2.20 ERA against the Mets (away) and Marlins (home).