Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 2-Start Pitchers for June 4-10

Jay ClemonsFantasy Sports Lead WriterJune 4, 2012

Fantasy Baseball 2012: Top 10 2-Start Pitchers for June 4-10

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    The following slideshow is a top-10 ranking of two-start pitchers for the week of June 4-10.

    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: Jarrod Parker, Oakland A's

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    There's no way of getting around Parker's subpar strikeout-to-walk ratio (29/21); but that aside, it's been a fruitful campaign for the A's rookie—including a 2.88 ERA that somehow masks the fact he's allowed just two or fewer runs in five of six starts.

    But that's not solely why Parker earned a ranking in this countdown over fantasy stalwarts like Yovani Gallardo, Ubaldo Jimenez, Kyle Lohse, Ryan Dempster, Chad Billingsley, Tim Hudson, Ervin Santana and Ricky Romero.

    With a home game against the Rangers (at Oakland's spacious park) and a roadie against the Diamondbacks (the club that traded him last offseason), Parker has a golden opportunity to take a significant step forward in his development.

    Targets: One win, 12 strikeouts and 3.00 ERA.

9: James Shields, Tampa Bay Rays

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    Shields (6-3, 3.95 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 74 Ks) might have the most arduous slate of any two-start pitcher this week—road clashes with the formidable Yankees and red-hot Marlins.

    And yet, he safely makes the countdown, based on three reasons:

    1. Shields is a healthy bet for seven to 10 strikeouts every time he takes the hill.

    2. He's due for a run of four or five stellar starts any day now (fingers crossed).

    3. Pitchers with scintillating strikeout-to-walk ratios from their last eight starts (67/14) always get the benefit of the doubt.

    Targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 3.25 ERA.

8: Jordan Zimmermann, Washington Nationals

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    It's hard to imagine many opposing pitchers posting sub-4.00 ERAs in their Fenway Park debut, which might explain why a superb asset like Zimmermann (2.80 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) has such a middling ranking here.

    Yes, he's surrendered just one run in six of his 10 starts this season, and yes, he's a solid bet for seven to nine strikeouts against the Mets this week...but that trip to Boston looms large (and scary) for Zimmermann owners.

    The best course of action: Think conservatively.

    Targets: One win, 13 strikeouts and 3.15 ERA.

7: Jeff Samardzija, Chicago Cubs

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    Samardzija (5-3, 3.09 ERA, 1.09 WHIP) has been an excellent pitching resource for the last-place Cubs all season, especially since April 24.

    In his last seven starts, Samardzija hasn't allowed more than three runs or two walks in any outing. He also averaged seven strikeouts during that stretch, with a season high of nine against the world champion Cardinals.

    Put it all together and Samardzija's weekly numbers shouldn't be adversely affected by two road challenges—against the Giants (Monday) and Brewers (Saturday).

    Targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 2.95 ERA.

6: Homer Bailey, Cincinnati Reds

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    Not every can't-miss pitching prospect becomes an overnight sensation in the major leagues, but eventually, that talent shines through.

    In Bailey's case, he's had a solid campaign with the Reds, boasting a 3.73 ERA, 1.26 WHIP and 45/18 K-BB ratio in 10 starts (with just one clunker)...while reaffirming his standing as an ideal No. 5 pitcher in 12-team leagues.

    Of equal importance, Bailey's most recent three-start resume portends a jump in production over the next four months—three wins, 20 strikeouts, three walks and just six runs allowed (spanning 21.1 innings).

    Targets: One win, 13 strikeouts and 2.85 ERA against the Pirates and Tigers at home.

5: Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants

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    As stated many times, I will continue to support a healthy Tim Lincecum anytime, anywhere. (His currency: Four consecutive seasons of at least 220 strikeouts.)

    But that doesn't mean I haven't been tested (or tempted) to sell high on Lincecum in trade talks or blog entries this season. Under a different surname, I would have easily cut bait on a pitcher with an ERA approaching 6.00 and an absurdly high walk count.

    That said, Lincecum's turnaround has to occur at some point; a trip to San Diego's cavernous Petco Park and memory-lane home date with the Rangers (for whom Lincecum stifled in the 2010 World Series) could be the impetus behind a highly productive week.

    Targets: One win, 15 strikeouts and 3.20 ERA.

4: Anibal Sanchez, Miami Marlins

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    From a 30-day (2.70 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 29/8 K-BB) and seasonal perspective (2.57 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 67/17 K-BB), the numbers bear out Sanchez's staying power as a top-20 pitching asset.

    Nine (of 10) starts with three runs or less. Nine outings of three or less free passes...and an expected range of eight to 10 strikeouts with every mound appearance.

    And with home meetings against the Braves and Rays this week, it would be a big surprise if Sanchez wasn't one of baseball's best two-start assets.

    Targets: Two wins, 15 strikeouts and 2.95 ERA.

3: Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox

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    Don't be fooled by Lester's four-run, 10-hit outing against the Tigers last week. As soon as Boston scored four runs to secure the lead, Lester immediately morphed into a stellar pitcher who was no longer worried about nibbling corners or pitch selection.

    He just reared back and challenged the Detroit hitters to handle his best stuff of the night.

    I expect Lester (23/5 K-BB ratio since May 9) to have some carryover from that late revival. Plus, he's allowed just three or fewer walks in his last seven starts.

    Of similar importance, Lester (lifetime ERA at Fenway Park: 3.32) has two home dates with the Orioles and Nationals this week.

    Targets: Two wins, 14 strikeouts and 2.75 ERA.

2: Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers

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    Has there been a quieter defense of a Cy Young trophy from a superstar pitcher in the last 25 years?

    Kershaw was not a major consideration for fantasy pitcher of the month in April or May, but his seasonal stats (4-3, 2.42 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 64/19 K-BB) have positioned him nicely for a late-season run at back-to-back Cy Young Awards.

    The short-term numbers have been wonderful as well, with Kershaw surrendering either zero or two runs in four of his last five outings (we're deleting last week's five-run clunker against the Brewers from our memory banks).

    This week, Kershaw has a pair of roadies against the Phillies and Mariners.

    Targets: Two wins, 15 strikeouts and 2.30 ERA.

1: Cliff Lee, Philadelphia Phillies

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    It might sound ridiculous to tab Lee (3.00 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 54-10 K-BB) for two wins this week, considering he hasn't won a game all season.

    But at some point, the (damn) dam has to break; eventually, Lee's victory total will catch up to his prodigious ERA, WHIP and K-BB marks.

    Of equal importance, weekly league owners should be thankful that Lee won't go head-to-head with Clayton Kershaw...and that he's catching the up-and-down Orioles at a good time (this weekend).

    Targets: Two wins, 15 strikeouts and 2.25 ERA.