Brewers ace Zack Greinke (2-0, 0.69 ERA, 19/3 K-BB ratio in his last two starts) draws the Royals (road) and Twins (road) this week.
The following slideshow is a top-10 ranking of two-start pitchers for the week of June 11-17.
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!
The Arizona ace gets the nod over Colby Lewis, Bud Norris, Randall Delgado, Josh Beckett and Edwin Jackson on the strength of his last two starts.
In 13.2 combined innings (May 30 and June 5), Kennedy tallied two wins, 19 strikeouts, a 0.66 ERA and 0.95 WHIP—perhaps the best back-to-back outings from a starting pitcher not named Matt Cain, Zack Greinke or Chris Sale all year.
Now for the bad news: With roadies against the Rangers and Angels, Kennedy will surely have a tough time keeping the two offenses under three runs; and if he should pull that off, there may be no finer trade target, among pitchers, to pursue in the coming weeks.
Weekly targets: One win, 13 strikeouts and 3.25 ERA.
If Scherzer (5-4, 5.88 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 80 Ks) was facing the Rockies at Coors Field this week, he wouldn't be a viable candidate for this countdown.
But with outings at Wrigley Field (Cubs) and Comerica Park (Rockies) on the docket, he's a good bet for solid fantasy numbers—especially after walking Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez (eight homers, .407 batting since May 27) three or four times on Sunday.
I'm serious. Don't even give CarGo a slight opening for destruction this weekend...and this is coming from someone who stealthily traded for Gonzalez in the Sports Illustrated and Friends fantasy league four weeks ago.
Targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 3.10 ERA.
Don't be fooled by Cueto's cushy ranking for the week—there are some notable red flags to lament here.
For starters, Cueto (6-3, 2.63 ERA, 1.22 WHIP) has surrendered five runs in two of his last five starts; and during that stretch, three instances of eight or more hits. And, for whatever reason, the Reds ace only has one outing of seven or more strikeouts since April 17.
Cumulatively speaking, it's enough to be worried about a weekly slate that includes the Indians (home) and Mets (road). Of course, Cueto does have a career ERA of 2.49 against Cleveland...so maybe that's one of the many reasons why he's a top-30 overall pitcher in fantasy.
Targets: One win, 12 strikeouts and 3.05 ERA.
Without a doubt, Capuano (8-2, 2.82 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 66/26 K-BB ratio) has been a mediocre asset in his last two starts, surrendering a total of five walks, eight runs and 11 hits.
But in his previous eight outings, Capuano allowed just two or fewer runs seven times, with the eighth appearance accounting for only three runs.
In other words, it makes little sense to pooh-pooh Capuano's two poor roadies in great detail...especially when he's staring at a week of home games against the Angels and White Sox.
Sure, it'll be a tough road to navigate, but Capuano has demonstrated a flair for the pitching dramatic when performing at home.
Targets: One win, 14 strikeouts and 2.95 ERA.
From a three-category perspective, Wainwright (5-6, 4.97 ERA, 1.36 WHIP) might not have the chops to warrant a No. 7 ranking.
But we've seen tangible improvement from the Cardinals' preseason ace in his last four starts—three wins, a 25/5 K-BB ratio and just three runs or fewer (allowed) three times. And for the season, Wainwright has already posted four separate outings of at least seven strikeouts and only one walk.
That kind of production has to portend better things for the next three months, especially from a pitcher who's apparently recovering nicely from elbow surgery.
For this week, it also helps that Wainwright draws two home chances against free-swinging teams (Royals, White Sox). It's a good match from all angles.
Targets: Two wins, 14 strikeouts and 3.25 ERA.
There's plenty to love about Josh Johnson's prospects, so much so that his opponents for Week 11 (Red Sox, Rays) will not play a major role in his countdown slot.
He's had six straight outings of three runs or fewer (2.98 ERA during that span), no more than three walks in any appearance since April 17 and a healthy propensity for seven, eight or nine strikeouts every time he takes the hill.
Yes, this was the Johnson fantasy owners were hoping to steal sometime in Round 8 last March.
Targets: One win, 15 strikeouts and 2.85 ERA.
Bumgarner (7-4, 3.62 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 62/18 K-BB) has been a fascinating all-or-nothing proposition in his last five starts: Three outings of four runs allowed; and two games of minuscule runs and double-digit strikeouts.
This begs the question: Which Bumgarner will we see against the Astros (home) and Mariners (road) this week? The shaky one...or the dominant southpaw who may be the National League version of Chris Sale—when in peak form?
It's worth nothing that Houston and Seattle have made noticeable offensive improvements since last year. But I still like Bumgarner's chances for two-start success.
Targets: One win, 16 strikeouts and 2.95 ERA.
Call it a reputation pick, attaching top-three status to a pitcher who has cumulatively surrendered 20 runs in his last five starts.
But if you can't get behind King Felix (4-4, 3.42 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 81/26 K-BB ratio) in a week where he draws the Padres and Giants at home...when would he be an attractive asset?
This has hardly been a vintage season for Hernandez; but dynamos like him are just one confidence-building win away from dominating opponents for six or seven straight starts.
Fingers crossed on that run of excellence starting before the All-Star break.
Targets: One win, 16 strikeouts and 2.80 ERA.
Back in mid-April, I vividly recall getting a Tweet from a nervous Greinke owner, wondering if it was too early to ''sell high'' on a top-10 pitcher. It was just days after the Brewers ace had allowed eight runs to the light-hitting Cubs.
Fast forward to the days after Greinke's May 26 clunker against the Diamondbacks (seven runs in just 2.1 innings). There were no irrational screams from the masses, questioning Greinke's long-term staying power or sell-high value. Over time, fantasy owners have learned to tolerate the occasional letdown, in light of yet another season of cumulative excellence.
In his last two starts, Greinke has two wins, a 0.69 ERA and 19/3 K-BB ratio. Since April 18 (10 outings), he has allowed two runs or fewer eight times. And with that first crack against his old team (Kansas City), along with a roadie in Minnesota for the weekend, Greinke is an entrenched candidate for the No. 2 spot.
Targets: Two wins, 14 strikeouts and 2.45 ERA.
There are three primary factors driving Morrow's No. 1 ranking for the week:
1. Morrow (7-3, 2.90 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 67/24 K-BB) is on the path to earning his first All-Star berth.
2. In every start since April 23, Morrow has allowed either no runs or had seven strikeouts.
3. Morrow, who draws the Nationals and Phillies at Rogers Centre this week, is due for a superb home start.
Sounds simple, huh?
Targets: Two wins, 15 strikeouts and 2.30 ERA.