Rays pitcher David Price has a 6-0 record, 1.83 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 52/13 K-BB ratio in his last seven starts—including a 10-strikeout gem on July 25.
The following slideshow is a top-10 ranking of two-start pitchers for the week of July 30-Aug. 5.
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 numbers don't lie.
Of his last seven starts for the floundering Phillies, Cliff Lee has surrendered double-digit hits three times, and in that span, he's allowed five or more runs four times.
In other words, meet the Tim Lincecum of the East!
Humor aside, it's been a rough campaign for Lee, a top-10 fantasy pitcher coming out of spring training, and who's to say when (or if) things will improve in the next two months?
On the surface, it may seem ludicrous for Lee (1-6, 3.95 ERA, 1.20 WHIP) to garner a countdown ranking over stalwarts like Kyle Lohse, Mark Buehrle and the aforementioned Lincecum, but a two-start week against the Nationals (Stephen Strasburg) and Diamondbacks may be the perfect remedy for whatever ails Lee.
For what it's worth, Lee has career marks of a 21-11 record and 3.69 ERA in the month of August.
Weekly targets: One win, 3.10 ERA and 13 strikeouts.
Not that it matters for fantasy purposes, but on July 26, Matt Harvey became the first player in baseball's modern era to register 11 strikeouts and two base hits in his major league debut.
The 11 strikeouts (through only 5.1 innings) also stood as a Mets record for pitchers making their inaugural start.
Put it all together, and it makes perfect sense to attach a countdown ranking to a superb prospect like Harvey despite his one MLB start and standing on a New York club that's now 12.5 games out of first place in the National League East.
But Harvey is worth the relatively blind pursuit in fantasy circles, given his strong track record in the minors (20-10, 3.48 ERA, 268/95 K-BB, 9.8 K/9) and seemingly secure spot in the Mets rotation.
Targets: One win, 3.00 ERA and 13 strikeouts.
Forget about Erik Bedard losing four of his last five decisions, or the five outings of four or less strikeouts since May 27.
Because of the Wandy Rodriguez trade to the Pirates last week, Bedard has a golden chance to pull off an extremely rare feat in baseball circles: consecutive double-digit strikeout games against the same club.
On July 23, Bedard bedeviled the Cubs for 11 strikeouts over seven innings while allowing just one run and two hits. And on Monday night, thanks to the Rodriguez deal, Bedard will log another start against Chicago—this time at Wrigley Field.
I love Bedard's potential in two road clashes this week (Chicago, Cincinnati). Fingers crossed on him making ESPN's Tim Kurkjian research the historical impact of 10 or more strikeouts against the same team within five days.
Targets: One win, 2.95 ERA and 13 strikeouts.
Do you recall Tommy Milone's first start of the season? In his A's debut on April 9, he threw eight shutout innings against the Royals, but failed to register one strikeout.
And what about the road meltdowns against the Red Sox (April 30) and Rockies (June 13)? From that small sample of three starts, Milone's fantasy prospects appeared no rosier than Colorado's Christian Friedrich or Drew Pomeranz.
And yet Milone has rebounded in a profound manner this summer. From June 20-July 20 (spanning six starts), he was 6-for-6 in surrendering just two runs or less. Of equal importance, he averaged six strikeouts in those outings (including 10 against the Yankees).
Heck, even against the Jays on July 26, when Milone allowed five runs and incurred a loss, he still recorded seven strikeouts.
Targets against against the Rays and Blue Jays at home: one win, 2.80 ERA and 12 strikeouts.
I take great pride in attaching a top-30 ranking to Max Scherzer during spring training even though he had been woefully inconsistent with the Tigers last season.
I'm even prouder to declare that Scherzer's selection had nothing to do with being a Detroit native. As stated many times, I am a sucker for right-handed power pitchers with the capacity for double-digit strikeouts...anywhere...anytime.
From May 5-July 25 (spanning 15 starts), Scherzer struck out seven-plus hitters 11 times; in that time frame, he also yielded three or less walks 12 times.
Throw in a 3.51 ERA since May 20, and it's easy to see how Scherzer scored a comfy ranking in this countdown.
Targets: one win, 3.05 ERA and 15 strikeouts.
Here's where savvy fantasy owners could use a potential stumbling block to their advantage:
With Madison Bumgarner (11-6, 3.10 ERA, 1,04 WHIP, 121/27 K-BB) set to face the Rockies at Coors Field this weekend, a good chunk of his fantasy owners may be contemplating benching the southpaw, or even trading him at the high end of his value, in the next three days.
And to that, I would say, count me in!
According to Baseball Reference, Bumgarner has a career ERA of 2.84 at Coors Field, an elite-level figure for a pitcher with only four starts in Colorado's notorious thin air.
In other words, this is the perfect time to enter into reasonable trade negotiations involving Bumgarner. Just don't forget to openly whine about the misery of acquiring him just days before the Giants-Rockies clash.
Weekly targets: one win, 2.85 ERA and 14 strikeouts.
In any other weekly countdown, Jered Weaver (13-1, 2.26 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 89/26 K-BB) would easily garner a top-two ranking.
However, with road clashes against the Rangers and White Sox on the docket, it's hard to envision him escaping both ballparks with a weekly ERA under 3.00.
Thus, I can simply hope that Weaver adds to his run of eight consecutive wins and eight strikeouts last week against the Royals.
Bottom line: If Weaver has serious designs on capturing his first Cy Young award, this could be a season-defining week.
Targets: two wins, 3.05 ERA and 14 strikeouts.
Homer Bailey's lofty ranking can easily be justified with the following points:
1. Of his last nine starts, Bailey (9-6, 3.53 ERA) has allowed just three runs or less seven times (the other two appearances resulted in only eight total runs).
2. In the month of July (spanning five starts), Bailey had a 4-0 record, 1.45 ERA, 1.05 WHIP and scintillating strikeout-to-walk ratio (42/8).
3. Bailey has yielded three or less walks in nine of his last 10 outings.
4. The Reds right-hander draws two home clashes against the Padres and Pirates this week.
Targets: two wins, 2.90 ERA and 14 strikeouts.
As a Stephen Strasburg owner in three leagues, I haven't really worried about his short-term future in the Nationals rotation.
If team officials permanently bench the 24-year-old dynamo at some point around the 170-inning mark, so be it. And if they should cushion the numbers of days off between starts down the stretch, that's cool too.
When taking the mound, Strasburg (11-4, 2.76 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 151/32 K-BB) is a phenomenal talent with few peers in the major leagues, and I've already made the executive decision to ride him for the rest of the season.
For better or worse, absolutely no trades.
Targets against the Phillies and Marlins: two wins, 2.70 ERA and 15 strikeouts.
David Price (14-4, 2.57 ERA, 1.17 WHIP) gets the slight nod over Strasburg for a few reasons:
1. He's gone at least seven innings in his last seven starts (49.1 total). In that span, Price has a 6-0 record, 1.83 ERA, 0.96 WHIP and 52/13 K-BB ratio.
2. Price has a range of 7-10 strikeouts in eight of his last nine outings.
3. In 16 career starts against the Athletics and Orioles (this week's opponents), Price has an 8-3 mark, 2.82 ERA and 106/33 K-BB ratio.
Targets: two wins, 2.85 ERA and 16 strikeouts.