Now is the time to prey upon unsuspecting owners if you are in a keeper league.

If you are out of it or just want to get a better keeper for the 2011 season, now is your time to find that guy. While most owners are either fighting for their playoff lives or have turned their attention the beginning of the football season, you can find that key player to next year’s squad.

My favorite targets are pitchers experiencing the sophomore slump.

I have a theory about young pitchers that come up and do very well in their first year, slump in their second year, then put it all together for strong careers starting in year three. That second year slump is a result of the hitters catching up to the pitcher who they now have game film on and have a better grasp on their stuff.

Rick Porcello is the perfect example of a very young player with a ton of talent who is on the wrong side of a learning curve right now that he will almost assuredly fix next season. His teammate Max Scherzer seemed to come out of his slump in the middle of the season, but his Major League timeline actually correlates to that being the beginning of the his third MLB year.

Tommy Hanson is another young pitcher that will likely take that next step forward after a difficult sophomore season.

This week, Detroit and Texas will only play five games while Arizona, Cincinnati, New York (NL), Pittsburgh, San Diego and San Francisco are all on the docket for seven. All others are scheduled for six games this week.

Now, the projected two-start pitchers for this week. For those of you in leagues who require you to set your lineup at the beginning of the week, these are guys you should strongly consider:

American League
BAL Brian Matusz
BOS Jon Lester
CWS John Danks
CLE Josh Tomlin
DET none
KC Luke Hochevar
LAA Trevor Bell
MIN Francisco Liriano
NYY C.C. Sabathia
OAK Bob Cramer
SEA Doug Fister
TB David Price
TEX none
TOR Marc Rzepczynski
National League
ARI Barry Enright, Daniel Hudson
ATL Derek Lowe
CHC Carlos Silva
CIN Bronson Arroyo, Travis Wood
COL Jeff Francis
FLA Andrew Miller
HOU Brett Myers
LAD Clayton Kershaw
MIL Chris Narveson
NYM Dillon Gee, R.A. Dickey
PHI Joe Blanton
PIT James McDonald, Zach Duke
SD Cory Luebke, Jon Garland
SF Jaime Garcia, Barry Zito
STL Adam Wainwright
WAS Yunesky Maya

Rick’s Picks

Five best bets for double-start pitchers this week

1. Adam Wainwright. No explanation necessary at this point.

2. Derek Lowe is an innings eater who gives you a bunch of wins with a mediocre ERA and WHIP. He’s not an ace on his real team or your fantasy team, but he’s a great pick this week at home against Washington and at New York against the Mets.

3. Bronson Arroyo is in the Derek Lowe mold and gets the Diamondbacks at home and the Astros on the road. With his team trying to lock down a division title, they should be ready to beat up on a few teams just playing out the season.

4. C.C. Sabathia starts the week off against new arch-rival Tampa Bay. Because he finishes against Baltimore, he makes the list. If you can spot start your pitchers, it might be wise to sit him at the Rays.

5. Joe Blanton isn’t a guy I’d normally recommend as a Double Dipper, but when you are in the heat of the pennant race and get the Marlins and Nationals as opponents, you have to go with it.

Stay away from the Padres this week. They have been combustible in the last few weeks and are playing on the road against the Rockies (winners of 10 in a row) and the Cardinals. Their pitchers are likely to give up a lot of runs and their offense might struggle against two contending teams.

Rick Milleman is the head fantasy baseball contributor at Check his annual player projections included in the Cheatsheet Compiler & Draft Buddy to help draft your championship team.

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