Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Pickups On The Mound - Week 2

Yesterday we checked out position players who have been hot on the add list. Today we look at pitchers, both starters and relievers who have been high on the add list this week.

Starting Pitchers
Manny Parra, Carlos Villanueva- Two young guns who have had a drink of water or two in the majors over the last few seasons both won rotation spots in spring training for Milwaukee and have gone on to continue their success in the regular season. Villanueva might be the safer bet to be ready to regularly contribute to the major league ball club, while you should expect Parra to have the occasional struggles and have to battle a bit more. Both are fine options to pick up, as both collect a good amount of Ks, won't hurt your ERA or WHIP and Milwaukee scores a bunch of runs, which will help their win totals.

Livan Hernandez, Nick Blackburn- One is a veteran who was turned defacto-ace after being signed late in the winter. The other is a rookie who won a rotation spot in spring training and has shown himself to be ready for the majors after posting solid minor league numbers in '06 and '07. Both have turned in early success but really shouldn't be counted on for long term fantasy success. Blackburn right now looks to be pitching a bit over his head striking out nearly a batter an inning over his first two starts, and pitching to the tune of a 2.26ERA and a 1.25WHIP. Livan is in a similar boat as far as tossing over his head, but I think most fantasy owners realize this aren't drinking the Livan flavored Cool-Aid as much. Both might be decent short term adds, but don't count on them carrying your staff come late August. In fact, when Francisco Liriano and Kevin Slowey come back there is even a chance Blackburn won't even remain in the rotation.

Carlos Silva- I don't want to say that Silva is underrated, but I also don't want it to make it sound like he is overrated, but Silva belongs right in the middle of that fantasy ranking. Think of him as a Jake Westbrook or Kevin Millwood type. A guy who can go out, throw a solid game and put up pretty consistent numbers. The problem is those numbers aren't necessarily going to be good numbers. Silva is a decent add, as he is workhorse, has double digit wins in 3 of the last 4 seasons, and is playing in a good ballpark, with an inspired Seattle Mariners team around him.

Todd Wellemeyer- A career minor leaguer and middle reliever was entrusted by pitching coach Dave Duncan to be able to show something as a starter, and thus far he is spot on. Wellemeyer in all his previous seasons never did anything to distinguish himself as a dominant middleman, but did show decent stuff averaging nearly a strikeout an inning in his major league tenure. Right now Wellemeyer is probably throwing a bit over his head and will probably turn into what Brandon Looper was for the Cardinals last season. A guy with good stuff, whose shoulder is not used to the rigor of a full major league season as a starter and winds up struggling in the tail end of the season. He is a good grab for Ks and WHIP, but might struggle to earn Wins with St. Louis's questionable offense. If you want grab him now and try to sell high in a month of so.

Randy Wolf, Justin Germano- Two starters whose careers are at different points, yet have some interesting similarities. They both post an average amount of Ks, both play in SD's huge ballpark, and rely on moxie and finesse to get by. Wolf has proven himself to be a reliable veteran starter over the years, but too often gets hurt and can't finish the season he started. He is the pitching equivalent to Xavier Nady. Justin Germano on the other hand is a youngster who is looking for the chance to establish himself as a reliable starter after bouncing around for a couple of seasons. Both are good for the occasional spot start, however Wolf is the only one of the two I would trust to own on my team to go out there and post significant numbers, consistently (barring injury of course).

Micah Owings- Last season Owings was known as the pitcher who could hit. In 2008 we expect people to say that he is the pitcher who can hit... and pitch Following a strong second half last season, we were high on Owings coming into the 2008 season. In his first 2 starts this season Owings is 2-0 with 2QS, and 13Ks in 13.2IP. He is behind guys like Brandon Webb and Dan Haren in the D-Backs' rotation so not many pay attention to him, but they might need to soon. The drawback to owning Owings is that he is prone to the HR ball and with a pitcher like that, a good outing can turn ugly fast, spoiling a potential win. Thus far however he has shown good maturity and growth in his second season in the majors.

Edison Volquez, Johnny Cueto- Similar to the crew on Milwaukee only with less major league experience and better stuff. Volquez really refined his change up in the off season and according to scouts now features one of the best changes in all of the NL. Cueto is a hot rookie, who forced himself into the Reds starting rotation with a dominant spring. Cueto is a great source of Ks and will also be great for WHIP. You can add either of these guys right now and feel confident about the move. Even if they struggle at times, there is plenty of offense in Cincinnati to bail them out of the occasional mediocre start.


Scot Shields/ Justin Speier- No secret as to why these guys are here. With Francisco Rodriguez battling TWO sprained ankles and being listed as out until the weekend at least, either one of these guys could end up getting the call to close games late. Speier got the first chance on Tuesday and wound up blowing the save, so we expect Shields to get the next call. He has been touted as being a closer in waiting for many seasons now because his stuff is nasty and he can dominate any part of a line up when he is on. Shields has battled injury a little bit recently and there is a decent chance he is already owned in many leagues because he is a great help to ERA, WHIP and HOLDS if your league counts them. If you only have a limited amount of roster moves you can make for the season, don't bother to take a flier on either. It looks like K-Rod's injury won't cost him a DL stint, so he could be back relatively soon.

Tony Pena/ Chad Qualls- With Brandon Lyon struggling a bit in the early going these two have both been hot additions in most leagues. Pena has great stuff and Qualls has the experience in closing situations. Chances are if anyone is going to get the opportunity to close it will be Pena. Keep an eye on the situation, even if the D-Backs are showing faith in Lyon to get the job done early on, it's a long season and a lot can happen.

Ryan Rowland- Smith/ Mark Lowe- J.J. Putz went to the DL and Lowe became the hot target for fantasy owners as the main option to collect saves in his absence. Yet Smith was the one who got the call most recently in the Mariners game on Tuesday. The Mariners say that they are going with a bullpen by committee until Putz comes back off the DL. Putz threw today to test his injured ribs to see how they respond, so we should have a better idea on if it is worth it or not to add either of these after the results of the throwing are known.

Peter Moylan- The top setup man in Atlanta has been piling up the holds early this season, and will probably be the first candidate to close should anything happen to incumbent Rafael Soriano. Well, already Soriano is battling a tiny bit of soreness in his elbow and was held out of the Braves' game Monday against Pittsburgh because of that. This early in the season this news is a bit disconcerting, so it might be a good idea for you Soriano owners to handcuff him with Moylan should anything happen to him. Given Soriano's injury history, it would seem that there is at least a decent injury he winds up on the DL or missing a few games at some point.

Do you think we forgot anyone? We are sure there are some players who we left out. Send us your feedback and tell us who we felt we slighted and we'll do out best to get to your response and comments.

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