Thursday, April 17, 2008

Fantasy Baseball Pickups on the Mound- Week 3

Starting Pitchers

Cliff Lee- Lee is off to a fast start and I am normally a skeptic when it comes to pitchers like this, but I like Cliff lee to have a fine consistent season. He was a good pitcher in 2005 and for parts of 2006. 2007 was a bit of an enigma, as Lee started the season hurt and never seemed to be able to regain his form from previous seasons, bottoming out with a trip to the minor leagues. Lee looks to be healthy and back to his form of old. He is a decent K option and should have a good record because he plays on a very good offensive team. Go out and grab him if he is still available in your league. He won't be great, but he will be solid and consistent, look for an ERA of 3.75 and a WHIP of 1.35, to go along with a record of 15-5.

Gavin Floyd- Has seen starts in parts of the last four seasons, but only entering his second full season as a full time major league starter. He looks to have finally found a good groove and has started the 2008 season hot, throwing 3 QS in a row to go along with a decent K rate. What is impressive is that he has seen the Detroit Tigers twice this season and actually got better from his first to second start. Most of the time a team will figure a pitcher out from one start to another and put up better numbers against them the second time they see them. The fact that Floyd actually got better against a good hitting team, speaks to how unique a pitcher he can be and what he can become.

Kyle Lohse- In four starts this season Lohse has looks begrudging good. A guy who has been known to mail it in during starts when he has bad stuff, seems to be another case of the Cardinals Career Revitalization Foundation in action. He has four starts this year going 5+ innings in all of them and not surrendering more than 2 runs in any of them.

I normally wouldn't tell you to touch Lohse, but you know what he might be worth it this season. He went into the 2007 off season with agent Scott Boras expecting a 4 year $40 million dollar a year contract, and didn't get it. Didn't get anywhere near it at all, in fact he was unemployed going into spring training until the Cards were hard up for a starter. So in reality what this is for Lohse is his season to cash in on big money, so he has to pitch well. Lohse is a glorified innings eater who is going to pitch well this season so he can cash in on the 4 year $40million dollar contract he didn't get last off season. Hitters do it all the time, why not a pitcher?

Mike Pelfrey- Young Met with a hot arm. Pelfrey has spent parts of 2006 and 2007 in the majors with the Mets and both season had a common theme; disaster. But the 2008 season has seen a new Mike Pelfrey. He has bee aggressive, trusting his stuff more and has positioned himself to be able to stay with the big club for more than his usual cup of coffee because he has been so good early on. He will need to show he can do this consistently for a few more starts before I start buying that he can be a solid fantasy option, but what he has shown everyone now is that the potential the Mets talked about for years really is there and he can pitch.

Wandy Rodriguez- Lefty with dynamite stuff, great K rate, low ERA and WHIP, whats not to love? His home to road splits for one.

Home: 95 IP, 6-3, 2.94 ERA, .220 Opp BA and 8 HR Allowed          
Away: 87.2 IP, 3-10, 6.37 ERA, .287 Opp BA and 14 HR Allowed          

What is strangest among those stats is the HR away total being higher than the home total. Minute Maid ballpark is a right handed pull hitter's paradise, and should own a lefty like Wandy. The fact he thrives there, shows the kind of potential he has as a pitcher. All of Wandy's starts this year have come at home, which have probably contributed to his hot start. He is a very good pitcher and if he can figure out how to pitch on the road, the Astros have something special to go alongside Roy Oswalt as a nasty 1-2 combination.

Relief Pitchers

Manny Acosta- Someone has to close in Atlanta.

Doug Brocail- The ageless veteran reliever has become the number one set up man in the Houston bullpen and as is usually the case, they get first crack at saves if something happens to the closer. Well Jose Valverde has been bad early and really struggling to get the job done in any situation. Valverde already has 2 blown saves and has an ERA of 11.37 with a WHIP of over 2. With Valverde struggling this much Brocail might step in for a save or 2 until Jose is able to right himself. Of course there could also be more to this. Until last season Valverde was always getting hurt and missing time. Perhaps he is trying to quietly pitch through an injury now and that is contributing to his ineffectiveness. Either way, grab Brocail if you have the space for him in your league, he already notched one save the other day and maybe in line for more. He will also be a good source of holds for those of you using that statistic in your leagues.

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