There’s no better feeling in fantasy baseball than taking a flyer on a player only to watch your selection pay huge dividends off the wire. If you’ve been following the wire picks of the last few weeks from the LIP, you should be the enjoying the benefits of Carlos Beltran stand in, Ángel Pagán (NYM-OF) and 5-1 rookie sensation Mike Leake (CIN-SP). Not to mention you heard about springing a Leake when the rookie was zero percent owned but now is not the time to toot my own fantasy horn. On this week’s version of the wire, there are a slew of new discount players that will join our former picks with pride as you’ll rise with the temperature in your fantasy baseball league.
Percentage of players available taken from Yahoo! Fantasy Baseball leagues
Brandon Morrow (TOR-SP, RP) – 18% owned
Want to talk about turning up the heat? This flame throwing right hander has turned in five straight quality starts of three runs or less going 1-1 during the stretch. The big thing with power pitchers is their ability to control the strike zone and harnessing that power to minimize the walks and maximize the K’s. If Morrow can limit the walks, and that is always a difficult task, he’s a K machine that eats up hitters with his raw, overpowering fastball. Morrow has fanned a little more than a man an inning, striking out 84 in 76 innings pitched this season for the Jays. Widely owned and brimming with upside, the sun will come out tomorrow for your pitching staff with Brandon Morrow.
Jason Vargas (SEA-SP, RP) – 31% owned
Despite hesitation to embrace Vargas by the fantasy community, the southpaw has quietly produced a very useful season for the woeful Seattle Mariners. Vargas has reeled off 10 quality starts out of the 12 appearances he has made, good enough for a 6-2 mark with a sparkling 2.66 ERA to boot. While the strikeout numbers aren’t much to speak of (60 in 90.1 innings of work), Vargas has shown great control (1.08 WHIP) to force his way as the 72nd best fantasy option in all the land. His next start comes against the mighty Yankees, a great barometer on whether the lefty can handle some of the best hitting in the league. Weary owners can stash him on the bench until you become a believer in Vargas but the quality starts will continue to roll in if Vargas can continue his train of success.
Carl Pavano (MIN-SP) – 41% owned
Pavano has followed the same formula of success as Vargas has: throw strikes and let the defense go to work for you. Pavano won’t wow you with an explosive fastball or a variety of sharp breaking stuff but his ability to pound the zone has propelled Pavano into fantasy starter relevancy. Pavano has gone no less than seven innings in his last five starts, compiling a 4-1 record including a complete game four-hitter against the power hitting Phillies. The former Yankee has performed well in June, hurling 31 innings while going 3-1 with a sub-3.00 ERA. Pick up this Twinkie and he’ll give you a good chance each time out of snatching a win pitching for a quality club like the Minnesota Twins.
As discussed in an earlier post, starting pitching might not always get the job done in a league where a minimum innings pitched rule is in effect. In honor of those leagues, here’s a fresh new batch of middle relievers that can help boost K’s and erase any ill fated starts from one of your leading aces.
J.J. Putz (CHW-RP) – 4% owned
Mets fans don’t look now but J.J. Putz is pitching and there is no sling attached. Putz has returned beautifully from last year’s season ending elbow injury. JJ has yet to allow a run in June, pitching eight innings of shutout baseball while striking out 10. There’s some value to be had with Bobby Jenks battling some injuries in the back end of the White Sox bullpen and Putz seems to be number one in line if Jenks goes down. Putz is currently setting up for the Sox, posting a 2.19 ERA in 24.2 innings thus far.
Daniel Bard (BOS-RP) – 22% owned
Bard is the heir apparent to Jonathan Paplebon in Beantown and he’s showing why this season. In 86 professional innings, Bard has set down 101 via the strikeout while maintaining a 3.03 ERA. This season, Bard has thrown 36.2 innings with a 2.21 ERA and a little more than a K per inning with 38 strikeouts to his resume. The hard throwing righty could be in line for some saves if Paps goes down with injury but is still sure to help lower that ERA and WHIP while piling up strikeouts along the way. Playing for a winning team also provides the opportunity for Bard to vulture a few wins here and there.