Wiretap: Gain the fantasy edge
Mike 'n Ike making waves; Andruw blazing comeback trail
Greetings and salutations.
Welcome to the new, improved and practically bursting-at-the-seams Wiretap.
Enough chit chat, there are leagues to be won. If you would like to improve your squad, by all means, read on.
After weathering the storm of a pair of high-profile late-year collapses and an injury-ravaged 2009, the dark clouds hovering over the Metropolitans franchise finally seem to be breaking up. Mike Pelfrey has certainly helped chase the blues away in 2010 and is starting to resemble the ace the Mets thought they were drafting when they plucked him with the No. 9 overall pick in the 2005 Draft. Big Pelf is a perfect 3-0 on the year with a 0.86 ERA and has limited left-handed batters to an absurdly low .100 average. He even converted the year's most noteworthy save in the Mets' 20-inning marathon vs. the Cardinals, so he's got that going for him, too. He's still walking a few too many and his 3.4 BB/9 rate is actually a tick higher than last season, but if he can keep on generating swings and misses, his owners shouldn't have any complaints.
Now to get acquainted with the other half of New York's Mike 'n Ike connection. Simply put, Ike Davis can flat-out rake. Rated the organization's No. 4 prospect by Baseball America, Davis decimated Grapefruit League pitching to the tune of a .480 average with a trio of big flies and 10 RBIs in 12 games, leaving many to wonder why he didn't break camp with a club that desperately needed both a power bat and someone competent enough to handle first base on a daily basis. Well, it didn't take long for the Mets to call off the Mike Jacobs experiment in order to promote the slugging 22-year-old, who posted a strong .298/.381/.524 triple-slash on the farm last year. Davis will get every chance to prove he belongs and should post strong power numbers for squads looking for an offensive jolt.
Owners in all formats are slowly coming to the same frightening realization that downtrodden Orioles fans have already known for the past two-plus weeks: Ty Wigginton is currently, by far, the team's most capable offensive performer. While supposed fantasy stars Adam Jones and Nick Markakis have yet to find their mojo, the 32-year-old super-sub has more than filled the injured Brian Roberts' cleats at second, slamming five homers and knocking in nearly 25 percent of the team's total runs scored. Wigginton's value is further boosted by his eligibility at three infield positions, including the keystone, where players with his type of home run power are a rare commodity on the wire.
It must be hard being Joel Pineiro. All he did last year was ring up 15 wins, a 3.49 ERA and a career-best 1.14 WHIP, only to see St. Louis pitching guru Dave Duncan to be showered with the lion's share of the praise for his standout season. Sure, Duncan deserves a lot of the credit for turning the 31-year-old control artist into the ground-ball machine he became last year, but let's not lose sight of the fact that Pineiro was the one who actually toed the rubber. He certainly hasn't seemed to miss Duncan's tutelage thus far in 2010, posting a 1.77 ERA with a 4.33 K/BB ratio that's a couple of ticks up from his strong 3.89 mark from '09. Like last year, hitters are making contact against Pineiro offerings that fall inside the strike zone, but they're not hitting them very far. He shouldn't be available in roughly half of all Yahoo! leagues, but he is.
With a 23-31 record and a career Minor League ERA of 4.38, there's not a lot about Doug Fister's track record that leaps off the stat page. Yet, the 26-year-old has handled the opposition with ease over his first three big league starts in '10. He's compiled a 1.42 ERA and a 0.84 WHIP, and took a no-hitter into the seventh inning of his most recent start, against the Orioles. The right-hander may not be flashy or punch out many, but he's demonstrated terrific control by averaging just under two walks allowed per nine innings. It was thought that the healthy return of Cliff Lee would punch Fister's ticket back to Triple-A, but he's pitching well enough to stick for now, or at least until the recovering Erik Bedard works his way back into the mix.
Cameron Maybin's considerable skill set has been on display for all to see since the beginning of the season, but he really started to thrive after he was tabbed to be Florida's leadoff man in place of the slumping Chris Coghlan. Since taking over as the Fish's table-setter, the blossoming outfielder has stung the ball at a .357 clip with six runs scored, a trio of extra-base hits and a pair of steals in seven contests. It's not often that you'll find a 23-year-old run-scoring machine on the wire, but that's exactly what we're seeing here as Maybin is currently available in 36 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
It's getting harder to ignore what Andruw Jones has been up to in his first year with the Pale Hose. The 33-year-old is riding a hot streak that has seen him swat four homers and knock in six runners over his past seven games, with the bulk of the damage coming away from the inviting confines of U.S. Cellular Field. It's worth keeping in mind that Jones is a career .258 hitter and hasn't posted an OPS greater than .800 since 2006, but he's well worth a look in deeper leagues.
Jeremy Hermida suddenly became a must-grab for AL-only owners earlier this week after 66 percent of Boston's starting outfield landed on the 15-day DL. The sweet-swinging 26-year-old never really put all of his tools to work for him in five seasons with the Marlins, but don't let that throw you off the trail. Hermida has taken to his new surroundings with gusto, sending out three jacks and plating nine in 36 at-bats, making him the best offensive option in the outfield for a team that has struggled to put runs on the board. He should be a lineup fixture while Mike Cameron and Jacoby Ellsbury recover.
Special Bonus Section: Don'ts
Yes, Livan Hernandez and Carlos Silva have pitched like world-beaters thus far. The temptation to pull the trigger on either (or both) is extraordinarily tempting, but before you do so, you should really consider the following:
Silva has dazzled the opposition thus far, spinning a lean 0.95 ERA, a 0.63 WHIP and has limited opposing batters to a meager .152 average. He even has a tidy 12/2 K/BB ratio to boot. Still, the warning signs are almost too numerous to count. Over 60 percent of balls put in play against the veteran right-hander have been of the line-drive or fly-ball variety, and his .178 BABIP suggests that he's been extremely lucky so far. Considering that opposing batsmen have worked him for a .302 average over the course of his career, it's unlikely he'll able to sustain this pace for much longer.
Lady Luck has also taken temporary residence on the shoulder of Hernandez, who went from having to settle for a Minor League pact with the Nationals during the offseason to leading all Major League starters with a 0.00 ERA after his first two starts. Like with Silva, Hernandez's .180 BABIP is so comically better than his career .296 mark, it would be nearly impossible for the 35-year-old to maintain it for any serious length of time. And although he has yet to surrender an earned run, his FIP stands at a far more realistic 3.47, so clearly he's had a few breaks go his way in the early going. If you really are comfortable going all-in on an aging starter with a 0.80 K/BB ratio, be my guest. Just remember that you've been warned.
Hey, no one got demoted this week! And yet, there are still a few things worth going over ...
Fernando Rodney's two-week run as the Angels closer came to an inglorious end Wednesday night with the activation of Brian Fuentes, who celebrated his return by promptly blowing the save and getting hung with the loss after giving up two earned runs on two hits and a pair of walks in two-thirds of an inning. We're only talking about one game, of course, but Rodney was nearly perfect in Fuentes' absence, nailing down all five of his opportunities and allowing one lone baserunner over that stretch, so it'll be worth monitoring how skipper Mike Scioscia handles the ninth over the next week.
After blowing two of his four save chances, Chad Qualls is still the man in Arizona, at least according to manager A.J. Hinch. Lucky for Qualls and his 10.80 ERA, his chief competition for 'Zona's role of chief door-slammer, Juan Gutierrez, has been no great shakes himself, with a blown save of his own and a 6.43 ERA to show for his seven appearances. Qualls is safe for now, but the situation bears watching.
The Braves temporarily forgot their manners and played the rude host to Ryan Madson on April 20, with Troy Glaus and Jason Heyward swatting a pair of two-out, bottom-of-the-ninth, back-to-back jacks against Philly's de facto stopper to send his ERA soaring to a bloated 7.71. Meanwhile, down on the farm, the Brad Lidge comeback tour pulled up to Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Wednesday night, so it should only be a matter of time before he makes his return to the bigs. Whether he'll automatically assume his old job, however, is another story entirely. Phils skipper Charlie Manuel has already gone on record saying that Lidge may not slot in as closer immediately upon his return, casting further uncertainty on what has been a tumultuous Philly bullpen over the past year. Save-seeking owners should save themselves the headaches and look elsewhere.
Like Rick Moranis' Key Master heralding the arrival of Gozer the Destructor, I'll be taking a weekly look at how everyone's favorite Harrisburg Senator is making out down on the farm, because let's face it -- expectations are not nearly as high as they could be. I'm just doing my part.
Stephen Strasburg's second Minor League outing was something of a washout (literally) as the 21-year-old dynamo finally met his match in the form of a prolonged rain delay (so he has a weakness!) that limited him to just 32 pitches (23 strikes) over 2 1/3 innings. Hmmm ... not a lot to work with there.
Fortunately, Strasburg found the time to squeeze in another outing on Wednesday morning and was his usual -- if I can use that word after only three pro starts -- overpowering self, tossing five shutout innings of one-hit ball, with 17 of his 68 pitches clocking in at 97 mph or greater. After three starts, Strasburg owns a polished 0.73 ERA with 17 Ks in 12 1/3 innings of work.
This week's ranking on the Weekly Strasburg-O-Meter: 8 -- Excited Beyond the Capacity for Rational Thought
Check back again next week for more on the prized righty.
Chris Stryshak is a fantasy writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.