We're approaching the sixth-way point of the 2012 season, which means we've got injuries and enough of a sample size to offer a couple pitching options that could do you well if you're looking for help. Here are four under the radar players you might want to consider targeting...
Danny Duffy, SP, Kansas City Royals
By now, Duffy may or may not be owned in your league—I actually just made a trade for him this week. So far he’s 2-2 with a 3.57 ERA and 1.37 WHIP. These aren’t impressive numbers by any means, but the 23-year-old lefty will probably become the Royals' ace by the end of the year.
The Royals got off to an incredibly bad start, at one point losing 11 straight games. As this offense clicks (and it will), expect Duffy to at least benefit in the win category of the stat sheet. Duffy is predominately a fly-ball pitcher, but that isn’t such a drawback when you consider the park factor of Kauffman Stadium. He’s coming off a win against the New York Yankees and his confidence should only improve as he gets more starts under his belt.
Derek Lowe, SP, Cleveland Indians
Odds are, Lowe is owned in your league. So far this year he has been a pleasant surprise, posting a 4-1 record. There will be a stretch run where Lowe looks more like the 38-year-old pitcher who Atlanta traded to Cleveland in the offseason, that’s mostly because Lowe has a stunning ground ball-to-fly-ball ratio. Eventually those ground balls are going to find holes and Lowe will get rocked in a couple of starts.
Then again, maybe he won’t.
Playing in a hitter-friendly park (Progressive Field) the Indians have one of the best infield defenses in the majors. This is mainly why Lowe is second in the league in wins. His only loss came against Seattle, the only game in which he gave up more fly balls than ground balls. Lowe is currently fifth in the A.L. with a 1.35 ground ball/fly ball rate.
If you’re an owner of Derek Lowe you’ve got something good going for you—he’s a motivated veteran. Atlanta virtually dumped him off to Cleveland in a trade; they were willing to eat up more than half of his remaining salary left on his contract. Lowe really has nothing left to prove in his 15th year in the majors, and that is what makes him such a dangerous pitcher. It’s never a good idea to get rid of a veteran pitcher after just one poor year. This is why if you don't have him, he would be a great pickup in a trade sooner rather than later.
Edinson Volquez, SP, San Diego Padres
Volquez is 0-2 with a 2.92 ERA and he is playing for a terrible San Diego team. Volquez is surprisingly owned in only 16 percent of ESPN leagues. He is primarily a ground-ball pitcher and now that he has found himself in San Diego pitching in Petco, fewer fly balls are leaving the park for him than at any point in his career. This explains his low WHIP of 1.16 (compared to his career average 1.47). Volquez has walked a lot of hitters (18 BB in 37 innings pitched), but he’s also struck out 33 batters. Teams are hitting his fastball fairly well (.317 average), but struggling with his changeup (only .167) which he throws 24 percent of the time.
Rafael Soriano, RP, New York Yankees
After the devastating injury to the Mariano Rivera, Soriano is currently flying off the waiver wire. Prior to Thursday, he was owned in 0.9 percent of ESPN leagues. That number has since jumped to 12 percent. Manager Joe Girardi has still yet to decide who will take over the closing duties, as it is between Soriano and David Robertson, but I would expect Soriano to be the man. This is pure filler pick-up as there’s nothing that would indicate Soriano will be a dominant closer, let alone a viable one, but he’s certainly worth the chance.
As a set-up man, Soriano was 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA, 1.89 WHIP, and eight strikeouts.