Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Pitching help down the stretch

We're nearing the last two months of the baseball fantasy season and one of the areas team owners are trying to improve on for the final run toward the playoffs is pitching.
A number of top pitchers have certainly been yanked off the waiver wire in the past week, including Boston's Jon Lester who pitched a gem on Monday in his return from a bout with cancer. But who are some of the guys I've been going after who are still a bit off the waiver wire radar?
The top guy I believe who has the potential to give big returns for owners over the next 7-8 weeks is Jo Jo Reyes of the Atlanta Braves. I'm really high on Reyes who recently secured the No. 5 spot in the Braves' rotation. The Braves are making their usual late season push for the playoffs and will certainly give him run support. On Sunday, he allowed one run in 5.1 innings against St. Louis. Grab him if he's available.
Another pitcher to consider in the short term is Arizona's Yusmeiro Petit. He has been pitching in place of Randy Johnson who is recovering from a back injury. In five starts he is 2-2 with a 2.52 ERA. Johnson is expected back in a week or two but there isn't any guarantee of that happening.
There are also three pitchers ready to come off the DL who should make immediate impacts on their teams down the stretch - the Yankees' Phil Hughes, the Dodgers' Randy Wolf and Florida's Josh Johnson. And they are still available in a lot of fantasy baseball leagues.
Johnson is recovering from a forearm injury and is scheduled to make one rehab start before rejoining the team on July 31. Because of his ability, management has publicly said they likely won't be trading for a starting pitcher with the July 31 deadline approaching.
Hughes is scheduled to make a rehab start this week and if all goes well could return in a week or two (Kei Igawa would be sent to the minors). Hughes will reap the benefits of the red-hot Yankees' bats and will be a main ingredient in the Yanks' push for the playoffs.
Wolf is recovering from a shoulder injury and the Dodgers expect him to be a main force in their rotation down the stretch.
Any one of these pitchers should help or improve your roster.