Mixed-league roto owners, are you in need of a waiver-wire pitcher before Friday's slate of games?
Here's my free-agent choice (from the majority of 12-team leagues) for one day of fantasy stardom:
A.J. Burnett, Pittsburgh Pirates (vs. Cubs)
1. In five of his last six starts, Burnett (2-2, 4.78 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 33 strikeouts) has allowed either zero or two runs. (And yes, we're conveniently ignoring the 12-run meltdown against the Cards in that span.)
2. Burnett, a double-digit strikeout threat every time he takes the hill, has seven or more strikeouts in three of his six outings. From a walks perspective, Burnett hasn't yielded more than three free passes in any start.
3. In five career appearances against the Cubs, Burnett (4.06 ERA) has 31 strikeouts in 31 innings. He has also never lost to the North Siders.
4. At Pittsburgh's PNC Park, Burnett has a lifetime ERA of 2.37 (according to Retrosheet.org).
5. The waiver-wire slate for Friday isn't that deep, so when in doubt, ride the fire-balling veteran who likely won't be overwhelmed by a Cubs lineup that features Ian Stewart, Darwin Barney, Reed Johnson, Blake Lalli and David DeJesus.
The Next Five For Friday
1. Blake Beavan (Mariners) vs. Angels—A sneaky-good candidate to register six to seven strikeouts and allow just two or three runs against Anaheim.
2. Anthony Swarzak (Twins) vs. Tigers—Swarzak earns this lofty ranking on the strength of his Friday opponent (slumping Detroit), not necessarily his own track record.
3. Dillon Gee (Mets) vs. Padres—Gee has developed an interesting pattern of performance for the young season. For his second start after surrendering seven runs, fantasy owners can expect six strikeouts and just two runs allowed.
4. Bruce Chen (Royals) @ Orioles—The veteran southpaw has been stellar in his last three outings...but I'm not feeling Chen for excellence against the Birds.
5. Ross Detwiler (Nationals) @ Braves—The presumptive weak link of Washington's awesome rotation gets a shot at redemption in Atlanta. Can he break through with seven strikeouts?
A Look Back
Wednesday's selection: A's pitcher Jarrod Parker
Final tally: 7.0 innings, five hits, one run allowed, eight strikeouts and one walk.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.