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:
Mike Leake, Cincinnati Reds (@ Astros)
1. Don't let the shoddy seasonal marks fool you. Leake (1-5, 5.47 ERA, 1.50 WHIP) has allowed just three or less runs in five of his last six appearances.
2. From a walks perspective, Leake has given out three or fewer free passes in eight of nine outings this year. Of equal importance, he's had a positive strikeout-to-walk ratio seven times.
3. Leake has a markedly better career ERA on the road (3.80) than at his home digs in Cincy (4.21). Obviously, the smaller dimensions of Great American Ballpark are a factor, but a sub-4.00 ERA in enemy territory is still quite impressive. At Minute Maid Park specifically, Leake has a 3.68 ERA in four outings.
4. For reasons unknown, Leake has enjoyed better success pitching at night, compared to day games. In the evening, he boasts a 14-8 record, 3.86 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and 130/49 K/BB ratio.
5. When in doubt, ride the veteran pitcher who's looking for a little revenge on a middle-tier opponent. On April 27, Leake lasted only 3.2 innings against the Astros, giving up seven hits and three runs.
The Next Five For Friday
1. Kyle Kendrick (Phillies) vs. Marlins—Here's something to build on: Kendrick has surrendered two or less runs in five of his last six starts. But will that be enough momentum to halt the surging Marlins?
2. Clayton Richard (Padres) vs. Diamondbacks—It's a familiar tune to sing: Richard has allowed just seven runs in four home starts this season (spanning 27.1 innings). He's a completely different pitcher at Petco Park.
3. Jerome Williams (Angels) vs. Rangers—If Williams didn't draw Texas here, he might have been the best waiver-wire option. Instead, the Rangers Factor necessitates a three-slot dip.
4. Clay Buchholz (Red Sox) @ Blue Jays—I have little evidence to back it up, but I have a gut feeling the kid will pitch seven strong innings against Toronto.
5. Mike Minor (Braves) @ Nationals—The Atlanta hurler has been mired in a funk for quite some time. But for one night, I think he'll respond to the challenge of facing the first-place Nats...and Stephen Strasburg.
A Look Back
Tuesday's selection: Indians pitcher Justin Masterson
Final tally: 6.0 innings, nine hits, seven runs allowed, eight strikeouts and zero walks.
Jay Clemons can be reached on Twitter, day or night, at @ATL_JayClemons.