Fantasy Baseball's 12 Most Surprising Pitchers of April
There is no doubt that there have been some eyes opened by several unexpected pitchers this year. Some of these pitchers have turned back the clock, while others have virtually come out of nowhere. No matter how they are doing it, they are getting the job done.
Here are the 12 biggest fantasy pitching surprises for the month of April:
12. Heath Bell
2009 Fantasy Stats: 8.2 IP, 0 W, 8 SV, 9 K's, 0.00 ERA, 0.69 WHIP
Heath Bell was a serviceable set-up reliever for Trevor Hoffman over the past two seasons.
When Hoffman left town, Bell was called upon to be the Padres' ninth inning stopper.
It was hard to know what to expect from Bell in his first role as a closer, because he had only recorded two saves, while blowing a total of 12 save opportunities over his career.
However, he is exceeding all expectations and has been one of the top closers so far in the young season.
11. Kyle Lohse
2009 Fantasy Stats: 32 IP, 3 W, 19 K's, 1.97 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
Lohse doesn't have the type of stuff where he blows hitters away, but he mixes pitches well enough to keep hitters off balance.
The Cardinals will be without their ace Chris Carpenter for quite some time and Lohse is doing his best to try and fill that void.
10. Wandy Rodriguez
2009 Fantasy Stats: 32 IP, 2 W, 27 K's, 1.69 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
Rodriguez has been making hitters look flat out silly with his nasty 12 to six curveball.
It has taken Wandy quite some time to find success in the big leagues, but it seems like he is starting to hit full stride this season.
9. Frank Francisco
2009 Fantasy Stats: 10.2 IP, 1 W, 6 SV, 9 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.56 WHIP
One of the top fantasy closers out of the gate has been Frank Francisco.
Coming into this season, Francisco had five career saves and nine career blown saves. So to say the least, the Rangers were taking a bit of a gamble to expect Francisco to excel in the closer role.
So far, the experiment has been a huge success.
8. Ryan Franklin
2009 Fantasy Stats: 10.1 IP, 0 W, 7 SV, 9 K's, 0.00 ERA, 0.58 WHIP
Franklin gets the nod over Frank Francisco because unlike Francisco, Franklin was not envisioned as the teams closer before the season got underway.
As a matter of fact he was most likely the third option, behind Jason Motte and Chris Perez as the Cardinals' closer before the season began.
7. Edwin Jackson
2009 Fantasy Stats: 32 IP, 1 W, 21 K's, 2.25 ERA, 1.03 WHIP
I have to admit, from 2004 to 2007, it seemed like Jackson didn't even belong on a major league roster. He was getting lit up more times than a joint at a Bob Marley concert.
Edwin Jackson has always been able to throw some serious smoke. His fastball consistently touches 95 mph. However, that has never been enough for Jackson to turn in any solid seasons, until now.
Now with a change of scenery, Jackson seems to have his head on straight and is turning into the pitcher he was once thought to be.
6. Armando Galarraga
2009 Fantasy Stats: 24.1 IP, 3 W, 24 K's, 1.85 ERA, 1.23 WHIP
Very little was known about Galarraga before he broke onto the big league scene last year. He was not a highly regarded prospect, but he had a respectable rookie season last year with Detroit.
He was a decent player to own last season on fantasy rosters, but this year he is a must own player. He has upped his game to the next level and could soon replace Justin Verlander as the ace of the Tigers' staff, if Verlander continues his struggles.
5. Zach Duke
2009 Fantasy Stats: 29.2 IP, 3 W, 16 K's, 2.43 ERA, 1.11 WHIP
Duke had a very promising rookie season back in 2005 and he seemed to have a very bright future ahead of him. However, his three seasons following his rookie year turned out to be a nightmare for Duke.
From 2006 to 2008, Duke compiled 507.2 innings, allowing 646 hits and a 4.82 ERA. In 2007, opponents hit a robust .359 average off of Duke.
So to see the Duke bouncing back from those horrendous years is quite the turnaround.
4. Ricky Romero
2009 Fantasy Stats: 21 IP, 2 W, 13 K's, 1.71 ERA, 1.10 WHIP
Ricky who? He was virtually unknown to everyone before the season began. He was a mediocre prospect in the minor leagues at best.
The Jays decided to give Romero a shot in the rotation this year after a solid spring training and it has worked out like a charm.
Romero is on the DL at the moment with a strained right oblique muscle. Hopefully, for fantasy owners' sake, he can continue right where he left off when he returns.
3. Kevin Millwood
2009 Fantasy Stats: 38 IP, 2 W, 22 K's, 2.13 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
It must be 1999 again, because Millwood is at the top of his game.
Millwood owned over a five ERA in each of the past two seasons. At 34 years of age, it seemed as if Millwood's career may have been dwindling down, but he has been resurrected this season and is enjoying a much needed boost towards the back end of his career.
2. Tim Wakefield
2009 Fantasy Stats: 29 IP, 2 W, 17 K's, 1.86 ERA, 0.97 WHIP
Wakefield is usually the fourth or even fifth starter for the Red Sox, but so far he has been their ace. Usually it's Beckett, Dice-K or Lester leading the way for the Red Sox, however, Wakefield is the unlikely hero leading Boston's rotation in the early going.
1. Zack Greinke
2009 Fantasy Stats: 36 IP, 5 W, 44 K's, 0.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP
Zack Greinke is the best pitcher through the first month of baseball? It sounds odd to say, but it's true. Not only is he the best pitcher up until this point in time, he is the number one overall ranked player according to Yahoo!
Greinke has put up some decent fantasy seasons in years past, but nothing that can even be closely compared to this season.
His numbers this year are almost too good to be true, which is why he is the biggest pitching surprise of the young fantasy season.