Flamethrowers: A Look at Hot Pitchers

Nick AllenCorrespondent IMay 4, 2009

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 12: Starting pitcher Wandy Rodriguez #51 of the Houston Astros throws against the St. Louis Cardinals on April 12, 2009 at Busch Stadium in St. Louis, Missouri.  The Cardinals beat the Astros 3-0.  (Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

This week I'm going to try and stay away from the obvious guys like Greinke, Santana, Billingsley, and show some love for the "lesser" known guys. I will be basing that on the percentage of leagues that each player is owned in. All of the percentages will be found using ESPN's fantasy baseball system.



Wandy Rodriguez (82.4%)

Wandy has had two great starts which both happened to be against the Reds. In both starts against the Reds he lasted 14 innings, while giving up seven hits, one run, four walks, and striking out 15. Solid performances, but like I said, both starts where against the Reds. Wandy has the ninth best ERA in the MLB (2.19), and 20th in strikeouts (30).

I would take a shot with Wandy Rodriguez if you have the roster space.

Phil Hughes (29.3)

Hughes got his first opportunity to start this season after Chien Ming Wang made his way onto the DL. He made the best of his first start throwing six shutout innings, while allowing two hits, two walks, and striking out six. If Hughes keeps this up, Wang may be on the DL for quite some time.

Hughes is a must have in all fantasy leagues for me.

Jason Marquis (4.5)

Marquis has been on a hot streak, I wonder why he is owned in only 4.5 percent of leagues. Marquis is 4-1 on the year and even went all nine innings in his last start against the Giants giving up only five hits, one run, and one walk, while striking out four. He hasn't been much of a strikeout guy, but he's been getting the job done with his four wins.

I don't really see him keeping this up, but why not ride the hot streak?

Scott Richmond (17.2)

Richmond has been amazing on the mound lately. In his last four performances he is 4-0 in 26.1 innings of work, allowing 20 hits, six runs, ten walks, while striking out 22. You could make the case that he hasn't played very good offensive teams, but one of his best starts came against the Rangers where he lasted six innings with six hits, two runs, two walks, and eight strikeouts.

I like Richmond. He's a cheap source of strikeouts and has been getting the job done lately with his 4-0 record.

Justin Verlander (95.0)

Verlander was roughed up in his first few starts but has gotten it together in his last two. In his last game against the Indians, Verlander gave up two hits, one run, three walks, and struck out 11, holding an ERA of 1.29 in seven innings of work. In his start before that he went seven innings allowing seven hits, zero runs, zero walks, while striking out eight, his ERA was of course 0.00. Verlander is currently second in the Majors with 45 strikeouts.

I like Verlander going forward.

Mark Buehrle (93.7)

Buehrle is 4-0 on the season which is 4th best in baseball, his ERA of 3.30 currently ranks 33rd. He does have a few downsides. Buehrle only has 19 strikeouts in five starts and has not pitched more than 6.2 innings this season. Regardless, Buehrle has been getting the job done with four wins in his last four starts.

Buehrle may lack some categories, but is a solid option for wins.

Johnny Cueto (81.7)

Cueto has been solid at times this year, his best performance was yesterday against the Pirates. He went eight innings and gave up four hits, zero runs, one walk, and nine strikeouts with an ERA of 0.00. On the season he is 2-1, with 29 strikeouts (ranks 23rd), and an ERA of 1.65 which ranks fourth in the league.

Cueto was dominant at the beginning of last year but fell off quickly. I wouldn't be surprised if he broke out this year.

Edison Volquez (96.0)

Volquez has had some command issues this season giving up 21 walks in his five starts this year. He has been working on getting it under control and he seems to have done just that. In his last start he allowed just one walk, where in his previous five starts he allowed seven, five, four, and four. Along with that one walk, he allowed one hit and zero runs while striking out six; his ERA was 0.00. He is 3-2 on the season with 28 strikeouts and an ERA of 4.45.

It looks like Volquez could be returning to his dominant 2008 form.

News and Notes

Ken Takahashi replaces struggling Oliver Perez in the Mets rotation and he will start this friday.

The Cubs plan to recall pitcher Randy Wells to replace Carlos Zambrano (DL) in the rotation.

Matt LaPorta hit his first Major League home run on Monday. Let the LaPorta phenomenon begin.

Brian McCann hopes to return to the Braves by Friday.

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