Week 18 Pickups: Among Pittsburgh Starters Are Hidden Gems

Michael SholtyContributor IAugust 2, 2009

With the final third of the season rolling around, owners all around are becoming complacent with their teams. This is the perfect time to steal the lead from these owners and find fantasy gold.

You might have an open spot in your lineup because of certain players with injuries or recent struggles. Good news for you: The free agent pool is ripe for your picking.

I'd like to establish a little credibility here before I tell you some pickups. Last week I had two articles that recommended some great pickups and trade targets. Guys like Jonny Gomes, Jeff Niemann, Everth Cabrera, Carlos Quentin and John Lackey are making me feel really good about my predicting skills right now.

Alright, enough of me patting myself on the back. Let's look at some free agents you need to grab right now for a late season push to glory.

Lastings Milledge OF PIT Last year, Milledge had a productive final two months of the season (.318, 30-7-27-11). This kid has all the tools to be a fantasy stud but most of the season he just hasn't had the chance.

He was called up last Friday and hit a combined four RBI Friday and Saturday. Hitting second in a suddenly potent Pittsburgh offense tells me he will produce very well for your team down the stretch.

Delwyn Young OF/2B When Freddy Sanchez left town, Pittsburgh found a hole at 2B. Delwyn Young is now the starting 2B in place of Sanchez. He has always been an interesting prospect (in 2007 he hit .336 with 98 RBI and 104 runs) without an everyday starting gig. At the ripe age of 27, he will now show Pittsburgh what he's got.

He's going to hit fifth in the lineup so he will see Garrett Jones, Lastings Milledge, Andrew McCutchen and Ryan Doumit on base when he goes to bat. Look for him to hit .290 with 35-45 RBI from here on out.

Jim Johnson RP BAL With the trade deadline deal that sent George Sherrill to LA, came a free agent just screaming to be picked up. His name is Jim Johnson and he will now be earning saves for Baltimore.

Ignore the fact that he's been a little flaky in recent appearances; if you need saves you don't have a choice. Look for about 8-12 saves from Johnson with a 4.20 ERA and 1.30 WHIP for the rest of the year.

Justin Masterson SP/RP CLE On Friday, Justin Masterson was dealt from Boston to Cleveland. Masterson has been a great pitching prospect but as you may know, Boston is not in need of a starter. Cleveland reports that they plan on using Masterson as a starter, so he immediately gains fantasy relevance.

He had six starts earlier this year and posted a line that didn't turn heads (2-2 35.1 IP ~4.6 ERA ~1.48 WHIP 28K 13BB) but now that he has the opportunity to be a legitamate starter instead of a "fill-in" guy, he's going to gain some stamina and by the final month he'll post some very quality starts.

Nick Johnson 1B FLA Johnson is a hitter with an injury plagued past. This season he is showing people what he can do when he plays healthy though. He might not hit for power but he has 25 HR potential and a nice swing.

Expect him to hit .300 for the rest of the year with great opportunities for runs and RBI hitting in the heart of the Marlins lineup.

Scott Podsednik OF CHW I don't even need to explain why this guy needs to be picked up anymore. The question I have is simple: Why is he only owned in about half of CBS leagues? He is a leadoff hitter with great speed, he's hitting .300, he will score runs and he sees a lot of RBI opportunities compared to other leadoff guys. He should be owned in 80 percent of leagues by now.

Clayton Richard SP SDP In his first start with the Padres, he posted a tasty box score (5.2 IP two H three BB five K  one ER). His chances to win another game this year might have flown out the door, but if you don't need wins desperately Richard will help fortify your ERA and WHIP.

Thanks for reading my article and check out more of my fantasy sports articles! Comment away, people.