With the MLB trade deadline approaching, it's important for you to know what could happen to key pitchers who are being shopped.
It could easily be the difference between a decent third-place finish and a championship for your fantasy baseball team.
Take the trade deadline move from 2010 that sent Houston Astros ace Roy Oswalt to the Philadelphia Phillies. Oswalt's low ERA and high strikeout totals led to a huge bump in wins with great run support on his new team.
I'll bet many of you reading this either benefited or were burned by this very move.
Don't let it happen in 2011! Here are five pitchers you need to keep your eye on for potential moves.
Oakland Athletics closer Andrew Bailey has been solid pitching in the ninth inning this year.
The only problem is that he hasn't accrued many saves—just 12. The low number could be attributed to his delayed start due to a disabled list stint, but the opportunities to pitch during a save situation—a winning situation—doesn't come often in Oakland.
Any move to a contender who lacks a closer would be a huge boost to Bailey's fantasy value. However, few contenders are without a top-notch closer and any trade could lead to Bailey being relegated to set-up duties.
If you have him, don't hesitate to trade him to a fellow owner who thinks he's going to be traded and continue closing. Think Francisco Rodriguez on this one.
The chances of James Shields being traded are slim, but they do exist.
The Tampa Bay Rays took their pitcher off the trading block yesterday, but it's being reported that the Cincinnati Reds could still conceivably acquire him with their lot of prospects.
That small tidbit is enough to go on in a fantasy trade. If you own Shields (2.53 ERA, nine wins, 151 strikeouts) and have pitching depth, it'd be worth your while to move him for a great hitter.
The reasoning is that his value is quite high due to his great season thus far and the small chance of being traded to a better offensive team.
His opportunities to continue getting wins are going down with the mediocre offense in Tampa Bay.
After two sell-high options, here's a buy-low candidate for you. Actually—spoiler alert!—he's my only buy candidate.
Tyler Clippard of the Washington Nationals is a star in the making.
He has a microscopic ERA of 1.73 and WHIP of 0.84 this season, which might be too much for a contending team to pass on.
While Clippard might not be traded to a team and become the closer, he can offer your team valuable wins that won't take away any of your maximum starts, if you league has that setting (and most do).
There isn't a better sixth- and seventh-inning pitcher on the trading block and may not be a better one in all of baseball.
He can get your ERA and WHIP down and can add a free win here or there on the cheap if traded to a team like the Texas Rangers.
The rumors have been swirling for some time around Heath Bell, the San Diego Padres' great closer.
Beware the notion of acquiring him for you team, though. There are few ways that Bell could improve his statistics if he was traded (2.40 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 29 saves).
In fact, it could be easily argued that his stats might worsen if he were regularly inserted into high-pressure situations with an interested contender like the Philadelphia Phillies.
And finally we're to the gem of the pitchers that could be traded, Ubaldo Jimenez.
The Colorado Rockies ace was the early pick to win the 2010 National League Cy Young, but he cooled off in a big way after All-Star break, earning a 3.80 ERA and only four wins.
He really hasn't found his first-half arm from 2010 this season and now is being shopped to teams like the pitcher-hungry New York Yankees and the surprise Cleveland Indians.
His only redeeming statistic this year is that he sports a 2.83 ERA away from the thin air of Coors Field, the Rockies' home field. A trade could perhaps be great for his peripheral stats.
I don't think so, though. He was a flash in the pan last year, and you really ought to sell high while fellow owners inflate his value due to the gleam of the Yankee pinstripes.