Fantasy Baseball: Performances on the Mound Wednesday Worth Watching out for

Scott Cournoyer@MDC_CournoyerContributor IIIMay 3, 2012

MESA, AZ - MARCH 28:  Starting pitcher Jeff Samardzija #29 of the Chicago Cubs pitches against the Cleveland Indians during the spring training game at HoHoKam Park on March 28, 2012 in Mesa, Arizona  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Fantasy baseball is filled with back-and-forth weighing of players, teetering-on-the-edge decisions on who to start from outing to outing. Sometimes, it’s almost impossible to figure out who’s rising in the ranks, where to find the diamonds in the rough that emerge to turn your fantasy league upside-down.

Wednesday night was full of surprises, with guys on the hill that are slowly adding value to manager’s rotations across all fantasy leagues. Here are a few guys from last night that fantasy owners should watch out for as we head into the month of May:

Jeff Samardzija (CHI)- The once-promising NFL prospect is slowly turning the perception around that he won’t make it in the big leagues.

After brief stints in the bullpen over the last few years, Samardzija, 27, is finally getting his opportunity in the rotation, and he is making the absolute best of it.

Samardzija tossed 7.2 innings while allowing only one earned run off three hits in a 3-1 victory over the Reds Wednesday night. Samardzija moves to 3-1 on the season, continuing to rack up the strikeouts with seven punch-outs against Cincinnati for 32 this season over 31.2 innings.

Samardzija is keeping the ball in the park, having only surrendered one home run all season. Even with a string of successful outings of late, look for Samardzija to level off and for the strikeout rate to decline a bit. He hasn’t been through a major-league lineup more than three times in his career, so hitters will adjust the more they see him, and it’s up to Samardzija to make his adjustments when that happens.  

Brandon McCarthy (OAK)- McCarthy was once a top-level pitching prospect for the White Sox, and he has finally stayed healthy long enough to take advantage of the opportunities in front of him.

McCarthy, now set at the top of the rotation for the Athletics, fanned four over 6.2 innings in a 4-2 victory over the Red Sox Wednesday. He allowed only one earned run off five hits, lowering his season ERA to 2.96 in the process.

McCarthy has pitched relatively well for most of this short season so far, holding a 2-3 record while holding a mediocre .279 opponent’s batting average against.

Expect McCarthy to get little help from Oakland’s’ offense but for the rest of the numbers to be in line.

Wandy Rodriguez (HOU)- There’s a proverbial line that comes with Rodriguez and the talents and faults he shows on an outing-by-outing basis.

With electric stuff, Rodriguez has struggled throughout his career to put everything together for an extended period of time.

Last night, he proved again that he’s more than just a “serviceable” starter in fantasy leagues, and that he might be showing signs of turning the corner for good.

Behind seven innings of one-run ball, Rodriguez helped the Astros claim an 8-1 win over the Mets while moving to 3-2 on the season. With five punch-outs, Rodriguez increased his total to 27 over 38.1 innings in this young season. He also holds a blistering 1.64 ERA so far.

He’s finding ways to keep the walks down, a fault of his over his career. He’s also holding an impressive 1.10 WHIP, keeping the hit rate against him low while tossing effective innings.

Like McCarthy, Rodriguez shouldn't get a lot of offensive help, but can be expected to continue to pitch effectively despite the lack of support.

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