Mark Buehrle - White Sox (SP)
After watching Buehrle pitch an absolute gem last night against the Los Angeles Dodgers, I figued I'd take a look at his stats on ESPN.com and try to see how he's improved upon them with four solid outings in the month of June.
But the number that caught my eye was Buehrle is owned in only 31.2 percent of ESPN fantasy baseball leagues.
At first, outrage ensued, but shortly after I understood exactly why.
Up until June, Buehrle has been absolutely wretched. Not Bronson Arroyo awful, mind you, but just plain out garbage. I've always said that Buehrle is of the Greg Maddux school of pitching and that if his placement is off just a hair, just like Maddux, he can get shelled at any given time.
Now relax for a second, I'm not trying to say that Buehrle is as good as Maddux. I'm simply saying that the two rely on changing speeds, knowing hitters strengths and weaknesses and require a great defense to back them up in order to be most effective.
It's time to pick Buehrle back up and forget about the last two months.
For the month of June, he's posted a minuscule 1.89 ERA and more importantly, only six walks in four starts. In his last two starts of May he gave up six walks combined. He's got his control problems figured out and has found a groove going eight innings in each of his last three starts.
His next start is Sunday at home against the Cubs. I imagine it'd be difficult to convince anyone to pick up White Sox pitching after the way they were embarrassed by the North Siders last weekend. But if you're that worried, pick up Buehrle, absorb a wasted start while he sits on your bench for the weekend, and then ride him the rest of the way.
Aaron Laffey - Cleveland Indians (SP)
Sticking with the AL Central theme, Indians left-hander Aaron Laffey is turning some heads in the fantasy world. The Indians have been an enigma since opening day and Laffey has struggled because of it.
Inconsistent run support, overall mediocre play and effort has plagued this Indians team and Laffey has been victimized statistically because of it.
Last night was a perfect example of this phenomena.
Laffey goes 6.2 innings and gives up one earned run but doesn't pick up a win because of a stagnant offense and a pair of errors in the field.
Laffey has gone at least six innings while giving up two runs or fewer in nine of his last eleven appearances. Eventually he'll start picking up some wins because of his effort and you should try to get in on the action sooner rather than later.
Seth McClung - Milwaukee Brewers (SP)
After starting the season as a relief pitcher, McClung has made a remarkably smooth transition to the starting rotation and earned his fourth win of the season in that role.
There are moments when his control can become an issue as evidenced by two appearances in which he walked five and six batters respectively.
But McClung has worked through those issues to become a valid fantasy option.
In five of his six starts, McClung has had at least five strikeouts while holding opponents to two runs or less in that same stretch.
He's owned in a whopping 1.8 percent of ESPN leagues so I bet there's a very good chance he's available.
The Bargain Bin
Scott Baker - Minnesota Twins (SP)
3-2, 3.47 ERA, 49 K, 1.19 WHIP
Baker returned from the disabled list on June 5 after recovering from a groin injury and hasn't looked back since.
On June 20, he picked up his first win against the Diamondbacks with seven strikeouts and gave up only one run.
If you're in need of a pitcher that provides strikeouts in bunches, Baker very well may be worth your time. Averaging nearly five K's per game, Baker has posted at least seven strikeouts in five of his ten starts this season.
You could do a whole lot worse than Baker. I've said it before and I'll say it again. Sometimes you have to take chances and think outside the box instead of sticking with the guy you drafted simply because you've heard of him before.
In fantasy baseball, it's not always the studs that win games for you, sometimes it's the little guys