Nothing like some NL starting pitchers to help boost a fantasy staff, so here’s three quality guys that could be had for free(-ish) on the waiver wire…
R.A. Dickey | SP | Mets | Ownership: 13% Yahoo!, 3.9% ESPN
Aside from a four inning, six run disaster against the Braves two starts ago, Dickey has been able to shake off his early season struggles to allow more than one earned run just twice in his last six starts. The walk rate graph pretty much tells it all…
Once the knuckleball started behaving like it did last season, Dickey took off and has become the horse the Mets expected him to be (7.2 IP or more in four of his last five starts) when they gave him a multi-year deal in the offseason. Batters aren’t chasing the knuckler off the plate as often as they did last year (27.5% to 29.4%) but his strikeout rate is up to 6.11 K/9, which is nothing special but still better than the 5.37 mark he had in his “breakout” last season. Knuckleball guys always tend to be a little hit or miss, so you’re going to assume some risk by carrying Dickey. Even starts against bad offense are hardly guarantees. He’s give it a go at the Tigers tomorrow, at home against the Yankees over the weekend, and then at the Giants right before the All-Star break.
Tim Stauffer | SP, RP | Padres | Ownership: 48% Yahoo!, 25.9% ESPN
It took a little longer than expected, but the Padres are just now getting the kind of return they expected from Stauffer when they made him the fourth overall pick in 2003. The 29-year-old is sitting on a gloriously aligned 3.09 ERA/3.09 FIP/2.98 xFIP sixteen starts into his season, and he’s been even better of late. Following Saturday’s seven inning, two run, nine strikeout gem against the Braves, Stauffer owns a 1.98 ERA (~3.20 FIP) and 1.00 WHIP in his last six starts. Only once in that stretch has he allowed more than two earned runs, just twice more than one earned run. Stauffer’s strikeout rate is up almost a full whiff per nine this year (7.45 K/9) and he’s getting an above average number of ground balls (54.5%). With a walk rate hovering around two per nine (under that if you take out intentional walks), Stauffer’s not just a solid fantasy option, he’s a borderline ace. He’ll head into the All-Star break with starts against the Royals at home, then on the road against the Giants and Dodgers, all favorable matchups.
Randy Wolf | SP | Brewers | Ownership: 33% Yahoo!, 35.3% ESPN
The Brewers did not get what they expected out of Wolf last year (0.7 WAR) after giving him a three-year, $29.75M deal last offseason, but he’s already eclipsed that production 16 starts into 2011 (0.8 WAR). His current run features a 2.41 ERA (~3.70 FIP) over his last eight starts, bringing his season totals down to 3.20 and 4.08, respectively. Wolf’s strikeouts aren’t great (6.68 K/9) but they’re better than last year about almost exactly the same as his three-win season in 2009. He’ll give up some homers because he’s a pretty extreme fly ball guy (just 36.1% grounders, down from ~39% over the last few years), but a 2.75 BB/9 helps keep that in check. You’ve got to pick your spots wisely with Wolf, who will face the Yankees on the road before going home for starts against the Diamondbacks and Reds leading into the break.