By David Ferris
Ivan Nova, SP, Yankees: We're seeing fewer ground balls and more home runs this year, a bad start. But Nova's also pushed his strikeout rate considerably (from 5.3 to 7.7) and with that in mind, we have to completely recalibrate his upside. The Yankees continue to provide Nova with strong offensive and bullpen support, which has helped him win 25 of his last 31 decisions. This isn't a star, but this absolutely is an underrated pitcher.
Joaquin Benoit, RP, Tigers: It's always something with Jose Valverde in Detroit: plunked batters, messy blown saves, and now a wrist injury. Benoit keeps rolling along in the eighth, posting a 1.99 ERA and 44 strikeouts over 31.2 innings. If Valverde needs any downtime, this is the arm you want. Don't be fooled by Phil Coke's rogue save from Tuesday, Benoit had already pitched and the Valverde injury wasn't known yet.
Ryan Vogelsong, SP, Giants: He's dramatically outperforming his underlying stats, but that story is a year and a half old - Vogelsong did the same thing last season. And low BABIPs don't come as a big surprise from San Francisco pitchers, given the run of the park. A mild amount of regression is to be expected from Vogelsong's current 2.29 ERA, but he's still one of the 30 most reliable starters in fantasy baseball, especially in the pitcher-friendly NL West. Don't outsmart yourself on this one.
Trevor Cahill, SP, Diamondbacks: He's had a bang-up June and his road numbers are terrific (2.30 ERA), but Cahill hasn't figured out the home ballpark yet (4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, just 20 strikeouts against 13 walks). Until Cahill proves he can maintain a consistent BBK rate over two (and preferably a lot higher), his angelic ground ball rate isn't enough to push him into our mixed-league plans. He's just a streamer right now, nothing past that.
Edinson Volquez, SP, Padres: His ratio stats are okay at home (not great), but he never wins there - one victory in nine turns. And his six starts on the road have been awful: 4.46 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 22 walks against 23 strikeouts. Wait until Volquez pushes his ERA under 4, then see if you can get someone to snap him up. A big strikeout rate is nice, but not everyone becomes a star pitching in Petco Park. Volquez's walk rate continues to undermine him.
Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Mariners: There's been talk of the M's going back to Brandon League in the ninth inning, but will Wilhelmsen ever open the door? The former bartender has worked a scoreless 10.2 innings this month, allowing just five base runners and punching out 14 men. Eric Wedge still has to respect his clubhouse; he can't change up the closer role with Wilhelmsen dominating like this. When in doubt, bet on the momentum; skippers are reluctant to change something that's working.
R.A. Dickey, SP, Mets: If you fell into this Cinderella Story, he's probably a forced hold: no one is likely to give you what he's really worth in a trade. Dickey throws the hardest knuckleball in baseball history, and he's had incredible command of the pitch as well (less than two walks for every nine innings). It's hard to take his stats from the last five weeks (48.2 IP, 1 ER, 5 BB, 63 K) that seriously; no one is reallythat good. But we've seen enough of the story - remember, Dickey's been consistent his entire time with the Mets - to bank on him as a Top 15 arm going forward, a set-and-forget option. And he has the upside to finish the year in the Top 5.
Daniel Hudson, SP, Diamondbacks: He's had trouble spotting his fastball and getting ahead of batters, but the BBK rate is still in a good place and there hasn't been a velocity dip. Hudson's far too good to keep that 6.60 ERA; go trade for him now and score yourself a bargain.