By David Ferris
Ronald Belisario, RP, Dodgers: He looks like the new closer for the Dodgers (Kenley Jansen is out indefinitely with a heart problem), and while Belisario doesn't have elite control or a silly strikeout rate, he's proven to be a trustworthy bullpen arm (2.84 ERA, 1.01 WHIP). Belisario's ground-ball profile should keep him out of trouble, as he induces a worm-burner 62.5 percent of the time. The dry run went well, as Belisario recorded the final five outs - en route to a save - Wednesday at Colorado.
Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals: Throw strikes, work quickly, keep the ball in the park - it's working wonders for the veteran right-hander. And while Lohse's surprising year has been sparked by an outstanding resume at home, he's no shrinking violet on the road (7-1 record, 3.06 ERA, 1.11 WHIP). Take a bow in retirement, Dave Duncan. You turned Lohse into one of the NL's Top 20 pitchers, getting more sink on his otherwise-ordinary fastball. The cushy environment of a weak division also helps Lohse's roto value.
Javier Lopez, RP, Giants: While he's supposed to be the lefty specialist in the Giants bullpen, not a heavy-usage guy, Lopez has found a way to record four saves in the last ten days. He hasn't allowed a run in the second half, over 19 appearances, and manager Bruce Bochy is slowly-but-surely starting to trust Lopez in longer relief appearances. Sergio Romo is still around to handle right-on-right chances, but don't worry about Santiago Casilla or Jeremy Affeldt - Bochy doesn't trust either of those guys right now.
Tim Hudson, SP, Braves: A sore back delayed his start by about three weeks in April, but Hudson has proven to be worth the wait (and he's still fresh as we turn into September). Hudson might be a tricky call in K9 leagues because he doesn't miss that many bats, but what's wrong with six wins over nine starts, along with a 1.24 WHIP and an ERA in the mid-3s? The Braves help the cause plenty, supporting their starters with outstanding outfield defense and the best right-handed closer in all of baseball. Look out for this club in October.
Shelby Miller, SP, Cardinals: The highly-touted prospect isn't up with the club yet, but it's probably just a matter of time with September roster expansion on the way. Miller was a mess during the first half of the PCL season, but he's struck out 61 batters (against just seven walks) since the break. With a ratio like that, the rest of the numbers don't even matter. And don't forget how hitter-friendly the PCL is; in a lot of ways, the NL Central could reflect an easier assignment for Miller (especially with elite catcher Yadier Molina behind the plate). It's not clear how much the Redbirds might want to use Miller in September - the 21-year-old has already passed the 130-inning mark - but with a playoff spot in the balance, he might turn into a useful arm, for real life and for fantasy.
Alfredo Aceves, RP, Red Sox: He's lost his way during an August nightmare (three blown saves, 13 runs allowed), and there was a dustup with manager Bobby Valentine in the middle of that (leading to a short team suspension). Now that Andrew Bailey is ready to handle the ninth inning again, there's no fantasy value tied to Aceves. Call him a cab.
Luke Hochevar, SP, Royals: Why does Kansas City keep slotting this failed prospect in the rotation? Although Hochevar does have an acceptable 1.21 WHIP in the second half, it's tied to one win (over nine starts) and a 4.55 ERA. And his first three months were a horror show (5.14 ERA, 1.39 WHIP). If you rank every starting pitcher for what he's accomplished in the second half, per fantasy value, Hochevar isn't even in the Top 100. Move on, Royals. See if Hochevar can reinvent himself as a reliever. Even in AL-only leagues, we can't recommend Hochevar in good conscience.
Dale Thayer, RP, Padres: A brief stint on the paternity list cost him his spot in the closing line - Luke Gregerson has been closing of late - and it's all going to be a moot point soon enough, with Huston Street returning from the DL. Even in San Diego's big park, you don't want a reliever who's merely the No. 3 option for saves.
By David Ferris