Jake Westbrook, CLE: He went down with a rib cage injury after only 4 starts and was promptly dropped in a large percentage of fantasy league with little to now bench depth. He's one of those guys that are good... but not good enough for a DL slot on a fantasy roster. His ownership, at its peak, in Week 4 was 76% of CBS Sports leagues. Today it sits at a lackluster 47%. Again, he's not going to single-handedly carry your pitching staff, but for weeks like next week, when he's a two-start pitcher, he is a more than serviceable option in the deepest of fantasy leagues. Just take a look at his first four starts:
April 3: 7.1
IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 1 BB, and 3 K's
April 8: 9.0 IP, 7 hits, 3 ER, 0 BB, and 4 K's
April 14: 6.1 IP, 7 hits, 1 ER, 3 BB, and 5 K's
April 19: 7.0 IP, 8 hits, 3 ER, 1 BB, and 4 K's
Now, after looking at those numbers take a gander at these:
May 8: 6.0 IP, 9 hits, 5 ER, 1 BB, and 5 K's
May 14: 6.0 IP, 6 hits, 2 ER, 3 BB, and 3 K's
May 20: 6.0 IP, 4 hits, 1 ER, 1 BB, and 7 K's
May 25: 7.0 IP, 5 hits, 1 ER, 4 BB, and 3 K's
The stats I places above are of a pitcher who, as of right now, is owned in 97% of CBS leagues. Other than the 5/20 strikeout spike for our mystery pitcher, Westbrook looks like a pretty damn good option. For those of you who are sitting on the edge of you seat wondering who this mystery pitcher is... it's none other than the Tigers' extremely underwhelming ace, Justin Verlander.
Jesse Litsch, TOR: His ownership exploded this week to a whopping 59%, despite only 29% of leagues starting him. For that minority, Litsch has done nothing but pitch brilliantly. Of his last six starts*, Litsch has failed to go 7 innings once (5.2 @ Minnesota). During this span he sports and ERA of 2.08 and a .90 WHIP, which is insane. I don't know how anyone is looking at these numbers and passing on this kid. He doesn't strike anyone out (2:1 IP-K ratio), but he doesn't walk anyone either (9 walks in 69 IP...crazy). Other than all of that... these numbers are in line with everything he's done throughout his career, so there's no fine print or "but" after his stat line. Take a look at what I mean:
2006: 158.2 IP, 1.25 WHIP
2007: 187.1 IP, 1.25 WHIP
2008 (so far): 65 IP, 1.15 WHIP
2008 (on pace): 192 IP, 1.15 WHIP, and 3.15 ERA
That projection, to me, is a bit off. I can't see a guy whose career WHIP is 1.25 shaving it down
that much out of no where. Nonetheless, those numbers indicate that Litsch is on pace to fall somewhere in between the 2007 numbers of Greg Maddux and Chien Ming Wang. Wang's ERA is very low and Maddux's is high... but either way, these indicators are telling you to buy Litsch... and soon.
Jose Contreras, ChW: Wait... let me make sure I want to do
this... Hmmm... 42.2 IP, 2.11 ERA, 0.84 WHIP in his last six? Okay. I'll endorse Jose Contreras as an undervalued commodity (as of now). I mean, look at those numbers, that's absolutely filthy! Obviously any fantasy veteran knows that he's not going to keep this streak up. He's too old and been around the block too many times, plus he's a head-case. However, don't let someone else in your league pick him up and use him against you (don't you hate when that happen?). He's a decent start for next week and maybe the week after that... but don't ride him until he dies, because it could be swift and painful for both you and him. I wouldn't put him in the same category as the two guys listed above, but he's definitely worth picking up if you have the available roster space.