Friday, April 13, 2012

Gearing Up: American League, April 16-22

Welcome back to "Gearing Up", Roto Think Tank's weekly feature where we take a look at select players based on roster trends in A.L. and N.L.-only Rotisserie leagues. For a cursory explanation of how this article breaks down, please follow the attached link to last year's inaugural piece.

Rising Up
Jason Hammel (3% owned last week, 15% this week) @CHW
Jason Hammel had an outstanding outing against the Twins last week. Fantasy owners are reactionary, so naturally 12 percent of CBS owners raced to pick Hammel up. I don't recommend him as anything more than a match-up play, even in 12-team A.L.-only. He's in a strong division in a hitters' park, won't get to face the Twins every time, and won't put up a 4.67 G/F either. Hammel is a ground ball pitcher - so shouldn't get killed by Camden Yards like a fly ball pitcher would - but he's going to give up his share of homers. He's at the Cell this week. Keep him on your bench or in the free agent pool.

Kevin Millwood (2% owned last week, 4% this week) CLE, CHW
Millwood isn't as popular as Hammel, but maybe he should be. He tamped down a potent Texas line-up in Texas and definitely can be a serviceable starting pitcher pitching at Safeco. This isn't a long-term play; Millwood is a placeholder while Danny Hultzen and/or James Paxton race each other to see who gets to the bigs first. However, if Millwood can convince hard-hearted Jeff Sullivan that there's a silver lining, then maybe there's more here than just waiver wire garbage. In reality, Millwood is a match-up play in one-and-done leagues and a play for weaker teams in keeper leagues that need to roll the dice. But he could still wind up earning $5-10 in Roto this year and it wouldn't surprise me.

Possible Waiver Claims

Koji Uehara
If 2011 is any indication, I'll probably wind up writing about something in the neighborhood of 8,723 middle relievers in this space this year. Uehara is standing in for all of them this week. He's a forgotten man in mixed leagues, and even in A.L.-only he's probably mostly unowned. But Uehara has earned double-digits the last two years, was the 55th best American League pitcher in 2010, and the 40th best in 2011. While less savvy owners in your league (like the ones who don't read my stuff) chase bottom-of-the-barrel starting pitchers, it's reliable guys like Uehara that win pro players their leagues:

2011 Uehara: 65 IP, 38 H, 9 BB, 17 ER, 85 K, 2 W, 0 SV, 2.35 ERA, 0.723 WHIP, $14
2011 Josh Tomlin: 165 1/3 IP, 157 H, 21 BB, 78 ER, 89 K, 12 W, 0 SV,  4.25 ERA, 1.077 WHIP $14

While it's highly doubtful that Uehara will repeat that 0.723 WHIP, those strikeouts are almost as valuable as Tomlin's. I'm agnostic on whether or not you should own Uehara specifically, but in deep leagues you should make sure to own at least two guys like him.

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