We’re about to close out the first week of June, and with it, officially move into the second third of the baseball season.
While a plethora of surprising pitchers have found homes on many fantasy baseball rosters, there are plenty that still reside on waiver wires.
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Along with Niese and Hughes, here are some readily available free agents worthy of streaming this weekend:
(Player ownership percentages are based on ESPN.com fantasy leagues)
» Jon Niese, New York Mets (37.5 percent owned): “The Nose”, as he was affectionately called before called before Carlos Beltran paid for his surgery, has flown under the radar all season, but Niese has in fact been the Mets’ most consistent starting pitcher to date. Taking a look at his win totals (three) hardly paints the whole picture, as the Mets’ offense has afforded him just 3.64 runs of support per game, which is 28th-worst in baseball. He has, however, posted a sparkling 2.69 ERA in 11 starts and also managed a 2.43 ERA on the road, which will come in handy when he faces off vs. the Giants in San Francisco on Friday. If your league counts quality starts, Niese is your guy, as the southpaw has recorded a QS in eight of his last 10 outings.
» Phil Hughes, Minnesota Twins (72 percent owned): I recommended Hughes in last week’s column, and he didn’t disappoint, shutting down the Yankees with eight innings of three-hit, two-run ball. Hughes has been so dominant of late that the two walks he issued against New York were the only free passes he had allowed over his previous six starts. On Friday, he’ll get to face the Houston Astros at home. The ‘Stros have been playing better of late and will send out their own ace in Dallas Keuchel, but you can’t pass up the chance to add a guy who’s been pitching as well as Hughes has and who will have the luxury of facing an offense that is 27th in the league in team batting average (.236).
» Tanner Roark, Washington Nationals (10 percent owned): It’s really shocking to me when I see hot players with ownership percentages that are this low. Chris Tillman has a 5.20 ERA and is owned in 56 percent of ESPN leagues while Roark is being overlooked nearly everywhere. Since April 21, all Roark has done is put together a 2.58 ERA over 52 1/3 innings pitched. And if you take out his May 7th start in which he allowed 7 ER to the Phillies, his ERA would be an even more incredible 1.49 in that span. His 6.5 K/9 isn’t gonna wow anyone, but he does a good job of keeping the ball in the park, having allowed just seven homers on the season. As a fantasy baseball owner you can’t ask for anything more than to have a pitcher face the Padres’ god-awful offense, and to be able to do so in San Diego.
» Chris Archer, Tampa Bay Rays (69 percent owned): Archer really should be owned in all but the shallowest of formats. A bad run over his first eight starts (5.16 ERA) led to him being dropped by many owners, but with just three earned runs total over his last four starts, he’s been able to get his ERA down to a very respectable 3.73. If he can cut down on his walks (3.6 per 9 innings), his 2.99 FIP shows he can be one of the better pitchers in baseball this year. He has a juicy matchup Sunday vs. the weak-hitting Mariners, but Archer should be owned across the board in all leagues regardless of who he is pitching against.
Some other pitchers to consider if you need the starts:
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» Charlie Morton, Pittsburgh Pirates: He’s set to face a tough Brewers squad on Sunday, but Morton has been superb at home (2.39 ERA, 1 HR allowed in 37.2 IP) and has given up two runs or less in six of his last seven starts.
» Jose Quintana, White Sox: Quintana is a quality start machine, failing to record a QS in just two of his 12 starts this season. There’s no reason the White Sox’ left-hander should be unowned in most leagues, let alone 90 percent of them. He’ll pitch on Sunday vs. the Angels.