Monday, July 5, 2010

Pirates' Meek shall inherit

Evan Meek has been one of baseball's best kept secrets in 2010.

It probably has to do with the fact he's a middle reliever on the Pittsburgh Pirates, a franchise that hasn't been relevant in a pennant race since 1997, when a gallon of gas cost $1.22 and "Titanic" first hit movie screens.

But Meek's done enough to grab the attention of NL All-Star team manager Charlie Manuel, who named the right-hander to this year's squad.

He's been phenomenal in his set-up role for the Pirates - his 0.98 ERA is the lowest among NL relievers, and he's allowed only 5 earned runs in 46 innings and a 42/11 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Meek may have been a surprising All-Star pick over teammate Andrew McCutchen, and he doesn't get the fantasy love of Pirates closer Octavio Dotel (19-for-22 in save chances), but the former Rule V draft pick from the Tampa Bay Rays deserves to represent his team in Anaheim next week.

I've always been a fan of using dominant middle relievers to bolster your ERA and WHIP when you can afford the roster space in mixed leagues, and hopefully vulturing some wins or saves in the process. And given the Pirates' dismal record and penchant for shedding veterans at the trade deadline, it could only be a matter of time before Dotel gets shipped off to a contender and Meek is closing out games for Pittsburgh. Grab him now if the rest of your league hasn't caught on.