Saturday, July 17, 2010

Second-half reinforcements

Looking for an arm or two to bolster your pitching staff for the second half? Here are a few friendly suggestions:

Brett Anderson has been phenomenal this year - whenever he's available to pitch, that is. The Oakland ace has compiled just 30.2 innings this year because of lingering elbow tendinitis, but oh, what a memorable 30.2 innings they were (22 strikeouts, 4 walks). Anderson's currently on a rehab assignment, and while he's still rounding back into form (4 innings, 7 hits in a Rookie League start Thursday), you may be able to scoop him up off waivers if he's been forgotten in your league. Lots of upside here if that elbow's healed.

Edinson Volquez is another overlooked, injured hurler who demands your attention. The former Tommy John patient hasn't pitched in the majors for a year and a half, but his minor-league rehab has gone well this year (4-0, 1.45 ERA in six starts), and he's due to make his return Saturday vs. Colorado. Be prepared for some bumps - witness Francisco Liriano's rocky 2009 comeback from Tommy John surgery, among other horror stories - but Volquez's strikeout and win potential with the Reds can't be overlooked.

Perhaps you're looking for a breakout rookie pitcher? Try San Francisco's Madison Bumgarner, a 2007 first-rounder and owner of a career 34-6 record, 2.00 ERA and 4.09 K/BB ratio in his minor league career. Since his call-up at the end of June, the lefty is sporting a 2.57 ERA and 1.04 WHIP with 21 strikeouts against five walks. Still plenty of room on the bandwagon.

If relievers are more your speed, why not take a shot at Boston setup man Daniel Bard? The flamethrower has been one of the league's top setup men (1.90 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, league-leading 19 holds), which along with his strikeouts (45) make him valuable enough as it is. Add in the fact that he's the Red Sox closer of the future and has already vultured a few saves off the volatile Jonathan Papelbon and Bard gets even more intriguing.

Photo by The Associated Press