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We're almost to June in our fantasy baseball campaigns, the point at which it becomes pretty hard to find any buried treasure on the waiver wire.
Sure, maybe you can land an SB specialist to help you with one category or an RP with 14 strikeouts per 9 IP to help you with another, but it's a good bet all the best players are taken.
So how is it, then, that Astros starter Dallas Keuchel was still available in more than 30% of Yahoo! leagues as of Monday?
His numbers: 6-2, 2.52 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 61 strikeouts in 70 IP, two completes games (he came within one out of having a third) and two shutouts.
He is the sixth-ranked pitcher in standard Yahoo! scoring formats, and the 28th-ranked player overall. There is not another player in the rest of the overall top 50 that is less than 89% owned.
Keuchel just won Player of the Week honors, so the secret's out now, but the truth is that is he has been pitching well all season, and has been lights-out good for the last three to four weeks.
The best reason I can think of that many owners have paused before picking him up is that he pitches for arguably the worst team in baseball (yes, I'm leaving room for someone to argue the Cubs are the worst; for the record, Houston has one more victory than the baby bears entering Tuesday, but a lower winning percentage).
Houston has not been good, and will not get much better this season. Like the Cubs, they have a stable full of young, but mostly still clueless talent. If farm system hype is to be believed, we'll see a Cubs-Astros World Series around 2017.
Despite pitching for a cellar dweller, Keuchel has gotten a ton of support from Houston's feeble bats. The Astros have scored no fewer than four runs in any of his six wins, the sort of luck that makes him Jeff Samarzdija's opposite, I suppose. If owners continue to hesitate, it's because they believe that luck will run out sooner rather than later.
Still, I'd say Keuchel is worth a gamble at this point. Even if you only get another six wins out of him, he has Samarzdija-like value in ERA and WHIP, with decent strikeout numbers.
And, who knows? Maybe Keuchel will turn out to be another Steve Carlton. In 1972, Carlton won 27 games for a Philadelphia squad that finished in last place with only 59 wins. Carlton was responsible for about 46% of his team's total victories.
* ESPN takes a look at the hottest prospects.
* Bleacher Report suggests a few possible waiver wire pick-ups.
* FoxSports.com reports that much-hyped Royals starter Yordano Ventura could be headed to the DL.
Dan O'Shea is our man in fantasyland. He welcomes your comments.
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