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A perfect game has a way of putting you on the fantasy baseball map, as Phil Humber is finding out this week. Numerous fantasy blogs are now recommending him has a pick-up, and though his ownership in Yahoo! leagues was still just 44% as of Tuesday, that was up from 22% before Saturday's masterpiece.
Humber actually may have rated as a waiver wire sleeper even before the perfect game, with seven strikeouts in 5.1 innings in his first outing of the season, a game he was in line to win until the bullpen blew it.
As it turns out, he is not the only Chicago player who rates right now as an interesting waiver wire pick-up. The Sox have opened strong, putting several players who were not likely drafted into fantasy play. The Cubs, well, let's just say the talk of 100 losses is not surprising anyone anymore, though they still may produce a few fantasy bench players.
Here's who I see right now as Chicago's very own waiver wire darlings (maximum Yahoo! ownership of 75%):
Jake Peavy, SP: He had seen enough pick-ups after Monday night's complete game that he was exactly 75%-owned as of Tuesday. He may have been a chic last-round draft pick in some fantasy leagues, but his first three starts (3-0, 1.88 ERA, 26 strikeouts) suggest he should be a factor in all fantasy formats.
Alejandro De Aza, OF: The lead-off man has stepped up, with eight of his 17 hits going for extra bases. He also has 14 runs scored, and has two stolen bases thus far. 59%-owned in Yahoo!
Adam Dunn, 1B: The first week of the season looked like the epic fail of 2011, but in the last week he has 3 HRs and 11 RBI. 66%-owned in Yahoo!
A.J. Pierzynski, C: He's hitting more consistently right now than he has in five or six years, with 4 HRs and 15 RBI. 63%-owned in Yahoo!
Alex Rios, OF: I'll tentatively endorse him based on his 11-game hitting streak. Only 1 HR so far, but a surging on-base percentage should put him in line for more SBs. 50%-owned in Yahoo!
Chris Sale, SP/RP: With Humber, Peavy and Sale all recommended pick-ups, you'd think the Sox hadn't lost a game yet. Sale has been a little uneven, but his propensity for strikeouts (21 Ks in 18 IP) is key to his value. The dual eligibility helps. 65%-owned in Yahoo!
Hector Santiago, RP: An early blown save is reason for concern, but he already has four saves and if the Sox can keep the edge and keep giving him leads, he should have nice fantasy value. 62%-owned in Yahoo!
Bryan LaHair, 1B/OF: He has eight walks in 10 games and a 1.106 OPS, as well as finally earning 1B eligibility. Still more of a back-up fantasy-wise, but the buzz hasn't died down. 34%-owned in Yahoo!
Darwin Barney, 2B: For the second year in a row he is making himself relevant for fantasy leagues. Nineteen hits puts him among the league leaders. His alleged bulking up in the off-season has resulted in just a single home run, but consider he had only two all of last year. A decent option right now if you have a bigger-name 2B who is struggling. 10%-owned in Yahoo!
Jeff Samardzija, SP/RP: Going into Tuesday's start, he had two wins for a five-win team. The jury is still out on him, but decent strikeouts (16 Ks in 17.1 IP) should make him worth owning if he can keep his ERA under control. 25%-owned in Yahoo!
Steve Clevenger, C: This is highly speculative and for now he doesn't play enough to be worth picking up, but if the rumors this week about Geovany Soto being traded actually result in a deal, he will be handed the starting job.
* Yahoo! Pickups of the Week include Humber, Rios and even a guy who used to play for the Sox.
* Bleacher Report says Soto may still have fantasy value. I wouldn't be surprised, though if he does it may be in Tampa, not Chicago.
* FakeTeams reports on the rapidly changing fantasy value of Daniel Bard, SP/RP, Boston. He went from starter to set-up man, which is a decline in fantasy value, but he could be upgraded to closer.
* No real fantasy point here, but Bleacher Report makes the case that Kid K's 20-strikeout game is more impressive than Humber's perfect game. I don't know, but I get the point: 21 perfect games, but only five 20-strikeout games ever recorded, and two of those needed an extra inning.
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