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Fantasy Fix: What's So Special About Carlos Zambrano

The SP/RP designation is a favorite among fantasy baseball veterans.

Dip into the pool of pitchers who qualify both as starter and reliever, and you never know what you'll find.

Maybe a top-tier reliever who has been stretched out to be used as a starter; perhaps a young fifth (or even sixth these days) starter making a name for himself; even the occasional veteran starter who earned his "RP" during a brief visit to the bullpen.

The flexibility of these player can give your fantasy pitching staff an extra start or two each week - more innings, more strikeouts, more chance for wins - if you pick the right SP/RPs.

I didn't want to include SP/RPs in my previous draft guide posts because really they're starters you'll use in the RP slot, but they also wouldn't necessarily make anyone's list of top 20 starters.

With that in mind, I have made a list of SP/RPs worth drafting this year, as well as RPs who likely will earn the accompanying SP designation early in the season.

SP/RPs

Carlos Zambrano, Cubs: An example of an SP who spent a brief time as an RP, the ticking Zambomb is always a risk, but looked great at the end of 2010 and is having a solid spring. Could be among league's strikeout leaders again if he behaves.

Jeremy Hellickson, Tampa: Got a brief tryout last season and a ton of hype has built around him as Tampa's next young pitching star after David Price. Has a definite shot at 12 wins or more.

Brian Duensing, Minnesota: Another guy who got a peek at the action for the Twins late last year, he didn't just catch on at the end of the rotation, but will actually be the fourth starter, meaning he won't lose a starts during short weeks.

Tim Stauffer, San Diego: Much-hyped youth spent some time in the bullpen last year. He has had some injury concerns this spring, but still has had several good outings and could deliver a great ERA starting some games at Petco Park.

Justin Masterson, Cleveland: Started 29 games last year and relieved in a handful. His 6-13 record masks some quality starts, He did have a complete game shutout last year, and could provide 150 strikeouts.

Chris Capuano, Milwaukee: Former starter spent a couple seasons in the bullpen and is coming back from a serious injury, but he has had a great spring and will pitch for a very promising team.

Sleeper: Bruce Chen, Kansas City: These guys in a way are all sleepers, but Chen could make an interesting waiver pick-up during the season. He doesn't strike out very many, but he did have 12 wins last year, and the Royals supposedly are about to break from the legacy of awfulness.

RPs likely to go SP

Neftali Feliz, Texas: The top-tier closer is getting closer to starting (though the Rangers are treating the decision like it has national security implications). He's lights-out and could deliver 200 strikeouts if he starts all season.

Andrew Cashner, Cubs: Appears destined to start the season as the fifth starter, though not confirmed yet. Could struggle for wins, but he's got the desirable almost 1-to-1 strikeouts to innings ratio.

Kyle McClellan, St. Louis: Confirmed to start, and he's in great coaching hands. If the Cardinals are any good, he should get double-digit wins and many quality starts.

Phil Coke, Detroit: Looks likely that this lefty, a formerly much-hyped Yankee draft pick, will start the season as a starter. As with Stauffer, performing in a pitcher's park should really help him.

Phil Humber, White Sox: I'm reaching here, but I'm intrigued by this former first-round draft pick's comeback track with the Sox. Pitching coach Don Cooper is just the man to guide him, and with Jake Peavy now out to start the season, Humber should get at least a few starts.

Sleeper: Aroldis Chapman, Cincinnati: The Cuban Cannon (I think I just made that up) looked like a starter in spring training 2010, but the Reds sent him down, and we didn't see him again until late in the year, when he did make some noise as a reliever. Really more of a long-term projection if the Reds lose a starter or two.

Expert WIre
* Yahoo! Roto Arcade has a review of the Tout Wars fantasy draft from the defending champ of the famous elite league.

* Bleacher Report asks what is becoming an annual question: Can Russell Martin be a fantasy stud again?

* USA Today touts a "Core Four" strategy for drafting your fantasy baseball team.

* The Modesto Bee says you should just listen to your gut.

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Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at his Beachwood blog SwingsBothWays.

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