Hasn't Wandy Rodriguez come a long way since his major league debut. This might sound incredibly cliched, but it is true. When he was called up at the age of 26 (it might have been 24 if not for a 'mix up' of ages), we did not see anything which would make us believe he might be a future front of the rotation starter.
When Brandon Backe went down to injury in 2005 briefly it was Rodriguez and Ezequiel Astacio in the back of the rotation, creating possibly the greatest imbalance between the front and the back to a rotation ever. Still, year-on-year, Rodriguez has improved, to the point where he has the lowest ERA in the National League over the past calender year, and second only to Felix Hernandez in the majors. That is pretty darn impressive, and all the more puzzling that he has flown so far under the radar, considering his 2.47 ERA over the past 12 months.
Give the man an all-star place already, and a slot on your fantasy team. Rodriguez's success this year has been based on two things. Not letting men on base score, and only coughing up home runs of the solo variety. His LOB% for 2011 stands at 86.6%, the highest total in the majors , so you might think his sucess has been a fluke and he is bound to crash down to earth at some point, but his LOB% over the past 12 months is only 82.7%, second in the majors over that stretch to Roy Halladay, so it is not too much of a jump to believe he could keep this up for an entire season.
The other big thing about Wandy is the home runs he has allowed, which seem to be all of the solo variety, bar one. Of the nine he has given up, eight have been solo shots. All of this suggests to me that Wandy is a keeper, and while his win totals and Ks will disappoint many, his ERA and decent WHIP make him worthy of having on your staff.
More after the jump.
Other things to watch out this week are people stupidly dropping Hunter Pence onto waivers because he has been injured for more than a week. Pence could return today, and reports suggest that Manager Brad Mills is being super cautious with the right fielder.
Rising: Matt Downs and Bud Norris. His home run in the ninth of Neftali Feliz was massive, both to avoid the sweep and to give the Astros a bit of impetus heading into the series with the Tampa Bay Rays. It is always nice to hand the Rangers a loss as well. Whether Brad Mills will play Downs at second or third, he has to start giving the infielder far more playing time. In 93 plate appearances he has five runs, only one less than second place Chris Johnson and four less than team leader Pence. If you have a utility spot free on your roster, pick Downs up.
With three straight superb starters and two 1-0 losses to show for it, Norris has seen his ERA drop to 3.26 and has allowed 2 ER over his last 21 innings. Considering he left his start against the Padres with the Astros up 6-2, he also did his job in that game too. He is still available in a quarter of all leagues, and given his strikeout numbers, he is a worthy addition to your roster.
Getting a fair approximation of: Jordan Lyles. At times he has been fantastic, and with a small nudge he could be getting really good results. For now, he's pitching like a middle-rotation starter. His 1.167 WHIP is excellent and he has struck out 26 batters in 30 innings of work. If he had two or three wins in his five starts, he could be a smart pickup, but for now he's someone worth watching.
As for the rest, Jason Bourgeois is not getting enough playing time to justify picking up, the rest of the lineup is either slumping or not hitting enough HRs, RBIS or runs to really justify picking up on a fantasy team. Brett Myers has two decent starts and might have turned the corner, but who knows with the season he's having. Nelson Cruz's home run meant Myers has given up a long ball in seven straight starts. Chris Johnson might be worth having a sneaky flier on for the next week or two.
Brent Wallace's Tomballers remain in first place of the Astros twitter league, and you an follow us on twitter using the hashtag #astrostwitterleague.