PITTSBURGH, PA - JULY 10: Paul Maholm #28 of the Pittsburgh Pirates pitches against the Chicago Cubs during the game on July 10, 2011 at PNC Park in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)
Javier Vazquez – With a 5.23 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP, Vazquez’s shift back to the National League has been a bumpy ride. The move to Florida made me believe Vazquez could be a sleeper in deep mixed leagues, and while he disappointed early, the Vazquez of 2009 is starting to show signs. Vazquez has lowered his ERA over a run in a half over his last three starts, throwing 20 innings and allowing two earned runs. Now with a 1.19 ERA in his last five outings, Vazquez should be owned in all NL-Only Leagues and highly considered in 12 team mixers. Start him Saturday vs. the Cubs and their predominately right hand lineup.
Brandon Allen – While 1B is always deep, when a young power hitter comes up from the minors into a hitter’s park it’s time to pay attention. Allen was called up on Thursday and will be batting right in the middle of the Diamondbacks lineup. The heavy hitting lefty should be an upgrade over the combination of Juan Miranda and Xavier Nady, so fantasy owners and Diamondbacks fans should be excited. Allen batted .306/.427/.579 with 18 homers and 1.006 OPS Triple-A level this season. In NL Only leagues as well as Keeper Leagues, Allen is a must add. For the rest of the season I like Allen better then Anthony Rizzo if you need a first baseman, and if you’re looking for a corner, I prefer Allen to Kansas City rookie Mike Moustakas. Based on power and the park, Allen could have a solid finish as Arizona makes the playoff push.
Paul Maholm – I mentioned Maholm a week ago, and it’s apparent no one is listening as he’s still available in just fewer than 80% of leagues. Maholm has been one of baseball’s best surprises, sporting a 2.96 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP as the Pirates ace in 2011. While fantasy players are still skeptical of Maholm, pitching in the NL Central in a pitchers park, I see no reason not to ride Maholm until he explodes. This Saturday he duels with the Astros who he’s 1-0 against with a 1.38 ERA in two starts this season.
Cory Luebke – From reliever to dominant starter, Leubke is making the transition look easy. Out of the bullpen he struck out 43 batters in 39 innings pitched, and as a starter he’s allowed two earned runs in three starts. So 2011 has clearly been Leubke’s season, and while we still have a second half to go, Leubke has the opportunity to be a star for the remainder of the year. Pitching in the NL West with his home starts at Petco Park, Leubke is worth a flier as the 26 year old has tons of upside. Grab Leubke for Saturdays start vs. the Giants as he looks to continue his dominant rookie season.