Fantasy Baseball 2012: 5 NL-Only Pitching Sleepers

I posted my NL-Only and AL-Only hitting sleepers on Saturday and Monday, and today I publish 5 NL-Only pitching sleepers for 2012.

Edinson Volquez, SD

Volquez put up some horrible stats in 2011 in his first full year returning from Tommy John surgery and like so many others who have had the surgery, he struggled. Boy did he ever struggle. Here are a few stats for you to ponder:

-He gave up 19 HRs in 108 innings pitched, for a HR/FB rate of 20.7%. 20.7%!!!

-He walked 5.38 batters per nine innings

So why do I like him in 2012? He moved from Great American Ballpark to the pitcher's heaven known as Petco Park. They should change the name to Pitchers Park. He still struck out 8.61 batters per nine and induced ground balls at a 52.4% clip. Oh yeah, Bud Black is his manager. He used to be a pitching coach in Los Angeles. Buy Volquez.

Jonathon Niese, NYM

Niese might be the next Ricky Nolasco, as his peripheral stats tell you he will eventually have a breakout season, and 2012 might be that season. Yes, I am aware they moved the fences in at Citi Field, but Niese is not prone to the home run, so it doesn't worry me much as he keeps the ball on the ground around 52% of the time, and owns a solid K rate of just under 8.00 per nine innings. Niese's 3.36 FIP and 3.28 xFIP were more than a run lower than his 4.40 ERA last year, so if he can lower his .333 BABIP to around league average, and lower his 5.33 road ERA, he could be a nice sleeper in 2012.

Travis Wood, CHC

Wood is another former Reds pitcher moving to a better pitchers park in 2012, as Wood was the centerpiece of the trade that brought reliever Sean Marshall to the Reds. Wood struggled in 2011, but he has proven to be a better pitcher on the road than at home in his career. In 13 career starts at home, he owns a 5.30 ERA and 1.493 WHIP. In 22 starts on the road, he has a 3.58 ERA and a 1.179 WHIP. Need I say more?

Erik Bedard, PIT

Bedard hasn't had an ERA over 4.00 since 2004, so he is a good bet to provide a sub-4.00 ERA yet again in 2012. Bedard may not start more than 20 games for Pittsburgh, as he always seems to get hurt, but in a division that lost Albert Pujols and Prince Fielder, and with the worst team in baseball in the Astros, Bedard could be a useful starter you can draft late in redraft leagues or for a $1 in auction leagues.

Mike Leake, CIN

Leake started the 2011 season getting hit all over the ballpark as he finished April with a 4.40 ERA and had an ERA of around 7.00 in his 11 May innings. But, he turned things around after May 31st and ended the season with a respectable 3.86 ERA and 1.17 WHIP. Leake is not dominating on the mound, but he induces ground balls at a 48% clip. His xFIP of 3.68 last season says he can repeat his solid 2011 performance.

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