Since I don't like to leave things incomplete, after focusing on hitting last week, I figured that I'd devote this week to pitchers, more specifically the five standard rotisserie pitching categories, and take a look at some of the surprising names that rank among the leaders. All stats are as of Saturday morning.
Bartolo Colon: 6 (1st in MLB) - What else is there to say about this guy? We're finally starting to see some regression, as Colon is coming off two straight mediocre outings. But being that he went undrafted in the vast majority of mixed leagues, his owners have little to complain about. Colon's current ERA of 3.86 is more in line with what we should expect by season's end, but the ageless righty continues to pound the strike zone (one walk through 51 1/3 innings). While he does give up his fair share of home runs, the fact that he doesn't hurt himself with free passes results in a lot of those home runs being of the solo variety. The annoying part about owning Colon is that the chances of getting anything of significance for him in a trade are slim since there are still so many skeptics out there. His owners are probably better off hanging onto him in hopes that he can at the very least serve as a quality back end of the rotation option from here on out.
Nick Martinez: 1.88 (7th in MLB among qualifiers) - Talk about surprising, this is the same Nick Martinez who pitched to a 4.55 ERA and 1.46 WHIP while posting an underwhelming 4.9 K/9 in his 2014 rookie campaign. And despite the minuscule ERA, he's whiffing less than four batters per nine innings this season. The good news is that his minor league K/9 of 8.1 suggests that there's room for improvement in the strikeout department. Plus, he's still just 24 years of age. That said, Nick's 3.62 FIP hints that an ERA correction is in store. You don't want to have him in your starting lineup when that happens. Much like Colon, Martinez's trade value is limited, so you might as well keep him on your roster for now, but tread carefully.
Shelby Miller: 0.93 (7th in MLB among qualifiers) - Heading into drafts this spring, I targeted Miller as an undervalued arm who could easily improve upon last year's stat line (10-9, 3.74 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), which was still decent but a far cry from his dominant rookie season. So I'm not at all surprised that he's exceeding expectations. But I didn't quite expect a 0.93 WHIP through seven starts, especially considering his 3.6 BB/9 from a year ago. Yeah, the WHIP, in addition to the 1.60 ERA, is bound to rise, but Miller remains a guy who I'd rather have on my roster than on someone else's. Don't forget that he registered a 2.92 ERA and 0.99 WHIP in the second half last season.
Clay Buchholz: 54 (Tied for 9th in MLB) - I'll admit it. I've never been a fan of Buchholz and his inconsistent ways. He's simply too prone to those disaster outings that can ruin your ratios, and he's never been a high strikeout pitcher, that is until this year. What's more believable? The 6.9 K/9 that Clay posted up until this season or the 10.6 K/9 that he boasts through eight starts in 2015? If you can somehow convince one of your league mates that the drastically increased strikeout rate is real and fill a legitimate need by trading Buchholz, do it.
Jeurys Familia/Andrew Miller: 13 (Tied for 1st in MLB) - Another win for the "don't pay for saves" contingent, though I still refuse to join them. Miller was drafted in most mixed leagues this year, albeit for a much cheaper price than Dellin Betances, who was considered the frontrunner for the Yankees closer job. As it turns out, both Miller and Betances have been nearly unhittable so far, both sporting a 0.00 ERA roughly one-quarter into the season. But when it comes to saves, Miller leads Betances by the score of 13-1. Betances owners who didn't handcuff him by also drafting Miller could probably use some counseling by now. The case of Familia, who has gone 13-for-13 in save chances to go along with a 1.56 ERA and 0.69 WHIP through 18 appearances this season, is a different story altogether. I mean, how could a mixed league owner have predicted that Jenrry Mejia would get slapped with an 80-game PED suspension, thus paving the way for Familia to earn high-end closer status? Maybe in some extremely deep mixed league formats, Familia was drafted as a late-round flier, but that's about it. There's plenty of baseball ahead of us in 2015, but the Mets' ninth inning man certainly belongs in the "best waiver wire pickup of the season" discussion. Congrats to those of you who, thanks to some combination of foresight and luck, managed to add Familia to your fantasy squad.