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Sunday 25th Feb 2018

Happy Fourth of July all around, and I wish you the best and safest of holidays. As for me, some golf is in order, followed by some kind of wonderful BBQ at home, and I wish you an equal amount of fun and deliciousness.

As for baseball, what can I say after Ryan Goins was called upon to pitch the 18th inning of the Jays marathon game, and Thursday went on the DL with forearm tightness? Baseball is indeed so goofy, unpredictable, and yes, wonderful.

But, what about some guys who are actually pitchers, like the uber hot Lucas Giolito, just promoted by the Nats? The #1 selection of Washington in 2012, Giolito is hardly a secret to those who follow fantasy and the minors closely, but at 6'6", 255, the almost 22-year-old has put up some convincing numbers since being drafted. With a 24-13, 2.79 record, Giolito has whiffed 353 batters over 324.6 innings while allowing just 280 hits (13 homers) and 113 walks (1.210 WHIP). 

A Top 100 prospect the last four years--and Top 10 the past two--Giolito twirled four scoreless frames last week for his Major League debut and should be on the hitlist of every owner. Period.

On the other hand, what of Jorge de la Rosa? "What?", you are asking? Has Michaels again gone looney? Well, not totally, for though Jorge has season numbers of 5-5, 5.98, with a 1.599 WHIP, over his last five starts, the lefty is 3-1, 2.25 with a 1.33 WHIP. Yes, he is a Colorado hurler, and yes, de la Rosa can get hammered. However, we are halfway through the season and free agent pools may not be brimming with the likes of Giolito, let alone lesser recent commodities like Daniel Mengden, so take your risks where you can. Just don't get too attached, right?

If you are looking elsewhere to plug a gap, perhaps journeyman Bud Norris, now a Dodger might also be a good gamble. A former sixth-round selection of the Astros in 2006, Norris has had a roller coaster career since hitting the Majors in 2009. A 60-75, 4.40 record with a 1.393 WHIP over 1065 innings speaks largely for itself, although the 978 whiffs (8.3 per nine innings) point to something promising. Unfortunately, Norris was another of those promising guys who never really seemed to put it together. But, now at age 31, on the Dodgers--whom I repeatedly remind know how to work with pitchers--Norris had a very good start last week, going six innings and allowing just a couple of hits and a free pass while striking out eight. Norris could indeed make a good second half play on a contending team.

Iffier, but interesting none-the-less is the Reds' Keyvius Sampson, drafted by the Padres in 2009, then released last year, and nabbed by the Reds as they seek to fix their own pitching. Sampson, 25, has a pedestrian minor league mark of 42-38, 3.99, with a 1.309 WHIP over 663.6 innings, but the righty also has 692 punchouts. Sampson has been knocked around during 62 big league innings, going 2-7, 6.53, with a 1.855 WHIP as part of a line that also included an alarming ten homers allowed. Sampson probably profiles as a bullpen product, at least for now, but I would keep an eye on him. He could be one of those guys who suddenly finds command and then becomes unhittable.

If you are looking for a middle man to just quietly stabilize a pitching slot, take a peek at the Yankees' Conor Mullee, who has appeared as a reliever over 101 minor league games (never starting), posting 13-6, 1.91 numbers with 14 saves and 164 strikeouts over 160 innings. Mulee has a solid 1.025 WHIP, allowing just 118 hits and 46 walks in the minors, and is easily an expendable $1 (or less) pick-up in a tight AL format.

Iffier, but no less tempting could be the Rays' Danny Farquhar, a hard thrower who tempted us all in 2014 when he was 3-1 with a save over 71 innings over which he whiffed 81 and posted a 1.127 WHIP. Aside from that flash, the righty has been awful, going 1-8, 5.12 in 2015, and over ten innings in Tampa this year is not much better at 0-0, 5.79. Still, tempting, and like Sampson, Farquhar could regain that 2014 magic. Do tread carefully, though.

While I am at it, Seattle recalled Mike Zunino, who promptly clobbered a pair of homers his first game back, reigniting manlove. Zunino hit .282-15-51 over 69 games at Tacoma this year, but he still walked 28 times to 62 strikeouts. That is a lot better, but I have been burned too many Zunino times to gamble at this juncture.

For some reason, 26-year-old Alex Dickerson carries the nickname "grandpa," but the newly promoted Padre has a pretty good hitting resume that is more than worthy of checking out, and Dickerson is similarly worthy of grabbing or at least tracking. Selected in the third round in 2011, out of the University of Indiana-Bloomington, Dickerson has a solid minor league line of .309-58-325 over 524 games, with 309 runs, a .367 OBP (153 walks to 366 strikeouts) and solid .867 OPS. He qualifies primarily in the outfield (36 games this year) but could make it at first in some leagues with nine games played. 

Please feel free to comment below, and don't forget you can hit me up @lawrmichaels.

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