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Deep Pickups 6/3: Pitchers

by Nick Nelson
Updated On: October 4, 2018, 4:09 pm ET

Wade Miley - SP, ARI

Arizona's rotation was flat-out horrendous in the month of April and Miley was among the culprits, putting up a 5.36 ERA over his first seven starts. Fantasy owners were left wondering what happened to the remarkably consistent hurler who had registered a 3.44 ERA while winning 26 games between 2012 and 2013.

Since the beginning of May, Miley has looked much more like that guy, with four quality starts in six turns. Through 13 total starts, the righty's ERA is at 4.85, which isn't great but doesn't really speak to how well he has pitched.

Consider this: despite not always having his best stuff, Miley has completed five innings every time out, and has completed six or more in 10 of his 13 starts. He has fanned eight or more hitters four times, surpassing his total from last season. His strikeout stuff has been working especially well in his last two outings, in which he has whiffed 11 and nine batters, respectively.

The most noticeable problem point for Miley this year has been a proneness to home runs. You might say, "Well yeah, that happens when you pitch in Arizona," and indeed 11 of his 14 homers allowed have come at home, but he's been able to mostly avoid that issue in the past two seasons, when he surrendered just 35 total bombs over 396 innings.

I think we can reasonably expect that more balls will begin to stay in the yard, and when that happens Miley should return to the level of effectiveness we've seen in the past couple seasons. His hit and walk rates are almost identical to where they have been in the past, and his K-rate has risen considerably.

The 27-year-old is available in about 85 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Grab him up.

Edinson Volquez - SP, PIT

If fantasy owners are having a bit of a tough time trusting Volquez, that's understandable. The righty was quite lousy in 2013, when he finished with an ugly 5.71 ERA and tacked up the worst strikeout rate (7.5 K/9) of his career. He allowed more earned runs than any other NL pitcher.

Hidden in the ugliness of those numbers, however, were some positive signs. Chief among them was a sizable improvement in control. In 2012, Volquez issued a league-worst 105 walks. Last year, he chopped his walk rate down from 5.2 BB/9 to 4.1 -- his lowest career mark in a full season.

Of course, despite the improved control, Volquez got poor results, largely because of a .330 BABIP that helped lead to a career-high 193 hits allowed in 170 innings. It stood to reason that with more neutral luck, his overall numbers would return to Earth here in 2014.

Sure enough, that's just what we've seen. Over his first 12 outings (11 starts) Volquez's BABIP has swung in the opposite direction, to an unsustainably low .240. That will probably rise, but is offset by continued improvements in the control department. He has issued only 21 walks in 65 innings for a 2.9 BB/9 rate that is well below his career 4.6 mark. The reduction in hits and walks has helped him to a 1.19 WHIP that blows away anything he's done previously.

The downside of all this is that Volquez's K-rate has continued to decline, all the way to a sub par 6.0 K/9. He has, however, been ratcheting that up lately; in his first nine starts, he never struck out more than four batters, but he's fanned six in each of his past two.

Volquez has always been erratic and difficult to rely upon, but he's a talented arm and he's still only 30. He has found a good situation in Pittsburgh and the improved control bodes well for sustained success over the rest of the campaign.

Nick Nelson
Nick Nelson is a frequent contributor to Rotoworld's baseball coverage and regularly blogs about the Minnesota Twins at Twins Daily. Follow him on Twitter @NickNelsonMN.