Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) -
Every season, pitchers who were readily available on the free agent wire in April go on to become reliable arms for someone's fantasy staff.
For example, Bartolo Colon, Patrick Corbin and Travis Wood in 2013.
Even if you drafted Yu Darvish, Jose Fernandez and Chris Sale, you can always use extra starters.
And if you came out of the draft with a lackluster group of pitchers, getting your hands on one or two of these "April aces" can help lessen the gap between you and the owner who invested a lot in pitching.
It's also up to fantasy owners to decide which pitchers' hot starts are for real and which are not.
Below are four pitchers in which I'd invest some of my free agent budget.
Jesse Chavez, Oakland Athletics - Chavez is 30 years old, has played for five MLB teams in his career and owns a career ERA of 5.27. But he's been a different pitcher since he stepped into an Athletics uniform (probably because it's such a great uni set, especially those new road greens with the A's logo on the left breast). In 57 1/3 relief innings last season, Chavez had a 3.92 ERA, a 1.22 WHIP and 55 Ks. He won a spot in the Athletics rotation by posting a 2.22 ERA and a 25/6 K/BB in 28 1/3 innings this spring; his case was helped immensely by injuries to Jarrod Parker and A.J. Griffin, but it's not like he didn't deserve it. And he has started off 2013 by giving up two earned runs on 11 hits with a 13/2 K/BB in 13 frames.
Tyler Skaggs, Los Angeles Angels - Skaggs is throwing hard again, and that's the main reason why his outlook is positive. The former top-10 overall prospect averaged 92.2 mph with his four-seamer and 91.9 mph with his sinker in his first start of the season, an eight-inning, four-hit, no-run gem against the Houston Astros. Skaggs averaged below 90 with his four-seamer and below 89 with his sinker in his first two seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks and registered a 5.43 ERA in 68 innings, but he has ironed out his mechanical issues.
Garrett Richards, Los Angeles Angels - Richards had a 157/85 K/BB and a 4.42 ERA in his first 230 innings in the majors, but he throws hard (94.9 mph fastball) and had a 57.9 percent ground-ball rate last season. The right- hander has walked eight batters in 12 innings this season, but he has struck out 13 and allowed just four hits and one run. He limited the Mariners, who tagged Angels pitchers for 31 runs in their first four meetings, to one hit and no runs Wednesday night.
Nathan Eovaldi, Miami Marlins - Eovaldi is another flamethrower -- he averaged 96.1 mph on his four-seamer last year, tops among pitchers with at least 100 innings -- and he had a 3.39 ERA in 2013. The right-hander also walked 3.39 batters per nine innings and struck out just 6.60, which tempered excitement. In his first 13 innings this season, however, he has issued just one free pass and fanned 14 batters while allowing five runs on 12 hits.
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