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Arms for Hire

Vicente Padilla has yielded zero runs in his last two outings, totaling 14 innings.
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - While real life baseball teams are struggling to find pitching help for the stretch run, and contending teams are salivating over the likes of Roy Oswalt (6-11 ERA 3.12, WHIP 1.07) and Dan Haren (7-8, ERA 4.60, WHIP 1.35), fantasy owners have many more options.

Below you will find five pitchers all of whom are owned in less than 55% of all of leagues and therefore likely available for pickup. And all five are pitching better than Oswalt or Haren.

Perhaps that's why it's easier to be a fantasy general manager than a real one. We also don't have to worry about contracts, budgets, irate fans or unhappy players.

Choose the best player for your needs, make a waiver claim and improve your roster.

Vicente Padilla, Los Angeles Dodgers, 26% owned - Since returning from a stint on the DL on June 19th, Padilla has lowered his ERA from 6.65 to 3.65 and his WHIP from 1.43 to 1.02. He has yielded zero runs in his last two outings, totaling 14 innings, and is the Dodgers' best starting pitcher. And the best news is that he'll cost you nothing but a free agent pickup. His next outing is at home against the Mets where he is 3-1 with an ERA of 2.20 and a 0.77 WHIP.

Bronson Arroyo, Cincinnati, 50% owned - It's unusual to find a pitcher with 10 wins in July and still available for pickup, but you have a 50-50 chance that Arroyo is un-owned in your league. Not only is he 10-4 this season, but he's yielded just three earned runs in his last three starts. He has a tough pitching matchup today, going up against Stephen Strasburg, so perhaps you should pick him up tomorrow for his next start.

Tommy Hunter, Texas, 41% owned - Hunter still hasn't lost this season, moving to 7-0 with yesterday's win. He went seven innings without yielding a run and lowered his ERA to a stunning 2.09. Playing on a team like the Rangers, who are knocking the cover off the ball, you can expect him to continue to help you in the win column even if his pace slows, but he's showing no signs of that happening anytime soon.

John Axford, Milwaukee, 53% owned - When Trevor Hoffman lost his closing job due to his ineffectiveness, you expected that it would be a temporary situation. The rookie Axford would struggle in the role, Hoffman would find his "game" and that would be that. Instead, Axford has thrived as the Brewers' closer and has 12 saves without blowing a game. He's averaging more than a strikeout an inning (28.1 innings, 36 K's) and it appears that he will continue as the closer for the remainder of the season.

Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco, 31% owned - Bumgarner is one of the Giants' prized minor-leaguers who is getting a chance to show his stuff because of the injury to Todd Wellemeyer. It could be a case of Wellemeyer never getting his spot back because Bumgarner is showing why he was rated the No.2 prospect in the organization behind only catcher Buster Posey. In five starts, Bumgarner is 3-2 with an ERA of 2.41 and a WHIP of 1.10. He's gotten better after a couple of nervous outings and had yielded just two runs in his last 22 innings.

Selected 2010 Pitching Statistics
Player Team W L SV IP H BB ERA WHIP
Vicente Padilla LAD 4 2 0 61.2 48 15 3.65 1.02
Bronson Arroyo CIN 10 4 0 127.1 112 42 3.96 1.21
Tommy Hunter TEX 7 0 0 56.0 48 14 2.09 1.24
Madison Bumgarner SF 3 2 0 33.2 30 7 2.41 1.10


Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.