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Waiver Aces

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It should come to no surprise to fantasy owners who selected Roy Halladay (Yahoo ADP 16), Cliff Lee (ADP 24) and Tim Lincecum (ADP 28) that their fantasy rankings through mid-June are nowhere near February's expectations. All three are struggling mightily.

They are not alone, however, as the likes of Felix Hernandez, Dan Haren, Yovani Gallardo and Jon Lester are also failing to live up to preseason expectations.

It's one reason that many "experts" tell you not to pay too much for starting pitching. They reason that each year there are more surprises at this position than any other.

Just look at the results of TSN's latest SSRD360 Starting Pitcher Evaluator. Of the seven pitchers with a SSRD360 value under 3.000, only two, Stephen Strasburg and Matt Cain, were selected among the first 30 pitchers off the board on Draft Day.

In fact, four of the seven likely weren't drafted at all. Therefore, if you were paying attention to the early season results, by now you could have built your staff with four of the league's top pitchers ... all from the waiver wire.

Here are the four -

Chris Sale, Chicago White Sox (Yahoo ADP 242) - Before the season, Sale had never started a game and was one of many that the White Sox had tried in a setup/closer role. But GM Kenny Williams was clear before the season began that the team wanted Sale to win a spot in the 2012 starting rotation. Most owners didn't have him on their radar given no experience as a starter. He's been nothing less than sensational, going 8-2 with a 2.46 ERA and 0.996 WHIP. That's despite giving up a season-worst five runs in his last start. With an ADP of 242, he was either a last-round selection or more than likely a free agent pickup.

R.A. Dickey, New York Mets (ADP 265) - Dickey has been in the major leagues for 10 seasons, but his performance in the first nine seasons gave almost no indication of what he was going to do in 2012. Which is why in a typical 12- team league with 20 rounds, he still wouldn't have been chosen by anyone except the most ardent Mets fanatic. For the low, low price of a waiver claim, you could have had this soon-to-be NL All-Star who is 10-1, with a 2.20 ERA, 0.944 WHIP, 90 Ks in 90 innings pitched and who hasn't given up an earned run in his last four starts.

Lance Lynn, St. Louis (ADP 297) - Lynn, who had made all of two career starts prior to 2012, was the emergency fifth starter for the Cardinals when ace Chris Carpenter's injury forced him to the disabled list before the season began. There was no reason to think Lynn would be anything but a mediocre temporary fix. Then Lynn dominated in April (4-0, 1.33 ERA, 0.815 WHIP) and has continued to befuddle hitters posting a 10-2 record with a 2.42 ERA and 1.090 WHIP. At this point nothing short of an injury is going to get him out of the rotation.

Garrett Richards, Anaheim (ADP 439) - The newest member to the TSN SSRD360 rankings, Richards wasn't called up to the "big club" until May 29. After one scoreless stint out of the bullpen, Richards has made three quality starts giving up a total of two runs and owns a 2-0 record with a 0.86 ERA and 1.143 WHIP. You would like to see a higher strikeouts/innings pitched percentage (0.809 versus league average for starters of 0.815), but you can't argue with the results so far. He's still only owned in 10-percent of all Yahoo Leagues.

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

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