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News-Herald Assistant Sports Editor Kevin Kleps doesn’t just write headlines and stories. He also checks on his fantasy sports teams. A lot. See if the moves and news from the world of sports affect your fantasy teams.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Fantasy baseball: Carl Pavano and more Tribe tidbits

Carl Pavano's 5.29 earned-run average isn't going to interest you. Neither will his 1.37 WHIP (walks plus hits per inning pitched). Same goes for his track record, which, since 2004, has prominently included "overpaid" and "oft-injured."

Never one to shy away from a monthly split, a look at Pavano's May numbers tell a different story: a 5-1 record, with a 3.60 ERA, eight walks and 34 strikeouts in 45 innings. If the Indians' bullpen would have held the lead Pavano handed it Sunday, the 33-year-old right-hander would have had six wins last month.

More May numbers for Pavano: He allowed three runs or fewer in six of seven starts, and he gave up four runs or fewer in all seven. He's also struck out 24 in 25 1/3 innings in his last four starts.

Does all of this mean you should rush to the free-agent waiver to acquire the pitcher on whom the Yankees wasted $40 million? No. But if you're in an AL-only league or a 14- or 16-team mixed league, Pavano is worth considering.

He's no longer the 18-game winner from 2004, and he's not a big strikeout asset (his 139 K's with Florida five years ago are his career high). But he has been effective, and it doesn't hurt that he's pitching for his next contract.

If he's starting two games in a week, he's certainly worth a look.

We all know the wheels could fall off at any time. Until they do, you could do a lot worse (think Fausto Carmona).

Speaking of Fausto: Why owners continue to start Carmona is more puzzling than LeBron James guarding Rafer Alston instead of Rashard Lewis or Hedo Turkoglu. The young righty is is 2-5 with a 6.60 ERA and is on pace to walk more batters than he strikes out for the second consecutive season. In 10-team mixed leagues, I'd drop him if I needed the roster space, and I wouldn't start him in any format.

Tribe tidbits: If you're hurting at shortstop and continue to start Jhonny Peralta, you can at least feel good about his batting improvement in May (a .297 average, compared to .211 in April). Still, he hit only one homer last month and scored all of eight runs. In deeper leagues, I'd sit him until he regains the power stroke that accounted for a combined 44 homers in 2007 and '08.

-- A sure sign this Indians season isn't going as planned: The Tribe's top two fantasy players have been Asdrubal Cabrera and Shin-Soo Choo. Cabrera, who is batting .318 with 38 runs, 27 RBI and seven steals (he had a combined four stolen bases the previous two seasons), should be started in all formats. I would consider Choo a productive No. 3 outfielder, one who is on pace to hit more than 20 homers, drive in 90-plus runs and steal 18 bases.

-- Cliff Lee's 2-6 record certainly warrants a spot on your bench, but I wouldn't make that move. The 2008 American League Cy Young Award winner has given up three earned runs or fewer in nine consecutive starts, and he has a 3.16 ERA for the season. The only reason he hasn't matched Pavano's win total is the Tribe's production during that nine-start span: 13 runs. His luck has to turn around, and you don't want him to be a reserve when it does.

We'll be back tomorrow with a Pick Three for the week. Until then, good luck and don't even think about reserving a spot in your lineup for Travis Hafner.

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