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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, April 9, 2012

Fantasy baseball: Week 1 waiver-wire picks (pitchers)

If you're wondering why we're still referring to the fantasy baseball season as Week 1, even though Seattle and Oakland began the big-league campaign on March 28 in Japan, you can thank ESPN and every other major site that was hampered by Bud Selig's brilliant plan to have the A's and Mariners play in Tokyo a week before the rest of MLB started its season.

Week 1 in ESPN head-to-head leagues stretches from March 28 to April 15 -- 19 days (insert joke about the length of the Kim Kardashian-Kris Humphries marriage here). And the Worldwide Leader isn't alone in that forced-by-MLB ridiculousness.

Thus, we're still in Week 1.

And thus, we'll unveil our selections for the best pitchers on the waiver wire (click here for last week's breakdown of the best available batters). As we have explained, we pick players who are available in more than half of the leagues on, and we usually go much lower than that.

1. Ivan Nova, SP, Yankees (owned in 29.4 percent of the ESPN leagues): Nova, who makes his season debut Monday at Baltimore, was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA in 2011, his first full big-league season. He isn't a huge attraction in fantasy because of his lack of strikeouts (98 in 165 1/3 innings last year and an average of 5.4 Ks per nine innings in two seasons), but if you need help in wins, he is a very good option. He shouldn't hurt you in ERA, either.

2. Kyle Lohse, SP, Cardinals (41.2 percent): He was great in his debut Wednesday, allowing one run on two hits and walking none against the Marlins. Like Nova, Lohse isn't much of an asset in the strikeout department (5.6 Ks per nine in his career). And like Nova, he can provide a boost in wins (14-8 last season and 15-6 in 2008) and likely ERA (3.39 in 2011). Lohse is scheduled to start Tuesday at Cincinnati.

3. Trevor Cahill, SP, Diamondbacks (11.6 percent): His low ownership percentage is baffling, even after a disappointing 2011 (12-14, 4.16 ERA) that resulted in Cahill being traded from the A's to the Diamondbacks. The move to the much more pitcher-friendly National League should be a productive one for Cahill, who was sensational in 2010, his second big-league season. That year, Cahill was 18-8 with a 2.97 ERA, was an All-Star and finished ninth in the voting for the American League Cy Young Award. He is also not a strikeout machine (Cahill had 147 Ks in 207 2/3 innings last season and only 118 in 196 2/3 innings during his All-Star campaign two years ago), but don't be surprised if Cahill becomes more of an asset in that department this season. In 247 1/3 innings in the minors, he was 23-9 with a 2.62 ERA and a very impressive norm of 9.9 Ks per nine innings. Cahill is slated to start Tuesday at the pitchers' haven that is Petco Park in San Diego.

4. Hector Santiago, RP, White Sox (4.0 percent): If you had this pitcher who appeared in two games in 2011 as a rookie and was a starter in the minors in 2011 as the most likely closer for the White Sox, congrats. You were among the very few. Santiago earned the save Saturday at Texas, throwing a perfect inning, and seems to be Manager Robin Ventura's choice to close -- for now. Don't get your hopes too high, though. Santiago had all of four saves in five years down on the farm, where he compiled a 3.65 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. He did record quality strikeout totals, however (9.6 Ks per nine innings).

5. Jonathon Niese, SP, Mets (15.7 percent): Niese earned the win Sunday against the Braves by allowing three earned runs on two hits and striking out seven. He likely will be inconsistent (he was 11-11 with a 4.40 ERA and 1.41 WHIP last season), but if your looking for strikeouts, he's a better option than Nova and Lohse. Niese averaged 7.8 Ks per nine innings in 2010 and '11.

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