Jonathon Niese (owned in 6% of Yahoo leagues)
Niese, 23, cobbled together a quality minor league resume (8.2 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 51.8 GB%). The left-hander was on his way to establishing himself as a member of the Mets’ rotation last season when a torn right hamstring ended his season in August, requiring a surgical fix. He hit the DL this season with another, milder right hamstring injury. But when on the mound, Niese has impressed.
Tossing 57.1 innings, New York’s seventh round pick in the ’05 draft has 7.06 K/9, 2.98 BB/9 and a 3.94 xFIP. He’s showing strong a ground ball rate to boot, with a 52.2 GB%. Niese doesn’t blow batters away — his fastball hits 90 MPH on a good day. But he supplements the pitch with a mid-80’s cutter that tails in on the hands of righties, as well as the occasional mid-70’s curveball and low-80’s changeup. Niese’s four-seamer and cutter both have above-average strike and whiff percentages:
Four-Seamer: 66.2 Strike% (64.1% MLB Avg.), 8.1 Whiff% (6% MLB Avg.)
Cutter: 69.4 Strike% (68.3% MLB Avg.), 12 Whiff% (8.8% MLB Avg.)
For the rest of 2010, ZiPS projects 6.53 K/9, 3.36 BB/9 and a 3.93 FIP from Niese. He doesn’t possess one standout skill, but Niese makes batters chop the ball into the grass while amassing decent K and walk rates. He’s plenty useful in NL-only formats.
Troy Glaus, Braves (63%)
Signed to a one-year, $1.75 million deal over the winter, Glaus was picked up off the scrap heap as a Freddie Freeman stopgap. The former Angel, Diamondback, Blue Jay and Cardinal’s career looked to be on the ropes after a 2009 season ruined by a back problem and a right shoulder injury that required surgery. CHONE (.249/.359/.447, .356 wOBA) and ZiPS (.252/.358/.441, .355 wOBA) projected a reasonably productive season for Atlanta’s reclamation project, but that was under the assumption that the 33-year-old wouldn’t again fall to pieces physically.
So far, Glaus has stayed healthy and is surpassing those pre-season forecasts. In 253 plate appearances, he has a .279/.375/.474 line and a .373 wOBA. He’s drawing walks at a 13.4% clip, and while he’s not hitting for the mammoth power of years past, Glaus has a solid .195 ISO. Freeman (.249/.306/.422 in 185 AB in Triple-A) isn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball for Gwinett, so Glaus’ job looks secure. ZiPS projects a .260/.363/.449 triple-slash from here on out, with a .361 wOBA.