Today, for the third time in four starts this season, Barry Zito pitched seven scoreless innings and got the win. Yet he is available in about 50% of Yahoo! fantasy baseball leagues. Why is this?
The reasons are numerous. Zito will turn 35 this year, his ERA last year was well over 4.0, and in 2011 he only started nine games. Zito was thought to be the fourth starter on his team, so this is why he was ignored in most pre-season ratings and drafts this spring. To add to this, his ERA so far this year was 4.86 before today’s game.
What these summary data overlook is that last year, starting on August 7, the San Francisco Giants won 14 consecutive games that Zito started, including three in the postseason. He picked up the win himself in nine of those 14 games. This streak continued for the first two games he started this season as Zito recorded wins over the St. Louis Cardinals and Colorado Rockies.
The incredible streak came to an end when Zito was bombed by the Milwaukee Brewers and gave up nine earned runs in less than three innings. But today he started another streak with a tidy seven innings and a win against the San Diego Padres.
So how do you use Zito on your fantasy team? You use him as a spot starter and avoid teams that are on a hot offensive roll and might explode against him. You won’t get a lot of Ks, as his K/9 over the past few years has been less than 6.0, but by using him in good matchups, you could give yourself wins and a good shot to your ERA.
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