Whisper to a Stream: Talking myself into David Purcey

I know the case against chasing wins, but in mixed-league roto, I just can't help myself. It's fun to roll with a shiny new pitcher, extend a short-term contract, roll the dice a bit. Sometimes you get lucky and land a long-term keeper, sometimes you're hit with point-and-click remorse, but when the fliers click, it's a rush. Once a week I'll suggest a sneaky arm in position for a likely win, and we'll see how it goes. I'm aiming at deeper groups here, leagues that have 12 competitive owners or more. You know it goes with fantasy advice - one size does not fit all.

No one can deny that David Purcey has some rather nasty stuff. If only he knew where it were headed half of the time.

Purcey got some post-hype attention this spring and with good reason. The tall lefty is a former first-round pick, the No. 16 selection in the 2004 draft. He posted a 1.54 ERA over 23.1 spring innings. He fanned 8.03 batters per nine innings in a 12 start trial with the Jays last summer. At his best, he's capable of putting batters away with three intriguing pitches (low-90s fastball, 12-to-6 curve, improving change).

Alas, control issues keep holding Purcey back. He walked four batters per nine innings last year with the Jays, he issued 10 free passes in the spring, and when you're a high-strikeout, high-walk hurler, the pitches tend to add up quickly. It's not easy to grab victories for us if you're consistently out of the game before the end of the sixth inning (the Scott Kazmir problem).

Purcey's start in Cleveland on April 12 underscores what his game is all about. He piled up 10 strikeouts that day but wasn't able to get through the fifth inning (4 H, 5 R, 4 ER). Six walks pushed the pitch count forward, and Purcey eventually hit the showers after heaving 113 pitches.

So why use Purcey now? I've talked myself into a few reasons. He's up against Texas, a free-swinging bunch, and the Rangers offense isn't nearly as formidable away from Arlington. Purcey's been particularly stingy with homers when he starts at home. I have absolutely no faith in Texas starter Matt Harrison (I'll be stunned if the Jays don't score at least five runs). And when in doubt, let's get some backup from Vegas - the casinos list Toronto as a 3-to-2 favorite for Wednesday night.

If we can steal a win here or a gaggle of strikeouts, I'm happy. And I think there's a legitimate chance at both.