When Carlos Silva(notes) was shipped from Seattle to Chicago for pugnacious outfielder Milton Bradley(notes) last December no baseball fan – even those with a vested interest – really cared. Due to their forgettable efforts in '09, the deal understandably warranted little attention. It was equivalent to swapping an '85 Fleer Mark Gubicza for an '86 Donruss Rated Rookie Kal Daniels – crap for crap.
However, six months later the trade looks terribly lopsided.
During his two-year siesta in Seattle, the rotund righty consumed more In-N-Out burgers than AL hitters. Wrested away from Minnesota for an exorbitant price in 2007, Silva failed miserably to keep his end of the bargain. In 36 starts with the Mariners he compiled a wretched 5-18 record with a 5.40 ERA and 1.62 WHIP. Describing his performance as deplorable was a gross understatement.
What a difference a year, and a league change, can make.
While Bradley continues to make friends in low places, the once-destitute Silva has impossibly revived a career most in the Windy City considered D.O.A. Morphing into the Cubs' "best pitcher" according to Lou Piniella (Carlos who?), he's unfathomably won eight of 11 starts, notching a 2.93 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and, get this, a K/9 on par with AJ Burnett(notes) (6.25). Crazily, he's the 15th-most valuable pitcher in fantasy according to Baseball Monster. And a legitimate All-Star candidate. Stephen Strasburg(notes) wishes he was that good (cough).
Not even bubonic plague has stopped Silva. Despite running to the john between innings in his last start at Pittsburgh, he held the peg-legged Pirates to just one run over seven strong innings, good for his eighth quality start this season.
Silva credits a boost in confidence for the turnaround, noting earlier this season he feels "like a somebody right now." In truth, his rise from the ashes is largely due to diversifying the portfolio. Instead of relying heavily on a sinking fastball, he's become more dependent on sliders and changes. Last year, he featured the heater 83.1 percent of the time, secondary offerings just 16.9 percent. This year, the pitch disparity is significantly smaller (57.1% fastballs, 43.0% sliders/changes), which has led to astonishing results. Now deceptive, he's drawn more swinging strikes, particularly over the outside corner. He's also tallied a 1.38 GB/FB split, his best mark since leaving Minnesota.
Based on his 3.68 FIP and .269 BABIP, Silva's sinister side will eventually resurface. His troublesome 4.15 ERA in May could be a sign of adventurous outings to come. But if he continues to deal accurately (3.92 K/BB), force the ball down in the zone and garner strong support (6.96 RS/9), numbers thought previously unachievable could be obtained. He could very easily be the reason why many deep leaguers will bathe in Korbel come October.
Bradley-for-Silva was a punchline in many circles this past offseason. But right now, Cubs GM Jim Hendry, for once, is laughing last.
Fearless Forecast (rest of season): 124.1 IP, 8 W, 3.94 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, 84 K
Quality commodity owned in fewer than 20 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Jeff Keppinger(notes), Hou, 2B/SS/3B (14-percent owned): Though the 'Stros' feature many abominable failures, the line-driving rapping veteran hasn't been one of them. The versatile infielder has attacked fastballs with increased ferocity, evident in his 20 multi-hit games, .308 BA and stellar 94.6 contact percentage. Recently elevated into the catbird seat, he should be very useful in runs and BA as Houston's everyday second baseman. Since May 1, he's the 10th-best middle infielder in the Yahoo! game, besting widely owned position titans Hanley Ramirez(notes) and Jose Reyes. Owners looking for hit consistency should immediately lasso the multi-positional veteran.
Ooh Stream Weaver...
Widely available plug n' play starter heading into the weekend.
Trevor Cahill(notes), Oak (6/10 vs. LAA, nine-percent owned): On the down low, the second-year starter has been very effective over his past several starts. Since May 5, he's amassed a 4-1 record, 2.35 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, equal to the 28th-most valuable mark among starters during that span. His disgusting 1.44 K/BB and .233 BABIP imply the good times won't last much longer. However, his ability to attract groundball outs (1.57 GB/FB) and accelerated performance at home (2.04 ERA) suggest he's worth streaming. The last time he faced the Angels on May 16, he limited Mike Scioscia's club to three earned over seven innings. Plug him in.
Middle Relief Magic
ERA/WHIP savior, potential saves/wins vulture.
Arthur Rhodes(notes), Cin (12-percent owned): Once a popular knight at the roundtable, the medieval reliever has continued his improbable late-career rebirth in Cincinnati. A quality asset in holds leagues, the 40-year-old southpaw has K'd a batter per inning (8.88 K/9) and allowed just one earned over 25.1 innings. The primary reason for his longevity: increased slider use. The offspeed offering has kept hitters off-balance, enhancing the deceptiveness of his low-90s fastball. He currently owns the fourth-most valuable heater in baseball among RPs. Eventually he'll get touched, but, on pace for 70 innings, he's a serviceable rotation plug in deeper formats.
Image courtesy of US Presswire