SleepersMay 15, 2006

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Sleeper Watch

By Arlo Vander

When it became clear that Jorge Julio would not be the Orioles’ closer in 2005, most fantasy owners instantly reached for the nearest pen and crossed his name off their cheat sheets. That soon turned out to be a wise decision, as the right-handed reliever struggled all season, finishing with an ERA of 5.90 and a WHIP of 1.40. This year, in his first campaign with the Mets, his ERA stands at 5.71, his WHIP at 1.50. So why is Jorge Julio worth another look?

You wouldn’t know it from his season totals, but over the last month, Julio has been stellar. In 14.2 innings of work, he struck out 24 batters, posting a WHIP of 1.02 and a solid 3.68 ERA. Within the last ten days, he also picked up his first win of the season as well as his first save since 2004.

Is this recent success merely a fluke? With Julio, that’s always a possibility that has to be taken into account, but his numbers, particularly his K/BB ratio, are intriguing. In his disappointing 2005 camapign, Julio struck out 0.81 hitters per inning; this year, he has more than doubled that number to an eye-popping 1.73. By comparison, Pedro Martinez, the leader in that category among pitchers with at least one inning pitched per game played, has a ratio of 1.16.

Needless to say, 14.1 innings pitched are a very small sample size, and it’s still too early to say whether Julio can keep this up. Yet he has looked astonishingly effective of late, and at the very least bears watching. In deep NL-only formats, he may be worth taking a chance on.

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