How would you like to own a starting pitcher that’s allowed a total of three hits over 11 shutout innings in his last two starts? How about a guy with a 13:2 K:BB ratio over that span? Numbers that stellar could only belong to a Cliff Lee, Justin Verlander or a similar ace, right? That guy described above is San Diego’s Cory Luebke, and he’s available in six out of every seven fantasy leagues as of Independence Day.
Spending much of the season as a reliever, Luebke hit his stride in June, holding opponents scoreless in his first eight appearances of the month, spanning 8.2 innings. The Padres were forced to call on the talented reliever for 3.1 innings in relief of Wade LeBlanc on June 20, and he held the Red Sox to two runs in 3.1 innings. At that point of the season, he had a 3.23 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 43 strikeouts in 39 innings pitching solely in relief. The Padres decided to move him to the rotation.
The initial plan may have been for Luebke to hold Aaron Harang’s rotation spot until the injured pitcher returned from the disabled list, but the 26-year-old lefty may be altering that plan with every inning pitched. Chris Cwik of Fangraphs noted that Luebke brought back his changeup after the role change to work as his third pitch, and the early results are promising. Of course, I don’t have to tell you that pitching in Petco Park half the time is sure to have a positive effect on Luebke’s numbers as well.
The bottom line is that a widely-available fantasy free agent in a great pitcher’s park is either in the middle of a hot streak or emerging as a fantasy threat. Either way, he deserves a look in just about every format. I’ve picked him up in at least three places already, and I’m thinking about adding him in a few more leagues.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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