John Ely's secret to success: No walks 

May, 18, 2010
I've always had a soft spot in my fantasy baseball heart for pitchers who avoid walks, which might explain why rookie John Ely of the Los Angeles Dodgers is quickly becoming one of my favorites. On Monday night at Dodger Stadium, the right-hander shut down the Houston Astros for seven innings, allowing two runs on five hits and no walks. Yeah, I know, it's the Astros, but still ...

Ely is 2-1 with a 3.51 ERA and 0.94 WHIP through four starts, and while I admit his minor league numbers weren't exactly a harbinger of this degree of success, it is another reminder that pitchers can win games when they avoid walks and home runs. Ely hasn't walked a batter since his first start, and overall he has fanned 25 hitters against three walks. His streak of not having allowed a walk to the past 84 hitters he has faced is the longest current stretch in baseball. As for home runs allowed, there haven't been any. He's allowing his fair share of fly balls, but with two starts at home and another at spacious Citi Field, he can do so and not get hurt.

John Ely
Ben Liebenberg/US PresswireDodgers rookie John Ely ranked sixth among pitchers on the ESPN Player Rater over the past 15 days.
And therein lies the reason I became interested in Ely; he's on the Dodgers, and with that home ballpark, I think anyone not named Russ or Ramon Ortiz can be mildly helpful. A third-round pick in 2007 by the Chicago White Sox, Ely was the player to be named later in the Juan Pierre contract dump in December. I admit to not paying much attention to him despite a 14-2 record and 2.82 ERA at Double-A Birmingham last season because he's not a big strikeout guy and wasn't all that stingy with the walks in the minors. He's a right-hander with seemingly average stuff, relying on poise, smarts and the ability to change speeds, and because he has been so much more successful against right-handed hitters than lefties in the minors, it makes sense to expect some speed bumps. So far there haven't been any.