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Jeff Niemann gaining value in deep leagues

7/8/2011

&#8226 Lost in the Derek Jeter hoopla Thursday night was Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Jeff Niemann allowing one run in 7 1/3 innings. Niemann has never emerged as a reliable fantasy option, but he's beaten the Yankees, Cardinals and Brewers -- allowing two runs in 19 1/3 innings -- since June 20. Perhaps he can still help deep-league owners.

&#8226 Bartolo Colon has been helping many owners, but the 10 hits, four walks and five runs he permitted to the Rays on Thursday marked his worst outing since May. Colon has skeptics and despite entering with a 2.88 ERA was owned in just 71.1 percent of leagues. Look for that number to drop soon, which is premature.

&#8226 The third AL East behemoth sent lefty Andrew Miller to the mound Thursday, and he raised his record to 3-0 in four starts, but his misleading 3.57 ERA comes with an uninspiring 1.59 WHIP. Miller walked four Baltimore Orioles and didn't fan anyone. The Red Sox, sans Jon Lester and Clay Buchholz, need Miller a lot more than fantasy owners do.

&#8226 Colorado Rockies outfielder Charlie Blackmon broke his left foot running the bases Thursday, which should guarantee more playing time for versatile slugger Ty Wigginton. The Rockies want to give third baseman Ian Stewart playing time, despite his .086 batting average, but Wigginton will likely end up in left field quite a bit.

&#8226 Cincinnati Reds shortstop Zack Cozart debuted Thursday with a single in three at-bats. The Reds haven't received decent production from the position, so Cozart, hitting .310 with modest power and speed at Triple-A Louisville, will get a long look. He's not standard-league worthy yet, but if you lost Jose Reyes in a deeper league, check out Cozart.

&#8226 Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer debuted at first base Thursday without incident; at the plate he singled three times and knocked in two runs. These things are unrelated. However, in standard leagues, with more than 10 catchers worth owning, Mauer's first-base eligibility, if he earns it, should come in handy.