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Sports

Clement, Zambrano keep Cubs in race

| Friday, Aug. 15, 2003

Mark Prior and Kerry Wood grab the headlines in Chicago, but it is the next two starters in the rotation making the difference lately for the Cubs.

Some fantasy owners might have given up on erratic veteran Matt Clement , but he is on a hot streak again. He struck out eight and gave up only one unearned run in 5 2/3 innings to beat the Astros yesterday, improving his record to 10-10 and drop his ERA to 3.93.

Clement is never a great long-term pickup because he is so inconsistent, but he could definitely help your team down the stretch. He would fill a need for strikeouts, with 131 in 1531/3 innings this season.

Carlos Zambrano is the better long-term option and a great pickup in keeper leagues who seems to be getting better and better. Zambrano has been dominant in five starts since the All-Star break, going 5-0 with a 1.43 ERA, pitching at least eighth innings three times. He threw his first career shutout against Houston on Tuesday.

Zambrano is now 11-8 on the season with a 3.07 ERA and 128 strikeouts. The downside is that he still walks too many batters. His 1.35 WHIP won't help you, but the upward swing makes him worth overlooking the flaws.

  • The Phillies turned to Mike Williams to close out their 4-3 victory yesterday. He walked two before getting his first save with the team.

    Yes, Williams will probably get a few more opportunities now that Jose Mesa has been deposed. Just don't expect him to convert them. One more time -- stay away.

  • Reds reliever Chris Reitsma also finally got a save chance yesterday. He converted it and ran his scoreless innings streak to 82/3.

    Reitsma is supposed to be getting the opportunities with Scott Williamson gone, but that team probably won't get him many.

    He's a better option than Williams, but not by much.

  • Second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez is probably a better Cincinnati player to own. There is a lot to dislike about this guy's track record, but he has been very good since the Reds picked him up.

    Jimenez is batting .277 on the season with nine home runs and 35 RBI and he even batted third yesterday, though that is more a reflection of just how bad things are in the Great American Let Down these days than of the second baseman's ability.

    Still, Jimenez is a decent fill-in for a need in the middle infield.

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