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Middle relievers have some value, too

They might not rack up many saves, but there's value in owning dominant middle relievers in fantasy baseball.

That value comes in the form of strikeouts, earned-run average, WHIP (walks plus hits allowed per innings pitched) and the occasional vultured win.

With that in mind, here are some relievers to consider:

* Jonny Venters, Atlanta Braves: In 38 games this season, Venters is 4-0 with three saves, 45 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings and just 21 hits allowed. He's got a ridiculous 0.63 ERA and 0.80 WHIP. Those numbers make him appealing to any league format.

* Tyler Clippard, Washington Nationals: A strikeout-to-walk ratio of 53 to 15 is appealing, as is his 0.91 ERA. Clippard doesn't have any wins yet after finishing with 11 last season, but those might be coming now that the Nationals have Ryan Zimmerman back in the lineup.

* Mike Adams, San Diego Padres: With closer Heath Bell a prime candidate to be traded prior to the July deadline, Adams could step into that role. His 33 to 4 strikeout-to-walk ratio qualifies him well for that role, as does the fact he's allowed just 15 hits in 30 2/3 innings. Adams throws a Mariano Rivera-like cutter that's almost impossible to hit, as evidenced by the .142 batting average he's held opponents to this season. Adams' cutter is so good, he told Sports Illustrated earlier this month he doesn't bother with scouting reports.

"I know what my strengths are. If you think you can hit my cutter, then good luck," he told the magazine.

* David Robertson, N.Y. Yankees: With Rafael Soriano out of the lineup, Robertson has inherited the set-up role for Rivera, the best closer of all time. He's done the job well, striking out 44 in just 27 2/3 innings. He's allowed just one earned run in his last seven outings and has a 1.32 ERA. Opponents are hitting just .204 off him and he's got five holds for leagues that use that statistic.

> Interleague issues

Week 12 of the fantasy season is comprised almost exclusively of interleague games, which makes for some extra roster planning. American League teams playing in National League parks lose the designated hitter, while NL teams visiting the AL pick it up.

With that in mind, here are some players who could benefit, or be hurt by, visiting the opposite league.

* Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays: He's likely to play in Toronto's four games against right-handed pitchers, but sit for two against leftys as the Jays visit Atlanta and Cincinnati. You want Lind in the lineup right now: he had homered in four straight games entering Saturday.

* David Ortiz, Boston Red Sox: Boston comes to Pittsburgh starting Friday for three, so Ortiz is likely to see plenty of bench time, since the Sox would be nuts to sit down first baseman Adrian Gonzalez.

* Grady Sizemore, Cleveland Indians: Two games against left-handed pitchers in San Francisco next week doesn't bode well for the former Buffalo Bison. He's hitting just .114 against southpaws this season, so consider him a safe sit.

* Xavier Nady and Juan Miranda, Arizona Diamondbacks: The two have split time at first base for Arizona, but with games in Kansas City and Detroit, they'll both have a chance to be in the lineup. Nady has the better average (.258 to .228) but Miranda offers more power (six home runs, .426 slugging percentage to two and .321 for Nady).

* Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs: Fresh off the disabled list, Soriano can ease his way back into the lineup by serving as the DH against the cross-town White Sox and Royals. With 13 homers and 31 RBIs, Soriano's been a solid outfield option.

* Brad Hawpe, San Diego Padres: He's got a .273 average during interleague play, making him an easy choice to DH for the hitting-starved Padres.

e-mail: jskurski@buffnews.com

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