After a brief hiatus, Rounding The Bases is back and ready to lead you in the second half of the season to a fantasy championship. Tonight we have a new closer that is an old closer that converted his first chance, a Cubs pitcher picks up where he left off when he got hurt, and a few pitchers are on a decent hot streak. One of the first half's best takes one on the chin to start the second half, and perhaps the most fragile man in the majors pitches well. Get ready to make that move in your league to collect a championship each night here on Fantasy Alarm.com!
It seems like a long time since I said this, but Joe Nathan came in and saved a game for the Minnesota Twins tonight, as he has officially taken the job back and successfully converted his first chance. He did allow one hit, but it was a fairly easy save for Nathan and if you haven't made the move to grab him, it probably is already too late with all of the speculation of this move happening. I don't believe that Nathan will be the lights out, elite closer he once was, but I definitely think that he will be an effective guy to have in your relief spot and should be on your roster.
Carlos Zambrano was removed from the Disabled List in time for today's start and Cubs' fans and Zambrano's fantasy owners both wish that he was left there. He was blasted for eight runs over just 4.2 innings, walked four and struck out six. Zambrano has been mostly a mess this season, as I thought that he would bounce back from last season's meltdown. I will be watching the water cooler obituary section tomorrow to see if Zambrano went on one of his usual tantrums after this game. At this point it is borderline whether you should be putting him in your starting lineup, or even be on your roster at this point.
Is Javier Vasquez becoming fantasy relevant? The guy who was an absolute mess to start the season has all of a sudden been on a little streak. Vasquez's three earned runs allowed on Saturday were the most that he has allowed in his last six starts. His ten whiffs today were the most that he has had in quite a while, but right now fewer pitchers are hotter. I don't know how long this might last, but if you are in need of help at pitcher, right now I have to say that Vasquez looks like a really good option. Just don't give him too long of a leash because this is sure not to last.
Has Edwin Jackson had a good start since his no hitter? He might have had a couple, but none have been as good as he was tonight. Jackson did throw a complete game shutout against the Detroit Tigers, but he did only strikeout two. Jackson is just a hair above mediocre, and in my opinion should not be on fantasy rosters. Don't fall into the trap of seeing one good start and thinking that it will last, look at his track record and you will realize that Jackson just had a great day.
Jonathan Niese has been on my watch list for much of the season and he continues to catch my attention when he has games like this against the Philadelphia Phillies. Niese won his ninth game of the season as he gave up just one earned run over seven innings, walked one and struck out six. Even in 14-16 team leagues I think that Niese could be available, and I think the Mets are outproducing their talent, so it isn't like he is incapable of getting wins. I said it earlier, but if you need pitching I would grab Niese, and I would pick him up before Javier Vasquez.
James Shields had an uncharacteristically bad outing for him in 2011 as he gave up six earned runs over six innings, although he did strikeout eight. I really think that it is going to be a long, rough second half for Shields as I don't think he is as talented as he pitched in the first half. I'm not sure how his record is 8-8, but I am almost willing to guarantee that his win-loss record finishes under .500. Deal him now if you can for another top notch pitcher.
Rich Harden didn't get the win for the Oakland Athletics today, but it was a nice step forward for a guy I have almost no confidence in. Harden gave up just three runs over seven frames, walked just two and struck out an impressive nine batters. Harden has just had too long of an injury history for me to have any faith that he is going to be able to do this long enough to be worth having on your team. I guess if he is available and you are either using an empty spot, replacing another injured player, or dropping someone that really sucks I would grab Harden, but I wouldn't release anyone who has contributed to your team this season in a positive way.
Wilson Ramos has had a better last six weeks than he did the first two months and is starting to hit a few more home runs. Ramos hit his ninth home run of the season on Saturday and raised his batting average to .257. I expected Ramos to have driven in more than 33 runs at this point of the season but I think he can have a great second half, and if he is available in your league and your catcher is disappointing you at all, I like Ramos to help you out in August and September.
Dontrelle Willis (CIN) vs. James McDonald -- I know the Pirates are having a great season and the pitching has been a good reason for it, but McDonald has been the one I have trusted the least. Willis wasn't bad his last time out, and while I don't have a ton of confidence in him to be good long term, he could get a few good starts in before the league figures him out again.
Want to read more? Check out our Fantasy Alarm in-season fantasy baseball coverage complete with nightly fantasy baseball recaps, two start pitchers, best waiver pickups, injury reports and in-depth minor league baseball coverage.
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