It is the last day of Week 2 of the fantasy baseball season and there is news flying in by the day. We have news of one of our first big prospects to come to the majors as well as plenty of pitchers who are making a name for themselves and surpassing their expectations. I also realize at one point in the article that I am getting old, and what in the world is going on with Mike Napoli? Get your lineups set early tomorrow because there is the Patriots Day game in Boston that starts at 11am so your lineups may lock earlier than usual. As always, don't forget to visit our sponsors, Fantasy Alarm and Fantazzle.
Ervin Santana just went and messed with everyone's head in fantasy baseball. After two very subpar outings in the beginning of the year, Santana went the distance today allowing just one run and fanning six, giving up just four hits. So what can you expect from Santana for the rest of the season? In 2008 he was one of the better pitchers in the American League and in 2009 he was a exploding tire fire. So now in 2010 he has been a little of both. I don't want to take the easy way out and say he will be a little of both, so I will take a stance on Santana. I don't believe that he will be near the 16 win guy from 2008, so if you own Santana I would try to use this outstanding outing as a way to try to try Santana off for a better pitcher. Maybe someone who is struggling like Jair Jurrjens or Wandy Rodriguez, or perhaps shoot for Jonathan Sanchez. Just some thoughts, but I wouldn't rest my hopes on Ervin for all of 2010.
Clayton Kershaw had a bit of a shaky start to season, but he showed today exactly what he is capable of. Kershaw gave up just one run to the Giants over seven innings and whiffed nine but wasn't around to get the decision. Kershaw is one of the finest young pitchers in all of the major leagues and should be a totally dominant arm for a long time. Kershaw needs to be a little more efficient so he can continue to pitch deep into games, but other than that I pretty much have no criticism of him at the age of 22. In keeper/dynasty leagues, he is absolute gold.
Brian Matusz improved to 2-0 with another pretty impressive performance in his rookie season. Matusz gave up three runs over 6.1 innings and struck out eight. He now has 23 Ks in just over 18 innings pitched, and has been pretty solid considering he faced the Rays twice. He is already a very impressive young pitcher and he is just 23 years old. Even in single season leagues I like Matusz as a guy you likely slotted in near the end of your rotation, but in keeper leagues he is a must have.
Ike Davis is almost definitely on his way to the big leagues to replace Mike Jacobs who has been sent to the minors. The Mets called up a minor league pitcher, Tobi Stoner, but it is very unlikely that he stays with the team. Davis has big time power potential, and he should probably hit for a decent average in the majors. At 6' 4" and 215 pounds he is what I like to call a big boy. He does strike out a decent amount, but not at a Mark Reynolds like clip. If you are in an NL only league it is a no brainer to try to grab Davis. Keeper leagues I would do it if you have a guy who is holding you back, but I don't think I would let go of a solid player for him. In yearly leagues I think I would take a wait and see approach on Davis unless you are in dire need of home runs or help at first base.
Matt Garza continues his ascent to fantasy greatness with another amazing start for Tampa on Sunday. Garza baffled and shut out the Red Sox for eight innings, allowed just four hits and struck out five. Garza isn't the strikeout artist that Tim Lincecum or Roy Halladay might be, but I think he is going to win 16 games with his eyes closed and in keeper leagues you want this guy on your team. It looks like this is going to be the time that he is going to live up to the expectations from when he was coming up through the minors.
After a 15 win season last year, many fantasy players targeted Jason Marquis as a mid to late round pitcher that they could get some good production out of. Ummmm, not so far. Marquis didn't even record an out on Sunday as he allowed seven earned runs and walked a batter without a strikeout. For the season his WHIP is now approaching 3.00 and his ERA sits at a robust 20.52. Adding more insult to injury he has twice as many walks (six) as he does strikeouts (three). This is not a guy that you want to be starting right now. If there is someone that you feel good about I might let him go, but other than that I would probably just leave him on my bench and hope that he turns it around.
Rich Harden continues to struggle and while he isn't giving up a ton of runs he is walking so many batters that he isn't able to give his team (or his fantasy owners) a quality start. This is the second time in three starts that Harden was unable to finish the fourth inning, as he gave up four earned runs, walked SIX and struck out five in 3.2 innings of work. Unfortunately, Harden's talent says that you have to keep him on your team, and against most teams you have to continue to start him as well. You might want to park him on your bench for a start or two (depending on the opponent of course) to see if he gets straight because he is at least destroying your WHIP. The strikeouts are still pretty strong, but at this point it is pretty much all he is good for. He isn't even lasting long enough in a game to be eligible for the win if he was good enough to get it.
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Juan Pierre has struggled to start the season but he showed today why you have to continue to put him in your lineup everyday as he got two hits, drove in his first run, and most importantly stole three bases. Pierre might be getting a little older (hell, he is three days YOUNGER than me oh that sucks! Damn, I'm getting old) but he still is lightning on the base paths and loves to make things happen. As long as he stays healthy I think Pierre will steal 40-50 bases easily so be sure to keep him in your lineup every day.
Shin-Soo Choo had himself a heck of an afternoon and is looking like he deserved the lofty draft status that he enjoyed this year. Most drafts that I participated in this season I thought he was going a little too high, but the guy is hitting .350 and hit his fourth homer of the year (a grand slam) and drove in his 12th run to go along with it. He also has three steals to go with it, making him a very valuable guy to have in your outfield. Now, obviously he isn't going to hit .350 with 45 homers and 130 RBI this season so don't freak out when he hits a little cold spell which he is bound to do. Choo is a good second outfielder to have on your team.
Gavin Floyd has had a bit of a rocky start to the season and today it got a whole lot rockier, but I advise you to live through this rough patch and you will be better for it in the end. Floyd is not an elite pitcher, but he is more than adequate and has a reasonable chance to win 15 games. You would obviously like to see him get off to a better start, but that only means that there is a hot streak coming in there sometime in the near future.
Ricky Romero was the hard luck loser against Santana, but he had another quality start. Romero gave up just one run over eight innings, allowed just five hits and struck out six. Romero continues to impress this year, and while I wasn't a fan coming into the season, I am slowly being converted. I still think he will have his share of struggles, but unless you can get more value than you should, I would no longer try to capitalize on his hot beginning of the year I think he is going to be a 13-15 game winner with 165 strikeouts a nice complementary piece to your pitching staff.
Can someone please remind Mike Scioscia that he has a catcher in Mike Napoli that is rotting on his bench that is capable of hitting 20 home runs! Napoli never plays anymore in favor of Jeff Mathis I guess because of the defense. It also doesn't help that Mathis is hitting well over .300 to begin the season, but he has shown throughout his career that he is unable to hit major league pitching consistently and I have to believe that it is just a matter of time before he starts going back to the low .200s like he has hit throughout his time in the big leagues. The question is how long will Scioscia will continue to go with Mathis and ignore the instant offense on his bench. I am still hopeful of a trade where Mathis can play every day, but it doesn't appear imminent. So how long do you hold on to Mathis? If you have the roster room to carry two catchers I would try to keep him if at all possible. However, if he is killing you each week and you have either no bench or a very limited one you might have to let him go.
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He might not have won the game, but Jair Jurrjens bounced back nicely from his last rough outing by allowing just three runs over eight innings and striking out nine. Jurrjens has been one of the more consistent pitchers in the National League over the past couple of seasons, especially with his 2.60 ERA in 2009. He isn't a strikeout master, but he gets more than enough to keep you happy and should finish most seasons with around 150-160 Ks when all is said and done. Continue to start him against any competition and you will be happy more often than not.
Perhaps my favorite young power hitter, Jay Bruce finally woke up today and deposited his first two baseballs in the seats today and it is sure to be the first of many. His batting average is atrocious at just .178, but that is sure to improve. He might not quite reach the same home run numbers, but Bruce is the next generation of Adam Dunn. I don't know if he is ever going to hit for a spectacular batting average, but when this kid connects the ball tends to go a long way and playing in the Great American SmallPark doesn't hurt either.
Nate Robertson is off to a pretty good start for his new team in Florida, but I am still a long way from buying into him as a viable fantasy pitcher. Robertson is just returning from major surgery and to be honest I was never a big fan of his back when he was a Tiger. I need to see another good three or four weeks before I believe in Robertson and right now I would leave him on the waiver wire and let someone else be the one to pick him up.
Break up the Astros! After starting the season a woeful 0-8 they have run off three of their last four! And while he didn't get the win, hopefully Wandy Rodriguez got some of his owners back to calm as he began the year with two pretty bad starts. He still only collected three strikeouts in seven innings, but Wandy allowed just two earned runs and kept his team in the game. I know a lot of you were freaking out about him, but keep throwing him out there and Wandy will be just fine.
It also appears that all Matt Lindstrom needed was save opportunities. After not getting a sniff of a chance in the first ten days of the year, Lindstrom has converted two straight chances, including Sunday in which he struck out the side. He did give up one weak hit, but Lindstrom has been doing what he is capable of when he is right and that is dominate hitters. He does have a bit of a control issue, but so far so good and since the Astros certainly have to be better than they were in the beginning of the year, Lindstrom should continue to be a nice third level closer.
Now I am not a fan, but Ryan Dempster is a fairly solid fantasy pitcher most of the time. When he is on he can be very good, and he is also pretty good at finishing off hitters by getting the strikeout. Dempster had his win blown by Carlos Marmol on Sunday, but he gave up just one run in 7.2 innings and struck out eight while scattering four hits. He is not on any of my six fantasy teams, but as a fourth or fifth starter he isn't bad. He struggles with consistency from time to time, but I suppose you can do worse than Dempster.
Ty Wiggington has gotten off to a very nice start for the Orioles as he hit his fourth home run of the season on Sunday and has now driven in ten runs. He is also hitting .290 and has been a good find for the Orioles in the early going. However with that being said there is no way in the world that I would be picking Wiggington in a fantasy league. The guy is 32 years old and has been a utility player his entire career. I can not buy into the fact that all of a sudden that he is turning into anything more than that. Wiggy is a nice player to have on your bench if you are a real baseball team, but for fantasy purposes he is someone that I feel you can ignore.
Ian Kennedy is riding the usual roller coaster that most young pitchers do when they first come into the majors. He was very solid in his first start allowing just three runs and striking out eight, but his second was a disaster as he allowed six runs in just four innings and walked more guys than he struck out. Well on Sunday the ride went back up again as he threw five shutout innings and struck out seven while allowing just two hits. Kennedy was a nice prospect for the Yankees in recent years, but I never saw him as an impact starter in the major leagues. He could be a decent pitcher for the Diamondbacks, but he will likely be wildly inconsistent and not someone that I would pay much attention to for fantasy purposes unless you are in a 14+ team league.
Barry Zito has now had three quality starts to start the year, and it is about time to start asking yourself if this is for real? Zito finished the season strong last year and now he comes out of the gate good again in 2010. He isn't a big strikeout pitcher, but he hasn't allowed more than three runs in a start so far this season, and he is pitching very well. I can't say that I am completely drinking the Kool-Aid yet on Zito, but I might make the move on picking him up depending on who you might let go. Feel free to send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org to lay out your situation to see if Zito fits your team. He is a former Cy Young award winner, but that time seems like ages ago, I wonder if he is recapturing that magic.
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