The Astros have two young arms that are strong plays in AL-only leagues, and they might even have some mixed league value. There are two 9th inning arms that are surging after rough starts to the year. The Indians have two outfielders who may be ready to remind folks why they are both solid plays in mixed leagues. The Padres second baseman is struggling (another two). Finally, a power hitter in Anaheim, an all-around force in Tampa, and two veteran arms on the hill – one going up, one certainly on the way down, will be discussed.
TWO ASTROS ARMS
Brad Peacock struck out 10 batters and allowed three runs in seven innings Sunday in a loss to the Twins. Through 10 outings this season he owns a dreadful 1-4 record with a 7.25 ERA and 1.58 WHIP. On the plus side he's got 33 Ks in 36 innings and it's unlikely he continues to allow homers at such a freakish rate (10 in 36 innings). There's also the fact that he pitched very well this season down on the farm: in 14 outings at Triple-A Peacock went 6-2 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 8.66 K/9 mark and 3.45 K/BB ratio. All of that paints him as an AL-only add. Come on, you know you can drop Joe Blanton and just go for it.
The more exciting fantasy arm in Houston may be that of Jarred Cosart. The pitching prospect of the Astros has made four starts this season with impressive results – 0.96 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. Unfortunately he's also struck out only 11 batters in 28 innings and, remarkably, he's walked 12. Yes, his K/BB ratio is under one at the moment. Odd in that he struck out 93 batters in 93 innings at Triple-A this season. If he can find the lost punchouts we could be looking at a guy who will be a help in mixed leagues the rest of the way.
Oh, and just cause I mentioned Cosart... let's talk about Zack Cozart. Briefly, he still stinks. Last year he had a .246/.288/.399 slash line. This year it's slightly worse across the board: .244/.275/.278. Dusty Baker has hit that man first of second in the Reds batting order in 202 of his 251 career games. Shameful.
10 TEAM VALUE?
I got a question today from someone asking if they can drop Desmond Jennings in a 10-team league because there is some concern that his sprained finger might hinder his production. (1) X-rays were clear and there is no DL stay indicated at the moment. (2) Please stop playing in 10 team leagues. (3) You're off your rocker, like you have fallen and can't get up like the old lady on that commerical, if you're moving on from Jennings. Seriously? The guy is on a 150 game pace for 16 homers, 25 steals and 100 runs scored. If that's not worthy of starting, even in a 10 team league, maybe I need to switch careers cause it looks like a strong effort to me.
Fernando Rodney had no chance to match last season, none, coming into the year. He hasn't disappointed at all with a 3.74 ERA and 1.40 WHIP. He's also seen a return to the days of the wild west as he's walking 5.52 batters per nine innings, an embarrassing number for a big league pitcher. However, there are pluses. Rodney has struck out 62 batters in 45.2 innings leading to a career best 12.22 K/9 mark. The last four years that mark never reached 9.20 in a season, so I don't know where the extra three batters per nine innings has come from. He's also allowed just one earned run in his last 18 outings as hie ERA has dropped roughly two full runs. He's pitching well right now and should continue to be effective unless the walks just keep piling up.
Huston Street has a save in each of his last six outings. All of a sudden he's 21-for-22 in save chance this season and his WHIP is down to 1.16. That's what happens when you allow seven batters to reach base over 10 innings. He's also been unscored upon in 10 straight outings to drop his ERA from 4.78 to 3.47.
Michael Bourn is hitting .282, nine points above his career mark, and he's on a 150 game pace of about 95 runs scored (he's averaged 93 runs a season the past four years). So all is right with Bourn? Not so fast. After stealing at least 41 bases in each of the previous five seasons, Bourn has stolen a mere 16 bags this season. Two notes about that. First, he's only appeared in 82 games so his 160 game is about 31 steals. That mark would only be 75 percent of his expected output. Second, Bourn stole three bases in a game on Saturday reminding everyone that he can still scoot with the best of them. He'll need to pick up the pace on the base paths a tad, but this has nearly been vintage Bourn even though no one has noticed.
Drew Stubbs hasn't been the player the Indians thought they were getting. After 3-straight seasons of at least 14 homers and 30 steals, Stubbs currently has gone deep seven times with only 13 thefts. When you bat .245 as he is you need more in the counting numbers to be a solid play in mixed leagues. However, I have some good news. Over the past 25 games Stubbs has stolen five bases and hit .260. He's currently sporting a slash line of .245/.307/.374, just off his career marks (.2418/.311/.384). Like Bourn though, we really need him to start running. Stubbs has been very effective this year, not in the volume of work that he has provided of course but he's yet to be thrown out on the bases in 13 attempts. He could be rounding into shape making him a solid play in mixed leagues down the stretch.
A.J. Burnett has a 2.73 ERA, the 8th best mark in the NL, better than Mike Minor (2.75) and Shelby Miller (2.89) to name just two. A.J. Burnett has a 1.20 WHIP, better than Jeff Locke (1.22), Cole Hamels (1.23) and Gio Gonzalez (1.25). A.J. Burnett has 141 Ks this season, the 9th best mark in the NL. It's a bigger total than Cliff Lee (139), Jose Fernandez (138) and Stephen Strasburg (134). Why is no one talking about A.J. Burnett? Oh I know, cause his record is 5-7.
Jedd Gyorko was having an impressive rookie effort until injury hit. Since he's returned from the sidelines he's been terrible. In his last 15 games Jedd has driven in three runs and scored twice. That's bad enough, but when coupled with a .103 batting average in 58 at-bats, well, you can see why I said he stinks. Luckily for him Everth Cabrera was suspended (more on that below) and Logan Forsythe hasn't exactly taken off since returning from injury (he has three hits in his last 10 outings) or Gyorko might have found himself sent back to Triple-A to get his groove back.
Phil Hughes stunk it up again Sunday as he failed to complete five innings in a start for the 8th time this season. I still have no idea why anyone bothers caring about him in mixed leagues. Why the fascination with a guy who has a 4.87 ERA and 1.39 WHIP? I'm telling ya, if he pitched for the Marlins he would be on waivers in 98 percent of mixed leagues.
Mark Trumbo update. He is what he is. That is, he's a solid power threat who is a strong run producer. However, it's time to give up on the thought that he will ever be an elite option in fantasy. He won't ever be. He's just got no upside in the average category. After batting .254 as a rookie he hit .268 last year and is down at .244 this season (career .255). His OBP marks have looked roughly the same (.291, .317 and .307 leading to .304 for his career). He averaged 30 walks his first two seasons, so seeing him with 40 at the moment is certainly encouraging since he's appeared in just 110 games, but he's not going to be leading the league in OBP any time soon. Moreover, even with the extra patience this season he's seen his K-rate skyrocket as he's currently on pace for more than 160 Ks after averaging 136 his first two seasons. As I noted the power is there, 25 bombs and 69 RBIs put him on a slightly better pace than his average the first two seasons (an average of 31 homers and 91 RBIs). Solid? Yes. Anything more than that? No.
Just pointing it out. In two games since returning from injury B.J. Upton has three hits, a run scored and a steal.
Players were suspended today. I know I have to mention it, but do I have to care. Here's the list.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87, Monday through Friday. For more of Ray's analysis you can check out BaseballGuys.com or the BaseballGuys' Twitter account where he tirelessly answer everyone's questions.
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