In the wake of hearing about rehab setbacks for both Evan Longoria and Carl Crawford, the baseball world got a little bit of good news as the Phillies finally activated first base slugger Ryan Howard on Friday and got him into the lineup immediately. The slugger had been on the shelf since the final at-bat of the Phillies final game of 2011 when he ruptured his Achilles tendon. The road to recovery was cumbersome, but he’s back now and fantasy owners that had him stashed are looking to reap the benefits as we get ready to head on into the second half of the season.
But the question now is, just how productive will Howard be when he returns? Is he going to go back to mashing like the Ryan Howard of old? Is he capable of doing what he did in the second half when he was first called up? Can owners expect 20 home runs from him for the remainder of the season?
In his first game back, Howard went 2-for-4 with a double and looked pretty comfortable out there. He laced the double in his first at-bats and then later singled to complete the multi-hit effort. But will it be the norm? I’m going to say no. Probably not. Not that I think Howard is going to be a disappointment, but I think he’ll fall short of some of the expectations of his owners that are hoping for big power production. Maybe it won’t be as bad as Kendrys Morales when his return was stalled by poor timing at the plate and over-tweaked mechanics to compensate for the ankle, but Howard is going to have to make some adjustments as well. It’s not like he was the most disciplined hitter at the plate before he went down as his .250-ish average always went hand-in-hand with a run at the strikeout title. His days of the .300 season were left far, far behind.
I see Howard coming in somewhere around 12-15 home runs and a high .250’s/low .260’s average this season. He may start off hot for the first couple of weeks thanks to his adrenaline and the fact that plenty of pitchers are just going to go right after him, pound the strike zone and dare him to keep up. But after a couple of weeks, things will start to level off and Howard will have his Cerrano-esque moments, for sure. He’ll fix it. He’ll make the necessary adjustments eventually, but just don’t expect and immediate return on your patience and waiver savvy. It will happen though, and keeper league owners should get ready to grab him if they can.
|Bronson Arroyo, CIN||9.0||3||0||0||1||8||0||0.00||0.44|
It’s a good thing that this award is a daily thing and we’re not talking about staying power here. I’ve never been a huge fan of Bronson Arroyo, but the guy flashes these moments of brilliance that just can’t go by unmentioned. I’ll still never own him on any of my fantasy teams, but what’s not to love about a complete-game, three-hitter? The fact that it’s coming on the heels of a game in which he took a no-hitter into the eighth inning is even more impressive. Arroyo actually finishes out the first half pretty well, all things considered. The wins total has little to be desired, but his 3.73 ERA is passable, especially when it comes with an increased strikeout rate, a decreased walk rate, and a HR/9 that has basically been cut in half from last year. Can’t say that I’m too trusting for a repeat in the second half, but those first half numbers are nothing to thumb your nose at.
|Tyler Colvin, OF COL||3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI|
|Alex Rodriguez, 3B NYY||3-4, 2 R, RBI, 2 SB|
|Anthony Rizzo, 1B CHC||4-5, R, HR, 3 RBI|
|Reed Johnson, OF CHC||4-6, 3 R, 2B, HR, RBI|
|Drew Pomeranz, SP COL||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.47 WHIP, 6K|
Yeesh. Who woke up Tyler Colvin finally? The guy has been raking lately and if you were fortunate enough to pick him up when he first caught fire, then kudos to you and your fantasy team. He is hitting .385 with six home runs and 17 RBI over his last 10 games and is looking like a beast here. The question is, though, will he continue to see regular at-bats once he starts to cool down or will Jim Tracy put him back on the bench with any sign of a cold spell? Obviously it’s yet to be determined, but with the All Star break coming up, we’ll have to see how things start up in the second half. Enjoy him for the weekend here and we’ll re-visit with Mr. Colvin again soon.
Did you ever think we’d see Alex Rodriguez on the fantasy leaderboard without anything in the power department? Not that I’m putting down a strong day at the plate with quality base-running, but A-Rod just ain’t the same these days. A .272 average with 13 home runs and 37 RBI are very pedestrian numbers in the grand A-Rod scheme, but at least he’s stayed healthy, right? Whoops. Did I just jinx that?
Anthony Rizzo, coming in as advertised. Everyone knew the move away from Petco Park would help him, but oh man, is he looking strong. He’s batting .375 with a home run every 10 at-bats right now. Even better is the fact that he’s only struck out five times in 41 plate appearances. If this torrid pace continues in the second half, I’m really going to regret trading him in my keeper league to try and make my championship run.
Nice to see Drew Pomeranz have a game like he did last night, but seriously, Colorado, this pitch count thing is garbage. The guy was tossing a one-hit shutout in the seventh inning and you pull him right after he strikes out Adam LaRoche? There was no one on base even! What was Ian Desmond going to do, hit a magic grand slam with ghost-runners on? What is this backyard whiffle-ball? Utterly ridiculous. Part of teaching your youngsters how to pitch in the majors is to let them go the distance and face adversity. There’s just no excuse for giving him the hook like that. Yet another reason to avoid all Rockies starters. Total garbage.
Good job, Reed Johnson. At least you made me look good when I recommended you for daily fantasy baseball gaming. Outside of that, how’s that sunshine feeling?
|Justin Smoak, 1B SEA||0-4, 3 K|
|Alcides Escobar, SS KC||0-4, 3 K|
|Adam Dunn, 1B CHW||0-4, 3 K|
|Justin Masterson, SP CLE||L, 16.15 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 7 K|
|Johan Santana, SP NYM||L, 13.50 ERA, 2.79 WHIP, 6 K|
Yeah, yeah. Same ol’ same. Although kudos to the starting pitchers of MLB, overall. While Justin Masterson and Johan Santana were the worst of the lot, each one kicked in some decent strikeouts, so the day wasn’t a total loss.
Chris Davis, 1B BAL – back (questionable)
Will Middlebrooks, 3B BOS – hamstring (questionable)
Scott Rolen, 3B CIN – back (questionable)
Todd Helton, 1B COL – hip (questionable)
Juan Uribe, 3B LAD – ankle (questionable)
Andres Torres, OF NYM – back (doubtful)
Santiago Casilla, RP SF – blister (questionable)
Rafael Furcal, SS STL – leg (questionable)
Josh Hamilton, OF TEX – back (questionable)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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