Is there anyone else left doubting whether or not Francisco Liriano is back? Liriano ran his record to 4-0 and while he wasn't as dominant as he had been, he was still very good. He allowed three runs over seven innings and struck out nine, giving him 36 Ks in 36 innings pitched with an ERA well under 2.00. I think it is obvious that he can't quite keep up this pace the entire season, but I have very little doubt any more than Liriano will be a very capable fantasy pitcher and could be a borderline ace on your roster.
Brett Gardner will be the major beneficiary of the injury to Curtis Granderson as he is now the every day centerfielder for the New York Yankees. Gardner isn't going to bring you any power at all, but the guy can run once he gets on base. Being in the lineup every day I think Gardner can get close to if not top 40 steals in 2010 as I think he will perform well enough to warrant regular at bats over Randy Winn even when Granderson is able to return.
Phil Hughes had another spectacular outing in his first season as a starter and he is now 3-0. Hughes is an elite talent and when he gets more comfortable in the major leagues the sky will be the limit. Hughes threw seven shutout innings, scattered four hits and struck out six. Even though he walked only one on Sunday, Hughes still has a little work to do with his command, but he is one of the more impressive young arms in the majors and is keeper league gold as far as I am concerned.
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Can we officially say that Justin Verlander has righted the ship now? After giving up no earned runs in his last start, Verlander dominated the Angels and allowed just one earned run as he pitched into the ninth inning and struck out seven batters. He wasn't able to finish the game, but he was dominant and all of you who were freaking out in mid-April hopefully have your heart rates back under control. Verlander got off to a bad start (which lasted much longer) last season and it appears that's all it was again. He is an elite fantasy pitcher and you can feel safe with him as an anchor to your staff.
Alex Gonzalez continues to defy the odds and continues to hit the ball out of the park. Gonzalez connected on number eight on Sunday and it is getting harder to ignore what he is doing. However, I will continue to do just that. Unless you are looking for a short term fix, an injury replacement or something like that, I am still not advising adding Gonzalez. I just look at his career and I can't get on board. He might do well for another few weeks, but I am telling you by the middle of June he will be on waiver wires across the fantasy baseball universe.
Ben Sheets lost his third straight start and it was the second one in a row where he was absolutely tattooed. After his effort today in which he allowed nine earned runs, Sheets has now given up 17 earned runs in his last two trips to the bump. I am not a Sheets fan and if there is someone that is clearly better than him available in your league I would make the move now. However, if you are just dropping him just to get rid of him and you are picking up someone off the scrap heap, I would give Sheets another try. He at least has a track record of success and while I am not counting on it, I wouldn't be completely shocked if he turns this around.
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It has been a rough start to the year for Derek Lowe, but he showed on Sunday why he is worthy of being on fantasy rosters. Lowe has allowed four runs or more in three of his first five starts, but he gave up just one on Sunday over five innings and struck out three. Lowe is not a big strikeout guy which is another reason he isn't a fantasy darling, but as a consistent guy at the end of your rotation you can do much worse than Lowe. If he is available in your league after a rocky beginning, I would at least consider seeing if he fits on your team.
Didn't someone tell Jason Varitek a few years ago that his career was over? The Red Sox captain seems to have found a mini fountain of youth here in the early stages of the season as he already has five home runs, Now besides the fact that he has company behind the dish in Victor Martinez, the other reason not to consider adding Varitek is that this just can't last. Once a feared hitting catcher, Varitek has been just a shell of what he once was and now with irregular playing time he still isn't fantasy worthy unless you are in a 16 team AL-only league that has two catchers. Is that obscure enough for you?
Is anyone not smelling what Wade Davis is cooking yet? The Tampa rookie was seriously dealing on Sunday as he shutout the Royals (ok, not exactly Murderer's Row but still) over seven innings and struck out five. After a month of the season the kid has an ERA of 2.79 and his strikeouts are in pretty good shape too. The Rays are obviously legit contenders for the division title and more, so that will only enhance Davis' value. If for some unholy reason he is still available in your league, be sure he isn't as soon as you are done reading this.
I have to admit that I am shocked at how well David Freese is hitting. The Cardinals rookie third baseman was given the job kind of by default going into the year and there were questions about how much he would hit. Well after nearly a month, Freese is hitting .355 with three home runs and 16 RBI after another 3-4 effort on Sunday. Freese now has hits in six straight games and has driven in 11 runs in the last six contests. If you need any help in your corner infield Freese is looking like a legit option to put in there every day. I still don't think I would want him as my starting third baseman for the rest of the season, but given the dearth of talent at the position fantasy wise, my mind could change on that one as well.
This piece on Edwin Jackson is going to sound stunningly similar to the one about Ben Sheets earlier in the article without any talk about injury problems. One start after allowing a whopping ten earned runs, Jackson gave up eight on Sunday giving him 22 earned runs allowed in his last three starts. This is not what the Diamondbacks were hoping for (obviously) when they traded for Jackson in the offseason. Like Sheets, if there is someone who becomes available that is clearly an upgrade from Jackson I would make the move and let him go, but if you are just dropping him because you are mad at him, I would give him another start or two before dropping the axe. The kid has shown some signs that he can be a legit major league pitcher, he just hasn't shown them in the last three weeks.
Jholyis Chacin collected his first major league win on Sunday, and with Jorge De La Rosa due to miss a month or more, Chacin could be looking at some great opportunities to prove himself. Pronounced yo-lees sha-seen, he is one of the more exciting young arms that was in the minor leagues. Chacin has great off speed stuff and a good enough fast ball to get by even though it isn't overpowering. He is just 22 years old and was 3-0 in AAA with a 1.69 ERA and 21 whiffs in 21 innings in four starts. I would say he absolutely earned another one and if he is available in your keeper league and you aren't dropping anyone great, I would make the move today to grab him.
Jon Garland now has four straight starts in which he has allowed one earned run or less after shutting out the Brew Crew over seven innings and striking out three. He still is struggling with his control as he walked five, but as an end of the roster guy, right now Garland is hot hot hot. Is this another instance of an American League guy coming over to the National League and ripping things up? Well, he was 8-11 for the Diamondbacks last year after coming over from the White Sox, so I don't think that is it. In fact I don't know how much longer this can go on. I do know that right now he should be added if you are looking for a solid option, even if you are going to end up dumping him by Memorial Day.
OK seriously, this Doug Fister guy is starting to make me wonder what is up. I keep looking over his career and I keep looking for a reason why he is pitching so well and I can't find it. However, it is impossible to argue with his results as he threw another eight shutout innings on Sunday and has gone eight innings in three of his five starts. If there is one negative to Fister's success is he doesn't get a lot of strikeouts, but when the guy has a 1.29 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP, how can you complain about strikeouts? I can't say that I am 100% on board with this guy just yet, but he definitely has my attention and as long as it lasts you should go along for the ride.
I've gotten a few emails lately about the struggles of Shane Victorino, and I would think at this point that most of those concerns have been laid to rest. Yesterday the guy hit a ball that JUST missed being a three run homer, only to follow in the same at bat with an actual three run homer. Well, there is only one way to top that, and the Flyin Hawaiian did just that as Victorino hit a grand slam Sunday night off of Johan Santana one pitch after he walked 46 year old Jaime Moyer with the bases loaded. Victorino will be just fine, and while this power surge is certainly temporary, the guy should end the season with a .275 average, 10 homers and a good 35-40 steals. Keep throwing him out there in your lineups and you will be rewarded come September.
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