With some of the pitching performances we’ve seen over the past week – Matt Cain’s perfect game, R.A. Dickey’s knuckleball madness, and Ryan Dempster’s 15 straight shutout innings just to name a few, fantasy owners tend to get lulled into a false sense of security. Just when everything seems to be going your way and your pitching staff looks invincible…BAM!!!! The injury bug swoops on in and takes a huge bite out of your rotation’s proverbial ass.
We’ve already seen Roy Halladay, Chris Carpenter, Michael Pineda, Brandon McCarthy, Ted Lilly, and John Danks go down with shoulder injuries, Scott Baker, Tim Stauffer, and Mike Pelfrey with elbow problems, and Cory Luebke and Danny Duffy head out for Tommy John surgery. Doug Fister has missed time with an oblique issue, Jered Weaver with a bad back, and we haven’t even gotten to the entire Blue Jays staff which has completely fallen apart over the last two weeks. It’s been absolutely brutal.
What’s worse is that we’re likely headed towards more as Brandon Beachy is dealing with some elbow soreness and Josh Beckett is being hindered by a barking shoulder. No pitcher is safe, and consequently, no fantasy rotation is either. Unfortunately, there’s really nothing you can do about it. Sure, you can obviously try to avoid pitchers who have missed some time or shown signs of fatigue, but there’s just no way to predict when someone’s arm is going to give out on them or whether the rest of their body can withstand the everyday wear and tear. It’s one of the reasons that I never like to protect starting pitching in keeper leagues, nor do I like to invest heavily in pitchers on draft day. Sure, no position player is immune to the injury bug, but the strain a pitcher puts on his arm puts him at a much greater risk.
Sadly, there’s really no great advice to offer here. This is more of a support group post than anything else. You just have to persevere. It’s going to require a good amount of scouting, some savvy waiver claims, and likely the employment of some quality middle relievers to help balance the ratios of some of the lesser talent you’re forced to start each week. As we move into the dog days of summer and pitchers begin to wilt in the heat, we’ll start sifting through the waiver wire together and try to pull some names out that just might be helpful down the road. For now, just grit your teeth and hope for the best. It’s still a long season and while we might be nearing the midway point, there’s still plenty of baseball still to come.
So now that I’ve thoroughly depressed you here on a beautiful Saturday morning, let’s look at some highlights from Friday…
|Trevor Plouffe, SS/OF MIN||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
While technically he didn’t have the absolute best stats of the hitters here, he was close enough to the top that I was easily swayed by the fact that Trevor Plouffe, arguably the guy swinging the biggest stick right now, deserved to be the Fantasy Beast of the Day for swatting a pair of home runs on his 26th birthday. I mean really, what better present could a guy receive than the Fantasy Alarm’s most highly coveted daily award? But Plouffe didn’t just get the nod based on Friday’s performance. Yes, his numbers were great, but what those numbers were added to are even greater. Sure, he’s only batting .240 on the year, but for the month of June, there’s been nobody better. Over the course of 12 games this month, Plouffe is batting .396 with nine home runs, 16 RBI and has 14 runs scored.
Now the real question is whether or not he is capable of sustaining it. Obviously I don’t think anyone is capable of sustaining an average close to .400 with a .646 ISO, but I do think he can continue to hit well over the coming weeks. Despite such a ridiculous first half of June, Plouffe still has a .208 BABIP for the season. League average is around .296 and Plouffe’s career mark is .252. If you believe in the simple notion that everything gravitates towards the mean, well then it would seem that Plouffe’s BABIP still has a ways to go. He might not hit for the same power, but he could very well continue to hit. It’s not a certainty, by any means, so you can always just sell high right now if you don’t believe, but for me, Plouffe is someone you try and hold onto for a little while longer. Sure, his value is at an all-time high right now and any type of a prolonged slump will lower his trade value, but few people are buying into it and will likely run him down in trade negotiations. You’ll be hard-pressed to get fair value if no one believes. But hold him for a little longer and if his average starts to climb a little more, then you could find someone willing to offer you a king’s ransom.
|Alex Rios, OF CHW||3-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Chris Nelson, 2B COL||2-4, 3 R, 3B, HR, 3 RBI, BB|
|Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL||3-5, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB|
|Matt Moore, SP TB||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 8 K|
|Trevor Cahill, SP ARI||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 8 K|
Alex Rios, technically had the strongest offensive totals for the day, however, as one who has been burned by Rios’ unpredictable stat fluctuations over the years, I always take what he does now with a grain of salt. Yes, he’s on pace to surpass his 2011 numbers and reach closer to his 2010 totals. I’m just perpetually skeptical. I’ll tell you to trade him while his value is where it is right now, but you can also find a dissenting opinion form mine with Ray Flowers. He’s a huge Rios fan, so I’ll leave it to him to tell you why you should keep him.
If you’re looking for me to say some nice things about Chris Nelson too, you’re barking up the wrong tree. And speaking of barking, is that the sun I see shining on Nelson? Stat lines like the on eyou see next to his name above are certainly few and far between and it’s only a matter of time before he and Jordan Pacheco are supplanted at third in Colorado and we get to start the Nolan Arenado era.
CarGo just being CarGo again, but what should surprise you is that he did on the road….in Detroit, no less!
Matt Moore is still dealing with some inconsistencies in his game, but he seems to be having more good outings than bad lately. You had to expect some growing pains from him this year, so hopefully you’ve kept your expectations in check. He does look like he could be a beast all year long in another season or two.
Trevor Cahill, on the other hand, seems to have turned a corner here in the last few weeks and is now 3-0 with a 0.77 ERA here in June and is holding the opposition to a .200 batting average. He’s had a few bumps in the road through the first two months, but it looks like he’s found a great balance to take him through the rest of the season.
|Ryan Doumit, C MIN||0-4, 4 K|
|Alejandro De Aza, OF CHW||0-5, 3 K|
|Mark Trumbo, 1B LAA||0-4, 3 K|
|J.D. Martinez, OF HOU||0-4, 3 K|
|Carlos Zambrano, SP MIA||L, 18.00 ERA, 4.50 WHIP, 3 K|
Surprised? Me neither. And even though I'm not surprised, what’s up with Carlos Zambrano’s six walks in two innings? That’s two straight outings where he hasn’t made it past the third inning and three starts in his last five where he’s been an outright fantasy disaster. It just might be to the point where he isn’t even worth streaming. Keep him on the bench for his next start or two before fully deciding whether or not to cut bait.
Freddie Freeman, 1B ATL – thumb (questionable)
Daniel Nava, OF BOS – hand (questionable)
Chris Heisey, OF CIN – groin (questionable)
Bud Norris, SP HOU – knee (questionable)
Justin Morneau, 1B MIN – forearm (questionable)
Jason Bay, OF NYM – concussion (questionable)
Yoenis Cespedes, OF OAK – hamstring (questionable)
Brandon McCarthy, SP OAK – shoulder (out for June 16 start)
Carlos Ruiz, C PHI – oblique (questionable)
Josh Hamilton, OF TEX – illness (out until at least June 18)
Drew Hutchison, SP TOR – elbow (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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