You know, for a day with a short slate of games, Thursday turned out to be quite eventful for baseball fans and fantasy owners alike. There was crazy extra-inning drama, unsung heroes, devastating injuries, and breaking news filled with both hope and despair. We’ve got our usual highlights for you here, but once again, with fewer games on the docket, we can break from out usual format and discuss more than just the top (and bottom) performers from the evening. So let’s not waste any more time and get right to it.
The Adam Wainwright/Matt Harvey match-up lived up to its billing every step of the way. For seven innings the two went pitch for pitch and almost matched strikeout for strikeout with Wainwright holding the edge thanks to a more potent offense. They broke through in the third inning but were held in check the rest of the way until Harvey’s departure. The ERA and WHIP numbers for both were rock solid and fantasy owners who count quality starts in lieu of wins saw results from both. There’s absolutely no criticism here for either, but the one fantasy note to keep tabs on is how long the Mets will let Harvey throw this year. He threw almost 170 innings last year, so conventional wisdom says that you increase him by roughly 20 innings this year. That should put him close to the end of the regular season, but will the Mets hold him back once they are officially eliminated from contention? That’s a question we need to browbeat Sandy Alderson with every chance we get.
On the other side of the coin, that Mat Latos/Jeff Samardzija did not live up to the pitchers’ duel it could have been as neither pitched beyond the sixth inning and collectively they allowed nine runs on 18 hits and five walks. While Latos is still an easy play, that makes three consecutive declining starts for Samardzija since his complete-game shutout of the White Sox back on May 27. The month of June has been a disaster for him thus far and in looking at his career numbers, we probably should have known this heading in. He has a career 7.14 ERA in June, the highest of any month by almost three full runs. With St. Louis up next for him, a team he has a 5.88 ERA over his last 33.2 innings against. I’d say that you might want to think about giving him a seat for the week, but he does have a second start next Sunday against Houston.
We did have a solid pitcher’s duel in Oakland as the A’s completed a sweep of the Yankees. Both Hiroki Kuroda and Jarrod Parker pitched eight strong innings with each giving up a pair of runs. We’ve grown to expect that from Kuroda, but while most simply look at Parker’s 4.46 ERA, they fail to notice that after a very rough first seven outings, he’s now thrown seven consecutive quality starts and has a 2.43 ERA with a 32:14 K:BB over that span. He’s got two starts next week, both on the road, against Texas and Seattle. If the Texas start has you worried, keep in mind that he already pitched in Arlington this year and held the Rangers to three runs over seven innings. Believe it or not, it was Seattle who roughed him up earlier this year, for his first start, but he managed to keep them in check to open this run of quality starts.
For you Yankees fans out there, here’s a little fun fact about Thursday’s game that will make you want to slam your head in a door a hundred times – Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis and Vernon Wells, all cast-offs from their former teams, combined to go 0-for-23 with nine strikeouts and 16 men left on base. Any one of them in your lineup was like a swift kick to the fantasy groin.
Obviously the biggest news out of the Rockies/Nationals is the slew of injuries for Colorado. Troy Tulowitzki makes his annual run to the disabled list for four to six weeks with a broken rib, Dexter Fowler has a bruised knuckle from getting hit on the hand with a pitch and Carlos Gonzalez is considered day to day with a bruised foot after fouling a ball off of it. Obviously all three hurt the Rockies, but the real killer for fantasy owners is losing Tulowitzki. The team will bring back Josh Rutledge to fill in, so obviously he’s a must add. Should you not land him, then you’re going to have to look elsewhere, of course. You won’t replace the power, so just get that right out of your head. You have to fill the spot with someone who can help boost you in a particular category, such as stolen bases or batting average. See if Alexi Ramirez or Alcides Escobar is available for some speed or look into Mike Aviles who has a little bit of pop and a little bit of speed to go with a decent average. Replacing Fowler and/or CarGo will likely only be needed for a few days.
Kevin Gausman pitched a solid game for the Orioles on Thursday, giving up just two runs on six hits with no walks and five strikeouts. His reward? A one-way ticket to Triple-A as the Orioles should be getting Wei-Yin Chen off the DL soon. They may need to bring in a spot starter next week, but they would rather keep Gausman on his regular throwing schedule and to do that he needs to head down. It’s likely he’ll get another shot if injury befalls the rotation again, but he’ll also have to prove himself by dominating in the minors again.
OK, so that’s the Matt Cain we want to see. Sort of. Cain pitched his second consecutive quality start and has allowed just one run in his last 13.2 innings but his strikeout rate is down and in these two starts he’s got just a 7:5 K:BB. While the help in the ratios is always welcome, things just still don’t seem right with him. Two soft match-ups next week – San Diego and Miami – should tell us a little something more, but he’s still a must start.
I’m going to need a support group for my Jeremy Hellickson issues. I just can’t figure out what’s wrong with him. His strikeout rate is up, his walk rate is down, there’s nothing out-of-whack in his batted ball data, he’s certainly not outperforming his FIP or SIERA and there’s really nothing significantly different about his pitch mix. So what the heck is going on? Could it be that he’s just not that good? He’s got decent career numbers against the Red Sox and the Yankees whom he starts against next week, but how can I possibly trust him? I need a couch to lie down on with a very sympathetic ear to listen to my problems.
So is it time to believe in Eric Hosmer again? Since being moved to the number two spot in the lineup on June 5, Hosmer is 11-for-33 (.333) with one home run, five RBI and nine runs scored. He’s also come up with a couple of clutch hits. Are you buying it? I’m not. While June has been a nice month for him in the stat columns, it’s the .389 BABIP and 62.2-percent ground ball rate that I keep coming back to. Personally, I think he’s getting pretty damn lucky and it just happens to coincide with the move in the batting order. You can’t hit for power with a ground ball rate like that and seeing as how he is a pull hitter, defensive adjustments will start to take away those ground ball hits he’s getting. Sell now if you can find a believer, but don’t be buying low here.
And finally, though he went 0-for-3 last night, there are still some questions regarding Jurickson Profar once Ian Kinsler comes back. The Mitch Moreland injury plays a key factor here as the Rangers would probably still like to move Kinsler to first. Of course Kinsler is against that switch so if the Rangers brass gives into him, then Profar goes back down. Should Kinsler toe the company line, then Profar gets to stay and Moreland is the odd man out once he returns. Unless you’re in a keeper league, I still recommend selling Profar on the chance that he does land in Triple-A again. There’s just too much of a risk in not getting anything of value for him should he be demoted.
And as for the high (and low) points…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Elliot Johnson, 2B/SS KC||3-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI|
What has two thumbs and an active Elliot Johnson in his AL-only league? This guy!!!
|Hunter Pence, OF SF||2-5, R, HR, 3 RBI, SB|
|Gregor Blanco, OF SF||3-5, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, BB, SB|
|Ian Desmond, SS WAS||4-4, R, RBI, SB|
|Ervin Santana, SP KC||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 3 K|
|Adam Wainwright, SP STL||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 6 K|
|Vernon Wells, OF NYY||0-8, 3 K|
|Travis Hafner, DH NYY||0-8, 3 K|
|Adam Rosales, 2B OAK||0-4, 4 K|
|Jeremy Hellickson, SP TB||L, 12.71 ERA, 1.76 WHIP, 4 K|
|Jeff Samardzija, SP CHC||ND, 7.50 ERA, 2.33 WHIP, 6 K|
Alexi Casilla, 2B BAL – finger (day to day)
Mike Napoli, C/1B BOS – illness (day to day)
Dexter Fowler, OF COL – hand/knuckle (day to day)
Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL – foot (day to day)
Troy Tulowitzki, SS COL – rib (15-day DL – out four to six weeks)
Yasiel Puig, OF LAD – shoulder (day to day)
Hanley Ramirez, SS LAD – hamstring (day to day)
Placido Polanco, 3B MIA – back (day to day)
Ryan Braun, OF MIL – thumb (day to day)
Yoenis Cespedes, OF OAK – hamstring (day to day)
Coco Crisp, OF OAK – heel (day to day)
Starling Marte, OF PIT – rib (day to day)
Marco Scutaro, 2B SF – finger (day to day)
Kendrys Morales, 1B SEA – back (day to day)
Michael Morse, OF SEA – quadriceps (day to day)
Leonys Martin, OF TEX – wrist (day to day)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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