Around the Majors: June 19: Yovani Gallardo, Hanley Ramirez, Francisco Liriano & More

Let’s take a look at this morning’s injury news and notes:

  • It has been a tremendous season for Francisco Cordero thus far, as he lowered his ERA to 1.62 and WHIP to 0.84 as he locked down his 15th save of the season (Bronson Arroyo tossed the first 8.0 innings allowing 1 R on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 5 to beat the Blue Jays).  In June he has now allowed 1 ER over 8.0 innings.  In fact, he has allowed just 1 H and 3 BB while striking out 9 batters.  Looking at the metrics is a little irrelevant, given the sample size, but does anyone actually expect him to continue pitching this well?  It’s not that he’s a slouch, but he entered the day with a career ERA of 3.18 and WHIP of 1.34 (in ’10 he was at 3.84 and 1.43).  Selling high on him may not be such a bad idea right now.
  • To call Yovani Gallardo’s outing a disaster would be an understatement.  Taking on the Red Sox, Gallardo was torched for 8 R (5 earned) on 9 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 3.0 innings of work.  It’s his second poor outing in his last three (he allowed 4 R over 4.0 innings against the Mets on June 9), but it’s hard to hold much fault.  He had been so hot, that one or two blips on the radar screen shouldn’t affect us.  Yes, you aren’t thrilled with the 4.11 ERA or 1.42 WHIP, though he entered the day with a .307 BABIP.  He also is just getting the strikeouts going, which will further help him rebound.  Don’t give up on him now.
  • Jonathan Niese had been pitching extremely well, having allowed 2 ER or less in each of his previous 6 starts.  However, he simply didn’t have it yesterday against the Angels, allowing 5 R (4 earned) on 8 H and 0 BB, striking out 3, over just 4.0 innings.  Poor outings are going to happen, so don’t read too much into it.  However, he’ll look to get things back on track against the Rangers in his next outing so it is hard to call him anything but a risk for that one.
  • Vernon Wells went 3-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, raising his average above .200 for the first time since Opening Day (he’s now at .202).  Is it time to jump on the bandwagon?  Let’s not get too far ahead of ourselves, though despite the concern there is no chance he’s this bad. 
  • While Derrek Lee hasn’t had a tremendous season, he appears to be getting things on track over the past three days.  After going 2-4 with 1 RBI and 1 R, he now has a modest 3-game hitting streak (9-13 with 1 RBI and 2 R).  Obviously, with so many hits you would like to see more in the counting stats, but that should come.  Don’t consider him a great option, but in deeper formats he certainly is viable.
  • Roger Bernadina was moved into the second spot in the order (he had been hitting ninth) and he responded by going 3-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 1 R.  He’s now homered in three of his past four games, and is on a 6-game hitting streak.  Over the streak he has gone 11-24 with 3 HR, 6 RBI, 4 R and 1 SB.  He is going to be playing every day with Rick Ankiel heading to the DL, and he does bring some power and some speed.  That certainly makes him intriguing in five outfielder formats, and worth grabbing if you need some help.  Obviously, don’t expect this type of power, but he does have some pop.
  • The renaissance of James Shields continued against the Marlins, as he allowed an unearned run in a complete game victory.  In the process he allowed 4 H and 0 BB, striking out 10.  He entered the day with a .263 BABIP and 84.0% strand rate, so clearly there is room for a regression.  Still, he continues to show that last season’s strikeout rate was not an aberration (he entered yesterday at 8.51 compared to last season’s 8.28). 
  • Hanley Ramirez batting sixth?  The Marlins continue to try and find a way to get him going, but he went 0-3 yesterday and is now hitting just .201 on the season.  Obviously, you don’t want to give up on him.  Sooner or later he has to wake up, doesn’t he?
  • It was the fourth multi-hit game in the past six for Chase Headley, who went 2-5 with 1 RBI.  Is he a high level option?  No, but he hits in the middle of the Padres lineup and that should yield opportunities to drive in runs.  With how shallow the position has become, he certainly is worth owning in deeper formats.  However, his lack of power (2 HR in 236 AB), makes him a last resort.
  • It was a nice start for Francisco Liriano, who allowed 3 R on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 8, over 7.0 innings in a no decision against the Padres.  It’s his fourth consecutive start having allowed 3 ER or less, and he has at least 7 Ks in four of them.  It’s a far cry from where he was earlier in the season.  His next start is difficult, taking on the Brewers in Milwaukee, but how could you bench him now?
  • Are things starting to turn for Alexi Ogando?  Yes, he only allowed 1 ER (3 runs total), but it took him 105 pitches to get through 5.0 innings against the Braves (he allowed 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 3).  This comes on the heels of allowing 6 ER in just 1.2 innings against the Yankees.  We all knew that a regression was inevitable, and this could be just the start.  His next start comes against the Mets, so while he could recover for that one, owners should be watching closely.
  • Alcides Escobar continued his scorching hot stretch, going 2-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  He now has hits in 11 of his past 12 games and multi-hit games in 7 of his past 8.  We’ll be taking a much closer look at him tomorrow afternoon.
  • It wasn’t a terrible outing for Jaime Garcia, allowing 3 R (2 earned) on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 5.1 innings, but would you considered a tremendous one, either?  He is 1-1 over his past four starts (since allowing 11 ER to the Rockies), allowing 8 ER over 24.1 innings (2.99 ERA).  It’s nice to see him rebounding, but fantasy owners certainly want to see him getting a few more W.  His next start is scheduled to be against the Blue Jays.
  • Brennan Boesch went 3-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 3 R, giving him hits in 6 of his past 7 games (11-32 with 2 HR, 4 RBI and 7 R).  He wasn’t the only Tiger who hit, though, as Alex Avila was slotted into the fifth spot with Victor Martinez getting the day off and went 2-4 with 2 RBI and 1 R.  He’s up to 41 RBI on the season and 12 in 57 June AB.  Will he continue to hit fifth?  Obviously not, but his days of hitting eighth could be in the past (he has been hitting seventh a bit lately).  If that is the case, his opportunity to produce will only improve.  He was an absolute steal on draft day and continues to be a must own option in all leagues.
  • The A’s continued their new lineup experiment, with Jemile Weeks (3-4, 1 R, 1 SB) hitting leadoff, Cliff Pennington (0-4) hitting second and Coco Crisp (1-3, 1 RBI) hitting third.  It certainly is intriguing and, if it works, could mark the end of Mark Ellis’ starting role for the team.  Weeks has continued to hit and, even in a weak lineup, will certainly benefit from hitting at the top.  However, as we mentioned yesterday, Crisp has the potential to be the biggest benefactor.  He was known a source of RBI before, but if he continues hitting third he should be able to pick up some.  However, in a weak lineup, there is no reason to think that he’s going to stop running, either.  It’s the best of both worlds, and he is a must own option in all formats.
  • The A’s and Giants had a great pitching duel, with Trevor Cahill (8.0 IP, 1 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 7 K, W) outdoing Matt Cain (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 5 K, ND).  Both were spectacular, though neither offense is very impressive either.
  • The Indians struggling hitters appear to be showing signs of putting it together, most notably Carlos Santana.  He went 2-3 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R, giving him home runs in two of his past three games and RBI in three consecutive games.  Stick with him, as there is just too much potential.  The other guy who has been struggling, Shin-Soo Choo, went 3-5 with 1 R and 1 SB.  That’s back-to-back games with a SB and in his last four he’s gone 7-16 with 2 RBI, 4 R and 2 SB.  It may not be much, but at least it’s a start.
  • Justin Masterson persevered after getting off to a slow start, allowing 2 R on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 5.0 innings in a no decision against the Pirates.  His winless streak continues, as he hasn’t won a game since April 26, but he has allowed just 2 ER in three straight starts.  At the same time, in his past two (11.1 innings), he has allowed 14 H and 6 BB.  Outside of the base runners, he has continued to pitch well despite the lack of W.  There really is no reason to shy away from him, though we will be taking a closer look at him soon.
  • A Mariners starting pitcher stymied the Phillies, with a complete game shutout.  Any guesses?  Felix Hernandez…  Nope.  Michael Pineda…  Wrong again.  The answer?  Jason Vargas who tossed 9.0 shutout innings allowing just 3 H and 2 BB, striking out 6, to defeat Cole Hamels (6.1 IP, 2 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 6 K).  Vargas entered the day with a .269 BABIP and 72.5% strand rate, as well as a sterling 2.62 BB/9.  With those numbers, it would seem that is 1.24 WHIP was believable (he was at 1.25 in 192.2 innings in ’10).  However, his strikeout rate does leave a lot to be desired, keeping his value low (5.84 K/9 entering the day).  Keep that in mind.
  • Both Hiroki Kuroda (7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 6 K) and Bud Norris (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 5 K) were fabulous, though neither factored in the decision.  Kuroda is an often overlooked option, but he has always proven to be a great source for WHIP (despite entering the day with a 1.31 mark, his career is 1.20).  This start just shows how good he could be.  Norris, on the other hand, brings plenty of strikeout potential and appears to be coming into his own.  Both pitchers are worth owning in all formats.
  • Has Javy Guerra claimed the closer’s role for the Dodgers?  He earned his second save of the year yesterday, tossing a perfect inning against the Astros.  Before you go overboard in grabbing him, keep in mind that long-term, the freshly returned Hong-Chih Kuo or the still injured Jonathan Broxton will likely fill the role.  Plus, despite a 2.70 ERA, Guerra is sporting a 1.50 WHIP.  Don’t do anything drastic to get him.
  • Phil Humber continued to dazzle, allowing 2 R on 7 H and 1 BB, striking out 5, over 7.2 innings to improve to 7-3 with a 2.90 ERA.  In fact, he has won 4 consecutive starts.  He entered the day with a .220 BABIP, so there certainly is reason to think that a regression will come, and probably sooner rather than later.  He’s worth using while he’s hot, you certainly want to be cautious.  The White Sox may go back to a 6-man rotation with Jake Peavy returning, but he should next take the mound against the Nationals.
  • Don’t look now, but Alex Rios went 1-4 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R and has now homered in back-to-back games.  You know he’s going to get going, and hopefully this is the start of things.  Stick with him and hope to be rewarded.
  • Brett Gardner went 3-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R.  Since June 10 he has gone 17-35 with 1 HR, 4 RBI, 8 R and 3 SB.  The biggest issue with Gardner is that he can’t consistently steal bases, as he has 14 SB on 24 attempts.  However, could he be reestablishing himself as the team’s leadoff hitter?  With Curtis Granderson (1-5, 1 RBI, 1 R) raking in the #2 hole, what would that mean for Derek Jeter when he returns?  It is hard to imagine Jeter’s chase for 3,000 coming towards the bottom of the lineup, so look for Gardner to be moved back down, at least initially.

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