by Will Overton
Basketball had the attention of a lot of people last night, but if you were watching basketball than you missed a lot of good baseball and some fine fantasy performances. Here are some of the box score highlights of what you missed:
- Jose Bautista – OF, Toronto Blue Jays: The people who sold on Jose Bautista after his early struggles have to be dealing with some serious regret right now because the big bat is clearly back. Bautista went 2 – 2 last night with two extra-base hits including a HR. Bautista now has 6 HR’s in his last ten games and 14 RBI in the month of June so far. So now all the sudden the big regression season talk is gone and Bautista is back into the HR title chase. Bautista is closer to a .250 hitter that I expect he’ll climb back towards than the .300 hitter he was last year, but if you play with OBP he takes a lot of walks and Bautista has serious power and that’s the real reason you own spent a first round pick on him.
- Clay Bucholz – SP, Boston Red Sox: I think it’s safe to say that Clay Bucholz has turned the corner. In his last four starts Bucholz has brought his ERA down from 7.84 to 5.38. Bucholz ended up going 7 IP with 5 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K and his third win in as many starts. In his last four starts Bucholz has allowed five runs in 31 innings and more importantly a 28:6 K/BB ratio. Walks were killing Bucholz earlier in the season, but things are starting to change and everything else is changing with it. He’s not available in many leagues anymore, but if he is a free agent in your league than you shouldn’t hesitate to grab him.
- Brian Roberts – 2B, Baltimore Orioles: It’s been so long since we’ve seen Brian Roberts on the baseball diamond that fantasy owners have forgotten him. He made his season debut last night though and was promptly put right at the top of the Orioles lineup where he went 3 – 4 with an RBI. The Orioles have tried a number of players in the leadoff spot in the lineup with little success so one would expect Roberts gets a pretty long look at the job. In his last full season, which was 2009, Roberts had 110 R, 16 HR, 79 RBI and 30 SB. Who knows how long he stays healthy, but I think he warrants a look in deep leagues at least, probably some standard ones.
More Quick Thoughts
- The Braves have been waiting for an outing like yesterday’s from Mike Minor. Even though the bullpen robbed Minor of a deserved win he went seven strong innings and gave up one run to the Yankees. Minor allowed just five hits and one walk with four strikeouts. I’m not ready to claim Minor is ownable outside of dynasty leagues and NL only ones, but this is notable atleast.
- So much for last year being a fluke for Johnny Cueto who pitched another complete game giving up just one run. Cueto is sporting a 2.46 ERA after a 2.31 ERA last year that most thought was an aberration. You still don’t get strikeouts from him, but with the way he’s dominating teams it’s ok.
- We are talking about seriously small sample sizes here, but Ike Davis looks to be hitting the ball a bit better going 4 – 7 his last three games. Ike homered for the first time since May 11th last night. This small of a sample is hard to read into, but those in deep leagues shouldn’t completely give up hope quite yet.
- It has been happening pretty quietly, but Colby Lewis is putting last season’s struggles behind him and having a nice bounce back season. Lewis had a complete game last night allowing one run on four hits and striking out seven. Lewis’ control has been impeccable with just 11 BB’s all season long.
- The Cubs have been hinting that Shawn Camp would eventually get a chance to close games and last night he got that chance. Camp pitched a perfect ninth inning to get his first save of the season against the Tigers. I don’t know how many more chance will come his way, but it is worth nothing.
- With Felipe Paulino injured the spot start went to Luiz Mendoza who did quite well in the opportunity. Mendoza only allowed one run on one hit in six innings. As impressive as it was it’s hard to put to much faith in a 28 year old reliever making a spot start. AL only leagues may want to monitor whether another start will come though.
- The hottest hitter in baseball right now might be a guy you’ve never heard of, Trevor Plouffe. Last night he had his fourth straight multi-hit game and hit his third HR in his last four games. In June he is hitting .417 with 10 R, 5 HR and 12 RBI. If this guy isn’t owned in your league he should be until he cools off. He has come out of nowhere, but the power is somewhat real as he has a history of pretty decent power numbers. At just 25 years old he might just be blooming rather than being a fluke.
- The latest team to try and translate minor league power into major league success with Brandon Moss is the Oakland A’s, and at 28 it might be his last chance. Moss was struggling early on heading into last night’s game, but he went deep twice last night. Moss has serious power, but he’s never been able to stick anywhere for long. He’s really just an AL only and deep league flier right now until he proves something outside of just one game.
- Oakland claims to be going to the closer by committee approach with Grant Balfour, Brian Fuentes and Ryan Cook. Last night though it was Cook and he pitched a perfect ninth inning for his first save. Cook has a 0.67 ERA and 0.89 WHIP with a K per inning. He might not get every chance, but he should see planet of save opportunities.
- For the third time in five starts Madison Bumgarner recorded double digit strikeouts, reaching a season high of 12 last night as he shut down the Astros for 1 ER in 7.2 IP. Bumgarner now has 44 K’s in his last 35.1 IP. And he’s only walked four in those 35.1 IP as well.