by Will Overton
Strong pitching was stealing the show again last night with the exception of a Nationals offensive onslaught. Still there was plenty of buzz about the Cubs latest call up Anthony Rizzo making his season debut. Here are all the top box score standouts of the night.
- Phil Hughes – SP, New York Yankees: I may be asking for fantasy baseball doom, but I still believe in Phil Huhges, to an extent. I doubt whether he can be a top of the rotation guy on real baseball or fantasy baseball, but I do believe he still has the skillset to be good enough to be owned in every type of league. He’s working his way there right now with some impressive performances lately. Last night he shut down the Indians for 8 IP with 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB and 4 K. He has now picked up wins in four of his last five starts. In five June starts he has a 2.67 ERA and 8.56 K/9. And that is despite getting roughed up his last time out for six runs in four innings. He still has trouble keeping the ball in the park, but he’s been able to avoid giving up a HR in two of his last three starts which is an accomplishment for him. He’s not going to live up to the potential he once was touted to have, but don’t dismiss him just because of that. There’s still value here.
- Anthony Rizzo – 1B, Chicago Cubs: It had been speculated on for quite some time, but Anthony Rizzo finally got the call up to the big leagues yesterday to make his season debut and Cubs debut. Rizzo was plugged right into the three hole in the lineup for the struggling Cubs and ended up getting two hits including a double, and driving in a run. Some fans might be soured on Rizzo because of how he struggled in San Diego in his call up last season, but he has been crushing the ball in Triple-A so far this season and you have to remember he was just 20 last season and just 21 now. There will be ups and downs this season because of his youth, but he has raw power and he’s playing in a park made for power hitters. Just on upside alone I think he’s worth grabbing in all formats.
More Quick Thoughts
- The leash for John Axford has to be getting shorter and shorter every time out lately, and with Francisco Rodriguez waiting in the wings there’s not much more room for error. Axford allowed a HR last night in the 9th inning to pick up his fifth loss of the season. He has now blown three saves and lost a tie game in his last seven trips to the mound. Not exactly a confidence building resume.
- Speaking of struggles, Daniel Hudson just can’t seem to get things figured out in Arizona. Hudson lasted just 1.2 innings last night and allowed five runs before being pulled for forearm tightness. Something must be off because Hudson is getting absolutely shelled right now every time he takes the mound.
- Success seems to go in waves for Alexei Ramirez, one minute it’s there and the next it’s gone. Right now he’s on one of those waves though as he collected two more hits yesterday and now has multiple hits in seven of his last 10 games. He is 16 – 34 in that span of games, he just now has to earn the White Sox trust so he can move up in the lineup.
- Also riding a bit of a hot streak is White Sox teammate Gavin Floyd who went 7 scoreless innings and struck out 9 batters yesterday. He now has a scoreless inning streak of 13.1 spanning his last two starts and an ever rising K/9 which is closing in on the 9 mark. He’s at least qualified for spot start duty in standard leagues now.
- Strong evidence that wins are unpredictable…Bruce Chen has now won 7 of his last 10 starts, despite a 4.53 ERA. He earned his win last night though by allowing only one run in 7 IP and striking out five compared to one walk. I still wouldn’t trust Chen outside the deepest of leagues at this point though.
- It was nice for fantasy owners to see Giancarlo Stanton pick up a couple of hits yesterday as he struggled to get hits all month long. One of his hits yesterday was a HR, which he has still been doing regularly, three in six games. It’s still nice to get more than just power from him though.
- Last night was definitely the best we have seen Dice-K look in his four starts since coming off the DL. Matsuzaka went 5.2 IP with 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB and 5 K. Right now the goal is to find a way to get through innings on less pitches because he’s getting to 100 way to quickly. Still this is a good sign and all deep leagues should be making a play here for upside purposes and he could work his way to standard league spot start territory soon.
- There is something to be said for consistency and Tim Hudson remains one of the most consistent pitchers in baseball. Hudson went 8 IP last night allowing 1 R on 7 H and getting 7 K’s. Hudson has even started to raise his game in the K department with 20 punch-out’s in his last 19 IP.
- I think Freddie Freeman is ready to put June behind him with struggles at the plate and struggles to stay healthy. But at least he’s ending on a good note as he collected 3 H last night, scoring twice and knocking in two more runs. His owners shouldn’t worry about him and those who don’t own him might find him to be a nice buy low.
- Where the power is coming from I don’t know, but Yadier Molina just keeps finding more of it. Molina hit his 12th HR of the season last night in his third straight game with a HR. Molina has gone from a defensive catcher who wouldn’t hurt your fantasy team to one of the top offensive catchers in baseball, I can’t explain it.
- It looked early on like Yu Darvish might be in for some trouble last night, but he righted the ship and ended up striking out 10 over 6.2 IP and allowing 4 R on 4 H. He also showed much improved control walking just one batter. Darvish is proving to be one of the elite strikeout pitchers in all of baseball with 106 K’s in 95.1 IP so far this season.
- There were many standouts for the Nationals in yesterday’s games, but Ryan Zimmerman’s performance might be the most noteworthy of all as he a much needed big game going 3 – 5 with 3 R, 1 HR and 1 RBI. This was his first HR in almost three weeks and just his fourth of the season. Zimmerman is too good to stay silent all season and he is 6 – 13 in his last three games and this might be him breaking out. The door is closing on buy low opportunities.
- After allowing 10 runs in 4.1 IP in his last outing, Jason Vargas bounced back last night to throw 6.2 strong innings, allowing two runs and striking out a season high 10. With a 1.19 WHIP and a .248 BAA, Vargas should be much better than he has been, he just has to keep the ball in the park.
- So apparently last year wasn’t all a fluke for Ryan Vogelsong who continues to cruise along this season as well. Vogelsong outpitched Clayton Kershaw last night to win his 7th game, going 7 IP with 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB and 3 K. The win lowers his ERA to 2.23 and he currently has 11 QS in a row.