Yesterday marked the long awaited return of baseball and we were treated to an entertaining day. We saw a trio of two home run days, some dazzling pitching performances, a slew of stars returning from the DL and so much more. Let’s take a look at all the stories from yesterday’s games:
- Justin Masterson – Cleveland Indians – Starting Pitcher – It was a spectacular outing for Masterson, tossing 7.0 shutout innings against a tough Blue Jays lineup. He was one his game from the first inning, as he showed off his potential. He walked just 1. He struck out 5. He induced 11 groundball outs. This is the type of outing that shows just how much upside he has. He’s actually allowed 1 ER or less in five of his past seven outings (though an 8 ER over 4.1 IP outing against the Rays was slid in there). He clearly is on his game of late and when everything is clicking like this he is a good play in all formats. At this point I wouldn’t shy away from him.
- Francisco Liriano – Minnesota Twins – Starting Pitcher – He made one big mistake to Jonny Gomes (2-4, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 R), but Liriano looked like the pitcher of old last night. Over 8.0 IP he allowed 4 R (3 earned) on 4 H and 1 BB, striking out a career high 15. Even without this performance the strikeouts have been there, with 55 K over his previous 52.0 innings of work. In his last 10 appearances he is sporting a 3.30 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP as well. He may be prone to the poor outing (though he hasn’t allowed more than 4 ER of late), but it is hard to keep him out of your lineup right now.
More Quick Thoughts:
- Alfonso Soriano led the way for the Cubs’ onslaught of Ian Kennedy (5.0 IP, 6 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 4 K). Soriano went 4-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 4 R. We all know that Soriano is not the same player that he once was, offering power and little else at this point. Obviously, 17 HR and 53 RBI is useful, just know what you are getting. He’s more of an OF4 or OF5 at this point.
- It was certainly an impressive start to the second half for Mark Teixeira, going 2-4 with 2 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R. I’ve spoken about him before, saying that the notion of him being a second half stud in recent years was a bit of a misrepresentation. He did a good job early to prove me wrong, though one game does not make a second half.
- The Orioles had Nick Markakis back in the lineup for the first time since May 29 and had him hitting leadoff. He went 1-4 with 1 RBI, though I wouldn’t necessarily start to expect him in that slot for an extended period of time. He’s not an ideal option, but with Brian Roberts on the DL they are lacking a perfect candidate.
- I’ve long promoted Adam Wainwright as a good buy low candidate, and maybe he’s just doing his part to make it easier to acquire him? He allowed 4 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, over 6.1 innings against the Reds. He entered play with a .333 BABIP and 67.7% strand rate, and I still wouldn’t shy away. If you can get him, I wouldn’t hesitate.
- Justin Ruggiano just wanted to make sure everyone was still paying attention to him, didn’t he? He went 1-3 with 1 R and 3 SB yesterday. I’m not sure I’d count on him for a ton of SB (154 SB in 2,910 minor league AB), but he should get regular playing time with Giancarlo Stanton on the DL and is worth owning in five-outfielder formats.
- In his first game off the DL Emilio Bonifacio went 0-3 while hitting seventh. It will be interesting to see how many opportunities he gets to run while hitting towards the bottom of the order. If he’s not stealing bases, his fantasy value is nil.
- In his first game off the DL Jacoby Ellsbury was back in the Red Sox leadoff spot, going 1-5. It may take him a little time to get back in the groove, but obviously don’t shy away.
- Jonathan Broxton blew his fourth save of the season, allowing 1 R on 2 H and 2 BB in his inning of work. While he has pitched well overall this season, he is not the same pitcher that he once was with 23 K vs. 14 BB over 32.2 IP. The only reason he’d lose his job right now is a trade, though Greg Holland is a pitcher to watch. He has 15 K over his last 8.2 IP and has allowed 1 ER over his past 6.1 IP. He’s likely the first inline to assume the role.
- Ryan Braun went 4-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI, 3 R and 1 SB yesterday and is now hitting .315 with 26 HR, 64 RBI and 16 SB on the season. You don’t hear anyone talking about the failed drug test or his potential struggles without Prince Fielder, do you? Braun has the potential to enter 2013 as the #1 player on draft boards.
- The Rockies brought Ramon Hernandez off the DL and slotted him into the cleanup spot of their order. He went 1-5 with 1 RBI and 1 R, but don’t expect him to be a fixture there. Wilin Rosario has been playing well and there are trade rumors swirling. He’ll get some looks as the Rockies try to build his trade value and prove that he’s healthy, but owners in two-catcher formats need to look at him with their eyes open.
- The Dodgers saw both Matt Kemp (2-4) and Andre Ethier (0-2) return from the DL. That lineup needed a significant offensive boost, and probably still needs more even with both superstars back. Juan Rivera, who was hitting fifth yesterday, has 3 HR total and just 3 RBI in his last 32 AB. Look for them to be active at the trade deadline.
- Maybe Derek Holland is finally getting things on track. He tossed 7.2 shutout innings yesterday allowing 4 H and 2 BB, striking out 4, against the Mariners. Yes, the opponent needs to be taken into account but it was impressive none the less. He still has had some poor luck (67.3% strand rate), so there is still more upside. He’s not a fantasy ace, but should be a good backend option.
- It was nice to see Santiago Casilla back in the closers role, striking out both batters he faced to lock down save 22. He’s likely still on notice with the way Sergio Romo has pitched, but for now the job appears to be his.