Is it time to write 2012 off as a lost season for Cliff Lee? Can Alex Gordon still produce significant power and speed the rest of the way? How bad was Johan Santana in his first start off the DL? Let’s answer these questions and all the rest from yesterday’s action:
- Alex Gordon – Kansas City Royals – Outfielder – Early in the season Gordon was hitting a lot of doubles. Was he struggling? Of course, but he still has 38 doubles and 3 triples. Now, as we would’ve expected from the start of the season, some of those doubles are turning into home runs. He went 2-5 with 2 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R yesterday putting him at .292 with 9 HR, 45 RBI, 65 R and 7 SB. As a leadoff hitter he never is going to have a ton of RBI, but he has now hit 3 HR in his past three games. A potential 20/20 threat at the start of the season, it still isn’t unattainable (though I’d say 15/15 right now). In other words, ride him the rest of the way.
- Cliff Lee – Philadelphia Phillies – Starting Pitcher - At this point in time how exactly are you valuing Lee? No longer is it just poor luck that is leading to the lack of W. The fact is he just hasn’t been very good. Yesterday he allowed 4 ER on 10 H and 0 BB, striking out 6, over 7.0 IP to fall to 2-7 with a 3.85 ERA. He’s now allowed 4 ER in back-to-back outings and 4+ in 7 of his past 11 starts. The two problems entering the day were home runs (1.22 HR/9) and luck (.310 BABIP). There’s nothing to panic about, especially given his track record, but you have to wonder if he can recover or if we just consider this a lost season.
More Quick Thoughts:
- It has been a poor stretch for Ivan Nova, who had 16 ER on 21 H in 10.1 innings in his previous two starts. He took advantage of a Blue Jays team that has been ravaged by injuries, allowing 2 ER on 5 H and 1 BB, striking out 10, over 7.1 innings. Obviously he isn’t as bad as the previous two starts indicated, so it was easy to anticipate a bounce back. With that in mind, he has had problems with HR (23) and WHIP in general (1.43), and had an ERA around 4.00 even prior to this. He is a low-end option with win potential, so value him accordingly.
- Is there a hotter player than Buster Posey right now? He went 2-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R yesterday. Since the All-Star Break he has gone 43-97 with 9 HR and 32 RBI in just 26 games. In 10 August games he has been even better, going 16-36 with 6 HR and 14 RBI. Is he this good? Obviously not, but we all know he is one of the best offensive catchers in the game. That said, enjoy this type of hot streak for as long as you can.
- Franklin Morales pitched well again when asked to start, allowing 3 ER on 2 H and 4 BB, striking out 6, over 5.1 innings. In seven starts for the Red Sox his ERA now sits at 3.35 with a 1.12 WHIP. Amazingly is K/9 entered the day better as a starter (9.74) than as a reliever (8.51) and he also was benefitting from a 79.6% strand rate. Can he maintain his 11.8% line drive rate? He may be worth spot starting but I wouldn’t get overly excited.
- Jason Marquis tossed a gem (9.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K, W), but it is Marquis so why should we care? The real story was Chase Headley, who went 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R. That gives him 3 HR and 8 RBI in his past two games and 6 HR and 18 RBI in his past 10 games. Not known for his power (entered with an 18.1% HR/FB vs. 8.7% for his career), it is hard to imagine him maintain this type of hot streak very long. If it’s not too late, I’d look to sell high.
- Johan Santana made his first start off the DL yesterday and you have to wonder if maybe he came back too soon. He was hammered by the Braves, allowing 8 ER on 8 H and 1 BB, striking out 2, over 1.1 innings of work. Freddie Freeman led Atlanta’s charge, going 2-4 with 1 HR (though it came off Jeremy Hefner), 5 RBI and 1 R. What do we expect from Santana going forward? Who knows, really, but it doesn’t get any easier with a start in Washington. Proceed with caution at this point, depending on your other options.
- James Loney went 1-4 and is now hitting .251 with 2 HR on the season. The Dodgers continue to run him out there at 1B and, while that doesn’t appear likely to change (especially with Jerry Sands being demoted again), you have to wonder why. He’s simply not producing and it’s hard to imagine him doing so. Eventually the Dodgers may grow tired and turn back to Sands, but for now all we can do is wait.
- The problem for B.J. Upton has always been an inability to hit for a good average. That hasn’t changed this season, though things could be clicking into place. He went 2-4 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R yesterday giving him an 8 game hitting streak and a 4 game RBI streak. More importantly, he has just 4 K over his past 7 games. Yes, he hasn’t raised his average yet, but if he continues to make contact at this type of rate the number will improve. He always has the potential for power and speed (12 HR/21 SB) and could be worth the gamble over the final month and a half of the season.
- Tyler Greene made his Astros debut at SS and hitting leadoff. He responded by going 2-5 with 1 HR, 1 RBI and 2 R. If he is going to play, he is a good add in all formats as he brings power and speed to your middle infield slots. Watch him closely, but if you are in a deeper format don’t be afraid to stash him now.
- Remember when Francisco Liriano looked like a viable option? Well, he’s definitely back to his old tricks. Against the A’s last night he allowed 6 ER on 7 H and 3 BB, striking out 5, over 3.1 innings of work. He’s now allowed 6+ runs in two of his past four starts. He clearly has talent and is worth owning, but use him at your own risk.
- Derek Holland had given up 6 ER in three of his previous four starts, so it was nice to see him pitch extremely well against the Tigers. He matched Justin Verlander (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 8 K) pitcher for pitch, and even bettered him. Holland went 7.2 innings allowing 1 ER on 3 H and 1 BB, striking out 9. He has shown good control (2.89 BB/9) and a good strikeout rate (7.41 K/9) all season long. All he needs to do is improve on his 67.7% strand rate, something that isn’t unreasonable to think will happen. Don’t give up hope.
- Mike Olt came off the bench to deliver a pinch hit walkoff winner. With Mike Napoli on the DL and Michael Young (0-3) still not hitting for power you have to wonder how long it will be before Olt is given significantly more playing time. It shouldn’t be long.
- Justin Upton went 2-4 with 1 R, and both hits were doubles. It’s not a lot, but he now has three doubles in three games and is hitting .314 in August. The power will come, so just continue to show patience with the superstar.
- It was a poor start for Dan Haren, who had been pitching well since returning from the DL. He allowed 7 R (5 earned) on 5 H and 3 BB, striking out 0, over 3.1 innings of work. Considering the way he has pitched of late (4 ER over 18.0 IP) I wouldn’t push the panic button. Just monitor him and see how he performs going forward.