Around the Majors: May 10, 2013: S. Miller & Lester Steal The Show, Straily Struggles & More

The story of the night was clearly two dominating pitching performances.  Less than a week after Matt Harvey threw a complete game one hitter, two pitchers matched the feat last night.  Let’s take a look:

  • Jon Lester was dominant, walking 0 and striking out 5 as he stymied the Toronto Blue Jays.  It is not a surprise that he has rebounded from a poor 2012, though there is still room for a slight regression this season.  He’s showing better control than ever (2.56 BB/9) and has benefitted from a below average BABIP (.231 despite a 19.2% line drive rate).  That’s not to say that he isn’t going to be a very good option moving forward, just don’t expect him to maintain a 0.99 WHIP or 2.73 ERA. 
  • Shelby Miller gave up a leadoff single to Eric Young Jr., but that was the only base runner he would allow.  His final line was 9.0 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 0 BB and 13 K as he threw 84 of his 113 pitches for strikes.  After a slow start in the minors last season Miller has clearly found himself, as we have discussed here numerous times, and lived up to his potential.  There are obviously things in the metrics that indicate a regression (.239 BABIP, 84.2% strand rate), but don’t interpret that as a reason to sell high.  Miller has the potential to be a fantasy ace.

Now let’s look at the rest of the performances from around the league:

  • The fact that Jeff Samardzija is 1-5 is not completely his fault, though yesterday’s loss was one that can’t be passed on to a lack of offense.  Over 5.0 IP he allowed 7 runs (5 earned) on 8 H and 2 BB, striking out 5.  Overall he hasn’t been hit hard (16.7%), has shown tremendous strikeout stuff (10.54 K/9), a decent walk rate (3.51 BB/9) and a good groundball rate (50.0%).  While last night was a poor performance, his ERA (3.70) and WHIP (1.25) are both solid.  Maybe he’d have a few more W if he pitched for another team.
  • Nick Swisher now owns a five game hitting streak after going 3-4 with 1 RBI and 2 R.  Over the streak he’s gone 7-18 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 5 R.  While he’s going to be a streaky option, he’s one worth sticking with through the good and the bad.  By the end of the year you should be rewarded with a solid line across the board.
  • Shaun Marcum is generally viewed as a solid option, when healthy, but he’s been anything but in 2013.  He allowed 6 ER on 9 H and 0 BB, striking out 2, over 4.2 IP.  He’s made three starts for the Mets and has yet to pitch at least 5.0 innings.  Until he starts to show us something he shouldn’t be near your starting lineup.
  • It was a big night for Garrett Jones, going 3-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R.  He now has 5 RBI over his past four games and owns a .301, 5 HR, 20 RBI start to the season.  He’s never going to be viewed as an elite option, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t viable as a CI.
  • Alex Cobb had a crazy line, especially since he only made it through 4.2 innings against the Padres.  He allowed 3 ER on 5 H and 2 BB, but struck out 13.  He now owns an impressive 8.87 K/9 vs. 1.93 BB/9, though the latter likely will regress a little bit.  He also likely won’t maintain an 85.4% strand rate, though he should continue to be a good option given his strikeout/walk ability and his 51.9% groundball rate.  He’s a good own in all formats.
  • Despite both Erick Aybar and Peter Bourjos being banged up, the Angels insist on keeping Mike Trout out of the leadoff spot.  Yesterday it was J.B. Shuck hitting atop the order, where he went 1-4 with 1 RBI and 1 R.
  • Dayan Viciedo came off the DL to go 1-3 with 2 RBI and 1 R.  He’s got power potential and should improve on his .235 average.  Consider him a viable option in five-outfielder formats.
  • The struggles of Wade Davis continued, allowing 7 ER on 7 H and 2 BB, striking out 3, over 5.0 IP.  He continues to be hit incredibly hard, owning a 30.8% line drive rate and 1.53 HR/9.  Until he can straighten things out he is not a viable fantasy option.  In fact, you have to wonder how long the Royals will continue with the experiment or if they will soon decide that he is better off returning to the bullpen where he excelled in 2012.
  • It was a huge day for Lyle Overbay, who went 4-5 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 2 R.  He’s now hitting .264 with 6 HR and 20 RBI on the season.  Overbay was always viewed as someone with average upside, but not much power so don’t expect this to continue.  That said, ride him while he’s hot.
  • The Astros have shown that they are willing to make drastic changes and you have to wonder how much longer Carlos Pena is going to stick in the lineup.  He went 0-3 yesterday, dropping his average to .222.  If that wasn’t bad enough, he has just 3 HR and 9 RBI on the season, the last of which came on May 2.  The clock is ticking and he soon could find himself on the bench more and more.  Unless he catches fire, he’s not going to be worth owning in any format.
  • Dan Straily had another poor outing, allowing 6 ER on 6 H and 4 BB, striking out 4, over 5.0 IP.  He now owns a 7.06 ERA and 1.38 WHIP, allowing 6 ER in two of his past three outings.  We all know the potential, but he could easily be ticketed back to Triple-A soon to figure out his issues.  Consider him a risky option in all formats.
  • Derek Dietrich hit his first career home run for the Marlins, going 1-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R.  Considering the team’s obvious youth movement, he has the potential to stick in the lineup even after everyone gets healthy.  He has shown power in the past, hitting 21 HR in ’11 and 14 HR in ’12.  Strikeouts could be an issue, but if you need some pop from your middle infield he is worth rolling the dice on.
  • It was another good day for Brian McCann, going 1-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  He’s now homered in back-to-back games and has 7 RBI in the past three.  Is he going to continue hitting like this?  Of course not, but ride him while he’s hot.

Bullpen Notes:

  • It was another shaky outing for John Axford, who allowed 0 ER on 1 H and 2 BB, striking out 1, over his inning of work.  While Jimy Henderson is far from a guarantee to continue performing, it is going to take a lot for Axford to overtake him.
  • Interesting to see David Hernandez get the save opportunity for the Diamondbacks, picking up his first save of the season.  He allowed 1 H in an otherwise perfect inning.  Heath Bell had worked in three straight games, so that’s likely the reason.  Still, with Hernandez getting the job done and Bell no lock to pitch well, the closer role is anything be set.  Both Hernandez and Bell are worth stashing if you are in need of saves.

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