by Ray Kuhn
1) Charlie Morton Rewarded Those Who Stuck with Him.
Morton was supposed to take the mound twice last week, but Pittsburgh chose to push everyone back a day and the right-hander got two start honors this week. Starting against the Cubs on Monday night, Morton pitched seven essentially stress free innings allowing just six hits while striking out seven batters. That was only Morton’s third win of the season as his record stands at 3-7, but he has a 3.14 ERA which makes him more than serviceable. After the first month of the season, Morton’s ERA sat at 4.35 but he has since righted the ship. I would still watch the matchups on Morton and use him more as a streaming option, but he is a pitcher that should be on your radar.
2) Gregory Polanco is Up.
I know we generally stick to the action of the field, here, but the impending promotion of Polanco is news too big to pass up. In a lot of leagues, the super prospect was likely already stashed by hopeful owners, but if he is still available in your league, hurry up and grab him. Of course come back and finish reading the rest of this recap, but pick up Polanco first. Polanco has left little doubt that he is ready for the major leagues as he is hitting .347 so this season in AAA with seven home runs, 49 RBI’s and 15 stolen bases. With the lack of production Pittsburgh has gotten from right field this year, Polanco will get plenty of playing time, so that is not a concern.
3) Is Eugenio Suarez a Legit Option at Shortstop?
So far we do have a small sample size, but Suarez does have two home runs so far in his short stint with the Tigers. Shortstop has been a revolving door for Detroit so far this season, but perhaps Suarez can stabilize the position and provide some production. The power should not come as too much of a surprise since he did hit eight already this season in the minor leagues. Even if he does bat ninth, the Tigers do have a strong enough offense that Suarez will still hold value as he is hitting .364 so far in his brief major league career. In deeper leagues, Suarez is worth an addition, and he holds a little more value in keeper leagues, but I wouldn’t call him a “must have” prospect just yet.
4) How Much Longer is Ronald Belisario’s Leash?
Yes, we first must state that Belisario did record the save, which his is sixth since taking the job. But again, it was not easy as he allowed one run on two hits. That brings his ERA to 4.91 and the stress level for manager Robin Ventura that much higher. So far Ventura has said nothing to illustrate that Belisario will not continue to be the closer, but his margin of error has to be decreasing. If you are looking for a name to keep an eye on, perhaps you should take a look at Zach Putnam. Putnam relieved another noteworthy option, Jake Petricka, to get the last two outs of the eighth inning. Putnam currently has a 1.48 ERA with eight holds while Petricka sports a 1.59 ERA and eight holds.
5) Casey Janssen Finally Blew a Save.
Both earned runs belong to Janssen, but the fault is not entirely his own. Looking just at the box score, one would assume that the closer struggled for the first time all season, as previous to Monday night he had not allowed an earned run in 2014. However, that was not exactly the case. Janssen should have had a game ending double play ball after a one out single, but only the out at second base was recorded. A single to left field then turned into a run as Kevin Pillar misplayed the ball all the way to wall. Another bloop hit later, and Janssen had a blown save, although on the bright side the Blue Jays won in the bottom of the inning so fantasy owners got a win out of Janssen. Since returning from injury, Janssen has been nothing but dominant, and I would expect to see that continue.
6) Is Lonnie Chisenhall Finally Reaching His Potential?
If he is, then Chisenhall certainly is not being shy about it. As the Indians busted out scoring 17 runs in their defeat over the Rangers, the third baseman was responsible for driving in nine runs while hitting three home runs. That gives Chisenhall seven long balls on the season to go with 16 doubles (one of which came tonight as he had five hits total). For as bad as Carlos Santana has done this season, Chisenhall has done equally as well. He is now hitting .385 on the season and has made it essentially impossible for Terry Francona to keep him out of the lineup. And for as long as this continues, he should be in your lineup everyday as well. But you should also be on the lookout for some regression as he sports a .411 BABIP, and I can’t see him keeping up his line drive rate of 29.8% even if it is a positive trend.
7) Should Fantasy Owners Pay Attention to Bud Norris?
I don’t think the book is closed yet on whether or not Norris can be a successful starting pitcher, and tonight he showed that he at least has the potential to be. Norris pitched eight shutout innings at home against the Red Sox for the victory as he improved to 5-5. The right-hander was economical needing just 98 pitches as he allowed only three hits and three walks while striking out six to bring his ERA down to 3.94. At this point, Norris has shown enough that he should be owned in just about all formats, but I would still be a little cautious about starting him regardless of opponent.
8) Is Scott Van Slyke Going to be the Dodger Outfielder to Own (other than Puig)?
Well right now, it is looking that way. Carl Crawford is injured, Andre Ethier is battling back issues and struggling, and Matt Kemp is busy frustrating fantasy owners. Top prospect Joc Pederson is still in the minor leagues, so with the need for two other outfielders, Van Slyke looks to be in play. Getting the start against left-handed starter Tony Cingrani, Van Slyke did not disappoint as he hit two home runs while going 3-3 with two walks. Yes he does strike out a lot, 26 times in 92 plate appearances, but he does have six home runs, 11 walks, 11 RBI’s, 16 runs scored this season. I’m not saying to run out and grab Van Slyke, but his playing time is something to watch.
9) Does Colorado Have Any Healthy Outfielders?
On the same day it was announced that Carlos Gonzalez was going to have surgery on his finger and that Michael Cuddyer was going back to the disabled list. This means that both Drew Stubbs and Corey Dickerson will be seeing more playing time, which is something that should increase their fantasy appeal. But the question is by how much? Stubbs kills left-handed pitching hitting .389 against them, so I would expect to see him exposed somewhat by facing more righties. His BABIP of .412 also likely stands to decrease and his 5.9 BB%, against a strikeout rate of 27.4% is also an issue as Stubbs went 0-4 against Atlanta on Monday. Dickerson, who hit a home run on Monday, is batting .231 against left-handed pitching, which could become an issue if he sees more regular playing time. While it is a good thing that Dickerson and Stubbs will be playing more often, there is the risk of them being exposed outside of their platoon as well.
10) Don’t Believe Bo Porter, Chad Qualls is the Closer
A few hours after Porter refused to completely acknowledge that Qualls is his “closer”, the right-hander recorded his eighth save of the season. Qualls has been successful with a 2.08 ERA, and at this point there is no reason to suggest why he won’t continue to get the save chances. And with Houston’s recent success, there will actually be more of them which also gives Qualls some appeal.