by Will Overton
We had some good pitching performances from some promising young guys. A couple of guys who look like they might be turning their seasons around at long last. And a few guys who people questioned the fantasy relevance of trying to prove they still belong in the topic of discussion in fantasy baseball. Here’s a closer look at last night’s standout performers.
Chris Heisey (3 – 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI): It was a route for the Reds last night and there were a few big hitters, but Heisey is the new guy on the block. Heisey was called up when Dickerson went on the DL and it looks like he’ll be splitting time with Jonny Gomes and Drew Stubbs, neither of which have exactly been world beaters so far this year. Heisey really came into his own last year going 20/20 with a .314 BA. The average was struggling a bit early this year at .241, but the power still seemed to be there with 4 HR’s in 20 games. He could be an interesting NL-Only or possibly even deep league option.
Russell Branyan (3 – 5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI): Here is that power that Branyan showed off last year. It took him a couple of weeks to find it, but we all know it’s for real. He strikeouts out a ton, and his average will not finish better than .240 – .250. But if you need power, he’s got it, if you saw my article yesterday you know that I am worried about the shortage of power this year on the waiver wire and Branyan could prove useful for that problem.
Hunter Pence (2 – 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 R): He’s starting to come out of it now. Back to back nights with home runs, 11 hits in his last 10 games and the average is up to .241. Chances are if someone has held on to him this long they have faith in him bouncing back this year. And if so they might not be willing to unload him, however if you want to buy low on Pence, it’s hard to say how much longer you have to make your move.
Troy Glaus (2 – 5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI): The hot start to May continues for Glaus who is hitting .400 for the month and now has 2 HR and 13 RBI in May as well. He missed all of last year with injury and his April struggles may have been partly due to rust, and if he continues to come around he could be a helpful source of cheap power. Other than last year’s injury his stats haven’t really shown a decline with age despite what many people think and he may have some pop left.
Jason Heyward (2 – 4, 3 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 SB): He missed a couple of games against Philadelphia because of a groin injury, but he looks to be back to full strength now with a couple of hits, a couple of walks and his first stolen base of the year. He only stole ten bases last year and 15 in 2008, but he does have speed so it’s not unrealistic to think he can get into double digits in steals at the major league level as well. Prior to the injury he had 4 multiple hit games out of his last 5 and now that he’s back it seems he is still just as hot.
Johnny Cueto (9 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, W): This was Cueto’s first really dominating performance of the season and the most dominating performance of Cueto’s career with his first career complete game. He showed signs of getting things together last week against the Mets and last night he reminded us of the promise he has. `In his last four games he’s walked only 4 batters compared to 24 K’s in 26 IP. He seems to be putting things together and available in over 90% of ESPN leagues he’s worth a flier, the potential is there.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, W): The Red Sox have to be dancing with joy after this outing, as do all of Dice-K’s owners. Matsuzaka dialed things back to 2008 tonight and looked absolutely dominant. A far cry from the first two starts of the season where in 10 IP Dice-K had allowed 11 ER and walked 6 batters. It was very encouraging to see 71 of 106 pitches be strikes. The only thing you can complain about tonight is a 10:2 FB/GB rate, but Dice-K has always been a fly ball pitcher. Keep your expectations tempered, but the next start (@NY) should provide a good test. I’m not convinced yet, there’s been a lot of bad Dice-K between 2009 and 2010 to just forget it with one start.
Ricky Nolasco (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, W): The last couple times out have been shaky for Nolasco, but I think he’s just fine. He’s going to have his ups and his downs all year probably, but he’s still a very good pitcher. The strikeouts weren’t there, but the control was phenomenal as usual and he’ll get his fair share of K’s.
John Ely (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, W): Ely cruised through the first six innings and than ran into problems in the seventh, but it was another nice outing overall for him. In his last two starts he has gone 12.2 IP with only 3 ER, 0 BB’s and 13 K’s. The Dodgers are desperate for starting pitching and Ely looks like he might be a solution. Ely had decent control in the minors, but not this good as he walked right around 3 batters per nine innings there. His strikeout rate is also a bit higher than his minor league stats indicate it should be, but not terribly unrealistic. He’s not standard league worthy yet, but deep leagues and NL Only league owners should take note.
Jeff Niemann (7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, W): Opinions on this guy following up his rookie year were all over the board before this season, but he is proving everyone who doubted him wrong. A lot of people are waiting for that one bad start, but he just keeps turning out solid performances, and last night’s would have been even better, but the bullpen let in the two guys he put on base. This is the 5th out of his last 6 starts that he has gone 7 innings, the other game he went 6.2 IP. He’s had some luck, but he’s also got the tools. He may not keep up this pace, but I think he’s proven he is worthy of a roster spot in all formats.
There were plenty of other big time performances last night. Who was it that caught your eye? Someone on this list stand out or was it someone else? Let us know what you think of our top performers and your opinions on all things fantasy baseball from last night’s action.