By Will Overton
Some good games yesterday in the baseball world and plenty of stat tracking to note. While there were some quality hitting performances, there seemed to be a lot of good/great pitching performances all of which I am not able to cover here, along with some mediocre performances from pitchers we have come to expect more from. Here is what I did note as jumping out of the stat lines at me on Saturday.
Jay Bruce (4 – 4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB): He’s still racking up his fair share of K’s this year, but he has also increased his walks this year. And while the homeruns may not be coming as often as the last couple years, he seems to be swinging for contact more and getting hits, keeping the average up. He’s quietly having a decent season and I think the power numbers will rise as he finds the right balance between making contact and swinging for the fences.
Alex Rios (2 – 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB): Another homerun and another steal for Alex Rios who hasn’t stopped hitting the ball all year. He is definitely on his way to 20/20 and 30/30 isn’t completely outside the realm of possibility. The White Sox have largely been a disappointment, but for the first time in a couple years Rios hasn’t been and he might be living up to the potential we thought he had in Toronto.
Casey Blake (3 – 4, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI): He’s only owned in 15% of ESPN leagues, but his numbers are very similar to that of Ian Stewart who is owner in just about every league on ESPN. Blake has always been a guy who flies under the radar, but in a standard league if you have a corner infield position Blake is worth a look.
Joe Mauer (4 – 7, 3 R, 1 RBI): It seems that he is going to have a hard time reproducing the power numbers he has last year, but a lot of people thought that might be the case. But that doesn’t change the fact that he is hands down the best offensive catcher in baseball and a great guy to have on your fantasy team. The hits are going to keep on coming for Mauer as he works for another batting title.
Kendry Morales (3 – 4, 2 R, 2 RBI): I wasn’t completely sold on Morales maintaining the kind of success he had last year, but thus far he is proving me wrong and at only 26 there is still room for improvement, such as a better ability to hit lefties. But it’s clear that a repeat performance of last season is certainly something that is doable for Morales.
Nelson Cruz (2 – 3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB): He came back from that injury without missing a beat as he continues to rake. I want to believe in the average, but all signs point to a dip, but even still an increase from last year to the .280 range is highly likely and the power is just incredible with this guy. He’s officially an elite outfielder for fantasy baseball.
Ty Wigginton (2 – 4, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI): I know he is supposed to slow down at some point, but I’m not sure when that is going to happen. A lot of people wrote this off as a fluke a long time ago, but in three of the last four years Wigginton had 20+ homers, so he’s always had some pop, just never to the tune of one homer every 12.2 AB’s. These kind of numbers won’t continue, but don’t assume that he is going to completely tank. The average is going to drop some, but he is a career .272 hitter, so he won’t kill you and even if the power tails off, it won’t go away.
Gio Gonzalez (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K, W): Another promising outing from one of the A’s young pitchers. Gonzalez has had a few sketchy starts due to some control problems. But when he’s been on, he has been very good, last night might have been the best we have seen so far. The Giants offense may not be world beaters, but Gio went eight innings on less than 100 pitches, that’s dominant.
Daisuke Matsuzaka (8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 5 K, W): Man this guy is hot one minute and cold the next like no other pitcher in baseball. Two of his last three starts have been awesome, but the one in between was awful and so was the one before. He almost no hit the Phillies last night and that is no small task. I’d say he’s a spot start but it’s tough to know when he’ll be on and when he won’t cause this would have been a game I would have thought you’d want to avoid him. I think if you have him you just have to be willing to ride the roller coaster. If your not than you might not have a better time to trade him than coming off an outing like this one.
Matt Cain (8 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, L): This one has to be tough to lose. He has a 2.88 ERA and a 2 – 4 record. That has to be incredibly frustrating for any pitcher. But the fact of the matter is Cain keeps going out there and throwing some good games. I wasn’t real high on him going into the season, but he’s pitching well, certainly not his fault he is not winning more games when he’s taking losses like this one.
Gavin Floyd (6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, W): Only the third time this year that he has given up fewer than 4 runs in a start. That shows how bad he has been, but last night he had his good stuff, finally. I’m not convinced he completely turns things around, but I do think he has the ability to do so and he showed it in this game, commanding his pitches well and keeping the Marlins off balance while racking up his season high in K’s. This could be a sign of a turnaround, but I’d like to see back to back before I buy to much into it.
Jeff Francis (6.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K, W): 13.1 innings know in two starts since returning from the DL, not having pitched in a major league since 2008. He’s a good strikeout pitcher, but not a great one so you can expect a lot of games with a strikeout total similar to this one. It’s exciting to see him pitching so well after an injury like he had, but temper things a bit. The career ERA is 4.71 so he wasn’t exactly dominant before the injury. I’m a believer in him and have picked him up in a couple of deep leagues, but don’t go to crazy just yet.
Clayton Richard (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K, W): I’m not sure if there is a pitcher more under the radar than Clayton Richard, or frankly a staff more under the radar than the Padres with Latos, LeBlanc, Correia, Garland and Richard. He’s only given up four runs in his last three games, where he has pitched 21 innings. His ERA for the season is 2.57 and while he may not be an overpowering strikeout pitcher, he still gets his fair share with a K/P rate in the mid 6 – 7 range for the year. All this and he is owned in less than 10% is ESPN leagues. I’m a believer and I think he is ownable in all formats.
Phil Hughes (5.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, L): Back to back tough outings for Phil Hughes as he just didn’t seem to have control of his stuff in this one. He threw a lot of strikes, but he left some pitches hanging and for not making it through the sixth inning it’s alarming that he threw 117 pitches which is a season high. I think he’ll be fine in the long run, but after a dominant start to the year he’s finally hitting a rough patch. It’ll be interesting to see how he pitches his way out of it.
As I said there were a lot of other performances that I didn’t note here, both at the plate and on the mound so please feel free to chime in with your top performers and what you think of the performances I noted here. What about yesterday’s games interested you the most from a fantasy perspective?