What an outstanding day for baseball on Tuesday! Normally, when I go through the games (the ones I haven’t watched first-hand, that is), the recaps, and the stat sheets, there are usually a handful of performances that stand out as a cut above the rest. Whether it’s a complete-game shutout or a two or three-home run performance, these events stand out and deserve to be recognized. But after everything that went down on Tuesday, that “handful of performances” just became a wheelbarrow-full. I can’t imagine that I was the only fantasy owner sitting there, eyes the size of saucers, mouth agape, a tiny stream of drool coming down from the corner of my mouth, staring at my live scoring page like a little kid staring at that new bike under the Christmas tree. The levels of performances given were outstanding. So much so, that I’m forced to forego the usual format, call them all fantasy beasts and just serve you up the highlights.
|Ervin Santana, LAA||7.2||4||0||0||3||7||0||0.00||0.91|
|Josh Beckett, BOS||7.0||4||0||0||2||9||0||0.00||0.86|
|Zack Greinke, MIL||7.0||5||0||0||0||7||0||0.00||0.71|
|Anthony Bass, SD||8.0||5||1||1||1||7||1||1.13||0.75|
|Derek Lowe, CLE||9.0||6||0||0||4||0||0||0.00||1.11|
|Cliff Lee, PHI||8.0||5||1||1||1||10||1||1.13||0.75|
|Josh Johnson, MIA||7.0||6||2||2||1||6||1||2.57||1.00|
|Wei-Yin Chen, BAL||7.0||4||2||2||2||4||1||2.57||0.86|
|Tim Hudson, ATL||7.0||9||2||2||2||3||0||2.57||1.57|
|Wade Miley, ARI||6.2||8||1||1||1||5||1||1.35||1.35|
Impressive, right? Of these top ten starters, just one, Wade Miley, failed to finish out the seventh inning and only Cliff Lee failed to walk away with the win. With even just two of these guys on your fantasy roster, you got yourself a very nice boost. It’s hard to see the difference in overall ERA and WHIP sometimes, but to add 14 innings with maybe just a run or two is big, even now. It happily erases the fact that your closer just blew up or, at the least, helps when you have a starter who maybe threw just an average game.
Kudos to Derek Lowe for doing what most people thought to be impossible. How do you throw nine innings of shutout ball and not strike out a single batter? I might have to calculate the odds on that happening, but it would seem to be a difficult feat to accomplish, not that you would ever seek out to do it. But believe it or not, it has actually happened before. Scott Erickson of the Baltimore Orioles last did it on April 28, 2002 in a 13-0 victory over the Kansas City Royals, and three others have done it since 1994.
Plenty of names on this list that you would expect to see, so let’s just focus on some of the lesser know pitching commodities for a second ---
Wei-Yin Chen looked incredibly impressive against a strong Yankees lineup and actually was carrying a two-hit shutout until he ran into a bit of trouble in the seventh inning. But while the Yankees managed to put a pair of runs up on the board, Chen still looked strong that inning with soli dcommand and little or no decrease in velocity. He was allowed to finish the inning but was ultimately removed after throwing 105 pitches on the day.
While everyone remained focused on Stephen Strasburg’s earthly outing and claims of Icy-Hot mishaps down below, Padres hurler Anthony Bass dominated the Nationals. It’s still early in the season and you’d like to see a handful more starts of similar consistency, but Bass has been pretty impressive here early in the season. Credit the new cutter he’s been throwing as it ultimately makes his changeup that much more effective as an out-pitch. The only caveat that I’ll throw out there is the decrease in velocity from last season. He’s lost more than a full mph off his fast ball and just about 1 mph off his slider which he’s not even throwing that often. I’m not going to speculate injury or anything like that just yet, but this is usually something to monitor.
As for Wade Miley, well the jury is still out. Promising, for sure though, as we’ve seen improvements across the board from last season to now – improved K/9, better K/BB, higher ground ball rates and even a slight uptick in velocity. He’s got a solid four-pitch arsenal and could stick in the rotation given the fact that Josh Collementer and Joe Saunders are, well…..Collementer and Saunders. However, he’s really going to have to shine in order to hang around as Trevor Bauer and Tyler Skaggs are waiting in the wings and both have been ridiculously impressive thus far.
Now you’d think that with such outstanding pitching performances, the hitting would be somewhat lackluster, right?
Wrong! Take a look at this…
|Travis Ishikawa, 1B MIL||3-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI|
|Mike Trout, OF LAA||3-4, 3 R, HR, RBI, SB|
|Hunter Pence, OF PHI||3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|A.J. Pierzynski, C CHW||5-5, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI|
|Adam Jones, OF BAL||2-3, 2 R, HR, RBI, BB, SB|
|Paul Konerko, 1B CHW||3-4, 3 R, HR RBI, BB|
|Matt Holliday, OF STL||3-4, 3R, HR, RBI, BB|
|Will Venable, OF SD||4-5, R, 2B, 3B, RBI, SB|
|Ryan Raburn, OF DET||2-5, R, HR, 4 RBI|
|Austin Jackson, OF DET||2-4, R, 3B, HR, 3 RBI|
Sure, you’ve got the sun shining on a few dogs as there is no way Travis Ishikawa is going to power up like this on a regular basis, or even on a monthly basis for that matter nor are you going to see A.J. Pierzynski put up many 5-for-5 days either. But some of these other performances just make fantasy owners drool.
Like Mike Trout, for example. He may not be rocking some crazy hit streak, but his play on the overall front has been consistently strong lately. Tuesday’s performance was his second multi-hit game in his last three and fourth in his last six. Over that six game span, he’s 10-for-20 (.500) with two home runs, six RBI, seven runs scored, and a pair of stolen bases. For those like me that ignored his cold start in the shadow of the Bryce Harper hype, congratulations. You’ve got yourself quite the ballplayer.
And how about Adam Jones? Have I mentioned him yet? What? Only about a hundred times? Well, there’s going to be atleast a hundred more. Yesterday, I was bragging about my call on Bryan LaHair, but this one is even better. Dare I say that prior to the start of the seaosn I made the bold prediction that Adam Jones would go 30-30 this season. I knew some of the flaws in his game, but I also knew the growth he’s shown over the years and the power/speed potential that he was just getting ready to tap. Not to mention the fact that at 26-years old, he’s just entering his prime and ready to bust out in a big way. Well, he’s now up to 11 home runs on the year with 6 stolen bases, and while that pace for steals puts him closer to 25 than it does to 30, that home run pace is set to eclipse the 30-HR barrier in a big way. I’m sure he’ll slow down the pace a little once the dog days of summer hit, but this kid is just an outright superstar. Such a shame you can’t trade for him now as his value is through the roof.
One final thing before I go and that’s a dubious award I’ve decided to hand out just for today. Well, maybe it’ll come up again, especially with the return of Manny Ramirez getting closer, but in this sea of fantasy deliciousness and all the great baseball we witnessed, there was one moment that is receiving boatloads of attention and it’s not helping your fantasy team one lick. I proudly present to you…..
That’s right. A dubious honor to the player who is getting all the attention for all the wrong reasons. Stand up and take a bow, Brett Lawrie. No doubt the umpire was making some horrible calls, but you’ve got to rein in the emotions, son. Or if you want, be emotional, but keep it verbal. You can yell and scream and spit in an ump’s face (not projectile spitting as Roberto Alomar can attest) all you want, but when you start throwing equipment around, intentional hitting or not, then you’ve got a problem. He’s in the lineup here on Wednesday, but a suspension is definitely coming soon....
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over ten years on a variety of web sites including his own, The Fantasy Baseball Buzz. You can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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