Week number nine is in the books here in fantasy baseball and tonight we cover a lot of today's starting pitchers. There is talk of a rebounding hurler in the Bronx, a Cy Young winner who can't seem to get back to form, and another former Cy contender who I doubt will ever get back to form. At the end there are a few quick hitting items on some injuries and a slugger who can't make contact. Hard to believe that we are just a month away from the All-Star game, and the news is more important every day for you to maintain your lead or make the move on first place.
Tim Lincecum was better today, but still wasn't dominating and it came against the freakin' Pirates! Lincecum hasn't been the same electric pitcher over the last month and his fantasy owners must be shaking in their boots. However, I have a message for you.....RELAX!!! It is a long season and every single pitcher goes through some rough spots. I know you want your ace to mow through the Pirates lineup and thrown one of these perfect games that are going around, but Lincecum is in a little funk right now and needs to work his way out of it. He might not win his third straight Cy Young Award, but Lincecum is going to be a dominant fantasy starter and will be one of the top three pitchers to have when all is said and done.
Ubaldo Jimenez finally gave up a couple of runs, but he made himself the majors' first 11 game winner as he beat the Arizona Diamondbacks. Baldy gave up two runs over seven innings and struck out eight as his ERA rose to a still eye popping 0.93. For those of you who own him and don't know what to do, I might take him and try to trade him for Mr. Lincecum that we talked about in the last paragraph. I mean think of it this way. No way that Jimenez is able to finish the year with a 1.00 ERA right? And no way that Lincecum doesn't rip through the Pirates the next time out. Buy a little low on Lincecum and sell way high on Baldy. It might not work, but I think it is worth a try.
Javier Vasquez is getting back on track with another great performance, even if it wasn't against one of the powerhouses of the American League. Vasquez allowed just two runs over seven innings against the surprising Toronto Blue Jays and he struck out nine. This is on the heels of his great start against the Orioles and hopefully a couple of quality starts was what Javy needed to get his confidence back on track and he can go back to being the quality pitcher he has been. He won't be the guy he was in Atlanta last season, but Vasquez is better than he showed in the first two months of the year and hopefully you held on to him through his incredibly rough beginning.
Brandon Morrow dueled Vasquez pitch for pitch as he had another great start and kept the Yankees in check over seven innings. Morrow allowed just a single earned run, walked just one and struck out eight. He has now allowed three earned runs or less in eight of his last ten starts, but I do continue to worry about the fact that he nearly has the same number of innings pitched in 2010 as he did in all of 2008 and 2009 when he was a relief pitcher for the Mariners. The Blue Jays got him ready to be a starter from the beginning of training camp, so hopefully the arm strength is there, I just hope that there isn't a time during the season in which his arm starts to get fatigued, he stops missing bats, and needs to rest and ends up on the DL. I know that sounds bad, but I really do like Morrow.
Brian Matusz had a little problem with the walks, but other than that had his second straight pretty good start, this time against the Boston Red Sox. Matusz wasn't able to finish the sixth inning, but he gave up just two earned runs and struck out seven in his 5.2 innings worth of work. I know a lot of you jumped off the bandwagon, and it is understandable, but you have to remember that the kid is a rookie and most young pitchers will have peaks and valleys along the way. I am not saying that Matusz is going to be an All-Star caliber pitcher by the end of the year, but I do believe that he will continue to pitch well in more starts than he does pitch poorly. Right now he might be a pitch and ditch kind of option or a guy that you don't start but stash on your bench, but I do think he is talented enough that he does still belong on fantasy rosters.
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John Lackey didn't get the win on Sunday, but he was better than he has been for most of the season for the Red Sox. The biggest surprise to me is the sharp drop off in strikeouts for Lackey, which is telling me that he probably isn't going to be the pitcher I thought he was coming into the year. Lackey had been a bulldog for most of his career, pitching 200+ innings and striking out 180+. Well, this year he has struggled to make it more than six innings most of the time and he hasn't struck out more than six batters in any start this season. I am not saying that Lackey isn't worth owning in fantasy baseball anymore, but it is time for me to come to the realization that he isn't a top of the rotation fantasy starter anymore, more of a third or fourth guy in your rotation.
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Brett Myers continues to exceed expectations by a huge margin as he collected his fourth win of the year on Sunday. Myers kept the Cubs in check as he gave up two runs over 6.2 innings and struck out six. This is now seven of his last nine starts that Myers has given up two earned runs or less, and in six of those he struck out at least six batters. Even though he is on a subpar team in Houston, there is no doubt that Myers is now worthy of being on your fantasy roster if you are looking for some help on the mound. He was always a highly touted prospect who had some trouble keeping his head straight, but it appears that Myers is locked in so far in 2010.
Since throwing eight shutout innings on May 21st, Mark Buehrle has hit quite the rough patch. In his last three starts he has been ejected from the game in the third inning, and then gave up six earned runs in each of the next two including Sunday. Buerhle is having a pretty bad season as he has a 3-6 record and an ERA of 5.40. He isn't a guy who gets a lot of strikeouts (30 in 70 IP this year so far), so right now Buehrle is offering nothing to your fantasy team. If you are a very forgiving owner you might put him on your bench based on his history and hope he gets hot, but I couldn't blame you at all if you send him to free agency.
A day after striking out a whopping five times in a game against the Blue Jays, Mark Teixeira took another O-fer on Sunday but at least he did walk once and didn't strikeout any more. He did go on a short hot streak before cooling back down but I am telling you a wicked hot streak is in the near future for Tex and if anything now is the time to try to acquire him, not deal him away. His track record is impeccable, the numbers are there in September every year and there is no reason to think they won't be again in 2010.
Josh Hamilton was out of the lineup on Sunday after taking a cortisone injection in his right knee. Hamilton has been pretty good this year, but this is what always has to be in the back of your mind, the possibility, no the probability, of him being injured. They say that he should be back in the lineup on Monday, but when a guy like Hamilton misses a game and needs a cortisone shot, I am always worried even though he did pinch hit. Keep tabs on this situation and hopefully he will miss just the one game.
Doug Fister is going to the Disabled List with a fatigued shoulder, a move to try to get him back into the rotation and healthy for the rest of the season. Seattle had been noticing a drop in velocity and finally got the pitcher to admit that he had some discomfort since before his previous start. Fister is one of the more pleasant surprises in fantasy, but this really puts up a big red flag for me and I only hope that it is a minor speed bump, but I have a feeling it may be more.
Orlando Hudson looks like he is headed to the 15 day DL after a collision with teammate Denard Span that reinjured his surgically repaired wrist. Hudson said that he would only have to miss a few more days, but the team took the conservative approach and sat their second baseman down for two weeks. On the surface this doesn't seem like it should be a long term thing, so hopefully if you play Hudson he should just miss the minimum time but again, keep your eye on the news surrounding Hudson over the next two weeks.
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