While I could sit here and run down the concept of interleague play and talk about how it cheapens the meaning of the World Series because these teams have now all played each other several times over a few year span, I’ll take the glass is half full approach here and relish in the fact that when we near interleague play, the week is filled with a full slate of games every day. No slow Monday or Thursday here; every team is playing. And with that full slate of games comes the usual excitement and fanfare that all full baseball days bring. But on Monday, we had the excitement of a number of firsts. And nothing’s better than your first, right?
Just ask Bryce Harper. We’ve all been waiting for the moment when all that raw talent and power would come together for the exciting event of his first long ball, and finally, on a 3-0 fastball right down the pipe, the 19-year old phenom cracked his very first major league home run on Monday night. He raced around the bases pretty quickly and then was treated to his first big league curtain call. [side note: really? A curtain call for a first home run? Come on. I know the crowd is amped up over his arrival, but he’s just doing what he’s supposed to be doing. It’s his job. If anything, we should be like, “What took you so long?” No need for a curtain call here and certainly no need for a curtain call on a third inning solo shot that doesn’t break a tie, or begin a dramatic comeback or something like that. Curtain calls should be reserved for dramatic moments and while this may have been a big deal to a lot of people, it’s just not quite curtain call material, in my eyes.] Forever in Nationals lore will be the name Tim Stauffer, the pitcher who served up the Harper’s first ever, big league home run. A dubious honor, Tim, but someone’s got to get saddled with it.
Another “first” home run happened on the South Side of Chicago on Monday when Adam Dunn launched his 12th home run of the season, a booming two run shot in the first inning off Detroit rookie Drew Smyly. And what was so momentous about Dunn’s 12th home run of the season? No, not because he surpassed his home run total for all of 2011, but because this one was the first dinger Dunn has hit off a left-handed pitcher since August 6, 2010 when he took Clayton Kershaw deep in the third inning. So not only is it great to see Dunn on the comeback trail in general, but the fact that he’s seeing the ball so well right now that he can take a lefty deep is even more encouraging. Welcome back, Big Donkey!
Continuing with our firsts, here’s a nice one you won’t see get much fanfare unless you’re on some Giants blog – Gregor Blanco hit his first home run since August 21, 2010! The 28 year old journeyman outfielder who spent all of last season down in Triple-A between the Royals and the Nationals’ organizations had himself a fantastic spring and made the Giants as a fourth/fifth outfielder. Now he’s become a mini-cult icon in the Bay Area, but that’s only because most fans believe him to be some rookie who came from the system somewhere. Shhhhhh! Don’t tell them. They may start spouting off about their World Series again.
And the last of our firsts brings us to everyone’s favorite….
|Jon Lester, SP BOS||9.0||8||1||1||0||6||0||1.00||0.89|
Another fantastic outing from Jon Lester, who has now allowed just five earned runs over his last four starts (27 IP) which is good for a 1.67 ERA. The complete game always gets some added attention, but this one even more as it was the first Red Sox complete game thrown at Fenway Park since May 20, 2010 against the Twins. The pitcher that game? Yup. Jon Lester. An often-underrated ace and certainly the beast of that staff for two years running now.
Other notes from Monday…
I know the fantasy world is clamoring for Aroldis Chapman to be either a starter or a closer, but it’s hard to argue with the Reds desire to leave him in a bullpen role where he can come into a game at a moment’s notice and be effective in innings six through eight. Right now, Chapman is on a pretty sick tear with a 24.1 scoreless inning streak. And as a little icing on the cake, he’s sporting a 38:9 K:BB ratio which is huge. A much better strikeout rate than a lot of starting pitchers out there.
Looks like Troy Tulowitzki, who is desperately trying to get things going this year is going to be out for a few games with a bruised leg. While sitting in the dugout during Monday’s game, Tulo got tagged with a hard foul ball off the bat of Dexter Fowler. He looked to be in some serious pain but x-rays came back negative. He’ll likely just miss a game or two, but consider him day to day right now and keep checking daily for updates.
Speaking of taking a hard-liner to the leg, Rays starter Jeff Niemann was forced to leave the game after take on off the ankle on Monday. He actually tried to stay in the game, but apparently the umpires saw something and summoned the trainers from the dugout. X-rays came back to reveal a small fracture in the fibula and now Niemann is out for a few months. Unless you have unlimited DL spots available, you can cut him loose.
Also on the shelf, but likely a day to day as well, is Yankees starter Ivan Nova who left Monday’s start after turning his ankle while making a play on a grounder and throwing to first. He’s listed as day to day for now, but check back in a few days to see if he’ll be able to make his next start. We could guess, but it’s far too early.
Heading to the DL now is Matt Kemp and Desmond Jennings. Kemp is dealing with a hamstring issue and it just made sense for the Dodgers to err on the side of caution. After all, he’s their rock and they, just like his fantasy owners would rather see him miss two weeks and get healthy than to try and play through it and be out for longer later on down the line. For Jennings, it’s the knee still. The soreness has continued and the team would rather sit him down for a couple of weeks than to lose him to something more serious. This is likely just a quick 15 days, unless of course he has a setback.
Details of the story are sketchy, but you’ll want to keep Torii Hunter on the bench for a little while as he just went on the restricted list for the Angels. Turns out Hunter left the team because his 17-year old son was arrested and charged with sexual assault. I’m sure there will be plenty heard on this in the future.
But let’s not finish today on such a sour note. Let’s talk about Bryan LaHair and his nine home runs and .356 average!! Oh baby! I don’t want to toot my own horn here, but BEEP BEEP!! I called this a little while ago, actually late last season, but it didn’t go onto an official record until March 1. Strikeouts be damned! This guy has finally put it together, and while the batting average won’t last, 30-plus home runs is not too far out of reach this year.
Want some more good news and then we’ll give you the top and bottom five? How about Braves starter Randall Delgado? Over his last three starts, he’s gone 20.1 innings while allowing just three earned runs – a 1.33 ERA – with 14 strikeouts and a 0.93 WHIP. No wonder Jair Jurrjens and Julio Teheran are stuck in the minors. This kid doesn’t look like he’s budging from the rotation, so if he’s available in your league, you should pick him up.
And now for your top and bottom five from Monday…
|Bryan LaHair, 1B CHC||3-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB|
|Dayan Viciedo, OF CHW||2-3, R, HR, 4 RBI|
|Mark Teixeira, 1B NYY||2-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB|
|Gregor Blanco, OF SF||3-4, 2 R, HR, RBI|
|Miguel Batista, SP NYM||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 5 K|
|Brian Bogusevic, OF HOU||0-4, 3 K|
|Rafael Furcal, SS STL||0-5, 2 K|
|Ike Davis, 1B NYM||0-4, 2 K|
|Brooks Conrad, 2B MIL||0-4, 2 K|
|John Danks, SP CHW||ND, 15.00 ERA, 4.00 WHIP|
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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