Interleague is bringing out the best in a lot of players right now and we’re seeing some real good ball played here. I’m in weekend quick-wrap mode though, so let’s just get right to the action. A few nominees for top honors this week as several pitchers had tremendous outings and a number of hitters kicked in to do their part. So without too much build-up or fanfare, let’s just get right to it…
|Brandon Morrow, TOR||9.0||3||0||0||1||8||0||0.00||0.44|
Like I said, a number of players could have walked away with the award today, but Brandon Morrow, who seems to have taken his game to another level this season, gets the nod for being the first pitcher in baseball to throw two complete-game shutouts this year. Is it possible that we’ll see more of that from Justin Verlander, Clayton Kershaw, or Roy Halladay? Sure. But Morrow does it first and should get the notoriety. His first shutout came just three starts ago when Toronto visited the Los Angeles Angels on May 3rd and the pitching line was nearly identical to that of Saturday – 9 IP, 3 H, 8 K – with the only difference being the one walk issued this time around. The consistency with which Morrow has pitched has been pretty solid. There was concern early on that his strikeout totals, something he’s been known for, had dwindled and perhaps there was something wrong, but he’s got a 10.8 K/9 over his last five starts now and is showing no signs of slowing down. Will he have those outings where he blows up a little? Sure. Every pitcher does. But he’s had two starts this season where he’s been roughed up and he still owns a 2.63 ERA with a 0.96 WHIP.
|Andrew McCutchen, OF PIT||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI|
|Justin Maxwell, OF HOU||1-2, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, SB|
|Kyle Seager, 3B SEA||3-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB|
|Ryan Vogelsong, SP SF||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.29 WHIP, 5 K|
|Clayton Kershaw, SP LAD||W, CG, 0.00 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 4 K|
Looking at some of these numbers, you can understand why the choice for the Fantasy Beast was a difficult one…
Ryan Vogelsong took a perfect game into the fifth inning on Saturday, but due to a high pitch count and the fact that he almost lost a finger squaring up for a bunt in the seventh, he was forced to exit the game. Javier Lopez and Clay Hensley came in to finish the job and the three pitchers combined for an outstanding one-hit shutout of the crosstown rival A’s.
Clayton Kershaw notched his first complete-game shutout of the season on Saturday, giving up six hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The strikeout total is a bit low for Kershaw standards, but let’s not forget the fact that he did this against the Cardinals, one of the better, more experienced offenses in the game right now. I’m guessing we’re going to see plenty more of this from him this year and with it, a return to the 9.00-plus K/9 that we’re all used to seeing.
Do I really have to sing Andrew McCutchen’s praises again? OK, Andrew, I get it. I’m sorry I called you a “poor man’s Carl Crawford.” It was a momentary lapse of judgment on my part apparently and you’ve now shown me the error of my ways. Since that comment was first made just a dozen games ago, McCutchen has jacked seven home runs with 11 RBI and I will criticize no more.
Kyle Seager has been a nice, little fantasy treat for those that grabbed him early on after his hot start to the year. With consistent playing time, he has been an incredibly productive player who qualifies at both shortstop and third base which only adds to his fantasy appeal. Over his last four games, Seager is a impressive 7-for-17 (.412) with one home run, five RBI and three runs scored. He should remain a consistent contributor all season long.
I’d like to keep seeing a little more of Justin Maxwell and check out what he’s capable of doing with a little more regular playing time. I think he’s got some growth ahead of him, but given the state of the Astros these days, I don’t see a reason not to give him a chance. With J.D. Martinez stuck in a full-season slump here and Jordan Schafer getting a little dinged up after colliding with Maxwell, maybe we’ll get the chance sooner than later.
A few honorable mentions here as well….
Joey Votto continues to show why he’s the hottest hitter in baseball right now with a three-run shot on Saturday.
Ivan Nova had 12 Ks during the game, but got tagged by Votto to put the kibosh on a decent pitching line.
Nyjer Morgan flashing a little lumber and speed as he went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and a pair of stolen bases.
Adam Jones connects for HR #14, Adam Dunn connects for #12 and Billy “Country Breakfast” Butler remains consistent and jacks his 8th of the season.
Texas outfielder David Murphy with a very unlikely inside-the-park home run on Saturday.
And finally, Dale Thayer notches his fifth save of the season since taking over the closer’s role for the injured Huston Street.
|Ian Kinsler, 2B TEX||0-5, 4 K|
|Rickie Weeks, 2B MIL||0-5, 4 K|
|J.P. Arencibia, C TOR||0-4, 3 K|
|Josh Willingham, OF MIN||0-4, 3 K, BB|
|Sean Marshall, RP CIN||ND, 54.00 ERA, 12.00 WHIP, K|
Wow. You’d almost like to see Rickie Weeks get hurt just so you don’t have to keep watching him strike out. He’s up to 53 strikeouts in 167 plate appearances which is good for a 31.2% strikeout rate, a career-worst, and an atrocious .154 average right now. Edward Maysonett, anyone?
This is now the second time that Dusty Baker has pulled Sean Marshall form a save situation after getting beaten up a little….ok, maybe a lot. He’s performed well enough during the season that it doesn’t appear as if his job is in danger, but you’ll want to keep on top of the situation just to make sure.
Throwing out a pair of dishonorable mentions here to Dan Haren and Ian Kennedy – two supposed top 20 starters (Haren even top 10 at one point) that are just off to horrible starts and there are a lot of questions swirling around. Kennedy gave up six runs through 4.1 innings on Saturday to push his ERA up to 4.47 on the year while Haren coughed up another three runs to push his record to 1-5 with a 4.37 ERA.
Chipper Jones, 3B ATL – calf (doubtful)
Cody Ross, OF BOS -- foot (questionable)
Welington Castillo, C CHC – knee (questionable)
Paul Konerko, 1B CHW – face/eye (doubtful)
Brent Morel, 3B CHW – back (doubtful)
Jack Hannahan, 3B CLE – back (questionable)
Jose Valverde, RP DET – back (questionable)
Austin Jackson, OF DET – abdomen (doubtful)
Jordan Schafer, OF HOU – ankle (doubtful)
Ryan Doumit, C MIN – calf (questionable)
Mark Teixeira, 1B NYY – illness (doubtful)
Placido Polanco, 3B PHI – knee (questionable)
Lance Berkman, 1B STL – knee (doubtful)
Nelson Cruz, OF TEX – hamstring (doubtful)
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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