Jim Thome may not have a lick of fantasy value left in him these days, but the guy can still make headlines, can’t he? And the best part about it is that, unlike so many other things going in the sports world these days, it’s for something positive. How sick and tired are you of hearing about this Jerry Sandusky crap? How about some more Roger Clemens steroids articles? So when Thome set the record for most walk-off home runs by a single player, I was genuinely excited for him. The stuff about Jonathan Papelbon blowing the save and then offering Thome $5K to win it for the Phillies was cute and all, but to me, that was much more secondary to watching a guy who, at the age of 41, can still bring the lumber.
The game-winning home run off Tampa reliever Jake McGee was Thome’s 13th career walk-off which sets the modern day record (not sure exactly how long we’ve been tabulating walk-offs). It was his fifth of the regular season and his 100th as a member of the Phillies. Whether he plays for your favorite team or not, love him or hate him (not sure how you could hate him though), after 22 years of professional baseball Thome is still one of the most feared hitters when he steps up to the plate. He may not get the Beast tag for today, but the guy has been a beast for just over two decades now. I will definitely tip my cap to him here.
Now for a quick recap…
|Nelson Cruz, OF TEX||3-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI|
Don’t mean to run the guy down here when I’m handing his Saturday performance a daily award, but how long after I praise him for his efforts will it be before Nelson Cruz lands on the disabled list with some sort of hamstring issue or other lingering ailment? I mean, three multi-hit games in his last four starts with a multi-homer game to cap it off? Sounds like someone is coming up lame soon. I can respect the power that comes from his bat, at times, but as a fantasy owner I take issue with either his frailty or his lack of proper conditioning. I understand that injuries hit everyone, but for whatever reasons, this guy is incapable of playing a full season. If you’re in competition for your league’s championship, I definitely recommend selling high.
|Norichika Aoki, OF MIL||3-4, 2 R, 2B, 4 SB|
|Juan Pierre, OF PHI||2-3, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 SB|
|Josh Reddick, OF OAK||3-4, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, SB|
|Dallas Keuchel, SP HOU||W, CG, 1.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP, 3 K|
|Johnny Cueto, SP CIN||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.57 WHIP, 9 K|
Another day with dominant speed? I love it. Norichika Aoki only had five steals through the first 60-odd games and was never considered a huge base-stealer in Japan, but making this an active part of his game can only help his cause. While he may be slumping as of late (.192 over his previous 13 games) Aoki has apparently earned himself a regular job in the Brewers’ outfield, according to manager Ron Roenicke. His fantasy value may not be huge right now, but if he continues to play regularly and remains this aggressive on the base paths, his value could jump significantly.
And then there’s Juan Pierre. He may not be as old as Thome, but it sure feels like it. A 13-year veteran actually, Pierre continues to provide a bit of fantasy punch still. He’s obviously not the player he used to be, swiping a career-low 27 bases last year, but we’re talking 10 years straight of 30 or more steals before that and he already has 16 this season. And even better is that he’s still hitting over .320 this far into the season. The home run was likely his power contribution for the season so don’t go banking on seeing another one anytime soon, but if he continues to play at a level similar to this all year, he could easily be back above the 30-steal mark by season’s end.
OK, I’ll admit it. I was a little concerned about Josh Reddick’s recent 0-for-19 slump. Granted, it was just four and a half games worth of at-bats, but when you get a guy with as low a profile as Reddick’s, you worry that recent, unexpected success followed by an extended slump could lead to pressing at the plate and an even longer slump coming as the player gets wrapped up in his head and all twisted up in the batter’s box. Fortunately, that hasn’t been the case and Reddick has now gone back-to-back games with a home run. I’d still like to see him pull that average up somewhere north of .275, but with 17 home runs, 11 double sand seven stolen bases, I’m certainly not complaining here.
As for the pitching, well, I expect to see Johnny Cueto here most weeks. That’s now four straight wins with a 1.47 ERA over his last four starts and he’s now sitting with nine wins on the year with an impressive 2.21 ERA. Of course, I’ll nit-pick and say that I wish the strikeouts were a little more abundant, but I’m not throwing him back into the player pool for that reason. I’d say the home ballpark should make me nervous, but it doesn’t even remotely seem to be a factor. Sure his ERA at home is a few ticks higher, but it’s still just 2.28. And even better is the fact that, while he doesn’t give up many dingers right now, he’s given up more on the road than he has at home.
Really? Dallas Keuchel? What the…? When I saw that Houston was throwing him up against Texas last week, I was genuinely afraid for his psyche. How do you call up a kid who’s sporting a 4.26 ERA in Triple-A and turn the hard-hitting Rangers lineup loose against him like that? That could have gotten downright ugly. But he made it through relatively unscathed and although he only lasted five innings that night, he still only allowed one run. But now the guy tosses a one-run complete game against the Indians for his next outing? That’s pretty damn good. I’m not sold on the guy, by any means, and will probably avoide him myself in a number of leagues, but if you’re streaming pitchers already, well, he’s got a start coming up against San Diego next, and their offense is pretty ugly.
|Josh Hamilton, OF TEX||0-5, 4 K|
|Torii Hunter, OF LAA||0-4, 3 K|
|Austin Jackson, OF DET||0-4, 3 K|
|Brian Fuentes, RP OAK||ND, 81.00 ERA, 15.00 WHIP|
|Randall Delgado, SP ATL||L, 27.00 ERA, 6.00 WHIP, K|
And by down, I mean sad. Not for anyone in this list really, save for Randall Delgado. With the state of the back-end of the Braves rotation, I worry that this might get him bumped at some point. Mike Minor seems to be turning things around, Jair Jurrjens pitched well in his return and there’s still Julio Teheran sitting down at Triple-A Gwinnett. Delgado had a strong outing his last time out, but has been somewhat inconsistent lately. Keep an eye on the situation and if you have space on your bench to stash a minor leaguer, it might not be long before we see Teheran is one of the aforementioned three don’t produce.
Joe Saunders, SP ARI – shoulder (15-day DL)
Philip Humber, SP CHW – elbow (15-day DL)
Jose Valverde, RP DET – wrist (questionable)
Justin Maxwell, OF HOU – ankle (questionable)
Shaun Marcum, SP MIL – elbow (15-day DL)
Matt Capps, RP MIN – shoulder (questionable – might land on 15-day DL)
Ike Davis, 1B NYM – illness (questionable)
Frank Francisco, RP NYM – oblique (questionable)
Russell Martin, C NYY – back (doubtful)
Brandon McCarthy, SP OAK – shoulder (out for June 24 start)
Matt Joyce, OF TB -- back (15-day DL)
Mitch Moreland, 1B TEX – hamstring (15-day DL)
Ryan Zimmerman, 3B WAS – shoulder (questionable – may land on 15-day DL)
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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