Welcome to Bizarro baseball. While the anticipated debut of Yu Darvish was on everyone’s minds on Monday, the real excitement ended up coming from a very unlikely source. Barry Zito, the $126M albatross that hangs on the neck of the Giants organization and its fans, turned in a gutsy and vintage performance to help his team ruin the Colorado Rockies 2012 home opener. With the Giants seeking their first win of the season, Zito turned in a complete game, four-hit shutout with four strikeouts and no walks as the Giants offense went to town and pummeled the Rockies pitching for seven runs. Zito hurls a shutout? The Giants offense scores seven runs in a game? Bizarro baseball, indeed.
Darvish, meanwhile, who cost the Rangers $54M just for the right to negotiate the six-year, $56M deal, may have notched the win in Monday’s game, but looked shaky early on and finished with a pitching line much less exciting than expected -- five earned runs in 5.2 innings, allowing eight hits, four walks and striking out five. Obviously we’ve seen worse outings than that, but with the amount of hype that began the moment we learned Darvish was coming east to the dominant performances we witnessed over spring training, this one left us all feeling kind of blah.
When he walked Chone Figgins to lead off the bottom of the first, there were some sideways glances from those expecting a lights-out performance. His strikeout of Dustin Ackley let everyone breathe again, but then two singles, a wild pitch and then another single later and not only did the Mariners have the lead, but Darvish looked like he was in some disarray. Which he was obviously. Between the constant talk of the money invested, the big debut, the home crowd, the Ballpark at Arlington, the high expectations, it was like the perfect storm. Darvish was far too amped up early on, he was overthrowing his pitches and he was missing his spots. Eventually he settled down, but the disappointment in his inaugural outing was really what everyone took away with them.
But just as it is in the Superman comics, justice and normalcy prevail in the end and the Bizarro world is left to pick up the pieces in its backwards state. Zito will, undoubtedly turn in a series of miserable starts while Darvish should use this outing as a springboard for bigger and better things to come. He is too good and Zito is too bad to warrant another way of thinking.
However, this start from Darvish was, in my opinion, to be expected and I probably should have broadcast my opinions on it more. I own Darvish in two leagues and actually had him on the bench in both while I answered a number of emails offering the same advice. It’s not that I don’t have faith in Darvish, because I obviously do. I wouldn’t own him in any league if I didn’t. But as I said before, the perfect storm was converging on him and this was one of those moments where you need to step back and watch from afar. If he’s successful, well then you lose just one start and now you know that he can just be left alone in your active lineup the rest of the way. If he’s not, which, in my opinion, he wasn’t on Monday, then you spare your ratios an early beating and you can try again with his second outing where the emotions won’t be riding so high. Fortunately, it wasn’t too bad a day and again, you picked up the win. Next time out should be a lot more fun to watch.
Now as for the winners and losers from Monday’s games….
Come on, you didn’t think I was going to pass up Barry for the honors here, did you? I have a strong feeling that this is going to be an example of the sun shining on a dog’s posterior at least once and Barry will, soon enough, be Barry again. Might as well give him some props while we can..
As for the rest of the top performers…
|Nelson Cruz, OF TEX||3-4, R, HR, 4 RBI|
|Omar Infante, 2B MIA||2-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI|
|Yadier Molina, C STL||2-3, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB|
|Matt Wieters, C BAL||4-4. R, HR, RBI|
|Tommy Milone, SP OAK||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP|
|Chris Sale, SP/RP CHW||W, 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 5 K|
|C.J. Wilson, SP TEX||W, 1.29 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 5 K|
|Jake Westbrook, SP STL||W, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 2 K|
|Grant Balfour, RP OAK||S, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, K|
|Alfredo Aceves, RP BOS||S, 0.00 ERA, 0.00 WHIP, K|
Some real nice pitching performance out there on Monday. We expect that kind of work from C.J. Wilson and even Jake Westbrook has had his moments, but the starting debuts of Chris Sale and Tommy Milone were fantastic and super-encouraging for their owners. If you own them, should I say. Sale was a pretty hot and often-hyped commodity this whole spring, but Milone is owned in just 6% of Yahoo leagues and in just 1.8% of the leagues on ESPN. If you’re in a shallow league and Sale is available, he should be picked up immediately. Milone, on the other hand, you might be able to wait on a little. Maybe see another start before grabbing him. He’s a guy that gets the job done with pinpoint command, not strikeouts, so he isn’t as flashy and won’t garner as much attention. But with the home ballpark in Oakland helping his cause, he could be a nice, sneaky little add soon who should help keep your ratios balanced.
On the offensive front, more of what we would normally expect from certain guys. Nelson Cruz is banging it….atleast before he injures his hammy tripping over the baseline…and Matt Wieters is off to a great start this season. Yesterday’s 4-for-4 with his second home run of the young season is helping convince more and more people that last year’s power surge over the final month and a half of the year was just the tip of the iceberg. It’s taken him a little time to develop and break out, but for those that own him this year, now is the time for which we have all been waiting.
Now is the time to shop Omar Infante, everyone. It’s incredibly doubtful that it gets any better than this. Back in 2004, Infante jacked 16 home runs on the season, but has failed to crack double digits in any season since. Sure, he was a part-timer for a few years there, but he’s been starting the last two seasons and hasn’t hit more than eight home runs in a season. With three right now, you just nailed down about a third of his total power production in just four games. If you can find a sucker…er…I mean…someone who believes….then make that move!
And look at that…
A day without a blown save? Somebody pinch me! Maybe not all the closers that saw action on Monday were perfect, but it certainly wasn’t the disaster it had been the last few days. I’m happy to give a not to Grant Balfour for preserving Milone’s first win of the season and a little praise Alfredo Aceves’ way may be good for his self-esteem. Someone print this out and pin it up in his locker today. Tell him Howard says congrats!
And though he didn’t make the Fantasy Alarm leaderboard here, I’m more than happy to kick a little praise over to Derek Jeter for his four-hit day to help lead the Yankees to their first win of the season. Knock the guy all you want, but he’s still one of the best all-around players in recent history and can bust out a big day at any moment. His fantasy numbers are obviously lacking in comparison to the elites out there, but if the guy continues to hit for a solid average, can bang you 10 home runs and steal you 15-20 bases in a season, that’s definitely money-in-the-bank at the shortstop position.
|Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL||0-4, K|
|Howard Kendrick, 2B LAA||0-4, K|
|Adam Dunn, DH CHW||0-4, 2 K|
|Jason Kipnis, 2B CLE||0-4, K|
|Alex Rodriguez, 3B NYY||0-4, K|
|Nick Markakis, OF BAL||0-4, K|
|Dan Uggla, 2B ATL||0-4, 2 K|
|Starlin Castro, SS CHC||0-5, 2 K|
|Adam Lind, 1B TOR||0-4, 3 K|
|Hector Noesi, SP SEA||L, 21.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 3 K, 2 HRA|
Lots of swinging and missing on Monday, huh? Some big names throwing up some serious doughnuts there. Still too early to be concerned with the slow starts, so keep your hands off the panic button. As I’ve said before, you need a bigger sample size before being able to accurately determine what your team really needs. Give it some time. Let it marinate. As our friend the tortoise says, “Slow and steady wins the race.”
I will say that Hector Noesi is far too green to be trusted, in my opinion…especially against a power lineup like texas. Maybe I’d give him a look if he was pitching against a team like the Twins or the Indians, but even then I’d be nervous. Too bad he pitches for the Mariners…..he’d probably be a bigger asset if he got to pitch against them a few times this season.
Brandon Phillips is considered doubtful for Tuesday’s game after he left Monday’s action with cramping in his hamstring. He said he felt something pull as he was scoring from first in the bottom of the fifth inning, so the club will likely exercise some caution and hold him out for atleast the day. Keep an eye on his status moving forward though. Nothing worse than a lingering hammy issue.
You’ll want to double check on Giancarlo Stanton’s status today, but it looks like he might miss another one on Tuesday. He was penciled into the lineup on Monday but was a late scratch due to knee soreness. It’s far too early in the year to take a chance with on eof your big boys, so look for ozzie guillen to hold him out again to be on the safe side.
And finally, Mariners DH and part-time catcher Jesus Montero is dealing with some sort of a stomach bug that’s keeping him out of the lineup. He missed Monday’s game and is considered questionable for Tuesday. Whatever happened to the days when guys gutted it out through times like this? Can’t we get a bucket in the corner of the dugout with some Tic Tacs nearby?
Looks like we’ve got an early one with Detroit and Tampa Bay today, so get those lineups ready!
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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