Fantasy Baseball Tonight; Fast Starts, Slow Starts, Hughes and Hamels

Todd FarinoCorrespondent IApril 29, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - APRIL 17: Starting pitcher Cole Hamels #35 of the Philadelphia Phillies throws the ball during the game against the San Diego Padres on April 17, 2009 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images)

For those of you who were with me last year, my baby Morgan turns 11 months today.

Remember the little storm cloud that used to follow Charlie Brown around? Well, it has now officially left Mr. Brown and has parked itself directly over Cole Hamels. After winning the World Series MVP, everything has gone downhill. In the Spring he was dealing with elbow problems. Then he got back on the mound and big ol' Prince Fielder hit him with a batted ball, miraculously he was ok. Now tonight he leaves this start early after spraining his ankle fielding a bunt. It is too soon to know if he will make his next start, but we will pass it along as soon as possible.

After his latest implosion, Joel Hanrahan has been removed as the closer of the Nationals. Hanrahan gave up three runs in just one third of an inning on Monday, and that was apparently the final straw. For now, the Nationals are reported to go to the dreaded committee approach, but I have also read reports that Joe Beimel will get a shot at the job when he returns from the DL, probably next week.

Phil Hughes made his first start of the year for Chien-Ming Wang and was great. Hughes threw six shutout innings against the Tigers, halting the Yankees four game losing streak. Hughes allowed only two hits and two walks, and struck out six in his return to the major leagues. If Hughes can continue to be successful it could have big ramificiations in the Yankee rotation and in the bullpen, especially if Joba Chamberlain continues to be average, and if Chien-Ming Wang is able to return to form. Keep an eye on this situation.

Jimmy Rollins stole his first base of the season tonight. That's right, that is not a typo. The former MVP got his average UP to .195 with another 1-4, and he still only has one home run. There has to start to be some concern about Rollins this season. His power took a nose dive last season, and now this year he starts out going three weeks before he steals a base. Now would be a horrible time to try to trade him, but if you can get his preseason value still I would try to make something happen.

His teammate, Chase Utley, continues to prove why he is one of the ten best players in fantasy. Utley connected on two dingers tonight, bringing his season total to seven, and his batting average up to .357 with 20 RBI. For those of you who passed on Utley early.....shame on you!

The first kink in the armor for Paul Maholm came tonight. After a brilliant start to the season, Maholm allowed five runs over 5.1 innings, walked five and struck out just two. For those of you who haven't emailed me about Maholm, let me say this. I would try to sell as high as I can as fast as I can. Sure he had a much better year last season, but his career numbers are awful, his team is awful (they will be, just wait), and his strikeout numbers are embarrassing. Don't believe the hype on Maholm.

Francisco Liriano finally had a reasonably good start on Tuesday. Joe Nathan blew the win for him, but Liriano lasted 6.2 innings, allowed just two runs, walked two, and struck out three. Like I have said before, I don't see those rookie numbers coming back, but I still think Liriano can be an effective pitcher in the majors and win 12-14 games. This was an encouraging sign for him.

B.J. Upton continues to struggle with the bat as he took another Ofer, and brought his average down to .151. At least Upton is stealing some bases, as he now has five after swiping two tonight. I know it is tough, but you have to keep running him out there until he straightens himself out.

Paul Konerko is having a nice bounceback season. He played both games of the doubleheader and drove in three runs. The .329 batting average can't last, but he already is near 20 RBI, and this was a guy who was a definite 30 homer, 100 RBI guy every year. I think he will end up batting around .265-.270, but could be a nice UTIL option for you.

Finally, I would like to take this time to post a link to one of the newest baseball blogs, The Fantasy Windup. Steve Gardner, who has been with USA Today for over 15 years, has recently started his own blog about everything baseball that is updated multiple times a day. I especially liked the post from early yesterday in which he was good enough to mention my site and link to my article from 4/26. Thanks Steve! I invite all of you to check out the Fantasy Windup and to get involved in the comments and forums with some of his great readers.

As always, your comments and questions are welcome at I guarantee a response within 18 hours. Also, don’t miss “The Fantasy Baseball Gurus Show” every Wednesday night at 10pm EST on Blog Talk Radio. The show is co-hosted by Todd Farino of, RC Rizza of and myself, Ryan Hallam at To hear the show go to The Fantasy Baseball Scouting Report is also back! Join me with Jeff Mans every Tuesday night at 10pm EST for all the news, free agent pickups, minor leaguers, and injuries. A can’t miss if you plan on winning your league. I also just met the people over at Baseball Trade Rumors and I invite you to visit their site. They have a page for rumors for every major league team, constant updates on the latest rumors, interactive polls, and overall some great content.