Wait...the Rays just stole another base.
Ok, anyway. The weekend saw a fair amount of activity, from injuries to impressive pitching performances. If you caught any of the Red Sox-Rays game yesterday, you saw an impressive display of base running around every corner.
I'm pretty sure Don Zimmer even got one off of Varitek.
Heading into the second month of the season, we have a slightly better idea as to who is good and who is not, but the picture is still murky. Nothing wrong with that.
Just continue to evaluate your roster every day, and know that there is still time to recover in head-to-head leagues. It's going to get harder in rotisserie scoring formats.
Let's get to the notes.
- The Mets have decided that Oliver Perez will be working out of the bullpen going forward, and being sent down to the minors is still a possibility. Perez looked awful again this weekend against the Phillies, and he simply doesn't look comfortable. His fastball is well off the pace that we saw even last season, and he's leaving pitches over the middle. The minors would help him more. The bullpen won't let him get into a rhythm still.
- Carl Crawford tied the record for most steals in a game with six yesterday against the Red Sox. Most of them weren't even close. Sure, some were stolen off pitchers who didn't use a slide step or hold him on very effectively, but at that point it's just as much on the catcher not being able to throw him out. Just an ugly day for Boston there. Nice to see Crawford using the wheels again.
- Ricky Nolasco was roughed up, again. He's given up at least four earned runs in all but one start, and in that start he lasted just four innings. At least six hits an outing isn't going to help either. When that is happening, it usually means your fastball is flat in the strike zone, with little help on location. The home run to Derrek Lee was on a hanging curveball. Now, he didn't walk anyone this out, but there are very few signs that he's moving out of this funk.
- Carlos Zambrano left the game yesterday against the Marlins with a strained left hamstring. He was slated to undergo an MRI last night with results available today. The Cubs, at this point, have indicated his next start is in jeopardy. Make sure to note this as we move to the back part of the week.
- Justin Verlander put his 1-5 record from last season against the Indians behind him and threw a gem. He went seven innings and gave up just two hits while striking out 11 batters. Not too bad. He's still hit or miss, but the upside from this outing hopefully carries Verlander into the next one.
- Let's go to my daily rant on David Ortiz. This weekend we actually saw Joe Maddon walk Dustin Pedroia to get to Ortiz. Terry Francona isn't going to move him down in the order, and that could start to impact those around him. It hasn't yet, but why pitch to a guy that isn't showing any signs of breaking out of his season-long slump.
- One month does not a season make, but I'm starting to like what I see out of Scott Richmond. He's a journeyman, but he hasn't allowed more than three earned in any of his five starts. The only start where he gave up three was in his first outing. Richmond may not be more than a matchup play, but he should be looked to in the short-term, similar to how we viewed Jesse Litsch last season.
- Dave Bush's home numbers are looking very similar to what they did last season. Bush went seven innings yesterday, giving up five hits without walking a batter. He added seven strikeouts to the mix to make the line look that much better. He's never going to dominate, but as a matchup play or NL-only option, Bush is going to serve you well.
- Be careful when it comes to using many Mariners or A's pitchers early this week. The 15 inning game required both teams to go deeper into both their bullpen and starting rotation than they would likely want to. The A's fared better, as they were able to use Gio Gonzalez and only needed 13 pitches from Dana Eveland. The Mariners, though really depleted their bullpen. It could be rough for their starters.
- Sticking with the Mariners, Brandon Morrow is back on the DL. In the short-term, David Aardsma is going to have the distinction of finishing off games for Seattle. He's an add for those of you that are looking for saves.
- Results: Wins-Arroyo, Jimenez, Nolasco, Penny, Ohlendorf, Rodriguez; Losses-Peavy, Pineiro, Perkins, Zimmerman, Masterson (Season: 66-47-2)
- You'd expect more of a track record for John Maine in a division matchup against the Braves, but it just isn't there right now. Jeff Francoeur has struggled, but he's swinging a much better bat early this year. I'm not reaching for any Braves, but I'd start those that you normally have in your lineup.
- Carlos Delgado is just 4-for-24 against Javier Vazquez, and Gary Sheffield has hit just .185. These two have had the worst luck, but Luis Castillo is a .358 hitter in 67 at-bats against the Braves pitcher. No other major drawbacks or standouts.
- With Melvin Mora still sidelined, your remaining normal Orioles are all going to be good plays against Scott Kazmir. Aubrey Huff, Nick Markakis, and Brian Roberts have decent numbers for this one. Kazmir struggled with control last time out, to say the least. In his last nine starts against Baltimore, while he's 3-2, the Orioles have hit .295 against him and pushed a 4.88 ERA on his shoulders.
- I mentioned Paul Maholm's struggles with key members of the Brewers during his last start against them. J.J. Hardy, Corey Hart, Bill Hall, and Mike Cameron are all putting up strong numbers against Maholm. Cameron and Hall are both over .500 in more than 20 at-bats, each with three home runs. Prince Fielder, though is 2-for-24.
- Joe Saunders went 3-1 against Oakland last season and was solid in his only outing on the road against them last season. Still only 50 percent owned, Saunders is a solid start against the A's coming off of such a long game against the Mariners.
- The Mariners have had a mixed bag of luck against Kevin Millwood. Keep your regulars active, as there shouldn't be a concern among the Ichiro's or Jose Lopez's of the world. Don't reach in this case, especially with how effective Millwood has been to this point in the season. Endy Chavez and Yuniesky Betancourt have no place in lineups today. Still, he's had limited luck at Safeco, going just 1-6 in his last nine starts with a 5.29 ERA. Don't reach here either.
- Keep an eye on the Jermaine Dye situation. If healthy enough to play after the injury this weekend, he should be in your lineup against Zack Greinke. Dye is a .389 hitter in 36 at-bats with three home runs. Paul Konerko is just 5-for-29 against the Royals starter. I wouldn't worry about starting Greinke period, regardless of his historical numbers against the White Sox. Completely different pitcher.
- Doug Davis has pitched admirably well to this point in the season, but his luck could run out against the Dodgers. Los Angeles has had 202 at-bats against him as a team and is hitting .351 during that span. There should be no concern in starting any of your regulars in this one. Davis is just 1-3 since 2006 at Dodger Stadium.
- Through his first five starts, batters are hitting just .205 against Edwin Jackson. He's not getting any run support to win these games, but he's pitching well. The pitch counts are high, but effective. Twins haven't seen him much, so I'd go with him here as well.
- Jonathan Sanchez hasn't allowed an earned run in his last two starts. While the number is impressive, he has continued to struggle with command. In 17.1 innings, he's walked 12 batters. He's also had 17 strikeouts. On the road against the Cubs isn't ideal, but if you need an early start this week, there are worse options. Especially true if you are strictly looking to help in one category.
- Spot Starts: Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Saunders
- Keep on the Bench: Paul Maholm, Scott Kazmir
- Matt Garza has been lights out against the Orioles. Keep as many down against him as you can. Given his success at home and his recent performances, Garza becomes one of the better starts of the day.
- Don't shy away from the Yankees hitters because of Josh Beckett being on the mound. Beckett has had some problems against enough of them to be more concerned going the other way. Nick Swisher, Melky Cabrera, and Robinson Cano are all swinging good bats and all hit over .300 against the Red Sox starter. Hideki Matsui is the red flag.
- While Jody Gerut and Kevin Kouzmanoff don't merit the start against Aaron Cook, all your other Padres are lineup-worthy. The Padres have hit .318 against Cook combined. He's had good success at Petco, but that shouldn't stop you from putting out anyone you normally would have in the lineup.
- Jeff Weaver steps into the rotation for the Dodgers. Given the injury numbers and problems at the back-end of the rotation with consistency, Weaver should be given every chance to succeed. I wouldn't go out to use him here, but not a bad one to keep an eye on. There are some pitcher-friendly parks there in the NL West.
- Surprisingly, Gavin Floyd was 1-2 last season against the Royals and didn't pitch well in his only appearance against them on the road. David DeJesus has some good numbers and could provide some quick offense if you need a couple hits. As good as Jose Guillen has been since his return from the DL, he is just 3-for-17 against Floyd.
- While I'm a big fan of the Twins rotation, I don't touch the back-half on the road. Nick Blackburn is an iffy proposition against the Tigers. Let this one slide.
- Spot Starts: Kyle Davies, Dallas Braden, Rick Porcello