So as good as Sunday was, yesterday was as much a disaster in Boston. Honestly, not even so much the Celtics loss. I'll take my chances with a seventh game at home against nearly anyone.
The Bruins were the heartbreaker. To me, as the best team in the NHL, this was a failure. Not getting to the conference finals I think should qualify based on where they were.
In any case, we always have plenty of baseball to talk about. And that's a good thing after a long night of channel surfing.
Let's hit the notes.
- David Ortiz had a bad week yesterday. Ortiz went 0-for-7 and stranded 11 runners on base. He ended five of the 12 innings yesterday by making the last out, and repeatedly looked overmatched against every pitcher he faced. His at-bat in the 12th inning was a disaster. An excuse-me swing on a three and two curveball is inexcusable. He's basically guessing. Dave Magadan (hitting coach) may think this is mechanical, I think this goes much deeper.
- With the additional injury to Ryan Ludwick, the Cardinals are likely to do everything they can to get Rick Ankiel back into the lineup as soon as he comes off the DL. It's likely they'll try to get some swings in over the weekend so Ankiel is ready late next week.
- The big news yesterday was Mat Gamel being called up by the Brewers. Gamel is a slugging third basemen that can't play defense. Errors have been his issue in the minors to this point, as he's already nearing double-digits this season. With interleague play coming up, it's likely Gamel gets some hacks at DH. The buzz on Twitter yesterday was that he's not going to get enough plate appearances to help you out too much. Guys like Matt LaPorta will end up being more valuable, at least this season.
- Another young player recalled yesterday was Nolan Reimold. Baltimore's outfield has been in shambles recently. Injuries to Luke Scott and and Adam Jones have forced the organization's hand. Reimold already has nine home runs in AAA this season, and has a track record of hitting home runs in the minors. Because of the situation and his defensive ability, he has more short-term value than Gamel. AL-only leagues should take note, and deep mixed leagues (14-team) should monitor.
- Justin Verlander was again dominant yesterday. The Tigers pitcher struck out 13 more batters yesterday, and now has 44 in his last 29.1 innings. His bullpen didn't help him yesterday. Verlander left with two on in the sixth, and the relief core proceeded to allow both of them and more to score. Tough one to take.
- I ended up owning Torii Hunter in a couple leagues, and, honestly, was disappointed with that pick each time. Against Boston, he went 7-for-13 in the series, stole a couple bases, and was spectacular on Thursday as he finished a homer short of the cycle. Still, he's hitting .320 and is a career .278 hitter. But that doesn't tell the whole story. His career BABIP is .301. This season, it's .313, exactly where it was last season and only seven points above 2007.
- Owning Wandy Rodriguez pleases me greatly. His ownership is finally up near 90 percent, which is basically where it should be. Yesterday, on the road, he struck out 11 without walking a batter and only allowed two earned runs in picking up the win. To say he's been impressive in 2009 is an understatement. If he's available in your league, he should be owned and started. Going forward, he's no longer a spot-start, he'll be a guy I only recommend benching.
- Felix Hernandez actually impressed against the Rangers. That's the funny thing about some stats, they can just plain lie. Hernandez has had virtually no success in Arlington, and would have recorded a win if not for the bullpen's effort. Equally impressive was Matt Harrison, who could have been started based on the corollary of facing a struggling pitcher (in deep AL-only leagues).
- Milton Bradley's suspension was reduced from two games to one by MLB. Bradley appealed the two-game ban given to him after he confronted an umpire following a strike out. Bradley will be sitting out tonight's game against the Astros in Chicago. Keep him down, and adjust your Cubs outfield accordingly. Bradley has hit .320 in his last seven games, and seems to be starting to turn the corner a bit.
- B.J. Ryan was activated by the Blue Jays, but won't immediately be placed back as the closer. Scott Downs will continue to get the opportunities in the short-term as Ryan builds back his strength and velocity.
- Yesterday's Results: Wins-Bush, Rodriguez; Loss-Hernandez; Push-Maine (Season: 90-67-4)
Notes for Friday
- Jon Lester has struggled this season, giving up eight home runs in just over 40 innings of work. The numbers just shouldn't continue to hold this way. When a guy has a BABIP of nearly .400, something doesn't seem right, especially where it is over 100 points higher than 2007 or 2008. Against the Mariners, I like him as a solid option.
- Brett Cecil has impressed early, posting an ERA under 1.00 in his two starts this season. The White Sox woes against left-handed pitching have been chronicled and repeated. When you add in the fact they don't have a book on Cecil yet, this could be a decent option if you're looking for a surprise in deeper leagues.
- Texas is the one team that Joe Saunders has had trouble with. Saunders is 0-3 with an ERA over 9.00 in his last three starts in Arlington. While he's owned Seattle and Oakland, Texas has been a problem, at least on the road. I'm banging the drum for this guy hard, but I'd keep him reserved here.
- Javier Vazquez has been miserable at home this season, posting a 6.10 ERA in three starts against the Cardinals, Mets, and Marlins. He's also given up five home runs in his last 14.1 innings pitched. His peripheral numbers are about where they were last season, so this doesn't come across as a fluke set to use as comparisons.
- At 3-for-29, Chone Figgins should be on your bench tonight against Kevin Millwood. Torii Hunter, though, will look to continue his pace against a pitcher that he has hit to the tune of .433 in 30 at-bats. Bobby Abreu and Howie Kendrick both have good numbers as well. Millwood is 2-4 in his last nine starts against the Angels with a 4.29 ERA.
- Paul Maholm should still be considered a decent start on Friday night. The Rockies really struggle away from Coors field, as there OPS drops nearly 150 points. Maholm has struggled against righties early this season, but the numbers the Rockies are posting seem to outweigh that in my book.
- Jhonny Peralta has a hit in seven of his last eight games, including six in a row. He's 5-for-12 against Scott Kazmir, and continues to be a good play as long as he keeps swinging a hot bat. Kazmir is struggling early this season with lefties, as they're hitting .302 against him.
- While Chris Volstad struggled his last time out, you can write a lot of it off to pitching in Denver. Extra-base hits were the norm there. Still, Volstad has yet to allow more than three earned runs in any start this season, and has produced double-digit ground balls in each of his last four starts. Keep him started against the Dodgers.
- I'd get all my Phillies into the lineup against John Lannan. There isn't one regular that doesn't have decent numbers against the Nationals starter. Lannan is 0-4 in his last five starts against the Phillies, with an ERA well over 6.00. Enjoy this one as a Phillies owner.
- Spot Starts: Doug Davis, Edwin Jackson, Cecil
- Keep on the Bench: Javier Vazquez, Lohse (injury concern)
- Erik Bedard will miss his scheduled start on Saturday against the Red Sox. Garrett Olson will take his turn in the rotation. It's is believe that Bedard has tightness in his hamstring that is pushing him out of this start.
- Alfonso Soriano is just 8-for-36 against Roy Oswalt, and Oswalt has largely held the Cubs lineup in check. Still, his struggles against the Cubs have largely been at Wrigley. Oswalt is 2-3 in his last five starts there. On the road in 2009, Oswalt is 0-1 in four starts with an ERA at 5.21.
- Expect Josh Willingham in the lineup against Brett Myers on Saturday. Willingham is 6-for-16 against the Phillies starter. Ryan Zimmerman and Christian Guzman should be automatic plays here as well. Hold off on Austin Kearns and Adam Dunn, if you can.
- Andrew Miller will be back on the mound for the Marlins against the Dodgers. Miller returns from a DL stint that saw the Marlins using nearly anyone in the fifth starter role to get an out. Not a great option here, but someone to keep an eye on in NL-only formats.
- I'd look for other options than your Brewers against Adam Wainwright. Wainwright has held them largely in check, with the exception of Ryan Braun. Normal starters like Corey Hart, Prince Fielder, Bill Hall, and Rickie Weeks are all under .235 against the Cardinals starter. I'm only cautious because there is talk about this being a time to correct his delivery.
- Other first starts this Saturday will come from Rich Hill for Baltimore, Eric Milton for the Dodgers, and John Lackey for Anaheim. Lackey should be looked at immediately, and I'd get him into your lineup for this start. Especially given how well the Angels hit Vicente Padilla.
- Ian Kinsler has had trouble with Sunday starter Jered Weaver. Kinsler is 4-for-18 against Weaver. Hank Blalock and Michael Young have both raked against him, though. Weaver has had good luck in Arlington, going 1-1 in four starts with a sub-2.00 ERA.
- Stephen Drew, Mark Reynolds, Eric Byrnes, and Felipe Lopez all have impressive numbers against Derek Lowe, back from his Dodger days. Drew is 14-for-27 against Lowe, and should be in any lineup. Eric Byrnes could give owners a couple hits, as he hits .379 against the Braves starter.
- Could even Bronson Arroyo have a decent game on the road against a struggling Padres team? I think he generates enough upside to certainly warrant a start in deeper leagues. I'm a glutton for punishment is what it comes down to. He could kill your WHIP, but with the way San Diego is hitting, you could do worse.
- Surprising to see how well Jim Thome and Paul Konerko have hit Roy Halladay. They likely represent the only two White Sox you want in your lineup, but at .423 and .391 respectively, they have some upside.
- Zach Duke is another starter that isn't getting a lot of notice. Still, he has five quality starts in his eight this season, and a 2.52 ERA. The Rockies lineup isn't exactly striking fear into the hearts of men, and Duke has some potential even beyond this start. Given the number of chances we're all giving Ricky Nolasco, shouldn't we take a look at a pitcher like Duke?
- If you noticed, I'm staying away from the Twins this weekend. We get the latter part of the rotation going against the Yankees on the road. I don't like the matchups.
- Spot Starts: Rick Porcello, Kyle Davies, Sean Marshall, Ubaldo Jimenez, Zach Duke, Justin Masterson
- Keep on the Bench: Brett Myers, Roy Oswalt, Derek Lowe