Rotisserie by the Numbers: Red-Hot Rockies Boosting Fantasy Teams

Craig RondinoneCorrespondent IJune 15, 2009

DENVER - MAY 14:  First baseman Todd Helton #17 of the Colorado Rockies takes an at bat against the Houston Astros during MLB action at Coors Field on May 14, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. The Astros defeated the Rockies 5-3.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

The Colorado Rockies have been one of the streakiest teams in baseball the past couple seasons, so it should come as no surprise that they have won 11 straight games.

What is a surprise is which Rockies are doing all the damage.

Here is a look at the Rockies who have been the hottest and the most helpful for fantasy baseball owners during this two-week tidal wave of wins:


Todd Helton

Helton and Oakland’s Eric Chavez have been in a neck-and-neck battle for the Don Mattingly Bad Back award in recent years, with each of the sluggers losing the lightning in their bats thanks to their cranky spines.

Even Coors Field’s thin air and spacious outfields had been no help to Helton, with him going from being a 30-HR, 100-RBI guy to becoming a slap-hitting Hal Morris-type.

Last season Helton managed only seven home runs and 29 RBI in 83 games, causing many to wonder when retirement might be in his plans.

Yet, check out Helton these days. He must have found a new chiropractor because balls are jumping off his bat and RBI are jumping into his stat column once again. Helton is batting .318 with seven homers and 45 RBI in 59 games, which includes 11 RBI in his last 11 contests.

And we cannot give Coors Field all the credit for Helton’s resurgence. His numbers on the road (four HR, 25 RBI, .320 average) are better than they are at home. Hopefully Helton can stay injury-free all season long and win the Comeback Player of the Year award.


Huston Street

Just like Helton, Street was looking more washed-up than Evander Holyfield. He had gone from premier closer to mop-up man over the last year thanks to a drop in velocity and a rise in ERA and WHIP.

He was downright dreadful in 2008 with Oakland, with his sidewinding slowballs looking meatier to hitters than 32-ounce porterhouse steaks as he blew seven of 25 save opportunities.

Street ended up with Colorado and had to battle Manny Corpas just for the chance to close games, but since getting the full-time fireman gig he is back to his old stopper self. Street has converted 13 of 14 save situations, struck out 32 batters in 27 innings and has a 3.00 ERA and 1.11 WHIP.

He has done his best work during Colorado’s summer victory tour, notching six saves and a victory in his last eight appearances.


Ian Stewart

Fantasy owners were mixed on Stewart entering the season, because while most liked his power/average mix, his versatility, and the fact he plays half his games at Coors, they were worried about how much playing time he would get since he did not have a regular starting spot coming out of spring training.

While Stewart started slowly in April and was ice-cold in May (.146 average), he has been swinging a furious bat in June. He is batting .327 with five homers, 13 RBI and 13 runs scored in a half of a month. And he is not even playing every day.

Just think of the numbers Stewart could put up if the Rockies make room for him by trading Garrett Atkins or Clint Barmes.


Hitting and running

Here are two guys who are probably hot commodities on waiver wires and free agent lists in most fantasy leagues, but should not be touched with either a 10-foot pole or one of Ryan Howard’s bats:


Mike MacDougal, Nationals

I know finding a closer this time of the season is harder than finding an intelligent word in Manny Ramirez’s vocabulary, but pinning your save hopes on this firestarter is not the answer.

MacDougal has bounced from team-to-team and from minors-to-majors since 2004, and there is no reason to think he will pull a Ryan Franklin and turn out to be a ninth-inning Godsend now.

MacDougal was in Triple-A only two weeks ago and still has problems locating his 98-mph fastball (he walks 4.5 batters per nine innings on average). Worse, how many save chances will he possibly get on the hapless Nationals? One of the reasons Joel Hanrahan failed miserably was because he never got any serious work in late-inning pressure situations because, well, there weren’t any.

MacDougal might stumble into a couple saves early, but eventually he could destroy a fantasy team’s ERA and WHIP with his antics.


Fernando Nieve, Mets

I know what you’re thinking. John Maine and Oliver Perez may never return from the disabled list, and the new Citi Field is a pitcher’s paradise where even Livan Hernandez can pitch like Cy Young.

Nieve can stay in the Mets' rotation, have a little of Johan Santana rub off on him, and win 10 games from here on out, right?


Sure, Nieve pitched extremely well in his Mets debut against the crosstown rival Yankees last weekend, and his career numbers do not look that bad (4.44 ERA, 86 strikeouts in 115.2 career innings). But ask yourself this: Why would the pitching-starved Houston Astros, who trot has-beens like Brian Moehler, Russ Ortiz and Mike Hampton out to the mound regularly, give up on Nieve if he had any redeeming qualities?

I have seen Nieve pitch many times. He has the command and stuff of a .500 pitcher with a 4.50 ERA, just like his career numbers indicate. Could you pick him up for your fantasy team and spot start him against terrible teams like Washington and Pittsburgh?


But this guy will not stick as a starter with the Mets for an entire season, and if you make a mistake and have him in your lineup on a week when he is facing the Philadelphia Phillies, enjoy the ERA implosion!


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