Ah, back in the saddle again!
The second half of the season begins today for many teams, while others will get to hold off one more day. The All-Star festivities had their moments, for certain, but it was pretty evident that there need to be some changes.
As far as the game itself, the chief change that needs to be made is that a DH should be employed regardless of where the game is held. Fans are not paying to see Roy Halladay hit any more than they would be paying to watch David Ortiz play first base.
Pitchers have been injured already this season through swinging the bat or running the bases. Baseball would be smart to eliminate this aspect to an exhibition game.
The Home Run Derby may need some changes, too. There are still too many rounds, and the players seem to tire out by the second round.
No easy answer is available for this one outside of shortening the whole thing. The fact that it took longer than the game needs to be changed.
Add some other events too. There was plenty of buzz on Twitter over changes that could be made with regards to that. My personal favorite was the addition of the Tom Emansky outfield drill.
On to the notes.
- Pedro Martinez has signed with the Phillies. Owners in 12-team leagues should give the ace a look. Martinez struggled last season, but looked good in the WBC in his limited time. Expect him to use the rehab assignment to build up some arm strength and get ready to go. He will be a boost to staffs come August.
- Clay Buchholz will get the ball for Boston on Friday, but do not go grabbing him for anything more than a spot start. The Red Sox have said that they will use this as a one-time start, and he will be sent back down on Saturday. The team will look to activate Mike Lowell for the weekend. This setup simply gives pitchers another day.
- The Red Sox will also look to activate Jed Lowrie. There are plenty of rumors as to what will happen here, but what you should buy into is that it will impact Julio Lugo more than Nick Green. Lugo is likely to be released to make room for Lowrie, but Green will likely lose his starting job in the process.
- All signs point to near returns for Carlos Quentin and Alex Gordon. Look for these two to both return in the next week or so, according to reports. Both are valuable fantasy additions to a lineup. Quentin's bat has still been solid on rehab, but he may get a few extra days off to rest his legs.
- Bobby Crosby and Kurt Suzuki have really struggled against Ervin Santana. Crosby checks in at 2-for-20, while Suzuki is only 1-for-17 against the Angels starter. Jason Giambi at 1-for-14 is no better in this one. Santana has struggled to get going after his injury, but this is a favorable matchup overall. Good spot for him to get on track.
- The Mets have not had much success against Derek Lowe. Lowe has handled the majority of the lineup that he is going to get to face. Gary Sheffield and Jeremy Reed both have some good numbers, but otherwise there is not much to be found for the Mets in this one.
- While Chipper Jones has hammered Oliver Perez, the rest of the Braves have mysteriously disappeared against the Mets starter. Do not put much stock in that this time around. Given the command problems Perez has had, this is not where an owner should gamble. Yes, he got a win last time out, but he worked in and out of trouble most of the matchup. The Braves will make him pay.
- This is one of those rare matchups you take advantage of and ignore everything else that has happened this season. Jamie Moyer has yet to lose down in Miami against the Marlins. For his career, he is 12-2 against the Marlins overall. Since 2006, he is 7-0 at Dolphin Stadium with an ERA under 2.00.
- Rare to see, but Randy Wolf is 0-1 in nine starts at home. The Dodgers starter seems to struggle getting any run support in his own ballpark. He is a much better start on the road this season than he has been at home, and the Astros roughed him up earlier this season. He is a decent play in deeper formats, but look to him after Dallas Braden and Moyer. As a side note, Lance Berkman is just 3-for-23 against Wolf.
- Keep riding the Aaron Cook train. Cook is 5-2 on the road with a 3.60 ERA this season, and has only had one rough outing in his last seven. Never bench Adrian Gonzalez, but the rest of the Padres lineup is a no-go against the red-hot Cook.
- Deeper leagues should not be afraid of looking to Ramon Hernandez tonight. He is 5-for-8 against Braden Looper. While the rest of the Reds have done poorly against the Brewers starter, owners are better off avoiding the Reds if they can, as opposed to reaching for a pitcher that has given up a lot of home runs this season.
- Wandy Rodriguez gets the first start after the break for Houston, as Roy Oswalt has a sore finger. While he has struggled some on the road, the Astros starter is pitching well enough to have posted a 2-0 record to start July. His ERA of 3.83 away from home is not spectacular, but owners should still enjoy what he will provide here. Orlando Hudson should be in lineups, as he is 4-for-9 against Rodriguez.
- The Mariners have more of a track record against Cliff Lee than you might expect. For Ichiro, he struggles to .281. Look to Jose Lopez at 6-for-18 against the Indians starter, and Ken Griffey is 5-for-14 with three home runs.
- Spot Starts: Braden, Wolf, Moyer, and even Cook are all playable
- This is a different Ricky Romero than what the Red Sox saw the first time around. He has not given up more than three earned runs in a start since facing the Red Sox on May 31. Romero has improved drastically since he last faced Boston, and he would not be a bad start in this one based on his 5-1 record at home and 2.32 ERA.
- While A.J. Burnett has not seen much of the Tigers, he has been able to hold Curtis Granderson to a 1-for-11 figure against him. Burnett turns it on after the All-Star break, something that we saw last season. Look for this to be the first of many good starts.
- While you are obviously starting Hanley Ramirez, and should based on his 9-for-24 numbers against Cole Hamels, avoid all other Marlins. As good as Cody Ross has been, he is just 4-for-19 against the Phillies starter. Dan Uggla has only gone 3-for-23 against Hamels.
- Look to J.J. Hardy to get it going against Bronson Arroyo. Arroyo has given up four home runs to the shortstop, and Hardy has gone 7-for-23 against him overall. Mike Cameron and all your Brewers regulars are good plays in this one against the Reds. Arroyo is only 4-4 at home this season, and has a 6.37 ERA in his nine starts.
- Spot Starts: Ubaldo Jimenez, Joe Saunders, Clay Buchholz