As The Ball Turns: Rich Harden Returns to Form

Michael SholtyContributor IJuly 27, 2009

A lot of action in the world of fantasy baseball today...let's dig in!

What? Rich Harden pitched a day game and was effective?

The Cubs' ace pitched six innings (1 H 0 BB 8 K). When Harden is healthy, he has some of the best stuff in the league but the problem is he can't stay healthy the entire year. People have been talking about his day and night splits this year (he's almost been a different pitcher in day games...very poor control) but I hardly can jump on that train.

Today he pitched in the afternoon and did a masterful job. I think the problem with Harden is that he could be injured at any time and he may not publicly announce the injury. He looked really good today though and he should be a slam dunk for the rest of the season.

Matt Holliday continues to impress the St. Louis faithful (1-2 sac-RBI BB), and fantasy faithful for that matter. If you stuck with him this year, you are going to be handsomely rewarded for the rest of the season.

Think Manny Ramirez last year with the Dodgers but with less HR and more SB.

He tweaked his swing earlier in the season from (not so) wise words from Mark McGuire, but before the All-Star break he decided to go back to the leg-kick he is known for. I think the only better place he could be hitting these days is in front of Pujols, but hitting cleanup behind Pujols works just as well, I suppose.

John Smoltz showed us again that while there may be some gas left in the tank (4 strikeouts in his first two innings), he might not be cut out for starting right now (ending line: 9 H 6 ER 1 BB 6 K).

Smoltz used to be one of the best pitchers in baseball, but remember he also used to be one of the best closers. I wouldn't be surprised if Boston dealt someone in their bullpen to a team in need of eighth-inning guys to put Smoltz in as a reliever.

Make sure Clay Buchholz is owned in your league because I can see him starting the rest of the year and being a great source for wins while giving you an ERA around 3.80 and WHIP of 1.33. Very serviceable numbers down the stretch.

Cleveland stomped all over Seattle tonight for a fantasy freakshow. First-round disappointment Grady Sizemore went 2-for-5 with a home run and the Choo Choo Train kept on chugging with its own pair of hits.

The interesting add from Cleveland would have to be Ben Francisco. He has shown flashes of fantasy relevance this year, but he seems to be the kind of guy that when you pick him up, he will go cold for a week. Keep an eye on him though, he could be a decent add for those chasing stolen bases and he adds a HR dynamic that other base stealers don't.

Manny Ramirez got a day off in Mannywood to play with his bobble-head rest, with Juan Pierre playing for him. Don't worry though, the Dodgers are probably trying to make sure the slugger is fresh for the playoffs.

Max Scherzer pitched seven beautiful innings against the Pittsburgh Garrett Jones Pirates (5 H 0 BB 8 K). He's been either on or off this season, so just heed the match-ups and be cautious with him.


Speed Round

Josh Willingham hit a HR today...interesting play if you need HR. I'm smelling a "hot" week from Dan Uggla, call it intuition.

Howie Kendrick might not have scored a hit tonight, but he's been on fire since he's been called back to play. He can hit for a great average and steal you a few bases too.

Jimmy Rollins hit his 10th HR tonight and second in two games...I will never draft him ever again, I will only wait till before the All-Star break and trade for him from now on.

Carlos Pena hasn't been doing a whole lot lately and he was moved down to sixth in the lineup...slugging hitters like him tend to go through prolonged streaks (see Uggla, Ryan Howard, Pat Burrell, Adam Dunn).

I added a poll to today's article...I'm curious to see how many home runs you think David Wright will have at the end of the season.

My guess is 13, but I think I'm being generous.