Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight, April 16: Dodgers' Andre Ethier Homers Twice

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIApril 17, 2010

PHILADELPHIA - OCTOBER 21: Andre Ethier #16 of the Los Angeles Dodgers hits a solo home run in the top of the first inning against Cole Hamels #35 (not pictured) of the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Five of the NLCS during the 2009 MLB Playoffs at Citizens Bank Park on October 21, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)
Nick Laham/Getty Images

Game No. 12 in our journey to score 162 games this summer featured an Alfonso Soriano spotting and an unlikely performance from a less-than-desirable pitcher. 

Game No. 12 – Houston Astros vs. Chicago Cubs

Carlos Silva pitched the game of his life on Friday against the Astros, allowing two unearned runs on five hits and zero walks in seven innings. The 31-year-old also struck out five.

Silva, who has a 4.70 career ERA, sports a 0.69 ERA and 0.62 WHIP through two starts. Some Cubs fans will tell you his early success is a direct result of Greg Maddux’s tutelage. This Insider, however, is chalking it up to pure dumb luck.

Silva hasn’t posted an ERA under 4.00 since 2005 and owns a career batting average against of .304. Ted Lilly is expected to join the Cubs’ rotation within the next 10 days, meaning one starter will be moved to the bullpen. Silva seems most likely to make the move, though even if he doesn’t, he still shouldn’t be trusted in fantasy leagues.

Alfonso Soriano had his best game of the season on Friday. While that’s not saying much, fantasy managers appreciate the two hits he collected along with one run, an RBI, and a stolen base.

Despite his early-season failures, Soriano remains capable of blasting 20 home runs this year. Now that’s he batting sixth in the Cubs’ lineup, a spike in his recent RBI totals may follow as well.

Derrek Lee went 1-for-3 with a three-run bomb in the seventh, his third of the season. With seven runs, eight RBI, and a .333 average, the 34-year-old is looking more like the guy who hit 35 home runs last year, opposed to the guy who managed just 22 and 20 long balls in 2007 and 2008, respectively.

Koyie Hill went 2-for-3 with a walk and two runs, while Geovany Soto received a routine day off. The Cubs are now 62-37 with Hill as their starting catcher. While this may seem irrelevant to fantasy managers, it proves Hill’s value to the team. If Soto doesn’t get hit bat going, he could find himself in a platoon with Hill at the catcher position.

Carlos Lee went 1-for-4, raising his batting average to .103. Lee’s slow start is concerning, but as I mentioned in an earlier article, the 33-year-old is generally a slow starter. Now is a great time to buy low on a guy who’s totaled at least 26 homers and 99 RBI in each of the last seven seasons.

Other news from around the league:



Hitter of the day: Andre Ethier (2-for-4, BB, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI)

Andre Ethier went 2-for-4 with a walk, two runs, two homers, and five RBI Friday night against the Giants. Fresh off his 2009 breakout campaign, the Dodgers’ right fielder is now batting .378 (12-for-31) with three long balls and 12 RBI.

Felipe Lopez made his presence felt Friday night, going 2-for-3 with a walk, home run, and four RBI batting leadoff for St. Louis.

While the soon-to-be 30-year-old has hit for a high average in recent years, he has very little power or speed. Consider him a 10/10 threat at best, meaning he probably wont be relevant in most leagues.

Casey McGehee went 3-for-4 with two runs and a homer Friday night against the Nationals. The Brewers’ third baseman is now batting .378 (14-for-37) and has a hit in all but one game this season.

With four homers and nine RBI through 10 games, the 27-year-old appears determined to prove his 2009 campaign (16 HRs, .301 AVG, 355 AB) wasn’t a fluke. Milwaukee’s stacked lineup, of course, only adds to McGehee’s value. This guy appears to be legit.

Josh Willingham continued his hot hotting ways Friday night, going 2-for-2 with a walk, two runs, and a homer. The Nationals’ starting left fielder is now batting .375 (12-for-32) with three home runs, 10 RBI, and two steals through 10 games.

Though he’s just a .266 career hitter, the former Florida Marlins farmhand has averaged 22 homers over the last four seasons. The 31-year-old is ownable in 14-team leagues.

Nationals leadoff hitter Nyjer Morgan is batting just .243, though he has four steals on the season. His career .300 average suggests his futility won’t last, and the 29-year-old center fielder is capable of swiping 30 bases this season.

Vernon Wells went 3-for-4 with his sixth bomb of the year. The 31-year-old is now batting .385 (15-for-39).

Now is the perfect time to capitalize on Wells’ hot start. Fantasy baseball is all about value, and Wells’ value is peaking as we speak. Swapping him for a prime buy-low candidate such as Carlos Lee would likely benefit your team.

Chipper Jones went 2-for-3 with two walks, two runs, and a homer against the Rockies Friday night. The oft-injured future Hall-of-Famer is now batting .217, a mark that is guaranteed to rise.

Speaking of future Hall-of-Famers, Jason Heyward collected two more hits and a run batting sixth in the Braves’ lineup Friday night. The 20-year-old is now batting .316 (12-for-38) with three home runs and 12 RBI through 10 games.

Chase Headley went 3-for-5 with a three-run walk-off homer to beat the Diamondbacks Friday night. Through 10 games this season, the soon-to-be 26-year-old is batting .381 (16-for-42) with eight runs, a homer, five RBI, and a stolen base.

The 2010 All-Breakout Team’s third baseman has solid tools across the board, making him a well-rounded option in 14-team leagues.

After an 11-for-16 start, Edgar Renteria has come back down to earth. The San Francisco shortstop is just 2-for-23 in his last five games, lowering his batting average to .333. That number will continue to drop.

Franklin Gutierrez went 3-for-5 with a run and three RBI Friday night, his sixth multi-hit game of the young season. Seattle’s No. 3 hitter is now batting .409 (18-for-44), though he has yet to hit a home run.


Pitcher of the day: Chris Carpenter (W, 7 IP, 4 H, R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K)

Chris Carpenter allowed just one unearned run in seven innings against the Mets Friday night, yielding four hits and three walks while fanning 10 batters. The Cardinals ace has a 3.50 ERA and 1.17 WHIP in three starts thus far.

Friday’s “Where the heck did that come from?” award goes to Cleveland starter Mitch Talbot. In pitching the Indians’ second straight complete game, the 26-year-old allowed just two runs (one earned) on six hits and zero walks.

This one makes no sense at all; chalk it up to pure dumb luck for now. If he tosses another complete game against the Twins next week, he might be worth a look in 20-team leagues. In all reality, he has zero fantasy value.

In his second career start, Mike Leake allowed three runs on seven hits and five walks against the Pirates Friday night. Though his ERA is 2.63, the 22-year-old has allowed 23 base-runners in 13.2 innings. The 2009 first-rounder has big upside, but he’s bound to get rocked real soon.

Keeper leagues should take notice of Leake. Everyone else should shy away.

Zach Duke turned in another quality outing against the Reds Friday night, allowing just one run on six hits and three walks in seven innings. Through three starts, the soon-to-be 27-year-old southpaw is 2-0 with a 2.37 ERA and 1.21 WHIP.

Clearly, Duke isn’t this good, but his 2009 campaign proved he can be useful a spot-start option in deep leagues. The Texas native doesn’t walk many batters (career 2.37 BB/9), but don’t expect many strikeouts either (career 4.54 K/9).

Washington starter John Lannan limited the potent Brewers’ lineup to just two runs on seven hits and three walks in seven innings Friday night.

The 25-year-old southpaw has quietly posted ERAs of 3.88 and 3.91 in each of the last two seasons. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff, however, and owns a career 1.38 WHIP. That Nats’ Opening Day starter isn’t likely to rack up high win or strikeout totals, though his career sub-4.00 ERA makes him worth a look in deep leagues.

Wade Davis labored through five innings against the Red Sox Friday night, though he allowed just one run on two hits and four walks. The game was suspended in the ninth due to rain.

One of the best young pitchers in baseball, Davis features “a heavy 93-94 MPH fastball with above-average sink,” according to Baseball America. He also throws an 11-to-5 curveball. Both are plus pitches. Davis’ emergence allowed Tampa to deal Scott Kazmir last August, a move that speaks volumes to what the Rays think of the 24-year-old.

Davis should be owned in 12-team leagues, though his value is highest in keeper leagues. The 6′5″, 220-pounder has No. 2 upside, making him a valuable fantasy commodity.

Scott Baker outdueled reigning A.L. Cy Young winner Zack Greinke Friday night, allowing just two runs on seven hits and zero walks in seven innings. Baker, a popular bounce-back pick this season, now has a 3.38 ERA and 1.13 WHIP through three starts.

With a WHIP under 1.20 in each of the last two seasons and a career K/BB ratio of 3.34, Baker falls under the category of “sneaky good.” Don’t underrate the 28-year-old’s fantasy value.

Zack Greinke struggled through five innings against the Twins Friday night, allowing four runs (two earned) on six hits and five walks, continuing his season-long regression to the norm.

Through three starts last April, Greinke was 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA and 26 strikeouts in 20 innings. His first three outings haven’t been quite as good in 2010, as the 26-year-old now owns a 3.57 ERA and 1.47 WHIP.

Edwin Jackson shut out the Padres in six innings Friday night, allowing just three hits and five walks.

The 26-year-old is coming off a breakout 2009 season that was aided by a great deal of luck. In addition to a .281 BABIP, Jackson posted an xFIP of 4.39, a far cry from his 3.62 ERA. His 5.07 ERA after the All-Star Break last season is cause for concern as well.

Jackson has value, but he’s clearly not the pitcher he was last April, May, and June.

Dallas Braden turned in his third consecutive quality start Friday night, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk against Baltimore. With a 2.70 ERA and 0.75 WHIP, the 26-year-old southpaw is making a case to be owned in all 12-team leagues.

Braden isn’t overpowering, as his average fastball velocity is 87 MPH. He doesn’t walk many batters, though (career 2.87 BB/9), which should allow him to post respectable numbers for Oakland in 2010.

Kevin Millwood continues to defy logic, as the 35-year-old allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits and zero walks in six innings against the Athletics Friday night. He also struck out nine batters, a rare feat for a pitcher who hasn’t posted a K/9 above seven since 2004.

Millwood’s FIP (4.80) was more than a full run higher than his ERA (3.67) in 2009, a sign fantasy managers shouldn’t ignore. His .279 BABIP last year allowed Millwood to post a sub-4.50 ERA for the first time since 2005. Despite his early success, an ERA in the neighborhood of 4.25 should be expected in 2010.



Octavio Dotel blew his second consecutive save Thursday night while allowing a run in his third straight appearance. Lastings Milledge’s walk-off RBI single in the ninth, however, awarded Dotel with the undeserved win.

Dotel’s struggles are concerning, but Pittsburgh’s lack of a better option allows him a long leash.

Matt Capps picked up his fifth save of the season in his sixth appearance Friday night. Through 6.1 innings, the Nationals’ closer owns a 1.42 ERA.

Capps’ 2009 ERA (5.80) was clearly out of line with his 2008 (3.02) and 2007 (2.28) totals. Considering his performance thus far, it’s reasonable to expect 25 saves and a 3.50 ERA from the 26-year-old in 2010.

Juan Gutierrez got the save opp. for Arizona Friday night, promptly allowing four earned in two-thirds of an inning. Diamondbacks’ closer Chad Qualls (who has blown his last two save opportunities) was unavailable after pitching Wednesday and Thursday. Gutierrez’s failure helps Qualls’ chances to remain the team’s closer for the foreseeable future.

Check back all season long for more Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight updates!


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