Game No. 16 of 162 in Fantasy Baseball Insiders’ summer-long journey featured a pitcher’s duel between Randy Wells and Jonathan Niese, as well as Ike Davis ’ major league debut.
Randy Wells turned in another solid performance against the Mets Monday night, allowing just one run on six hits and two walks in six innings. The 27-year-old also struck out five.
Even as a Cubs fan, Wells’ 2009 breakout campaign screamed fluke to me. His 4.24 xFIP, compared to his 3.05 ERA supported this theory.
The Illinois native continues to defy logic, however. After watching him pitch for the second time this season, I’m convinced he’s legit. Through three starts, Wells has a 2.45 ERA and a deceiving 1.47 WHIP. A 3.50 ERA and 150 strikeouts can be expected from Wells in 2010.
Jonathan Niese was equally impressive, allowing one unearned run on eight hits and three walks in 5 2/3 innings. The 23-year-old southpaw also struck out seven against a Cubs lineup which featured all right-handed batters.
Niese features an 88-92 mph fastball and a mean 12-to-six curve, which he used sparingly Monday night. He also flashed a decent changeup.
For him to reach his ceiling as a No. 3 starter, Niese will have to gain more confidence in his breaking pitch. The Mets’ sixth-ranked prospect according to Baseball America before the season started, Niese has much to prove before he’s worth an add in 12-team leagues.
Mets’ prospect Ike Davis made his major league debut against the Cubs Monday night.
The 23-year-old left-handed first baseman recorded a hit in his first at-bat—a bloop single to right. In the seventh inning, Davis drove in Jason Bay on a hard-hit grounder up the middle off southpaw Sean Marshall. Davis finished the night 2-for-4 with an RBI. (For more on Davis, including a 2010 projection, click here .)
David Wright went 1-for-3 with a walk and a run scored. He also struck out twice, raising his strikeout rate to an alarmingly high 36.6 percent. After posting a strikeout rate no higher than 19.7 percent before 2009, the 27-year-old went down swinging in 26.2 percent of his at-bats last season.
Wright does, however, have three HRs and five steals through 13 games, but the strikeouts are cause for concern.
Alfonso Soriano collected two more hits, raising his average to .286. Despite the negativity surrounding the 34-year-old overpaid defensive liability, Soriano has six hits in his last 14 at-bats.
Though he’s clearly no longer a 30/30 or even a 20/20 threat, Soriano is capable of getting hot as the summer months approach. If this happens, he could finish with 25 dingers. As a Cubs fan, I despise Soriano as much as anyone, but his value is extremely low right now. He’s a great buy-low candidate.
Other news from around the league:
Hitter of the day: Jose Bautista (2-for-4, BB, 2 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI)
Jose Bautista went 2-for-4 with a walk, two HRs, and five RBI against the Royals on Monday. The Blue Jays’ third baseman has displayed double-digit power in the past, but owns a career .237 average. He’s unlikely to be a factor in most fantasy leagues this season.
B.J. Upton went 1-for-4 with a three-run HR against the Red Sox on Monday, his fourth of the young season. Though his average is a paltry .234 (11-for-47), the 25-year-old also has three steals, a sign that he still offers one of the most exciting power/speed combos in baseball.
Ivan Rodriguez went 2-for-4 with a run scored Monday night against the Rockies. The 38-year-old catcher is now batting .450 (18-for-40) and has started 11 of the Nationals’ 13 games. As long as he continues to start five days a week, Pudge’s hot start is worth an add in 12-team leagues.
Pitcher of the day: Brandon Morrow (W, 7 IP, 3 H, ER, 2 BB, 8 K)
Brandon Morrow flashed some potential Monday night against the Royals, taking a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The 25-year-old allowed just one run on three hits and two walks. He also fanned eight.
Doug Fister continued his impressive start to the 2010 season Monday night, as he took a no-hitter into the seventh against Baltimore. The 26-year-old finished the night allowing one run on three hits and a walk in seven strong innings.
Through three starts, Fister owns a 1.42 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. It’s important to note, however, that the 2006 seventh-round pick has pitched against Oakland twice and now Baltimore once, two of the weakest lineups in the A.L.
Fister is worth a look in 16-team leagues, but has much to prove before he should be trusted on a regular basis. His next scheduled start Sunday at U.S. Cellular Field should be a solid test.
Jeff Niemann hurled his second consecutive quality start Monday against the Red Sox, allowing two runs on five hits and three walks in seven innings, earning his first win of the season.
After being hit by a line drive in the second inning of his first start, Niemann has rebounded admirably, and now owns a 2.93 ERA and 1.11 WHIP. Though he lacks the upside Tampa Bay hoped he had when they drafted him No. 4 overall in 2004, the 6′9″, 260-pounder remains capable of being a typical No. 3 starter.
Brad Penny turned in another impressive start Monday night, allowing just two runs on eight hits and one walk in seven innings. Though most have been quick to label him as Dave Duncan’s latest project, it’s important to remember how inconsistent Penny has been over the last few years.
The soon-to-be 32-year-old hasn’t topped 200 innings since 2007, and hasn’t posted a WHIP under 1.30 since 2005. It’s worth noting, however, that Penny posted a 2.59 ERA and 0.96 WHIP in 41 2/3 innings late last season with the Giants.
With a 1.29 ERA and 0.95 WHIP through three starts, he’s worth owning in 10-team leagues.
Speaking of Dave Duncan projects, Joel Pineiro tossed another gem against Detroit Monday night, shutting out the Tigers through 7 1/3 innings while scattering nine hits and walking none.
Through three starts, the 31-year-old has a 1.77 ERA and 1.08 WHIP. Pineiro won’t strikeout many batters, but as long as he continues to pitch like this, he’s worth owning.
Heath Bell blew his first save of the season Monday night against the Cardinals, allowing a game-tying HR to Juan Uribe with one out in the ninth. Bell’s job remains safe, but his value could change dramatically depending on if the Padres trade him before MLB’s July 31 trade deadline.
Check back all season long for more Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight updates!
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