MLB Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight, April 28: Who the Heck Is Luis Atilano?

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIApril 29, 2010

VIERA, FL - FEBRUARY 21:  Luis Atilano #64 of the Washington Nationals poses during photo day at Roger Dean Stadium on February 21, 2009 in Viera, Florida.  (Photo by Doug Benc/Getty Images)
Doug Benc/Getty Images

Continuing our 162-game journey, Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight got a close look at Nationals’ starter Luis Atilano on Wednesday.

" Who the heck is Luis Atilano," you ask? Let’s find out...

Game No. 19Washington Nationals vs. Chicago Cubs

After winning his major-league debut against the Dodgers last Friday, Luis Atilano toed the rubber against the Cubs Wednesday afternoon.

The 2003 first-round supplemental pick allowed two runs in the first two innings but didn’t allow a run over the next four frames, retiring the last five batters he faced. In six innings, the soon-to-be 25-year-old allowed six hits and three walks while striking out just one.

Through 11 innings (two starts) this season, Atilano owns a 2.25 ERA and 1.33 WHIP. The Tommy John surgery survivor works off of an upper-80s fastball with good sinking action. He also features a decent changeup and an evolving curve.

Despite his success through two starts, Atilano won’t be added in most leagues. As the Nationals’ No. 20 prospect according to Baseball America in 2010, Atilano has to prove himself worthy over a few more starts before he can warrant a look in 14-team leagues.

Ryan Dempster was actually more impressive than Atilano, despite taking the loss while allowing three runs in eight innings. Like his counterpart, he finished strong after allowing all three runs in the first four innings.

Dempster, who turns 33 on Monday, allowed just four hits and issued one walk while fanning six. He now has a 3.25 ERA and a 391/151 K/BB ratio in 442.1 innings since being converted from the bullpen in 2008. Through five starts this season, he sports a 2.78 ERA and 0.98 WHIP with a 32/10 K/BB ratio in 35.2 innings.

Sneaky good? I think so.

Ryan Theriot continued his hot-hitting ways on Wednesday, as he went 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI. In his best effort to prevent Chicago from promoting top prospect Starlin Castro, the Cubs’ shortstop now has a nine-game hitting streak, eight of which were multi-hit games.

April has been The Riot’s favorite month in past seasons, and it appears 2010 is no different. Ride it out for now, but expect no more than 85 runs, five home runs, 50 RBI, 20 steals and a .300 average from the 30-year-old.

Matt Capps pitched a perfect ninth inning to register his major-league leading 10th save of the season. In 13.1 innings thus far, the 26-year-old has allowed just one run (0.73 ERA) and boasts a 15/6 K/BB ratio.

Other notes from around the league:


Hitter of the day: Andrew McCutchen (4-for-7, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI)

Andrew McCutchen went 4-for-7 with two runs, two homers, and two RBI against the Brewers on Wednesday. The Pirates center fielder is now batting .303 with 14 runs, three home runs, six RBI and 10 steals this season.

A 15-homer, 30-steal season is well within reach for the 23-year-old as he battles Cameron Maybin and Colby Rasmus for the title of the NL’s best young center fielder.

Jorge Cantu went 1-for-3 with a home run and two RBI against the Padres on Wednesday. The Marlins third baseman has a hit in 21 of 22 games this season. In addition to this, the 28-year-old has 15 runs, five bombs, and a whopping 22 RBI.

Cantu has proven he can hit in the past, but never like this. He’s making a strong push for top-five candidacy at his position.

Chris Young went 2-for-4 with a homer and five RBI in a wild game at Coors on Wednesday. The Diamondbacks' 26-year-old center fielder is now batting .298 with 10 runs, four homers, 21 RBI, and two steals.

Despite Young’s early season success, it’s important to note his .238 batting average in 1,781 career at-bats. Young clearly possesses a deadly power/speed combo, but his inability to hit for a decent average will likely continue to limit his fantasy value.

Carlos Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with a walk, two runs, a homer, two RBI, and a stolen base on Wednesday. Over the last three games, the 24-year-old is 7-for-11 (.636) with four runs, two homers, nine RBI, and two steals. He is quickly emerging as a fantasy star.

Nate Schierholtz went 5-for-5 with three runs and an RBI Wednesday against the Phillies, raising his batting average from .300 to .378.

The 26-year-old is known mostly for his defense, but his .292 batting average in 517 career at-bats proves he knows how to handle the bat as well. Unfortunately, Schierholtz’s fantasy value is limited given his lack of power and speed in right field.

Lance Berkman went 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI Wednesday night. Fat Elvis is now batting .258 (8-for-31) with two bombs through eight games. He does, however, have a six-game hitting streak. Now might be a good time to buy low, as Berkman still has .300/30/100 potential.


Pitcher of the day: Jon Lester (W, 7 IP, H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 11 K)

Lester dominated the Blue Jays Wednesday night, allowing just one hit and two walks in seven innings, his first quality start this season.

The 26-year-old southpaw has to face the Angels and Yankees in his next two starts, however, so his early season woes may continue. Even so, Lester is likely to make a case for the AL Cy Young award this season. Don’t buy his slow start.

James Shields improved to 3-0 Wednesday night against Oakland, turning in by far his best performance of the young season. In seven innings, the 28-year-old allowed just two runs (one earned) on six hits and one walk. He also fanned 12, tying a career high. It also marked Shields’ first double-digit strikeout total since July 2007.

Mike Leake picked up his second win of the season against Houston Wednesday night, allowing just one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings.

The 22-year-old rookie now has a 3.25 ERA, and three quality starts in four tries. His 1.41 WHIP and 18/15 K/BB ratio, however, are causes for concern. Leake’s future is bright, but inconsistency is likely to hinder his fantasy value in 2010.

Jamie Garcia pitched seven shutout innings against the Braves Wednesday night, allowing just four hits and one walk, lowering his season ERA to 1.04 over 26 innings.

The 23-year-old southpaw has seemingly come out of nowhere, but he has the pedigree to warrant fantasy success. Clearly, he’s not this good, but Garcia is putting together an early case for NL Rookie of the Year. He should be owned in all leagues.


Trevor Hoffman blew his second consecutive save on Wednesday, his fourth in seven chances. The all-time saves leader has allowed a run in six of his nine appearances this season.

Sadly enough, the one run he allowed in one inning Wednesday night (a homer to Ryan Doumit, his second in as many days) actually lowered his ERA from 13.50 to 13.00.

After the game, Brewers’ manager Ken Macha hinted that a change may be on the horizon. Expect LaTroy Hawkins to fill Milwaukee’s ninth-inning duties until Hoffman can get his issues worked out.

Juan Gutierrez picked up the 10th-inning save for Arizona on Wednesday. Diamondbacks’ closer Chad Qualls was likely unavailable after pitching in six of the last nine days, converting four consecutive save opportunities.

This situation still warrants a close eye, but the bulk of the save chances should go to Qualls for now.

Neftali Feliz picked up his third save Wednesday night, though he allowed an RBI double and RBI single in the ninth. Ron Washington insists Feliz is his closer, despite the back-and-forth between he and Frank Francisco. Feliz has more long-term value—and apparently has more short-term value as well.


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