MLB Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight: Is Aramis Ramirez Turning the Corner?

Nick Kappel@@NickKappelAnalyst IIIMay 18, 2010

ATLANTA - APRIL 5: Aramis Ramirez #16 of the Chicago Cubs hits a 3rd inning home run against the Atlanta Braves during Opening Day at Turner Field on April 5, 2010 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)
Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Game No. 25 on our ambitious journey featured two talented young hurlers and a two-homer game from a red-hot fantasy afterthought.



Milwaukee Brewers vs. Cincinnati Reds

Corey Hart went 3-for-4 two two solo homers Monday night, his third and fourth long balls in the last three games. The Brewers right fielder is batting .287 with seven homers, 19 RBI, and three steals through 30 games this season.

The 28-year-old missed more than five weeks late last season following an appendectomy, which limited him to just 12 homers and 11 steals on the year. After losing 20 pounds this offseason, Hart appears determined to regain his 20/20 form that made him a valued fantasy commodity in 2007 and 2008.

Jonny Gomes has been equally impressive for the Reds of late, as he whacked a three-run bomb in the sixth inning Monday night to bust the game wide open. Gomes now has a hit in 10 of his last 11 games.

Through 33 contests this season, the 29-year-old is batting .294 with five homers and 24 RBI. His raw power is undeniable, as Gomes has averaged 18 at-bats between homers in his career. His .244 lifetime batting average, however, suggests his current mark won’t last. Gomes’ inflated BABIP supports this assumption. Ride out the hot streak, but know his all-or-nothing approach will soon catch up to him.

Johnny Cueto followed up his complete game one-hitter last week with another fabulous start Monday night against a potent Brewers lineup. In seven innings, Cueto allowed one run on seven hits and one walk. The 24-year-old also struck out seven.

After a rough April, Cueto owns a 1.64 ERA with a 22/3 K/BB ratio in 22 innings this month. For the season, Cueto boasts an impressive 2.34 BB/9. His filthy fastball/slider combo is working well, but the development of his changeup will be the key to unlocking his full potential. Cueto has a bright future, and 2010 may just be the year he puts it all together.

Yovani Gallardo pitched six innings Monday night, allowing just one run on four hits. Walks have been his bugaboo, and last night was no different, as the 24-year-old issued six free passes, increasing his walk rate to 4.92 this season.

Gallardo’s 2.89 ERA and 10.36 K/9 through nine starts are most impressive, but his poor walk rate will prevent him from fantasy stardom...for now. If he can lower that total into the 3.5 range, Gallardo will tap into his unlimited potential.

Other notes from around the league:



Hitter of the day: Justin Morneau (3-for-4, BB, 3 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI)

• Justin Morneau is quietly putting together one heck of a season. After his 3-for-4, two-homer game Monday night, the Twins first baseman is batting .374 with 27 runs, 11 homers, and 29 RBI in 36 games thus far. His BABIP and HR/FB rate are, of course, out of whack, but a new home ballpark can have that effect (see 2009 version of David Wright).

Aramis Ramirez went 2-for-5 with three RBI Monday night, including a walk-off homer in the 11th inning, his first long ball since April 15. With five hits in his last four games, Ramirez is finally showing signs of breaking out of his early-season slump. Get him now, as the 31-year-old’s value hasn’t been this low in a long time. He remains capable of finishing the season with 25 homers, 100 RBI and a .280 batting average.

• Victor Martinez went 2-for-4 with two solo homers Monday night against the Yankees, his fourth and fifth of the year. Martinez’ struggles this season can be attributed to his .225 BABIP, but he’s still making excellent contact. Everything should even out as the season progresses, and V-Mart will likely post his fourth career 20-homer, 100-RBI season.

Jimmy Rollins went 2-for-4 Monday night in his return to the Phillies’ lineup, batting third. He also walked once, scored twice, and knocked in a run. Given that his calf injury is fully healed, Rollins should be in line for a bounce-back season.

Chris Coghlan went 2-for-4 with a stolen base Monday night. With a hit in 10 of his last 12 games, the 24-year-old has raised his average 35 points to .223 since the start of May. Expect the upward trend to continue.



Pitcher of the day: Edwin Jackson (W, 8 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 12 K)

Edwin Jackson had his best outing of the 2010 season Monday night, as the 26-year-old shut out the Marlins on four hits through eight innings. Jackson issued just two walks while registering his first career double-digit strikeout game, fanning 12.

Jackson had a breakout first half in 2009, posting a 2.52 ERA and 1.06 WHIP in 121.2 innings before the All-Star break. He fell apart in the second half, however, recording a 5.07 ERA over his last 92.1 innings, a fate predicted by his xFIP.

Jackson’s live arm makes him an intriguing option. While the numbers suggest his 6.33 ERA this season is the result of some bad luck, he’s clearly not the pitcher he portrayed early last season. Instead, he’s a 4.00-4.50 ERA pitcher with a slightly above-average strikeout rate. In other words, he’s not that valuable.

Clayton Richard picked up his fifth quality start this season Monday night against the Giants, as the 6'5"/240-pound southpaw yielded just one run on three hits and three walks in seven innings.

Through eight starts, the 26-year-old boasts an impressive 2.94 ERA. His 1.41 WHIP, however, leaves much to be desired, and it signals trouble in the near future. Richard’s 4.27 xFIP supports this theory, meaning now is a great time to sell the converted reliever.

John Ely continues to impress, as the recently-turned-24-year-old limited the Astros to just two runs on five hits in seven innings Monday night. He also struck out eight.

After a breakout season at Double-A in 2009, Ely was traded from the White Sox organization to the Dodgers in the Juan Pierre deal last December. Excluding his major-league debut against the Mets three weeks ago, Ely is 2-0 with a 2.29 ERA, 0.76 WHIP and a sparkling 21/0 K/BB ratio in 19 2/3 innings (three starts).

Ely features an upper-80s fastball, which he adds and subtracts well from, and a plus-changeup in the mid-70s. This combination has been good enough up to this point, but he’ll have to develop a breaking pitch to continue his success. He’s worth a look in 14-team leagues.


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