Around the Majors: May 5: Chamberlain, Lincecum, Wright and More

Eric StashinSenior Writer IMay 6, 2009

NEW YORK - APRIL 19:  David Wright #5 of the New York Mets runs the bases against the Milwaukee Brewers at Citi Field on April 19, 2009 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City.  (Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

As always on Wednesday, we have to go with an abbreviated Around the Majors column, due to last night’s Fantasy Baseball Radio Show that I participate in on Blogtalk Radio.  If you haven’t checked the show out yet, I highly recommend you do.

With that said, let’s get to a little Quick Hit style column today:

Cleveland vs. Toronto

  • So, Adam Lind just continues to hit, doesn’t he? He went 3-for-4 with a home run, 5 RBI and 2 runs against the Indians. Lind is now hitting .333 with 6 home runs and 29 RBI.
  • Brett Cecil looks to be a good replacement for David Purcey early on, going 6 innings and giving up 2 runs (1 earned) on 6 hits against Cleveland. He struck out six with no walks. Cecil has potential to be useful, though he was sporting an 8.31 ERA at Triple-A before his recall. Tread carefully.

Baltimore vs. Tampa Bay

  • It’s been impossible for fantasy owners to get a solid read on Koji Uehara. On Tuesday against the Rays, he went 6.2 innings, giving up 6 runs (3 earned) on 7 hits and 1 walk, striking out 8. He has given up three earned runs or less over his last four starts and has an overall WHIP of 1.15. He hasn't been a big strikeout option, with Tuesday being the first time he’s had a strikeout total equal to, or greater than, the number of innings he’s pitched in a start. Uehara also has gone winless in each of his last four starts (though, like always, we try to ignore that fact). His next start comes against the New York Yankees, who Uehara beat in his major league debut, but it could be a significantly different Yankees team with Alex Rodriguez in the line-up. I’d be hesitant about using him in daily leagues. What about you?

Texas vs. Seattle

  • Jarrod Saltalamacchia went 2-for-4 with a home run, 4 RBI and 1 run. He certainly has value in two-catcher formats, especially considering what has been going on with the position, but there are some red flags out there. In just 69 AB, he has struck out 25 times vs. 4 walks. He’s hitting .275, but that’s buoyed by a BABIP of .390, a number that can only go down. If he wants to continue to maintain a solid average, he either needs to continue to get extremely lucky or improve his frequency in putting the ball in play. Be careful here, especially in one-catcher formats.

Minnesota vs. Detroit

  • It has been an inconsistent season for Rick Porcello, exactly what you should expect from a young starting pitcher. On Tuesday, he tossed 7 shutout innings, giving up 4 hits and 3 walks, striking out 3, to improve to 2-3 with a 4.71 ERA and 1.29 WHIP. He has not struck out more than four batters in any game, which is certainly a knock against him, but his control has been great with just 9 walks over 28.2 innings. He can be a solid option, but be ready to endure some pain along the way. I’m not saying not to consider him in deeper formats, but the lack of strikeouts is something that needs to be kept in mind.

Boston vs. New York (AL)

  • Now that’s what fantasy owners are talking about! Yes, Joba Chamberlain got off to a slow start and gave up 4 runs on 6 hits and 2 walks over 5.2 innings. Things like that happen, and are quickly forgiven when you strike out 12 batters. It marks the first time he’s struck out more than 6 batters in a game this season and brings him to a K/9 over 9 (29 K in 28.2 innings). Coming out of this start, I can’t wait to see what he brings to the table against the Orioles his next time out. He’s a must-use fantasy option, especially with this type of strikeout potential, so continue using him in all formats.

Chicago (AL) vs. Kansas City

  • Mike Jacobs went 1-for-5 with a home run, 3 RBI and a run, putting him at .241 with 5 home runs and 16 RBI. Last season, he hit .247 and is a career .260 hitter. He is giving Kansas City exactly what should have been expected from him at this point in the season. He’s far from a top option in all formats, though he does have value for the power-starved, but just be prepared for this type of poor average all year long. As it is, his BABIP is .291, a significant increase from his .264 last season. He is striking out 31 percent of the time, a number he could improve on, if you are looking for a ray of hope. The truth is that he is likely a .250-.255 hitter, so be prepared.

Los Angeles (AL) vs. Oakland

  • Chone Figgins went 3-for-4 with 2 RBI and a run, putting him at 6-for-9 with 2 RBI, 3 runs and a stolen base over his last two games. I know he brings little power to a position that you primarily look to get some from, but he has the ability to hit for a good average and steal bases. If you have a power-filled middle infield (like I have Brandon Phillips, Ian Kinsler and Jhonny Peralta), he is certainly a player that has value to you.
  • Shane Loux has done the job in his last two starts, going 2-0 while giving up a total of 2 earned runs over 13 innings. Those starts came against the Orioles and Athletics, so I wouldn’t quite call him a must-own at this point. The start he got rocked in was against the Mariners, the second time they had seen him. As he starts facing a few more teams more than once, I think we’ll get a better read of what he is capable of.

Houston vs. Washington

  • The game was suspended Tuesday, tied at 10 in the 11th inning.  Wow…
  • Scott Olsen gave up 5 earned runs on 6 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4 over 5 innings. He’s now sporting a 6.54 ERA and a 1.71 WHIP pitching for a sub-par team. I know he had a few good starts in there, but he is far from a stable option for owners. If you are in anything but the deepest of formats (or NL-only), I wouldn’t even consider him at this point.
  • Roy Oswalt gave up 4 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4 over 5 innings before leaving his start with a bone bruise on a finger on his pitching hand. Despite some early season struggles, Oswalt is a must-use when healthy, so monitor the situation and see if he is able to make his next start against the Padres. That is certainly one game fantasy owners do not want to see him miss.

San Francisco vs. Chicago (NL)

  • Were the Cubs even trying to win the game? Alfonso Soriano, Milton Bradley, Aramis Ramirez, Geovanny Soto and Ryan Theriot were all out of the starting line-up, and Carlos Marmol and Kevin Gregg were unavailable. At least show a little intention of trying to win instead of trotting out a Spring Training line-up.
  • Tim Lincecum was dominant once again, improving to 3-1 after giving up 2 runs on 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 7 over 7 innings. He’s now given up 6 earned runs over his last 30 innings while striking out 40. I’d say fantasy owners who were concerned early on can rest easy. Lincecum is one of the elite pitchers in the game.

Milwaukee vs. Pittsburgh

  • Could J.J. Hardy be breaking through? He went 3-for-3 with 4 RBI and a run, raising his average to .195 on the season. He now has a modest three-game hitting streak, as well as having scored a run in all three of those games. It’s not much to go on, so we have to wait before fully declaring him “broken out”, but it certainly is a positive sign. He had 50 home runs between ‘07 & ‘08 while hitting .277 and .283, respectively. It’s safe to say that it is just a matter of time, so just hang in there. You’ve endured the bad, don’t cut bait before getting to enjoy the good.

Cincinnati vs. Florida

  • Brandon Phillips went 3-for-5 with a home run, 6 RBI and a run. He’s now on a five-game hitting streak, going 8-for-24 with 2 home runs, 10 RBI and 4 runs. He’s still hitting just .226, but he certainly appears to be on the right path at this point. 
  • Edinson Volquez was brilliant for the second consecutive start. He went 8 shutout innings, giving up 3 hits and 4 walks, striking out 7.  He got off to a slow start, but since then has allowed 4 earned runs over his last 27 innings while striking out 27. 

New York (NL) vs. Atlanta

  • David Wright went 2-for-5 with 1 RBI and one run, giving him at least one RBI in each of his last four games. He’s also had two hits in three of his last four games. I know the numbers never screamed of struggles similar to some other players, but if you watched Wright at the plate, you just knew something was not right with him. That appears to be a thing of the past, so fantasy owners who used a first-round draft pick on the Mets third baseman can start to prepare for a potential scorching hot streak. He’s hitting the ball to right field now, usually a sign that he’s going to explode for a few weeks.

Philadelphia vs. St. Louis

  • Shane Victorino went 4-for-5 with 1 home run, 3 RBI and 3 runs.  He’s now sporting a 14-game hitting streak, as well as a 10-game run-scoring streak. Which one is actually more impressive? He may have started slow, with a .220 average on April 18, but he’s scorching hot now and has his average all the way up to .308. He’s a perfect example of why we don’t panic by a player’s slow start. Victorino hits in a very dangerous line-up and certainly should be considered a viable No. 2 outfielder in all formats.

Colorado vs. San Diego

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  • Heath Bell continues to dazzle this season, picking up his first win after pitching 2 shutout innings, allowing 1 hit with no walks, striking out 4.  In 10.2 innings this season, Bell is now 1-0 with 8 saves while posting a 0.00 ERA and a 0.66 WHIP. He’s also struck out 13 batters.  Trevor who? Bell has certainly emerged as a must-use fantasy option at this point.

Arizona vs. Los Angeles (NL)

  • Max Scherzer just cannot catch a break, can he? He fell to 0-3 on the season after giving up 3 runs (2 earned) on 4 hits and 2 walks, striking out 4 over 6 innings. There are pitchers with significantly worse ERAs then his 3.38 with a couple of victories. What is even worse is that despite a 3.16 career ERA, he has not won a game…  ever! He’s pitched well in 21 appearances (12 starts) and just has not been able to get a notch in the win column. Yes, you have to be concerned with his ability to go late into games, hurting his chances, but you would think he would get lucky one of these times out. Scherzer is a very good strikeout option and has shown that he can post a solid ERA and WHIP, making him worth using in all formats. 
  • Jeff Weaver pitched well, giving up 1 run on 5 hits and 1 walk, striking out 6 over 5 innings. Let’s hold off on dubbing him a pitcher worth grabbing at this point, given his recent track record, but he certainly has the potential to get there. I’d watch him, but do so from a distance. It is way too early to be touching him.

Anyone have any thoughts?  Anything to add?

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