Around the Majors: May 8: A-Rod, Verlander, Hamels, Ramirez, and More

Eric StashinSenior Writer IMay 9, 2009

BALTIMORE, MD - MAY 8:  Alex Rodriguez #13 of the New York Yankees takes a swing against the Baltimore Orioles on May 8, 2009 at Camden Yards in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images)

Alex Rodriguez returned to the Yankees line-up with a bang.  Justin Verlander continued his amazing resurgence.  Cole Hamels finally got a notch in the win column.  Aramis Ramirez left with an injury. Let’s take a look at these stories and all the rest from yesterday’s games.

New York (AL) vs. Baltimore

  • Alex Rodriguez made his season debut, hitting a three-run home run in his first at bat.  He finished the day going 1-for-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, exactly the type of lift a sagging Yankees offense sorely needed.  Is he going to be the savior of the Yankees?  Time will tell, but it certainly would help if he could catch.
  • If A-Rod’s performance was a boost, CC Sabathia’s was a titantic success.  He went the distance, giving up 0 runs on 4 hits and 1 walk, striking out 8.  He had given up 14 earned runs over his past three starts and entered the day with an ERA of 4.85.  He left with a 3.94 mark, however, and fantasy owners hope this is the start of a run similar to what he had in 2008.  He’s not a foreigner to rough starts, so don’t be too concerned.  He’s one of the elite in the game still, as demonstrated by this performance.

Detroit vs. Cleveland

  • For the third consecutive start, Justin Verlander was lights out.  He tossed a complete game shutout giving up 2 hits and 2 walks, striking out 11.  Over those last three starts he’s thrown 23 innings giving up 1 earned run on 11 hits and 3 walks, striking out 31.  Is this really the same pitcher who was awful last season and hit a rough patch early on this year as well?  He now has 56 strikeouts in 44 innings, to go along with a 4.50 ERA.  He’s certainly righted the ship and is back to being a must use option in all formats.
  • Cliff Lee fell to 1-5, despite sporting a 3.45 ERA.  He gave up 1 run on 7 hits and 2 walks, striking out 5, over 8 innings of work.  That would have been enough to get a win on almost any other night.  He’s now gone eight innings in three of his past four starts and hasn’t given up more than three earned runs in a start since 4/11.  He hasn’t struck out more than five batters in any start, which does limit is value a bit, but he certainly is still a pitcher worth using.

Tampa Bay vs. Boston

  • Does anyone else feel like Jason Bay hits a three-run home run every single night?  He went 2-for-4 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 1 R, giving him 9 HR and 32 RBI on the season.  He has home runs in four of his last five games, with 12 RBI in those games.
  • James Shields was great for five innings, but it all fell apart in the sixth.  He ended up giving up 5 runs on 10 hits and 1 walk, striking out 7.  The Red Sox have always been a tough matchup for him (he posted a 5.85 ERA against them in ‘08), but don’t let it discourage you.  He’s one of the best in the league and is a must start no matter what the match-up.
  • David Ortiz went 0-for-4 with 1 R, breaking his three-game hitting streak.  He still has just been unable to get things on track this season.

Seattle vs. Minnesota

  • Scott Baker owners have got to be ecstatic after this start.  After taunting us last time around before imploding, Baker finally put things together for an entire start.  He went 7 shutout innings giving up 5 hits and 0 walks, striking out 5, to pick up his first win of the season.  His next start is a matchup with Justin Verlander and the Detroit Tigers, but he is close to re-emerging as an extremely good option once again.  Last season he went 2-0 with a 3.86 ERA over five starts against the Tigers, so keep that in mind.
  • Joe Mauer went 2-for-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  It did not take long for him to reaffirm his status among the elite catchers, did it?
  • The Mariners flipped their line-up, with Russell Branyan hitting clean-up and Adrian Beltre dropping to fifth.  Prior to the season, did anyone expect that?  Beltre still is homerless, with just 12 RBI.  To classify him as anything but a bitter disappointment would be an understatement, but hang tight.  Sooner or later he’s going to explode.

Texas vs. Chicago (AL)

  • I was very high on Matt Harrison prior to the season, but early on he hasn’t really lived up to the hype.  Yesterday was the type of performance that I had expected to see more of.  He tossed a complete game shutout, giving up 4 hits and 1 walk, striking out 5.  He’s now 3-2 on the season with a 4.79 ERA. He’s now won his last two starts and hasn’t allowed a run in his last two outings (14 innings).  He’s not striking out batters at an extremely high level (17 K over 35.2 IP), but if he can continue to pitch like this it will easily be able to be overlooked.
  • Jim Thome went 0-for-4 and is now hitting .195 on the season.  He his hitless in his last four games (0-14), and remember he hit just .245 last season.  He still has plenty of power, but don’t be looking to him for any help in the average department.

Kansas City vs. Los Angeles (AL)

  • Howie Kendrick went 2-for-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R.  The home run was an inside the park home run, but is anyone going to complain?  He has 4 HR and 4 SB, so he’s production has been alright thus far, but he has struck out 24 times vs. 2 walks.  That is not a ratio we want to see for any player and certainly hurts his potential to do certain things, like scoring an excessive amount of runs).
  • The only notable player for the Royals last night was Billy Butler, who went 2-for-4 with 1 RBI.  He’s now on a five-game hitting streak, with four consecutive multi-hit games.  Over the streak he’s gone 10-20 with 4 RBI and 3 R.  When you are hitting for that type of average I’d love to see a bit more production, but I guess I shouldn’t be too picky.  He does have his average up to .295, but as a 1B with 13 RBI is that really enough?  It’s tough to argue that it is.

Toronto vs. Oakland

  • Scott Richmond had one bad inning and that was it.  He finished giving up 5 runs (all in the second) on 7 hits and 2 walks, striking out 3, over 8 innings.  This was his first poor performance since his first start of the season.  In fact, he had give up just six earned runs over his previous four starts.  Everyone’s allowed a poor outing.  Still, with the Yankees next on the schedule, the timing was bad for owners.  At least the start comes at home and not the homer haven that is the new Yankee Stadium.
  • Kurt Suzuki is on a modest three-game hitting streak, going 1-for-4 with 1 RBI.  He has his average at .324 and despite the lack of power potential, with the way top catching options have struggled he’s a solid option in two-catcher formats.

Atlanta vs. Philadelphia

  • Cole Hamels had a successful start, giving up 2 runs on 3 hits and 2 walks, striking out 7, over 6 innings, to earn his first win of the season.  His first month plus can only be described as disastrous, with an elbow problem, getting hit by a line drive and then injuring his ankle.  It’s tough to gauge just where he is, but we all know he’s one of the elite when healthy.
  • It’s easy to blame Jo-Jo Reyes’ performance on his defense, having allowed hour unearned runs, but that would just be ignoring the obvious.  He allowed three home runs, which are all on him.  It’ll be interesting to see how the Braves react to this outing and if Tommy Hanson could be far off.
  • Jimmy Rollins went 1-for-5 with 2 RBI, giving him hits in six straight games.  Over that stretch, he has not stolen a base and has just three RBI, but has scored five runs.  It’s just a matter of time before he explodes and starts stealing bases in bunches, considering he has just one on the season.  I wouldn’t sell low on him.

Pittsburgh vs. New York (NL)

  • Nyjer Morgan went 2-for-3 with 1 RBI, 1 R and 1 SB.  He’s now hitting .308 with 20 R and 8 SB.  Granted, he has slowed down a bit as of late, but for a waiver wire pick-up he has proven to be a great find.
  • Jonathan Niese had been struggling at Triple-A, yet he gets recalled and looks fairly sharp.  He gave up 2 runs on 7 hits and 0 walks, striking out 5, over 6 innings to take a no decision.  Could he have value in deeper formats? It’s possible, but there’s no guarantee that he sticks in the rotation.  Tim Redding is working his way back and could be ready to join the major league roster shortly.  It’s possible he gets another start, but until the announcement is made official, I would shy away.
  • Carlos Delgado hadn’t homered since Apr. 16, and he only had six RBI since that game.  He busted out last night, going 3-for-4 with 1 HR, 5 RBI and 1 R.  Will this be reminiscent to his 9 RBI game against the Yankees last season?

St. Louis vs. Cincinnati

  • The Reds were once again without Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips due to illness.  The timing was terrible for Phillips, who was finally turning things around.  Hopefully they are ready to return soon.
  • Johnny Cueto gave up 1 run on 5 hits and 2 walks, striking out 3, over 7 innings to continue his string of impressive starts.  He has allowed just three earned runs over his last five starts (33.2 innings).  Granted, he hasn’t been the strikeout powerhouse some expected him to be, but if he performs like this are you really going to complain?  He entered the day with a strand rate of 90.1 percent, so before we get too excited a regression is likely coming.

Chicago (NL) vs. Milwaukee

  • Remember when Ryan Braun was struggling (he was hitting .222 on Apr. 19)?  It seems like ages ago at this point.  After going 2-for-3 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 1 R Braun is hitting .337 with 7 HR and 26 RBI.  He really is one of the elite hitters in the game.
  • Aramis Ramirez went 0-for-1 before leaving the game with a dislocated shoulder.  Uh oh!  Fantasy owners are going to be listening closely, as we have not yet heard how long he may be out of action for.  Mike Fontenot shifted to 3B, with Aaron Miles playing 2B, but that is not a configuration the Cubs want to be forced to go with any length of time.

San Diego vs. Houston

  • Wandy Rodriguez was at home in a start against a weak opponent.  Is it really a surprise that he dazzled?  He tossed 8 shutout innings giving up 5 hits and 0 walks, striking out 7.  When he’s at home he continues to be an easy start and with a 1.80 ERA on the season, it would appear that he is usable at any time right now.
  • With Jose Valverde out, LaTroy Hawkins continues to get the save opportunities, and pitch well in doing so.  He pitched a perfect ninth, striking out one, to get his fourth save of the season.
  • Hunter Pence batted third for the first time this season, going 2-for-4 with 2 RBI.  The Astros continue to shuffle him around the line-up, making it tough to pinpoint exactly where he could help your fantasy team.  Will he be batting near the top, where he’ll have potential for runs and RBI?  Will he be batting later on, where his runs potential will be limited?  Hopefully it gets sorted out soon.

Florida vs. Colorado

  • Chris Coghlan went 2-for-4 with 1 R in his season debut.  He has the potential to stick with the Marlins, as we discussed yesterday (click here to view), and should definitely be monitored in all formats.
  • Hanley Ramirez went 4-for-5 with 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R and 1 SB.  Another ho hum day for one of the best hitters in the game.
  • John Baker has proven worthy of being used in all formats right now, especially while you are missing your top option.  He went 2-5 with 1 HR, 3 RBI and 2 R, putting him at .288 with 3 HR, 14 RBI and 21 R.  The runs scored is the big number, especially from a catcher, which certainly helps to give you an advantage.  Granted, he’s been dropped from the No. 2 hole with the addition of Coghlan, which will influence his runs potential.
  • Troy Tulowitzki hit his first home run since Apr. 11, going 2-for-4 with 1 HR, 2 RBI and 2 R.  He has a lot of power potential, with 24 HR in 2007, so hopefully this is the beginning of good things for him.  I certainly wouldn’t have given up on him yet.

Washington vs. Arizona

  • Ryan Zimmerman went 2-for-5, extending his hitting streak to 26-games. It’s not just the hitting streak that is impressive: He’s had multi-hit games in six of his last seven.
  • Josh Whitesell went 1-for-4 and is now 1-for-10 since being recalled, to go along with three walks.  He has only struck out once, which is a good sign for sure.  Right now it’s just poor luck that is causing his early struggles, which should turn in time.
  • Eric Byrnes didn’t start the game, but entered as a pinch hitter and went 2-for-2 with 1 RBI and 1 SB.  You have to wonder how much playing time he’s going to get under the new manager and with Whitesell now blocking Conor Jackson from seeing any time at 1B.

San Francisco vs. Los Angeles (AL)

  • Barry Zito?  Really?  He went 6 innings giving up 1 run on 8 hits and 2 walks, striking out 5, to pick up his first victory of the season.  He’s given up just four earned runs over his last four starts, spanning 26.1 innings.  Yes, he is not going to strike anyone out, which is a huge negative, but with his next start coming against Washington is it so unreasonable to not think of him as a usable option?  Seriously, would anyone have guessed that?  I’m not saying that I fully trust him or would recommend, because I don’t, but he could have some value.
  • Matt Kemp hit clean-up, going 1-for-4 with 1 R, but James Loney wasn’t in the lineup.  Let’s see what happens here.
  • Chad Billingsley suffered his first loss, giving up 3 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks, striking out 5, over 7 innings.  You can’t win them all.  He’s still performing like an ace and is a must use in all formats.

Anyone have any thoughts?  Anything to add?

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