Fantasy Baseball: Thursday News and Notes

Collin HagerSenior Writer IMay 21, 2009

ANAHEIM, CA - MAY 14:  David Ortiz #34 of the Boston Red Sox complains to home plate umpire Bill Miller after bieng called out on strikes in the sixth inning of the game with the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim on May 14, 2009 at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California.  The Angels won 5-4 in 12 innings.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Talk about a night for some interesting stat lines. 
When you only catch the ESPN ticker for a lot of the games, you can find questions in almost everything you see. Brett Cecil got lit up in one inning like a pinball machine.
Jason Varitek finds a multi-home run game. David Ortiz remembered where the fence was. 
Even more strange, Mark Reynolds stole four bases in one game. To quote The Princess Bride, inconceivable! 
Baseball is a funny game, and that was no more evident than in what the game let unfold for viewers and owners last night.  
Let's get to the notes. 

Wednesday Rewind
  • After 148 at-bats, and 319 other players, David Ortiz hit home runs number one of the season last night. He still ended up 1-for-4, but the world can now stop talking about when he'll hit the first one. What usually is nice about this is once the pressure is off, the player tends to relax. Hovering around .200, he'll need to relax to keep owners interested and playing him again.
  • Stick with the Red Sox one more time here. Kevin Youkilis clubbed three hits in his return to the lineup. So much for his earlier comments that he felt rusty getting back up to the plate. Owners should get him back into their lineup as they normally would.
  • Chris Carpenter was solid last night against the Cubs. He kept hitters off balance most of the night, and worked all of his pitches. Two of his strikeouts came in his final inning of work, which means that the strength was likely still there. A good piece to build on, and owners should go back to using him as they normally would. Carpenter was dropped by many teams after the injury, and is about 30 percent available. That will surely shrink today.
  • Rick Ankiel was not activated from the DL prior to Wednesday's game as had been originally thought. Shouldn't have been as much of a surprise as it was, especially since Ankiel has never hit Ryan Dempster well. Still, daily leagues should keep him out of the lineup until we hear otherwise.
  • After receiving a trade question last night, it seems prudent to address Adam Jones a bit. While Jones is playing well and hitting .370, his BABIP at this point is .417. That just is not going to stay at that level. Jones could very well end up hitting 90 points lower than his current average for the rest of the season. The prediction here is that he ends up around .285, and that's not bad, but it's not .370. His home run to fly ball rate is 27 percent, something that just won't keep to that pace.
  • Edinson Volquez needed to end his bullpen session early due to back issues. There is no indication from the Reds at this point as to if he will need to miss a start, but owners should take note on this one. Volquez is young, and the Reds will not want to take an unnecessary risk.
  • Omar Infante broke his hand yesterday after being hit by a pitch. Infante had been getting a fair number of at-bats at second base with the struggles of Kelly Johnson. Infante will miss six-to-eight weeks, according to ESPN, and now becomes more irrelevant than he was before outside of deep NL-only leagues.
  • Orlando Hudson was right back in the lineup yesterday for the Dodgers, despite leaving the game on Tuesday. He came through with two more hits, and is making owners that were able to grab him late in drafts because of his contract status look pretty good. Still, this is another guy that is tough to see as a .345 hitter. While selling high may not be the best bet because of how thin the position is, owners should at least consider what they could get for him if an offer comes across. He's still a .300 hitter, but with a BABIP of .397, by the end of the season it will be much closer to the lower range of .300 than to .350.
  • Jose Reyes left yesterday's game with tightness in his calf. He's had the problem for a few days, and is heading back to New York for tests. It could reasonably be assumed that he likely won't be available at least for Friday's game against Boston. A DL stint hasn't been confirmed by the New York Daily News, but this is something to watch and be ready to backfill.
  • Yesterday's Results: Wins-Maholm, Weaver, Kazmir, Carmona; Loss-Cecil (Season: 105-75-6)

Thursday Notes

  • Owners need to be all over Edwin Jackson right now. His walks are down, his strikeouts are up, and he's making hitters look stupid at the plate. He's putting together a string of quality starts, and is still under 60 percent owned. Jackson has been tough at home in his four starts, allowing batters to hit just .238 against him. Lefties struggle to the tune of .187. This seems to be a different pitcher than last season, and owners need to buy right now.
  • Brandon Inge has struggled against Kevin Millwood, putting up just six hits in 31 at-bats. No other Tigers put up warning flags in this one. Get Placido Polanco into the lineup if you can. Polanco has gone 11-for-20 against Millwood for his career. The Rangers starter did pitch well against Detroit last time out at Comerica, going seven innings without allowing a run. Something to consider there.
  • Sure hot streaks are fun, but this one should scare owners: Jeff Suppan's team is 5-1 in his last six starts, and he's is coming off of an impressive seven-inning outing. Suppan has given up just 12 earned in his last six starts after two disasters to start the season. While Geoff Blum (.538) and Lance Berkman (.412) are must-starts, actually looking at Suppan as a potential spot play in deep mixed or NL-only formats isn't as crazy as you might think.
  • While owners may be skeptical on Prince Fielder and his .143 average against Roy Oswalt, the potential for a homerun is high today. Oswalt has given up ten in 50 innings this season, and the ball is simply flying off bats. The Brewers have solid numbers against him, and starting as many as you can works today. Oswalt is 4-2 in his last eight against Milwaukee, but the 4.50 ERA against them is concerning.
  • Surprising to see how well Cleveland has hit against Zack Greinke. Every Cleveland regular starter is at or above .275 in at least 10 at-bats against Greinke. While this doesn't indicate benching Greinke, it should calm the fears of owners that may have been deciding whether it would be worth it to bench their Indians against an ace. 
  • Joe Saunders is 5-1 in his last seven starts against the Mariners. This season, he already has had one impressive outing against them. Given that he's 2-0 with a 2.19 ERA at Safeco, you have to like the looks of this start for him as well. We're getting there guys, he's now 70 percent owned! Grab him while you can.
  • Every once in a while the stats don't make sense. This is one of those times. Despite the dominance of Tim Lincecum, Kevin Kouzmanoff is 10-for-26 against him, and Nick Hundley is 4-for-11. Sure, you likely aren't going to go reaching for Padres against an ace like Lincecum, but it's good to know that if you need to fill in because of off days, the options aren't entirely bleak.
  • Joe Blanton has been tagged in two of his three starts this month, and has never been a pitcher that does well on the road. In the last three seasons, his ERA away from home is 5.31, and batters hit .301 against him. Blanton is giving up a lot of fly balls, going for double-digits in six of his seven starts. In a small ballpark like Cincinnati, not a good mix. Get your Reds active against him.
  • Without the numbers of Aramis Ramirez, Adam Wainwright's performances against the Cubs become much better. Ramirez has hit over .400 against Wainwright. Losing him makes this a much more effective start for the Cardinals. I'm liking him here more than usual, and since he's just 1-3 against the Cubs with an ERA over six, it's worth a mention in this case.
  • Spot Starts: Ian Snell, Edwin Jackson, and Jeff Suppan
  • Keep on the Bench: Roy Oswalt

Friday Notes

  • Interleague play starts on Friday. The DH will be added to NL lineups and taken away from AL teams. Gary Sheffield, as a result, likely gets some extra at-bats for the Mets based on their playing at Fenway. Mat Gamel should see some time regularly for the Brewers as well against Minnesota. Others impacted would be Billy Butler and Mike Jacobs in Kansas City, some combination of Dave Delucci, Matt Laporta, Kelly Shoppach, and Victor Martinez in Cleveland, and Hank Blalock and Chris Davis in Texas.
  • Daisuke Matsuzaka will take the mound for Boston in his first start since early April. Matsuzaka looked good in his final rehab start in Pawtucket, but we still need to see something from him. Based on the control issues and the fact this has been a shoulder injury, I'd hold him out against Johan Santana and the Mets.
  • With teams not having seen much of each other, use home/road splits to determine starts and sits when questions come up. Kevin Slowey should still be a start against Manny Parra based on the numbers the Twins put up at home. 
  • Jason Varitek is 8-for-18 against Johan Santana, but the rest of the Red Sox have struggled in their chances against the Mets ace. If you were using Julio Lugo or Rocco Baldelli in AL-only formats, the two have combined for six hits in 38 at-bats.
  • Carlos Zambrano will get the ball in the only National League matchup of the day. Zambrano hasn't been sharp in his rehab. Keep him reserved in this one, despite how well Petco tends to play for pitchers. There are too many questions and not enough answers on how healthy he truly is.
  • Spot Starts: Ubaldo Jimenez, Rick Porcello (seeing a pitcher's duel), Manny Parra

Collin Hager writes The Elmhurst Pub fantasy blog. You can get your questions answered by sending an email to elmhurstpubroundtable@yahoo.com. He's also on Twitter @TheRoundtable.