Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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King Albert Pujols' Hamstring

Monday, April 25, 2011


Information is king. And here at RotoWorld, we keep you up to date with the most information so that you can be king of your fantasy leagues.

But, even when you've got the most recently updated information on hand, there are often "known unknowns" as the phrase goes. For example, we know that King Albert Pujols left Sunday's game with a hamstring injury. But we know that we don't know how severe the injury is, how long he'll be out, and how much opportunity lies in the situation for the astute fantasy owner. It's too bad Allen Craig is on the shelf right now with a strained groin, because he'd benefit the most and is a good hitter. Instead, if Pujols misses time - and the training staff said that taking him out was more of a precautionary measure - it's probably Jon Jay that gets more time. His batting average might rise with a little better batted-ball luck and he has a little speed, but Jay doesn't have the skills to really be mixed-league relevant. That much is known. Owners will mostly just have to hope that the king of fantasy baseball is fine.

There are known knowns in the Texas bullpen now that Neftali Feliz is going to take two weeks off with some shoulder issues. Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes are those known entities - the two veteran lefties have gotten the first two save chances. Oliver has the slightly smaller platoon split, so he might get the bulk of the chances. But the team hopes that Feliz is only off for a little while - the concern level doesn't seem very high.

Contrast that with the situation in Philadelphia, where one closer was already on the shelf until the All-Star break. Now joining Brad Lidge on the DL is Jose Contreras, who strained a ligament in his pitching elbow. The injury has his GM alarmed, and even if minor, strains are tears. This could end poorly for his owners, and Ryan Madson is now in charge - he already racked up two saves over the weekend. He'll probably have an expiration date - his GM and manager belittled his ability to close early this year - but a couple of months of chances is still a couple of months of chances.

* A gaggle of young outfielders took the league by storm last year and then whimpered into their sophomore efforts. Over the weekend, however, both Mike Stanton and Jason Heyward showed signs of life. Heyward had a home run and three RBI on Sunday, capping a three-game stretch with seven hits that brought his batting average up to .250. Stanton had a couple moon shots over the weekend, too. One of them put his team ahead to win, while the other had people marveling, or drooling, over his power. Both are excellent young talents and they are available at any sort of discounted price, your time to jump on them is running out. Austin Jackson had an excellent rookie season last year, but he was very lucky with batted balls. Now, it seems the pendulum has swung too far the other way and he's been a little unlucky this year. A couple of two-hit afternoons over the weekend should get him going, even if his 'true talent' batting average is probably closer to .270 than .300. Dexter Fowler never had the same hype, but he's had flashes of brilliance. After collecting two hits on Sunday, he has his batting average to good, sustainable number (.280), and he's worth rostering even in mixed leagues with deeper rosters.

* Excellent young pitching deserves attention whenever it shows itself. Michael Pineda has been excellent - even as an extreme flyballer, he's shown that the optimism was warranted. Over the weekend, however, the Mariners talked about limiting his innings. Counting his spring training innings, he should probably finish the year with about 200 innings. He's shown us that if he's healthy, he's money, and Brett Anderson is looking healthy - and money - right now. He struck out six, walked one and held the Mariners to one run Sunday. Teammate Trevor Cahill also pitched well against the Mariners Saturday (six innings, one run). Last year, he got a little lucky on batted balls and didn't show the strikeout rate of a true ace. This year, despite only striking two Mariners out, he's shown that maybe he can regain those strikeout rates he showed in the minor leagues. He's looking even better this year. Max Scherzer has similar health questions, but he looked excellent in holding the White Sox scoreless on Sunday. All systems go there, despite the currently unsightly WHIP. Ricky Romero struck out ten Rays on Sunday - against only one walk. His fast start looks sustainable despite the fact that most of his peripheral statistics are better than his minor league rates. He is obviously universally owned and difficult to trade for. On the other hand, Brandon Beachy also struck out seven and walked none against the Giants Sunday - he is absolutely a pickup even for your mixed league bench.

Jake Arrieta is a little more risky. Even though he kept the Yankees offense down on Sunday (three runs, six innings, nine strikeouts, three walks), he hasn't shown a great strikeout or groundball rate yet. He's worth watching at the very least. Carlos Carrasco has been showing decent control, and some signs of interesting ratios, but he left the game early on Sunday with dreaded elbow tightness. He's a deep league guy at best until we see a little more out of him. Jon Niese may not have buckets of upside, but seven good innings against the Diamondbacks Sunday have him showing ratios that look almost exactly like his numbers from last year. He does some things decently enough to be a spot start at home against weaker offenses in most leagues in the meantime. Alexi Ogando had a good six-inning start against the Royals on Sunday. He struck out five and walked one - but there are asterisks. He has a bad platoon split. He won't be able to pitch much more than 150 innings this year. He's not striking as many batters out in his new role. Don't count on him too heavily.

* Veteran pitchers are a little less exciting but deserve attention, too. It's not sexy, but it's working for Hiroki Kuroda, who after striking out seven and walking none on Sunday in Chicago looks like an must start in every league. Wandy Rodriguez struck out nine, but allowed the Brewers 13 baserunners Sunday - while Randy Wolf put an exclamation point on an excellent week by holding the Astros to four hits and one run in eight innings. Don't forget that Wolf is a pretty good pitcher and is at least useful as a spot-starter in most leagues, while Wandy is just repeating his slow start from last year. John Lackey dominated the Angels Sunday (six strikeouts, one walk, no runs in eight innings), but is more a spot-start than a buy-low in mixed leagues. Carl Pavano walked two and struck out three while holding the Indians to three runs. Other than strong control, he doesn't really have the underlying skills of an every-start pitcher in almost any league. Javier Vazquez hasn't looked great, and gave up five walks on Saturday, but he also finally hit 91 on the gun. His home park alone makes him interesting for spot starts if he can work his way back a little more. After a couple good starts - including one hit over eight scoreless innings against the Angels Saturday - Daisuke Matsuzaka is looking enticing these days. Don't buy it. Not much has changed in his underlying statistics. Ervin Santana gave up five runs in seven innings in that same game, but is more interesting. He's basically doing everything he did last year but not seeing the same results. You could say the same about Ryan Dempster, who is who is he's always been - except that twice as many of his flyballs are leaving the yard as normally do. Saturday he gave up three home runs in a poor outing against the Dodgers, but don't give up on him. I'll talk pitching on twitter any time!

National League Quick Hits: Scott Rolen hit the DL with a strained shoulder, opening the door for Miguel Cairo now and perhaps Juan Francisco later … He walked three in six innings, but Jake Westbrook didn't allow a run and looked solid against the Reds Sunday … Ubaldo Jimenez struck out seven in five innings against the Marlins, but his control (four walks) was once again bad (and he also ran into the Josh Johnson buzz-saw) … It's starting to look like 2008 again for Stephen Drew, who had three hits against the Mets Sunday … Mitchell Boggs got his third save and looks settled in - he may never look back … John Axford got a save Sunday and might be settling down … Jonny Venters finally got his first save, but it was only because Craig Kimbrel had pitched three days in a row … Homer Bailey had a scoreless rehab start Sunday - don't forget about him … Brandon Lyon blew a save Saturday, so keep an eye on Mark Melancon's usage … Chris Iannetta missed two games with a sore back over the weekend; he'll never hit for a good batting average but his power remains interesting … Jason Bay may not hit 30 home runs, or have a stellar batting average, but he homered Saturday and should be relevant in most leagues … Ben Francisco had two hits Sunday and will probably hit .270+ with double digit home runs and steals going forward … Hong-Chih Kuo (back) will pitch in the minors Monday and Tuesday and is nearing a return …Dioner Navarro (oblique) could be back as soon as Monday … Marlon Byrd had two hits Sunday and should have a better batting average than Francisco going forward, but his power has disappeared and his speed is waning as well … Domonic Brown (hamate) is getting closer to a rehab stint … J.R. Towles has been getting lucky on batted balls this year (his solo homer on Sunday excepted), but he has had terrible luck in his short career so far - if he continues to keep the strikeouts down, he could actually put together an okay batting average and be useful in two-catcher leagues … Jason Marquis gave up ten baserunners in six inning Sunday and that sounds about right … The luck ran out for Kevin Correia, as he gave up 11 hits and five in 4 2/3 innings against the Nationals … Mike Morse hit a home run Sunday, so maybe he can get the power stick going even if the batting average isn't likely to rise much … Armando Galarraga gave up eight baserunners in three innings Sunday and is un-ownable … Juan Uribe (thigh) missed two games over the weekend and is day-to-day … Barry Enright gave up five in 5 2/3 innings against the Mets Saturday and is un-ownable.

American League Quick Hits: Evan Longoria (oblique) took batting practice over the weekend and might not be out much longer … Michael Cuddyer might be the regular second baseman in Minnesota until Tsuyoshi Nishioka (leg) returns, and after five starts he may have already added that positional value … Coco Crisp collected three this and a stolen base Sunday and is looking like he should be owned in most leagues … Carl Crawford hit a home run Sunday, had consecutive multi-hit games over the weekend, and time to buy him low may have run out … Ditto Justin Morneau, who collected two hits on Saturday and Sunday … Mike Napoli hit a home run, but it was more interesting that he started at catcher; With Taylor Teagarden as the team's emergency catcher, he should get a little more playing time … Ben Zobrist hit two home runs over the weekend and is looking better recently - he can hit at least .250 and has some power and speed at some tough positions … Alex Avila is taking advantage of Victor Martinez' absence (six hits over the weekend) and makes for an okay injury fill-in in most leagues … Edwin Encarnacion (wrist) will be back in the lineup on Monday … Justin Smoak will be activated on Tuesday and once again gets our condolences for losing his father … Magglio Ordonez said that his ankle is feeling better - that might be enough to pick him up speculatively in your deep league … Franklin Gutierrez has Irritable Bowel Syndrome and new medication … Sott Podsednik (foot) will move to Triple-A this week, but there's not necessarily a regular role waiting for him on the Jays as of now … Who knows where he'll pitch when he returns, but Kevin Slowey pitched one inning in a rehab stint Saturday … Maicer Izturis (hamstring) was a late scratch Sunday … After throwing a 40-pitch bullpen session, Jake Peavy (shoulder) is likely to resume his rehab process … Doug Fister held the A's to one run over six Sunday and is a good spot-start at home … Bruce Chen gave up six earned in 4 1/3 innings Sunday in Texas, he might still be an okay spot start in deep leagues when he's not facing good teams … Brad Penny still has his nice groundball rate, but it's his control (he walked two in seven shutout innings Saturday) that bears watching … Mark Reynolds hit a home run Sunday and is still striking out a ton, but still has power … Aaron Hill hit the DL with his sore hamstring, but hot prospect Brett Lawrie is not on his way up; Instead, it's the much less interesting John McDonald … Boston's Ryan Kalish suffered a partially torn labrum diving to make a catch in Triple-A and may have season-ending surgery, but remains an exciting prospect for 2012.


Eno Sarris is an editor and writer at FanGraphs.com. You can find his work gathered in one place at and enosarris.com. Follow his misadventures in writing on Twitter as well.
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