Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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The Hurt and the Young

Thursday, May 19, 2011


It sure seems like the Cardinals are snake-bit this season, doesn't it? There's that Adam Wainwright thing, and then David Freese going down, and even Nick Punto (who is now down again after returning). Well, it gets worse.

Try losing their two remaining Albert Pujols protectors in the same game on Wednesday night. Matt Holliday was removed from the game with a quad injury, but he should be fine. More worrisome might be Lance Berkman leaving the game with a strained wrist. He might have injured it diving for a nice catch in the outfield, but that just underlines the risk he undertook by taking on his old position. He might miss some time, but that was the risk all along. Oh, yeah, and Colby Rasmus is still dealing with his abdominal injury, but the team says they are just playing it safe.

On the other side of the coin, Jake Peavy came roaring back from injury the same night. After a legendary surgery and a long rehab, Peavy held the American League leader in runs scoreless for a complete-game shutout with eight strikeouts. Sure, Justin Masterson's one-run in eight innings (with eight strikeouts) was also impressive, but Masterson doesn't quite have the same history going for him. The question with Peavy is how long he can stay healthy. The question with Masterson is how long he can fool lefties. Both questions are up in the air.

* The night of the young pitcher proves just how hard it is to be a young pitcher. Danny Duffy was the big debut of the night. The young lefty has a lot of promise, but his six walks against four strikeouts in four innings also show how much he has left to learn. There was a lot to like in his debut, though, and if he remains in the majors he makes for a good pickup in deeper leagues. Julio Teheran, similarly, has great promise despite giving up two runs in four innings to the Diamondbacks Wednesday night. Bud Norris had a tough start against the Cardinals - five runs in five innings with four strikeouts and three walks - but he still didn't show the terrible lack of command that he's had in the past. The game was not a droppable offense. Jeremy Hellickson has the swinging strike rate of a future ace, but he gave up three earned and three walks in 5 2/3 innings in a win over the Jays. Well, he did strike out six, and he still is very exciting. Yovani Gallardo may not be as young any more, but he struck out nine Padres and held the team to two runs in six innings. He makes for a decent buy-low.

Then again, Zach Britton held the Yankees to one unearned in seven innings with four strikeouts and 13 ground balls against five fly balls. The lack of strikeouts is a problem, but the ground balls will make him ownable for the forseeable future despite his youth. Alexi Ogando, who might as well be a rookie starter, was also solid. He allowed only two runs to the Royals in seven innings. He's getting lucky against lefties, and on balls in play in general, though. He makes for a decent sell-high.

* Maybe young hitters are a little further ahead of young pitchers. At least, it seemed so with Eric Hosmer Tuesday night. His game-tying solo home run off of Neftali Feliz was his only hit of the night, but it was exciting and showed his promise. He's ownable in most leagues still. Matt Joyce hit a home run and walked twice against the Jays - with his strikeout rate, he's not going to continue hitting for such a gaudy average, but his power is legit. Domonic Brown is killing it in the minor leagues (.361/.444/.583), but the team needs to find some major-league at-bats in order to call him up, it seems.

Young hitters have problems, too, though. Pedro Alvarez hit a home run! That was nice, but he still struck out and has been whiffing entirely too much. He probably won't ever have a nice batting average. Drew Stubbs has a similar problem, in that he strikes out too much, but he got another hit Wednesday night and remains a good sell-high if other owners buy his nice batting average.

* Just because a pitcher has been around a while doesn't mean they're more reliable. Charlie Morton did throw a five-hit shutout against the Reds Tuesday night, but he's changed so many things this year that it's hard to get a handle on what kind of pitcher he is, exactly. Carl Pavano limited the Athletics to one run in seven innings, but it was the Athletics, and he's not getting strikeouts or groundballs. Pass. Bartolo Colon held the Orioles scoreless over eight innings with seven strikeouts and one walk, but he's all fastball, isn't really getting the swinging strikes that his strikeout rate suggests, and his age alone (38) suggests that this won't last forever. Ryan Dempster allowed five runs to the Marlins with only three strikeouts in five innings. He's been unlucky on home runs, but he only gave up one Wednesday night and had other problems. He's still useful in deeper leagues. Joe Saunders held the Braves to one run in six innings, but he doesn't strike batters out or keep the ball on the ground. Another pass.

* Bullpen update! Craig Kimbrel has a bit of a control problem, but his fourth blown save, achieved Wednesday night, was all hits. Four straight singles don't mean that it's time to change closers, though, especially when your closer has struck out as many batters in as few innings as Kimbrel. Brandon League had a tough weekend, but a hitless inning Wednesday (for a save) should give his owners a sigh of relief. That, and the fact that there is no-one behind him in that pen. Brad Lidge could throw off a mound this Thursday. He might not make it back before Jose Contreras, but the returns may be so close together that they render Contreras droppable. Then again, Jose Contreras made his first rehab outing (and was knocked around). Vicente Padilla is having some issues with his forearm and may be behind both Matt Guerrier and Kenley Jansen in that pen, suddenly. Andrew Bailey expects to start his rehab assignment Friday - finally.

National League Quick Hits: Looks like Bryce Harper won't come up this year, says his GM … Chase Utley (knee) may be back as soon as May 26th, so make sure he's owned in your league … Jay Bruce only missed the game due to illness, don't panic … It was the worst start of the season, but Ricky Nolasco only gave up four runs in six innings with five strikeouts - this could be the year that he has good luck with his strong peripherals … Hanley Ramirez homered, singled and stole a base, and if you can get him cheap, do it - he may look disinterested, but that's always been his style … Shane Victorino (hamstring) will get an MRI Thursday … Angel Pagan (oblique) will begin his rehab assignment any day … Kyle Lohse held the Astros to one run in eight innings, but it was the Astros and he only struck out three, so don't hold on to him too tightly … Jon Niese struck out seven and only walked one - the swinging strikes are the key to his future … Tom Gorzelanny, on the other hand, also struck out seven, but his five walks and history of control problems make him very avoidable … He may only be in while David Wright (back) is sidelined, but Justin Turner collected two hits and looks comfortable for now … Jorge De La Rosa and Cole Hamels each gave up one run in eight innings, but Hamels struck out eight Rockies and deserved the win more … Armando Galarraga was designated for assignment but he'll always have that near-perfect game … Ryan Ludwick had two hits and a home run and is enjoying an eight-game hitting streak … Will Venable (hand) and Cameron Maybin (knee) missed aother game, and Chris Denorfia and Eric Patterson filled in; both starters should be back soon …. Chien Ming Wang (shoulder) is pitching in extended spring training … Mark DeRosa (wrist) is day-to-day.

American League Quick Hits: Josh Hamilton (fractured right humerus) will begin a rehab assignment shortly … Alex Rodriguez will get a checkup on his hip this weekend, which should only remind you that he's an old man and the steals aren't coming back … Brian Roberts missed Wednesday's game due to headaches … Clay Buchholz struck out seven against one walk with no runs allowed in seven innings against the Tigers Wednesday night and the time to buy low is passing … Phil Coke matched Buchholz in scoreless innings, but he only had four strikeouts and is not great against right-handers … Jarrod Saltalamacchia doubled home the only run of the game, but he only has another couple of weeks to save his job by most accounts … In more Boston news, Daisuke Matsuzaka (elbow) will get a second opinion in order to try and avoid surgery … The Sox called Kevin Millwood to see if he might consider joining their organization … Mitch Moreland (hamstring) returned to action … Coco Crisp missed Wednesday's game for a family matter … Franklin Gutierrez (IBS) is back and could give most deep league owners a steals boost … Travis Hafner was a late scratch with soreness in his right side, but as long as that doesn't read 'shoulder,' it's good news … Derrek Lee (oblique) felt better and will probably avoid the DL … The Twins expect to activate Jim Thome (oblique) and Jason Repko (quad) by next Monday … Cesar Izturis needs elbow surgery and will be out two months, so as long as J.J. Hardy is healthy, he's the dude … In other Oriole news, Alfredo Simon will be activated next week despite learning that his trial will commence this year as well … Trevor Plouffe had a two-run single and a sacrifice fly in a 4-3 Twins victory and seems safe until Tsuyoshi Nishioka returns … Justin Duchscherer (hip) was unable to make his extended spring training start Wednesday.


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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