Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Up With Romero, Morse & Ackley

Thursday, June 16, 2011


A group of breakout stars shined brightly Wednesday night, but really these performances have been coming for a while.

Ricky Romero may not have had the great minor league numbers that usually predate work like he's been putting in this year. Down on the farm, he did have worse command and his strikeout ability waxed and waned, but he was still able to get groundballs throughout. And that hasn't left him in the major leagues, as more than half of his contact burns worms. Wednesday night, Romero struck out twelve batters in eight innings while holding Baltimore to one run. He's been striking more batters out and walking fewer every year in the major leagues, and he's now a fantasy ace. No doubt about it.

Jhoulys Chacin only gave up one run in six innings against the Padres at home Wednesday, but it was the seven strikeouts that were so awesome. He's always been a ground-ball dude -- and he's inducing over 60% of his contact on the ground this year -- but he's adding strikeout punch in the major leagues and is an excellent play going forward. Dillon Gee didn't get his eighth win, but he didn't lose the game either. He struck out five in four innings in a rain-shortened appearance, but reports of his minor-league stuff doesn't quite match the results he's been getting in the major leagues this year. He does have a decent changeup, and if he pairs it with his current control, might be able to do just enough to stick on the back end of mixed-league rotations.

On the other side of the ball, the prognostication is not as clear. Yes, Mike Morse hit two home runs against the Cardinals, and yes they were his 11th and 12th of the year. Though he was once a light-hitting middle infield prospect, you can actually see the power coming. In 2009, he started striking out more and hitting for more power, and that string has continued until today. The strikeouts are a bit of a problem though. With the amount of whiffing he does on a per-pitch basis, he could only hit about .270 or so going forward. And still he'd be a value to those that picked him up for free.

* Other young players are making their case for playing time. Dustin Ackley is now in the major leagues and gets to make his case. His good plate discipline means that his transition might go well, but he doesn't have much power or speed. Still, in deep leagues he should be picked up, and even in some mixed leagues he might fill a need. Brennan Boesch has been on fire this month, with a .368 batting average. He hit his fourth home run of the month on Wednesday too. The thing is, he always showed higher strikeout rates in the minor leagues and it just seems like that same batting average dip is coming in the future. Ben Revere collected two hits and a stolen base, and along with his excellent center field defense, looks like he might be able to stick even once Jason Kubel and Jim Thome return. Once the older dudes return, they should really be traded so that the Twins can focus on next year. Pick up Revere in most keeper leagues if you have a need for speed and an open spot. Saves & Steals favorite Charles Blackmon is in a similar situation. He got three hits and a stolen base Wednesday and looks comfortable in the majors. He's the opposite of Dexter Fowler in that he doesn't have the same tools, but he's also opposite in that he makes loads of contact. Supposedly Fowler will take his time in the minor leagues and try to get back on track. Maybe Blackmon can make his case in the meantime.

* Some difficult starts Wednesday hide upside that still remains. Mat Latos gave up four runs in 5 1/3 innings against the Rockies and only struck out two. His velocity is also not all the way back. The good news is that he's young and still striking out batters at an above-average rate. He's a decent buy-low even for this year. Derek Holland ran into a Yankee buzzsaw and couldn't manage a strikeout. He gave up home runs to Mark Teixeira and Eduardo Nunez while allowing six runs in five innings. Still, he's a young lefty with a 94 MPH fastball and a legit four-pitch mix. It's not a bad time to get him in deeper keeper leagues. Gavin Floyd gave up 11 hits and four runs in a loss. That might sound like a bad game, except it came in nine innings. He struck out six and has improved his already strong control this year. Floyd is getting a little lucky on balls in play, but he's still a good pitcher. Jeremy Hellickson allowed three runs in seven innings, but it was to the Red Sox, so that's a good start. He's got the swinging strikes to support a better strikeout rate, and he's had better control his whole life. He's an excellent buy in keeper leagues.

* The prominent loss of Captain Derek Jeter headlines the group of players headed to the DL. He won't resume baseball-related activities for another ten days, but his calf sprain is of the mild variety and he should miss the minimum. Shortstop took a hit. Surprise Darwin Barney also will miss time. His sprained right knee will need at least three weeks, but he was mostly an empty batting average anyway. Brandon Lyon went back on the DL and now the team is concerned that he has structural damage. He was so terrible after coming back that it's a good idea to at least check. Hopefully you didn't drop Mark Melancon in the meantime. Allen Craig was already on theDL, but now he's been diagnosed with a small fracture in his right kneecap and will miss anywhere from three to six weeks. Josh Johnson was moved to the 60-day DL, but the Marlins think he'll come back when eligible July 16.

* A few returns from the DL might perk your interest. Jason Heyward returned and drew a walk off of the surprising Dillon Gee Wednesday night. Joe Mauer comes back Friday, finally. Travis Hafner said his oblique felt fine after his first rehab game, but his manager says Pronk must play three games at least before returning. Kyle McClellan returned and gave up three earned runs in five innings against the Nationals. He struck out three, walked none and kept most of his contact on the ground, which is about what can be expected of him going forward. He was an average reliever, there's not much reason to expect him to be an above-average starter. Tsuyoshi Nishioka returned and should start for the Twins shortly. Alfonso Soriano is back, too. Jeff Niemann said that his back feels fine after his 5 1/3 scoreless innings for Durham Tuesday. He could make sense in deeper leagues. Jake Peavy will get the ball for Triple-A Charlotte Thursday, but his manager says it might take more than one rehab start to get him back up to speed. Kenley Jansen could be back Friday and might even factor into the closing mix with the way things look in Los Angeles right now. Brandon Webb threw three scoreless innings in Triple-A and said he felt like he could get major leaguers out. No word what his velocity was. Nate McLouth (oblique) will begin an assignment Thursday, but Jordan Schafer has made a compelling case for playing time while he was gone. Tom Gorzelanny is also back and will start Sunday. John McDonald will be back Friday! Rich Harden will begin a rehab assignment Monday after looking great in a bullpen session! Eric Chavez jogged on a treadmill! These things don't deserve exclamation marks!

* Borderline pitching made their cases (good and bad) Wednesday. Charlie Morton's time in the spotlight might be fading. He did get the win, but he allowed ten baserunners in five innings and has given up 39 in his last 22 innings. It looks like Carl Pavano has re-found his control and ground-ball ways, and after holding the White Sox to one run, he also looks like he is playable in deeper leagues. Brad Penny didn't strike a batter out, gave up four runs to the Indians, and isn't a great start in any league for now. Ditto his opponent Fausto Carmona, who also gave up four runs, but in five innings with three strikeouts. Once so many of his fly balls stop turning into home runs he'll be more playable than Penny and Pavano in deeper leagues, but his lack of strikeouts keeps him from mixed league relevance. Chris Narveson has good rates but the results aren't quite there yet in Milwaukee. He gave up four runs in 5 1/3 against the Cubs and is just hanging out on the periphery. The bench is the best place for him. Jake Arrieta stuck out five and gave up three runs in six innings against the Blue Jays, but his control remains an issue despite only walking two. Kyle Kendrick doesn't strike anybody out, and gets groundballs and issues walks at an average rate, so don't believe despite his one-run seven-inning outing against the Marlins. Josh Outman kept the Royals down (seven scoreless innings), but he only struck out two and is a fly-ball dude. Pass, except perhaps at home agains weak offenses. His opponent, Luke Hochevar, is getting ground balls at least. And showing improved control. He gave up two runs in seven innings and is a deep-league spot starter. Travis Wood held the Dodgers to one run, but his control (five walks) is a problem recently. Livan Hernandez struck out six, walked none, and pitched a shutout against the Cardinals. He's still a pass as a fly-ball pitcher with a severely below-average strikeout rate.

National League Quick Hits: Hanley Ramirez is back, but his manager said that he won't play day games after night games for two weeks … Albert Pujols is one start away from third-base eligibility … Chase Utley is showing signs of life, as he doubled and tripled Wednesday … Jayson Werth hit his first home run in 22 games but is still a great power/speed outfield option, even with the bad batting average … Angel Pagan hit a home run Wednesday and is definitely a mixed league play going forward … Anibal Sanchez stuck out six, walked four, allowed two runs, and showed that you can pitch him away from home in all leagues … Madison Bumgarner struck out six, walked one, and allowed two runs in six innings in Arizona to continue his strong work …Chad Billingsley is showing his inconsistency again, after being tagged for seven runs by the Reds; He's still getting whiffs at an average rate and is still a mixed-leaguer … Freddie Freeman has been hitting better of late, and will be back in the lineup Thursday after missing two games with an oblique issue … Scott Rolen hit two doubles and a single Wednesday and seems to be heating up … Aubrey Huff is also showing life, as his two hits have his June average up to .315 … Jason Bay is still the left fielder "hands down" says his manager, but there's little reason to expect a great bounce-back at this point … Pirates second baseman Josh Harrison (oblique) won't hit the DL … Homer Bailey will make a rehab start Thursday and might make one more before returning … Jose Lopez is with the Marlins now but if he couldn't make it happen in Colorado … Once-closer Eduardo Sanchez is headed back to St. Louis to get his shoulder examined … Takashi Saito finally pitched (a perfect inning) after a couple unsuccessful attempts to rehab his myriad injuries … Rick Ankiel missed Wednesday's game with an intercostal strain and is day-to-day … Yunesky Maya was optioned to the minors after an ugly stint with the Nationals …The Cardinals returned Matt Carpenter to the minors … Jorge Cantu was designated for assignment and is not fantasy relevant in any leagues right now.

American League Quick Hits: Josh Beckett was awesome against the Rays (a one-hit shutout), and though his ERA and WHIP won't stay this ridiculously low he's an ace again … Rafael Soriano (elbow) will rest another week … Jed Lowrie (shoulder) returned to the lineup and went hitless … Ichiro Suzuki stole two bases and doubled twice and isn't quite done yet … Joe Nathan (elbow) is getting close after throwing batting practice … It looks like Alberto Callaspo (hamstring) will avoid the DL; Maicer Izturis (foot) should be back Friday … Jemile Weeks got a hit and a stolen base and just might stick with the A's to provide speed at a rough position … Alcides Escobar had three hits in the game and is a fringe MI player in deep leagues if he can keep up an okay batting average … Brent Morel singled and collected an RBI and is okay enough in AL-onlies … Jim Leyland indicated that Ryan Raburn will continue to see his playing time dwindle if he doesn't pick up his play, meaning Ramon Santiago becomes more relevant with every day … Matt Harrison (triceps bruise) will make his next start, but regression is coming … Tommy Hunter (groin) pitched 3 2/3 innings in Triple-A, but there isn't a timetable for his return yet … Boston is calling up Andrew Miller, who found some success at Triple-A, but he was also walking people and is a very risky pickup … Brandon Inge (mono) worked out and wants to be back Friday but his team will be cautious … Orlando Cabrera collected three hits, but he's still splitting time with Cord Phelps and is on shaky ground … Brian Gordon will start for the Yankees Thursday, and had nice minor league numbers, but is a 32-year-old with marginal stuff still … The Shutdown Sauce is shut down as Alfredo Simon is on the 15-day DL with a right hamstring strain … Scott Kazmir was released by the Angels after a terrible rehab stint and might only make it back to the majors as a reliever.


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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