Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Better News Ahead?

Thursday, July 07, 2011


If we got a deluge of negative health information last week, it seems that the tide is turning as the All-Star break approaches. Now the news from the training room is slightly more positive.

Albert Pujols actually returned to play and looked fine, notching a hit and an RBI and not striking out. Medical marvel. Carlos Gonzalez took batting practice today at about 75%. After watching him crash into the wall the other day, that's welcome news, too. Ryan Braun had an MRI of his sore left calf, but it only showed inflammation and he should be considered day-to-day. Troy Tulowitzki will hit before Thursday's game and should come back Friday! Mike Morse already returned and collected two hits. Yunel Escobar is back playing again too and had four hits. Looks like his hand is fine. Clay Buchholz can treat his back injury with rehab, confirm the doctors. Johan Santana is going to throw another bullpen Thursday as some optimism begins to take hold in his rehab. Even Stephen Strasburg might make a minor league rehab start by mid-August.

Some players from deeper in the pool also got good tidings. Martin Prado began a rehab stint and wants to be back the first day after the break. Placido Polanco expects to be back this weekend. Phil Hughes came back off the DL and held the Indians to two runs in five innings. Most importantly, he showed good velocity. Mike Napoli had his first home run since returning from the disabled list this week. He can be useful in the right leagues. Alex White, who's ground-ball ways have translated to the bigs, has been cleared to start throwing again after his finger has mostly healed. Allen Craig is running again and could be back from his fractured kneecap after the break, but while he was out the rest of the team got healthy. He won't have anything but a bench role at first. Mike Fontenot could be back Friday! Matt LaPorta is back!

Of course, there are the guys that haven't been getting the same rosy prognoses. Jose Reyes and his bad right hamstring missed Wednesday night and now the report is that he will hit the DL soon, backdated. Jon Lester hit the DL for a strained lat and won't even be evaluated until after the break. Chipper Jones keeps talking about his knee, saying he probably shouldn't have played despite his home run. Surgery might be on the way. Jordan Zimmermann is healthy, but it looks like he'll be held to 160 innings this year - or eight more starts.

* Bullpen news that might not be bullpen news but could mean everything if you're chasing saves. Like Ron Gardenhire saying that Joe Nathan would have closed if there was a save situation on Wednesday, that could be big news. But then he also said that Matt Capps is still his closer. In Saves & Steals we predicted Joe Nathan, though, and we'll see if it holds. Mike Adams could be the next closer in San Diego if the team moves Heath Bell as rumored. He also gave up a couple runs to blow the game in San Francisco. Luke Gregerson is the other name to remember. Aroldis Chapman converted his first save by finishing out the 13th against the Cardinals. He's, at the very least, the closer of the future for the Reds. It might take more than one blown Francisco Cordero save to get him there this year though. Brad Lidge will hit up his second rehab game Thursday but might need some more. Mariano Rivera might take another day to rest his triceps. David Robertson for another night.

* Pitches and tricks go together, they do, but you have to separate the two in order to figure out if they can keep it up. Jair Jurrjens is a good pitcher. He won his twelfth game before any other National Leaguer by holding the Rockies to one run. He also struck out two and his particular skills will most probably support a high-threes ERA unless his newfound control holds all year. Will it? Tyler Chatwood gave up only two unearned runs Wednesday against the Tiger, but he walked five and doesn't have the ground-ball tricks he used to have in the minor leagues. Stay away unless you're in the deepest of leagues. Trick is the word for Josh Collmenter - his delivery is deceptive. He doesn't get swinging strikes or ground balls, so don't take too much away from the fact that he kept the Brewers scoreless for six innings. Guillermo Moscosco didn't give up a run in seven innings but doesn't have the underlying skills to support it. Call it bad magic. Same for Wade Davis, who hasn't recorded more than four strikeouts in 12 straight starts. Allowing three earned in five innings against the Twins could be called lucky for him.

His opponent Wednesday, Jason Vargas, is also not as good as his ERA. But he's getting ground balls at an above-average rate, has great control, and strikes out just enough batters to make it work. He gave up two runs in eight innings against Oakland, in an obvious spot-start. Yovani Gallardo isn't showing the strikeout rate he had the last couple of years, but now that the smoke has cleared, it's still obvious that he's a strong starter. He struck out six, walked one, and allowed one run against Arizona and should be started in every game going forward. Madison Bumgarner struck out six, walked one, gave up more ground balls then fly balls… and also gave up five runs. He's been a little unlucky on batted balls, but he's also not a true ace. Really, say the same thing about Jon Niese. He struck out six, walked one held the Dodgers to three runs in seven innings Wednesday night. Alexi Ogando's bag of tricks is working again. He held the Orioles to three runs with five strikeouts in seven innings. The walk rate is great, but he's been a little lucky on batted balls, he's a fly ball dude, and the team hasn't nailed down an innings limit for the former reliever. Still a good time to shop him. Sure, Tom Gorzelanny has okay control and can get some strikeouts. But he's also an extreme fly ball pitcher with a homeritis problem. He gave up four runs in six innings to the Cubs and allowed two home runs. Spot-start him in home-run suppressing parks.

* We should give a little love to the players that just went off. Like Jacoby Ellsbury hit a home run and collected two more doubles and a stolen base. That's his 10th home run and 28th stolen base, meaning he's on pace to be really good. Mike Stanton did not have a good game, but he did hit a lazer home run to win the game in the 10th inning, so there's that. Hanley Ramirez was the guy who was hot all game, and his three hits are a few more bricks in the road back to a respectable end-of-season line. Dan Uggla. Dan Uggla! He had two hits, one a home run. That's two games in a row, and if you can handle a bad batting average and need power, he's your man. Hunter Pence had three hits and a stolen base, but probably won't hit .300 going forward when his batted-ball luck changes.

* The promise of tomorrow is here today. Kyle Seager at least is in Seattle, and it looks like he will take third base away from Chone Figgins for the forseeable future. He's not a big bopper and he didn't have great success rates on stolen bases in the minor leagues either. Good patience and good strikeout rates and enough speed mean that he's more likely to have a good batting average than not. So at least there's that, and opportunity. Lonnie Chisenhall is playing every day in Cleveland and just hit his first home run. He may not relinquish the job, even if he's weaker against lefties and doesn't have elite upside. Maybe the third shot at the future will do the trick: Brandon Belt might be up again soon, and he still has elite upside with the stick. Mike Moustakas is still the future at third base in KC, even if he went 0-for-11 in the White Sox series.

National League Quick Hits: Jay Bruce had two hits, one a homer, and he's a great player when hot … Carlos Beltran had two doubles and looks good on the basepaths again … Jason Heyward just got a routine day off to rest … Anibal Sanchez is still a strong fantasy pitcher, even if he's not been great lately; He gave up five runs in four innings … Bud Norris allowed two runs to the Pirates, but only struck out three … Aaron Miles has been hot, but then he got hit, but the X-rays came back negative … Casey McGehee came off the bench and hit a home run now that Mat Gamel is getting a shot at third base, and given Gamel's brick hands, he's still the favorite … R.A. Dickey's glute is okay and he's ready to go Friday … John Mayberry homered twice, but he won't play often enough to be relevant … Jamie Carroll had three hits and shows enough batting average to be a super-sub in most leagues … Justin Turner reached base in his 28th straight, a Mets rookie record, but he's more of a deep league play … Charlie Morton (five runs in 5 1/3 innings) is who we thought he was … Ditto Nate Schierholtz, who is playing enough and hitting enough (two home runs Sunday) … Ryan Ludwick doesn't seem very interesting, but he managed two RBI Wednesday and could still be traded out of SD … There's not really a great reason to own Bronson Arroyo and Jake Westbrook, who combined to give up 12 runs in 10 1/3 innings … Ronny Cedeno (concussion) will not return before the break.

American League Quick Hits: Ricky Romero hit a bump in the road called the Red Sox and allowed six runs in 4 1/3 … Justin Masterson held the Yankees to two hits in eight scoreless and is going to continue his bustout year by most accounts … Francisco Liriano didn't have a good control day, with three hit batters, four walks and a wild pitch while giving up five runs in 4 1/3 … Austin Jackson walked a career-high four times, and could play a little better even if the strikeout rate is too high to show a good batting average … Scott Baker will miss his start Sunday with a flexor muscle strain and Anthony Swarzak will take his place … Edwin Jackson has the rates of a decent pitcher and the results of a mediocre one; He gave up four runs in seven innings against the Royals … J.P. Arencibia was hit by a Jonathan Papelbon fastball Wednesday, but his team doesn't think it's serious … Scott Sizemore hit a home run and is looking good in Oakland … Johnny Damon was also hit but X-rays were negative and he should be fine … Vladimir Guerrero hit a home run, his first in 19 games … Jeremy Guthrie is fundamentally a mediocre pitcher, so you can't really play him against teams like Texas in their house; The Oriole allowed six runs in five innings … Derek Holland has been struggling, but he has good upside and his manager says they have not discussed moving him from the rotation … Greg Holland got another hold for Kansas City and has great rates … Grant Balfour should be back Thursday … Tsuyoshi Nishioka had three hits Wednesday and could still be a low-power MI option in many leagues … Mark Trumbo hit his 14th but there's no chance that batting average or OBP is getting better … Casey Kotchman collected three hits but is not this good … Brandon Webb is likely done for the season and might be done for his career and deserves a modicum of good luck at some point.


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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