Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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Atlanta Making News

Thursday, August 11, 2011


It must be Hotlanta because the Braves burned up the news wires on Wednesday, badumching. Mostly, it was good news. Dan Uggla extended his streak to 31 games and had three hits. He's at .224 for the year, so that's how bad he was earlier in the season. Brian McCann's oblique has healed to the point that he will begin rehab games on Friday, and tests confirmed that Tommy Hanson's shoulder is healthy. Also, the Bravos called up one of their bevy of pitching prospects, Arodys Vizcaino. Vizcaino is probably behind Randall Delgado, Julio Teheran and Mike Minor on the depth chart, but the right-hander that came over in the Javier Vazquez trade is a hard-thrower with a nice fastball. The lack of developed secondary pitches makes him a reliever for the short run, and limits his long term upside. He's a deep dynasty play at this point.

The biggest news might have been Jason Heyward's return to the lineup. Fredi Gonzalez has been platooning him in order to hide the young left-hander from southpaws, but Heyward also missed a start against a right-hander on his 22nd birthday. What a present. Heyward's current fantasy value is limited not only by his role on the team right now, but by the fact that he's beating the ball into the ground. In Double-A, though, Heyward only hit 40% of his balls on the ground, meaning that more fly balls (and more home runs) should be in his future. He still has the potential to hit .280+ with 25ish home runs and a hand full of stolen bags every year, so don't sell low in dynasty leagues. But with the (silly) way that he's being used by the Braves, the Say Hey Kid is only a utility (or bench) play in mixed redraft leagues the rest of the way.

* What about the pitching performances you say? Well, Jeff Karstens certainly had his day. He'd never struck out more than six before in his career, and yet felled nine Giants on Wednesday. Suddenly he's got an average swinging strike rate, average ground ball rate, and the best control of his life. Even if he pitches to a four-plus ERA the rest of the way, he'll end up with a 3.5ish ERA on the year and be one of the best surprises of the season. Just don't keep a player with that peripheral profile for next year. Ivan Nova held the Angels to three runs in six innings on Wednesday, and it looks like he'll probably stay in the rotation. Still, he's not the best fantasy option because he's mostly about his ground balls. Mike Leake struck out five, walked one and allowed two runs in 7 1/3 against the Rockies. He doesn't get the swinging strikes, but gets enough ground balls and has good enough control to be a fringe mixed leaguer. Ubaldo Jimenez held the Tigers to three runs in eight innings with six strikeouts and, perhaps most importantly, only one walk. Don't trade him away, the move out of Colorado could help him as much as moving to the AL could hurt him.

That isn't to say it was all poops and whistles on Wednesday night. Jonathan Sanchez walked four in 4 1/3 (while giving up four runs to the Pirates) and apparently his next start might be in jeopardy. This is how you deal with six starters good enough to pitch, maybe. Vance Worley gave up six runs in four innings in the same game. He was pitching above his head anyway, as his strikeout numbers don't match his swinging strike numbers. Anibal Sanchez gave up five runs while getting five outs and is hitting a bit of a wall here. A bunch of singles gave him the death by paper cuts, though. For those that think above-average control and above-average ground balls is enough to get by despite a lack of strikeouts, consider Rick Porcello. He does exactly that, has had relatively normal luck, and after getting shelled by the Indians on Wednesday, has an ERA near five. Jon Lester gave up four runs in 7 1/3 against the Twins (and his opponent Nick Blackburn held the Red Sox to one run in 6 1/3). Play that one a hundred times more and that might not come close to happening again.

* Assorted medical items around the league could be significant in your leagues. Hanley Ramirez finally hit the DL, but it was backdated to the third, so he's not too far away from returning. Matt Holliday will miss a game or two after tweaking his back while lifting weights. This sort of thing will happen as he gets older -- he already lost his speed on the basepaths. Justin Morneau will be back with the Twins on Friday! He's worth a pickup in any league really. Brandon Phillips tweeted that he'll miss five days with his elbow injury, which might be good news after his previous tweets, which described his elbow as a balloon. Carlos Beltran missed Wednesday, but his manager thinks he'll be back Friday. Dee Gordon will hit the DL even though and MRI only showed a bruised right shoulder. Speed-starved deep leaguers might want to look at Jason Bartlett in the meantime. Juan Nicasio was released from the hospital, which is just awesome after all that he's gone through.

* The Phillies bullpen seemed like one to watch, but now Ryan Madson is slamming the door shut. Brad Lidge struggled in the seventh inning, Antonio Bastardo was summoned to save him, and Madson saved his third straight game. That pretty much seals the deal on the Phillies pen. In the Rockies' pen, Huston Street missed his second straight game with his lat muscle situation. Rafael Betancourt is the man while he's out, especially with Matt Lindstrom now on the DL with a nerve injury, but the team keeps saying Street will be back shortly. Joakim Soria blew his first save since June first, but Aaron Crow helped him, so it was a group effort. David Hernandez got the save in Arizona because J.J. Putz was a little sore from his diving stop to end Tuesday night's game. No mention if Putz would miss time, though.

* At the plate, Andrew McCutchen was the star of the night. He homered, scored four runs, and stole two bases… in one official at-bat. That's what three walks will do for you. What a line from an exciting young player. Well, superman Sam Fuld also did some work, tripling in two runs to cap a five-run ninth-inning rally for the Rays. He's still only a deep leaguer. Melky Cabrera pushed the issue by hitting a three-run bomb off of Jake McGee. It's been a career year for Cabrera but it's at least partially propped by the best batted ball luck he's ever had, too. Most years he's still a .275 10/10 kind of player, which is only okay. Brett Lawrie hit the first grand slam of his career, and other than some good luck on balls in play, most systems are go for the young stud. He's a little ahead of Jason Kipnis (who had five hits and a home run Wednesday) because he doesn't strike out nearly as much as the Indians' second baseman. Jesus Guzman had two hits and two stolen bases against the Mets. Without the batted ball luck he's more of a contact-heavy first baseman with less power than the average first sacker, but he's helpful right now, especially in leagues where he's a shortstop. Mike Carp had two hits to continue his sizzling stretch. Without his insane batted ball luck, though, he's an underpowered corner outfielder slash first baseman with a bad batting average though. And scouts remain very skeptical that he'll ever make it as a regular.

National League Quick Hits: Wandy Rodriguez might be placed on waivers this week and could be claimed, but that doesn't mean he'll necessarily be dealt … Jayson Werth had two hits (one a home run) and is percolating … Derrek Lee (hand) was scratched with lingering soreness … Angel Pagan was pulled from Wednesday's game for back spasms but hopes to be back Friday … Josh Collmenter doesn't get swinging strikes or ground balls, is getting lucky on batted balls and is surviving based on his funky delivery, but he did hold the lowly Astros offense to two runs in seven innings with five strikeouts, so at least he has that … Randy Wolf held the Cards to one run in eight innings but is a matchups play as his one strikeout attests … Chris Narveson will head to the DL after slicing his hand trying to repair his glove (d'oh) … R.A. Dickey gave up three earned in six with only one strikeout, continuing his fringe fantasy worthiness … Jake Westbrook gave up three runs in eight innings to the Brewers, which counts as a good thing compared to how he looked in the first half … It looks like Jonny Gomes has taken the starting job from Laynce Nix in Washington for now … Juan Rivera had three hits and a home run but only plays against lefties … Henry Sosa debuted for the Astros after coming over in the Jeff Keppinger trade, and he allowed four runs to the Diamondbacks in six innings with four strikeouts; wait and see because he's no can't-miss … Zack Cozart will undergo season-ending elbow surgery, which is too bad because he was playing a passible shortstop for many fantasy teams … Orlando Hudson (groin) should miss the DL … Allen Craig is back with the Cardinals, but where he'll play now on a mostly healthy team is up in the air … Ian Stewart is back in Triple-A, sad face emoticon.

American League Quick Hits: Curtis Granderson hit two home runs and his 31 are already a career high -- what a year … Asdrubal Cabrera was pulled after being hit by a pitch on the foot but should be okay … Coco Crisp (calf) is still not back yet, remains day-to-day, and won't return Thursday … Michael Brantley has some soreness in his hand and will likely sit out a few days after visiting a hand specialist … J.D. Drew took some swings in the cage and should begin rehab early next week … Brennan Boesch (thumb) got good news from the X-rays but is now slated for an MRI … Henderson Alvarez struck out four, walked one, and allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings against the Athletics, which is pretty good for a debut … Derek Holland held the Mariners to two earned in in six with seven innings and is a great matchups play, perhaps even better; We've been touting him as a sleeper all year based on his velocity, age, and handedness alone … Alexi Casilla (hamstring) returns Friday … Garrett Richards is more polished and doesn't have the same stuff as Alvarez; He gave up six runs (two home runs), but he also drew the Yankees in his debut … Jason Vargas held the Rangers to three runs in seven innings in Texas, but trying to predict his better matchups is like trying to catch falling soap … Alex Cobb will undergo season-ending surgery on his rib cage but showed enough to be a late-round flier in many leagues next year … Nolan Reimold hit a walkoff home run and is nothing but power right now … The Rays also promoted shortstops Tim Beckham and Hak-Ju Lee to Double- and Triple-A respectively, but even if Lee is a little further away, his stats have looked better this year … Jake Arrieta will undergo season-ending surgery Friday … Dustin McGowan (forearm) made his eighth rehab appearance but his timetable and eventual role are still up in the air.


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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