Bobby Colton

Week That Was

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Tulowitzki's turning it up

Saturday, August 13, 2011

This is the last of the Hot or Not series, as next week I'll be handing it back over to the regular Week That Was. This week featured an abundance of hot veteran hurlers, sluggers playing for their next contract, and out of character performances for a Royal, a Pirate, a Tiger, and a Ranger. Catch up on all of baseball's hottest and not-test this week.

NL Batters

The Hot: Prince Fielder, Brewers, 1B

Prince Fielder is in the midst of a scorching August. The slugger is hitting .394 with 2 homers and 12 RBI. In July, Fielder hit just .277 and managed only 3 homers and 7 RBI. This past week went a long way in helping Fielder post his gaudy August numbers. Fielder hit .435 with 2 homers and 9 RBI, which is essentially better than his entire July. Fielder is a star and he must be started every day. Let's not forget that Fielder is playing for his next contract over the final month and a half.

The Hotter: Will Venable, Padres, OF

Will Venable still isn't playing everyday quite yet, but he is raking right now. He only started 4 of the last 7 games, but he has a ridiculous 11 hits in that span. If you take out his 3 unsuccessful pinch hits, his average for the week leaps from .500 to an off the charts .579. Venable added 8 runs, 5 RBI, 5 extra base hits, and 3 steals this week. He is entirely too risky in mixed leagues thanks to inconsistent playing time, but if Bud Black ever gives him back his everyday job, he is a must add.

The Hottest: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies, SS

If you thought Prince Fielder was hot this month, look at Tulowitzki who has hit .444 this month. This week Tulowitzki hit .500 with 6 RBI, 5 runs, and 2 homers. Tulo had the highest slugging percentage in the NL this week as well. Tulowitzki is having another fantastic season and will be a key part of your team's playoff run.

The Not: Jason Bourgeois, Astros, OF

You know you're having a bad week when you have a 3/5 night and you raise your week's average all the way to .148. Bourgeois is one of the most senior members of the Astros' new-look lineup, but he has been he has been brutal since the trade deadline, hitting just .167 with ZERO steals. Last month he had 25 at bats and stole 5 bases. This month he has no steals in 36 at bats. Bourgeois' speed makes him an intriguing fantasy option, but he just might not have enough to be an everyday player in the Major Leagues. If you are a big risk taker, go ahead and pick up Bourgeois in mixed leagues since he has 22 steals in part time duty this year. However, if you are more conservative, leave Bourgeois on the waiver wire in mixed leagues thanks to his horrendous month and his constant injuries this year.

The Not-ter: Gaby Sanchez, Marlins, 1B

Sanchez has hit a major bump in the road this week, hitting just .100 in 20 at bats. What he does have, however, is a steal, just his 3rd of the year. Sanchez has not been the same hitter since May, when he hit .345 for the month, but he does have enough talent to warrant a spot on mixed league rosters. Hopefully, the return of Hanley Ramirez in the next week or so will allow Sanchez to get some protection in the order and will get his average back up. If you already own Sanchez in mixed leagues, sit tight. If you were considering picking him up, wait a little longer.

The Not-test: Raul Ibanez, Phillies, OF

Ibanez might be the only Phillie in the lineup not worth your while in mixed leagues. Ibanez is hitting just .240 on the year. This week, Ibanez hit just .095 in 21 at bats and knocked in just 2 runs despite the loaded Phillie lineup. Ibanez is clearly nearing the end of the line. With him likely moving out of Citizens Bank Park (where he's hitting .288), he is due for a steep drop off next year.

AL Batters

The Hot: Jason Kipnis, Indians, 2B

If only the Indians had called up Kipnis sooner. The rookies second baseman hit .346 this week, cranked 2 homers, swiped 2 bases, knocked in 6 runs, and scored an AL high 8 runs. Kipnis is a guy that must be on mixed league rosters thanks to his weak position and strong production albeit in limited action. Now, if only he could cut down on his strikeouts (8 this week).

The Hotter: David Ortiz, Red Sox, DH

David Ortiz bounced back in a big way this week. After going 3/25 last week, Big Papi went 10/23 this week, good for a .435 average. Ortiz's 3 bombs this week also lead to his .913 slugging percentage, tops in the AL for the week. Big Papi, like Fielder, is playing for his next contract over the next month and a half, so look for big time production.

The Hottest: Edwin Encarnacion, Blue Jays, 3B

Turns out all Encarnacion needed was to have a youthful injection at third base. Encarnacion hit .529 this week, which just so happened to be Brett Lawrie's first week in the Majors. Encarnacion also added a homer, 3 RBI (product of his team), and 6 runs scored. Best of all, Encarnacion showed patients and drew 5 walks compared to ZERO strikeouts. For the year, Encarnacion has nearly double the amount of strikeouts as walks (51/26).

The Not: Mark Reynolds, Orioles, 3B

Mark Reynolds is a strikeout machine. If your league gives points for strikeouts, Reynolds would be a first round pick. Unfortunately, your league likely doesn't give points for that. This week, Reynolds hit .115 and struck out 14 times. That's almost 5 times more than the number of hits he got this week. Reynolds is tough to start in mixed leagues, despite his 26 homers. He's your typical one-trick-pony.

The Not-ter: Alex Gordon, Royals, OF

I guess the old adage "What comes around, goes around" held true for Alex Gordon. Last week the breakout outfielder hit .520. This week? .107. Gordon did swipe his 10th base however, putting him in double digit steals for the first time since his rookie campaign in 2007. Expect Gordon to hit somewhere in between .520 and .107 the rest of the way, making him a fine mixed league play.

The Not-test: Vladimir Guerrero, Orioles, DH

Vladimir Guerrero is so cold that he has been demoted from the cleanup spot. Guerrero went just 1/22 this week with just one walk and one run scored. The silver lining is that Guerrero fanned just twice, meaning he's making contact and has had a bit of bad luck. Guerrero hasn't shown great power or a great average this year, so if you feel you have a better option in mixed leagues, go right ahead.

NL Pitchers

The Hot: Cliff Lee, Phillies, P

Since the Padres roughed up Lee on July 25th, Lee has been on an absolute tear. The latest team to fall victim to Lee's wrath was the Los Angeles Dodgers. Lee allowed just 4 hits and 2 walks over 8 innings. Lee also wracked up his 8th double-digit strikeout performance of the year with 10 K's. Lee is one of the top pitchers in baseball again this year.

The Hotter: Chris Carpenter, Cardinals, P

Carpenter strung together two very good starts this week after coming up short against the Brewers last week. Carpenter's first outing was against the Marlins, where the veteran went 6.2 innings of 1 run ball. Carpenter earned the win after allowing just 7 base runners while striking out 7. The former Cy Young award winner's next start was even better. Carpenter got his revenge against the Brew Crew in St. Louis. He twirled 8 innings of 2 run ball, despite allowing 10 hits and 3 free passes. Carpenter is hitting his stride and must be owned in all leagues.

The Hottest: Tim Hudson, Braves, P

Tim Hudson stretched his Quality Start streak to 10 games thanks to two more gems this weak. The Mets managed just one run on three hits over seven innings against Hudson. Hudson also dismantled another NL East foe when he tore down the Marlins, allowing just 2 runs on 6 hits over 7.1 innings. Tim Hudson is an elite pitcher on a playoff bound team. He is a must start in all formats.

The Not: Jeff Karstens, Pirates, P

Karstens had one solid start, and one absolutely miserable one. The surprising part is that Karstens tamed the Giants' bats, but was shredded by the Padres. The Padres managed 9 runs on 9 hits over just 3.1 innings. He redeemed himself by stifling the Giants over 6 innings, allowing just 2 runs while striking out 9. Despite the rebound start, his ERA still sat at 10.61. Karstens has had a great year, so he is still a useful mixed league option.

The Not-ter: Tommy Hanson, Braves, P

Tommy Hanson has been miserable since the All-Star break, posting an 8.10 ERA over 5 starts. This week was more of the bad Hanson. The Braves' hurler lasted just 3.1 innings against the Mets while allowing 7 runs including 4 homeruns, in Citi Field of all places. Hanson can't be started in mixed leagues until he moves closer to the pitcher who had a 2.44 ERA before the break.

The Not-test: Jonathan Sanchez, Giants, P

The Giants just can't get their rotation sorted out. First Jonathan Sanchez goes on the DL with some mysterious injury to be replaced by Barry Zito. Next, Zito goes on the DL with the same foot injury that he had weeks before, just to be replaced by Sanchez. Now, Sanchez has posted back-to-back duds and could be replaced by Zito all over again. Anyway, Sanchez lasted just 4.2 innings against the Phillies allowing 5 runs. Then, he lasted 4.1 innings against the Pirates allowing another 5 runs (4 earned). Sanchez is unusable in any format for the time being.

AL Pitchers

The Hot: Jason Vargas, Mariners, P

Jason Vargas pitches for the Mariners, so most average fans have never heard of him. However, Vargas is in the midst of his second solid season playing in Seattle. This week's starts pitted Vargas against the top two teams in the AL West. First, against the Angels, Vargas hurled 6 shutout innings, but took a no decision thanks to literally no run support. Then, against the Rangers, Vargas threw 7 innings of 3 run ball and managed to get the win. Vargas is not consistent enough to start in mixed leagues, but he is a great AL only option.

The Hotter: Justin Verlander, Tigers, P

Verlander's ERA actually rose 11 points this week, despite getting two wins. In his first start, Verlander stifled the Royals allowing just 3 runs in 7 innings while striking out 8. His next start was just as good, limiting the Indians to 3 runs on just 3 hits through 7 more innings, this time striking out 10. Verlander is one of the top in the game and a front-runner for the Cy Young award.

The Hottest: Mark Buehrle, White Sox, P

Buehrle is having another goodl season. This week his first start came against the Twins where he allowed 3 unearned runs on just 4 hits over 8 innings. Then, against the Orioles, Buehrle won his 10th game of the season, again going 8 strong. This time Buehrle surrendered 3 earned runs on 6 hits while fanning 6. Buehrle must be in all lineups down the stretch.

The Not: Brad Mills, Blue Jays, P

Mills was not good this week. He managed a win against the Orioles, but he lasted just 5.1 innings and allowed 3 runs on 4 hits with 4 free passes. Then, it went straight downhill for the lefty. The A's battered him for 6 runs in just 3 innings of work. Mills isn't worth starting in AL only leagues right now.

The Not-ter: Rick Porcello, Tigers, P

Rick Porcello had been brilliant since the start of July, before his most recent start. Porcello was strong in his first start of the week, going 6.1 innings of 3 run ball against the Royals. But his start against the Indians was an utter disaster. Porcello lasted only 3.2 innings allowing 8 runs on 11 hits. Porcello was so good since the start of July that you still have to keep him on the roster in mixed leagues, as he should bounce back from this speed bump.

The Not-test: Alexi Ogando, Texas, P

Ogando got blasted by the Mariners this week. The first year starter lasted just 2.2 innings, allowing 6 runs on 8 hits while walking 2 batters and fanning zero. This is just a hiccup for Ogando, as the Rangers' starter was sporting a 2.88 ERA before the start against the Mariners. He is a must own in all leagues.

And of course, no week is complete without what Schultz says: "As we reach the Ides of August, a period of time that lacks Shakespearean import, it's as good as time as any to recall the old adage that the race to a rotisserie baseball championship is not a sprint but a marathon. Well, it might not be that long and boring, but it's definitely some sort of long distance race in which the person who dashes out into the lead rarely, if ever, breaks the tape at the finish line. While some racers simply aren't up to the challenge, others fall of the pace as they aren't ready to go the distance. This is worth keeping in mind as the Mariners and Nationals begin to play one game more meaningless than the next and become mindful of the innings being logged by Michael Pineda and Jordan Zimmermann.

Pineda has been a revelation this season, supporting his Rookie Of The Year bid with a 3.57 ERA and 1.08 WHIP while striking out a batter an inning and posting a winning record for one of the most abysmal teams in baseball. Spurning the Neil Young philosophy of burning out rather than fading away, Eric Wedge and the Mariners braintrust aren't going to risk damaging their most promising young star and have already announced that they will end the 22-year-old's season early. Similarly, the Nationals have no desire to test the limits of Jordan Zimmermann's surgically repaired elbow by having him throw unnecessary innings in September and are also going to prematurely shut down their young hurler. Atlanta may be gunning for a wild card spot but if they fall from the hunt, you can rest assured that Tommy Hanson, Brandon Beachy and the beleaguered Jair Jurrjens will not throw one more pitch than required by the situation.

For the roto-owners that have been riding their young pitchers to the top of the standings, such circumspect behavior on the part of these real life managers may pose a significant obstacle to securing the fortune and glory of a championship. (Say that last part like Short Round and it's much funnier. "No time for love Dr. Jones!"). If you are one of those smart owners, you've already accounted for the upcoming absence of key cogs of your rotation. If not, you could do worse than to scavenger for Jason Marquis, who should be a little more than serviceable now that he's in the NL West pennant race, Freddy Garcia, who has been remarkable sturdy for the Yankees, or Tim Wakefield, who should rack up wins in the Red Sox lineup. You won't be excited about having them on your team and they probably won't win you a title. However, they may keep you from losing one."

Final Note: Great work again from Bobby and Schultzie. Next week a look at some "expert" pennant races.

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