Eno Sarris

Baseball Daily Dose

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A-Rod Returns, 0-For-Five

Monday, August 22, 2011


It wasn't quite a triumphant return for Alex Rodriguez, as he went hitless in five plate appearances and left six men on base. But his team won, and they got their veteran third-baseman back, so he'll probably sleep well tonight. Get him back in your lineups right away. Even in his decline phase, he's a strong option at an increasingly tough position.

Other players got some good news about their health over the weekend. Jose Reyes "looked terrific" running on the field on Saturday. He'll ratchet up his rehab now. Adam Lind's right wrist passed the X-ray test and he could be back in the lineup Tuesday. Tommy Hanson has a bullpen Monday and if it goes well, he'll make a rehab start in Triple-A this weekend. Carlos Beltran could be back as soon as Tuesday, and his lineup needs him badly. Adrian Beltre will run the bases Monday, but that's a saga right now.

The weekend was injurious to some, though. Jacoby Ellsbury was hit in the back Friday and missed the weekend. There's no structural damage, though, and he should be back by mid-week at the latest. Carlos Quentin has a sprained AC joint in his left shoulder, but it's up to him how long he plays. Quentin gets hit by pitches more than anyone in baseball and might also be injury-prone otherwise, it seems. Jimmy Rollins strained his groin and Travis Hafner did something to himself, and both left their games early on Sunday. More to come, especially once both players have their MRI tests Monday. Paul Maholm will go to Dr. James Andrews Monday to look at his shoulder. That can't be good. Nick Blackburn has a forearm strain and Anthony Swarzak will take his place in the rotation. He's an interesting speculative play in really deep leagues, but doesn't really get strikeouts or ground balls.

* When do we start to believe that a pitcher can continue to put up numbers that they seemingly do not deserve? Josh Collmenter is surviving mostly on guts, guile and a funky delivery. He struck out four Braves, walked three, and only allowed one run to the Braves in seven innings. Still, he has the peripherals of a pitcher with an ERA in the high threes, not low threes. R.A. Dickey's peripherals are also not very exciting, but knuckleballers have always confounded baseball researchers. He struck out four, walked none, and gave up two runs in seven against the Brewers. Gio Gonzalez has shown us enough to know that his control makes him inconsistent. But when he's on -- like he was against the Jays Saturday, when he struck out nine and walked none will allowing one run in eight innings -- he's one of the better values in the league. Rick Porcello has had rotten luck this year. Sure, he doesn't strike out people, but he has great control and gets ground balls. He gave up five runs in 3 2/3 innings Sunday to continue the streak. Maybe his defense needs to get better. Cory Luebke deserves his numbers. He struck out eight, walked none and gave up just one run in six innings against the Marlins. Thank you very much.

And then there are the pitchers that are undergoing some regression. Yovani Gallardo was good and unlucky in the first half, now he's getting a little good luck. He struck out six and welched one against the Mets, though, so he didn't really need luck to hold the inconsistent New York lineup to two runs in seven innings. James Shields was good and lucky in the first half, and he got roughed up by the Mariners in Seattle Sunday -- seven runs in 7 1/3 innings -- but he struck out seven and walked only one. Call that some bad luck and move on. Francisco Liriano has been getting swinging strikes and ground balls all year. His control hasn't been great, but he's deserved better. Saturday, he struck out six Yankees in seven innings and held a great lineup to one run. There's upside there still. Gavin Floyd has had some putrid luck early this month, but he struck out six, walked one, and held the Rangers scoreless at home. He could be a high-threes ERA guy going forward if he had neutral luck. Anibal Sanchez has been really unlucky this month, but his performance has really been about the same. Sunday he was only meh: five innings, three earned, three strikeouts against the Padres. That's better than he's been recently, though.

* Here's your current closer carousel update. Brian Wilson is on the DL, which was a long time coming. It's retroactive to the 16th, so he could be back on the last day of the month. Jeremy Affeldt is the 'closer' while he's gone, but he doesn't yet have a save and is out of place facing righties. Kevin Gregg, despite being one of the worst closers in the league and blowing up on Saturday (three runs in an extra-inning loss), has the blessing of his manager. We've talked about how poor the other options are now that Koji Uehara is gone and Jim Johnson is being groomed to start. Well, Mike Gonzalez has closed before, so he might be next. Jason Isringhausen melted down Saturday, but his manager said that Bobby Parnell is not yet the full-time closer on Sunday. Jordan Walden blew a save, but he allowed an inherited runner to score in the eighth and it wasn't a bad appearance overall. Nine blown on the year! He's probably still safe, probably. Frank Francisco is the closer in Toronto, but he's having shoulder troubles, which is why Casey Janssen got the save Sunday. Ryan Madson was resting Sunday, and Antonio Bastardo blew a save. Rafael Betancourt earned another save with Huston Street out. Street might be back by the end of next week, though. Javy Guerra blew his first save when he gave up two runs in the 12th inning Saturday. There's no one else unless Jonathan Broxton gets healthy, though.

* The competitiveness of the team has so much to do with how playing time on the field is divvied up. Consider Collin Cowgill, who went oh-for-three with a strikeout on Sunday and is showing a pitiful triple-slash line right now. On a struggling team, he'd get more than 50 plate appearances to show what he had. On the Diamondbacks, he might be destined for the minor leagues. Lucas Duda is lucky to be on a team that doesn't really have a chance anymore. They allowed him to work through some struggles so that his line-drive power could show. He hit a home run Sunday, his sixth, and is a good bench outfielder in mixed leagues. Mike Moustakas would never have gotten these many chances to make it work on another team. The Royals let him keep trying and he's been better of late. He had two hits Sunday, even.

National League Quick Hits: Heath Bell was fine until a random game-tying donger from Mike Cameron tied the game Sunday night … Brandon Belt hit a three-run homer among a career-high four hits Sunday and could be in for more playing time if his manager can manage to play him over the aged Aubrey HuffSeth Smith hit a home run and stole a base and is a great bench piece in most leagues if you can avoid starting him against lefties … Chris Narveson is back from the DL (bye-bye Felipe Lopez) and he'll start Monday … The Pirates signed Aaron Heilman to a minor league contract, and that should help them continue their tailspin … Rafael Furcal tripped over a rope and sprained his thumb Sunday, and he missed the game, but more information is coming … Jose Altuve had an inside-the-park home run Saturday and has enough power and speed to make his small size irrelevant … Will Venable hit a home run hit a home run off of Anibal Sanchez at home and continues to be an interesting start against right-handers in deeper leagues … Yadier Molina hit two homers, Jon Jay hit one homer, and both are role players in the right leagues … Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has a hard time imagining Carlos Zambrano pitching for his team again, which means he's probably not useful the rest of this year … Cards prospect Shelby Miller should be reinstated this week after a seemingly ultra-conservative suspension for a minor alcohol incident … Jordan Schafer (finger) should be activated Monday but his bad batting average limits him to deep leagues … Jordan Lyles was demoted in order to keep his innings total down … Kevin Millwood gave up three earned in seven innings while striking out four, which is definitely okay … Chris Heisey (oblique) should be able to return soon … No-one knows what's wrong with Joe Blanton's elbow … Prospect Drew Pomeranz, who joined the Rox in the Ubaldo Jimenez trade, had an emergency appendectomy and is probably out for the season.

American League Quick Hits: Shin-Soo Choo had six hits over the weekend and should be universally owned by now … Ubaldo Jimenez gave up eight runs in 3 1/3, but getting out of Coors must make up for the AL penalty, or so his owners (and the Indians) still hope … Michael Pineda struck out five, walked none, and gave up two earned in six against the Rays to remind people that he's a good pitcher … Ian Kinsler hit two home runs Saturday and is the third-best second baseman in the sport … Justin Morneau came back, looked okay, then fouled a ball off his foot Saturday, missed Sunday, and is day-to-day … Sunday, Johnny Damon walked em off for his second home run since the break … Mark Reynolds missed Sunday after tweaking his ankle but should be back Monday … Casper Wells had a hit and a home run, but he strikes out too much to depend on him in mixed leagues … Derek Holland gave up five runs in 3 1/3, and he's a spot-starter in most leagues until he can up the strikeouts to make up for the middling ground balls … Big young Ryan Lavarnway had two hits Saturday and is a deep league play while David Ortiz is out … Brent Lillibridge had three hits (one a home run) and is an okay start against left-handers … Guillermo Moscoso held the Jays to one run in eigtht innings, but nothing else that he's done over his career as a whole suggests that he's a good option going forward … Brian Matusz gave up five earned on Saturday but he did average 90 on his fastball, which is a big step forward … Danny Duffy has loads of long-term upside, and held the Red Sox to two runs in six innings, but he only struck out three (two walks) and is more of a wait-and-see than anything right now … Henderson Alvarez allowed one earned against Oakland and is a decent spot start … Chris Davis (shoulder) will begin rehab instead of having surgery … Chris Getz is taking ground balls at shortstop now that he's lost his second base job to Johnny Giavotella.


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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