Harper And The NatsWednesday, June 13, 2012
Most baseball enthusiasts figured the Nationals would take a step forward this season. But few could have predicted how large of a leap it would turn out to be.
With sinkerballer Chien-Ming Wang delivering five solid innings and teenage phenom Bryce Harper belting his seventh career home run (a booming blast off the right-center field facade at Rogers Centre), Washington rolled to a 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays on Tuesday evening.
It was the Nats’ fifth-straight win, and they’ll be going for their second-straight series sweep on Wednesday.
Harper is batting .307/.390/.553 with 19 extra-base hits, 19 RBI and 30 runs scored through his first 40 major league games. The 19-year-old is already a fantasy monster, and there’s no reason to think that a significant regression is coming given his work ethic, bat speed and uniquely ferocious approach to the game of baseball.
This “Natitude” stuff is real. And the National League East might be D.C.’s for the taking.
B-Rob Provides A Spark In First Game Back
It wasn’t all that long ago that Orioles second baseman Brian Roberts was considered a highly valuable commodity in fantasy baseball circles. And the 34-year-old may soon regain that reputation.
Roberts went 3-for-4 with an RBI Tuesday at Baltimore’s Camden Yards as the Orioles topped the Pirates by a score of 8-6 and moved to within a game of the Yankees at the top of the American League East standings.
It was Roberts’ first major league action since May 16 of last season. But he didn’t appear rusty in the batter's box or on defense at second base and seems poised to inject the Baltimore lineup with exactly what it needs down the stretch -- a reliable, consistent presence in the leadoff spot.
Roberts boasts three seasons of 50-or-more doubles and a cool .281/.353/.416 career batting line. In his last full year of baseball (2009), he stole 30 bases. If the 12-year major league veteran can manage to avoid a recurrence of his post-concussion symptoms and give the O’s four or five starts per week, he could help that team stay afloat in baseball’s toughest division and provide strong waiver-wire value for crafty fantasy owners.
It’s Officially Cook Time Out In Oakland
A’s manager Bob Melvin told reporters this past weekend that he was going to employ a committee at closer going forward. But major league skippers rarely stick by that type of strategy, and it’s already becoming quite clear that there’s only one reliever worth owning in the Oakland bullpen: rookie Ryan Cook.
The 24-year-old right-hander earned the first save of his MLB career Tuesday in Colorado, pitching his way out of a ninth-inning jam while racking up two strikeouts as the A’s finished off an 8-5 defeat of the Rockies.
Cook has the kind of mid-90s fastball that you want in a big-league stopper, and he’s had an incredible amount of success this year with his entire arsenal. Through 27 innings, the Clovis, California native owns a 0.67 ERA, a 0.89 WHIP and 27 strikeouts. He may be in line for some amount of regression, but the water is just fine at present. Scoop him up. Jump on in. There should be plenty more saves to come.
National League Quick Hits: Reds ace Johnny Cueto allowed just one earned run Tuesday in a complete-game victory over the Indians … Chase Utley finished 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in his first rehab game Tuesday … The Giants have no plans to skip Tim Lincecum’s spot in the starting rotation despite his ongoing struggles … Drew Stubbs remains day-to-day with a strained left oblique muscle … Cubs speedster Tony Campana tallied his 19th, 20th and 21st steals on Tuesday night … Troy Tulowitzki (groin) is scheduled to begin playing in minor league rehab games Wednesday night at Triple-A Colorado Springs … Bud Norris was pulled in the fourth inning Tuesday against the Giants after suffering a left knee sprain … Rockies starter Jeremy Guthrie is sporting a brutal 6.91 ERA and 1.75 WHIP through 10 starts this season … Jimmy Rollins is 20-for-59 (.339) with seven extra-base hits since May 29 … Zack Greinke struck out eight batters without issuing a walk Tuesday in his return to Kansas City … The Phillies are optimistic that Placido Polanco will be ready to return from his finger laceration on Wednesday … Joey Votto hit his 11th home run of the season on Tuesday night and raised his season slash line to .357/.479/.643 … Cardinals utilitymen Skip Schumaker (hamstring) and Matt Carpenter (oblique) are close to beginning minor league rehab assignments … The Marlins are hoping that Emilio Bonifacio can return from his left thumb surgery shortly after the All-Star break … Stephen Drew (ankle) is on track to return to the Diamondbacks this weekend … The Cubs fired hitting coach Rudy Jaramillo …. Danny Knobler of CBS Sports reported Tuesday that the Dodgers are “definitely interested” in working out a trade for Chicago right-hander Ryan Dempster.
American League Quick Hits: Rangers right-hander Colby Lewis has fired off two straight complete-game performances … Alex Rodriguez hit his 23rd career grand slam on Tuesday night against the Braves, tying Lou Gehrig for the all-time MLB record … Evan Longoria (hamstring) could begin a minor league rehab assignment as early as Friday … Blue Jays manager John Farrell acknowledged Tuesday that there is no timetable for Brandon Morrow’s return from an oblique strain … Adam Dunn launched his 21st home run of the season in Tuesday’s defeat of the Cardinals … Brian Matusz is expected to start Wednesday after X-rays came back negative from his taking a batting practice ball to the nose on Tuesday … Red Sox right-hander Clay Buchholz has given up two or fewer runs in four straight starts … The A’s have scratched Brandon McCarthy from his scheduled Wednesday outing due to renewed shoulder discomfort and will have him undergo an MRI … Luis Mendoza carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning Tuesday night against the Brewers … The Indians acquired right-hander Esmil Rogers from the Rockies on Tuesday evening for cash considerations … Jered Weaver threw a successful bullpen session Tuesday and is on track to return next week from his lower back strain … Orioles left-hander Wei-Yin Chen is 6-2 with a 3.68 ERA through 73 1/3 innings this year … Jonathan Sanchez (biceps) will be activated from the 15-day disabled list Wednesday to start against the Brewers … Orioles closer Jim Johnson is up to 19 saves … Roy Oswalt was roughed up in another minor league outing Tuesday at Double-A Frisco … Jose Bautista hit his 18th home run in Tuesday night’s loss to the Nationals … The A’s are optimistic that Yoenis Cespedes (hamstring) will be ready to play Wednesday … Ben Zobrist is day-to-day with a bruised hand … The Blue Jays released veteran Vladimir Guerrero.