Join SI.com's James Quintong in a discussion of some of the latest news in football, baseball and other sports and how it relates to fantasy teams and leagues.
7/06/2007 03:22:00 PM
Making their All-Star pitch
Josh Beckett heads into the All-Star break tied in wins with 12.
The results for the top pitchers trying to advance their candidacies to start the All-Star Game were definitely mixed. For fantasy owners, you hope that those who did well keep up the pace and that among the strugglers it was just a temporary blip and not the sign of something worse after the break.
On Thursday, Justin Verlander squared off against C.C. Sabathia in a battle of All-Stars. Verlander kept up his strong pace, allowing just two runs and striking out seven over innings. Meanwhile, Sabathia had his worst outing of the season, going just four innings and allowing seven runs.
Also on Thursday, Josh Beckett made another strong run to start, striking out nine Devil Rays over six innings for his 12th win of the season. Johan Santana quieted the Yankees on Wednesday (two runs over seven innings) to make his pitch. Dan Haren goes Friday and John Lackey on Saturday to improve upon their stats. And for completeness sake, Gil Meche also goes on Saturday.
The NL side was a little goofier, though. Brad Penny was ripped by the Braves on Thursday, allowing six runs in just four innings to lose his NL ERA lead. That honor now belongs to final vote winner Chris Young, who pitched seven shutout innings Wednesday (and just before his suspension was to begin; the All-Star break schedule means he likely won't miss a start).
Ben Sheets also lost his start on Thursday, allowing five runs in six innings to the Pirates, who were led by final vote candidate Tom Gorzelanny, who's had a nice first half himself. Jake Peavy got burned once again by poor run support, allowing just three earned runs in seven innings, but the Padres scored just two (getting shut down by Byung-Hyun Kim of all people). Cole Hamels picked up eight more strikeouts and a win on Wednesday, while injury replacement Roy Oswalt is scheduled to pitch Sunday and might not get a look at the All-Star Game itself.
Other notes for Friday: -- I've already mentioned Gorzelanny outdueling Sheets, but another near-miss All-Star in the Mets' John Maine continued to roll along, striking out nine and allowing just two runs in 7 2/3 innings over the Astros for his 10th win of the season. Maine has won his last four starts, allowing no more than two runs in any of those outings.
-- On the other hand, Tim Hudson had a weird night against Brad Penny. While the Dodgers' All-Star was roughed up, so was Hudson, who allowed six runs and 10 hits in just three innings. Hudson has had his share of great starts this year, but he's allowed at least four runs in six starts this year.
-- Bill Hall is out indefinitely after injuring his ankle chasing after a home run ball on Thursday. Kevin Mench and Gabe Gross could get extra time in the outfield in Hall's place, and it's possible Corey Hart could move to center.
-- The Mets saw another outfielder go down when rookie Carlos Gomez broke his hamate bone on a checked swing Wednesday and will be out 6-8 weeks. Ricky Ledee will see more time in left with Gomez and Moises Alou out if you're desperate for help.
-- Now it appears Alex Rodriguez will be fine for this weekend despite his hamstring injury. But it's a good reason for him to skip the All-Star Game if that happens.
John Smoltz is the first player to be scratched from this year's All-Star Game.
Like many workers taking the rest of this week off after the Fourth of July, more players are using the upcoming All-Star break and the days leading up to it for extra days off to nurse injuries, much to the chagrin of fantasy owners.
John Smoltz is officially out for his next start this week as well as next week's All-Star Game with a shoulder injury. For now, he's not going on the DL, but he could land there officially if it looks like he'll miss more than a couple of weeks. Feel free to sit him. Also, Roy Oswalt will replace Smoltz on the roster, which says a lot about his chances of winning the vote for the final spot.
Alex Rodriguez could also be in the same boat, although I thought he would be out on Tuesday and he played then as well as Wednesday. A-Rod isn't in the starting lineup this afternoon, and there are rumblings he might not play the rest of the weekend or the All-Star Game with the hamstring injury. It's still a touch-and-go situation, so play close attention.
While he's not an All-Star, the potentially deserving Al Reyes landed on the DL with a rotator cuff injury. The Devil Rays hope he'll be back in a couple of weeks, and for now may have to turn to Gary Glover as the closer. If you're desperate for saves, Glover is the guy, with veteran Jay Witasick serving as the primary setup man.
A couple more oft-injured pitchers found themselves on the DL as well with Randy Wolf sidelined with a shoulder injury (Mark Hendrickson is back in the rotation because of that move as well as Hong-Chih Kuo's problems) and Josh Johnson's stiff forearm put him out of commission (just as he finally put up a good start since his return from the DL last month).
One quick fantasy football note: Dominic Rhodes' four-game suspension to start the season will give Lamont Jordan some extra fantasy value for the first few weeks of the season, although I still wouldn't draft him all that high just yet. It still remains to be seen whether Oakland's offense will take off this season, so Jordan and Rhodes are still iffy plays at best.
Justin Morneau talks with Alex Rodriguez after A-Rod hurt his hamstring.
It wasn't a good day for injuries thanks to a number of big names leaving early with a variety of bruises, pulls and strains. Plus, the disabled list got a lot more crowded as well.
The cavalcade of injuries starts with Alex Rodriguez, who injured his hamstring during a collision with Justin Morneau in the sixth inning. While for now the injury doesn't appear serious, he could miss a couple of days with Miguel Cairo likely starting in his place.
The hurt brigade continues with Hanley Ramirez injuring his hamstring and leaving in the third inning. Alfredo Amezaga moved from the outfield to shortstop to fill the hole and likely would be the regular there if Ramirez's injury leads to a stay on the disabled list. NL-only owners now have a little more flexibility with Amezaga.
Richie Sexson is day-to-day after bruising his thumb in the ninth inning against the Royals. Ben Broussard could be a candidate for some at-bats in Sexson's place, although the injury doesn't seem serious.
On the other hand, Justin Duchscherer's season is over as he'll undergo surgery on his hip that has kept him out much of the season. That could keep Santiago Casilla and Alan Embree relevant whenever Huston Street returns from his own stint on the disabled list.
The Rockies' Jason Hirsh likely will miss his next start on Sunday after injuring his ankle running the bases against the Mets. He had thrown six shutout innings when the injury occurred, so it's not like he lost out on a victory. With the All-Star break approaching, there isn't a real rush to get Hirsh back in the rotation, something to consider with a number of players getting hurt now.
Ian Kinsler became the third member of the Rangers' Opening Day starting infield to land on the disabled list, this time he's got a fractured foot that could keep him out about three weeks. Kinsler hasn't come close to his April power numbers and might be sitting in many leagues. Ramon Vazquez and Jerry Hairston Jr. could both see time at second in Kinsler's place.
After Jorge Sosa went on the DL, the Mets put Oliver Perez there too with a back injury. Jason Vargas will be recalled from the minors to take Perez's place in the rotation, starting tonight in Colorado.
Mike Napoli is also on the DL after injuring his ankle in the game-ending collision at the plate with Melvin Mora in the Angels' win over the Orioles. Jose Molina and Jeff Mathis will split playing time. The Angels also put Erick Aybar on the DL, although Maicer Izturis was ready to come back anyway.
Orlando Cabrera's numbers match up favorably to Derek Jeter's but he's not on the AL All-Star roster.
Now that the All-Star teams have been announced, it's a good time to see whether the best teams really do own most of the elite players (especially in AL- or NL-only leagues). In many cases, the top teams in your league aren't necessarily loaded with All-Stars. Instead, they have a bunch of pretty good players plus an assortment of bargain/sleeper picks who have exceeded their draft day value but may not necessarily have All-Star-worthy stats.
To use a couple of examples, I'm currently second in an NL-only league (and had been first most of the year) despite having just two All-Stars -- Carlos Lee and Jake Peavy (whom I acquired just last week). The top team also has just two All-Stars (Miguel Cabrera and Takashi Saito) plus two of the final vote candidates (Roy Oswalt and Carlos Zambrano, and Zambrano was a recent acquisition). The team who has the most All-Stars (six) is tied for seventh out of 12 teams.
In an AL-only league I'm in, the first-place team does have three All-Stars (Grady Sizemore, John Lackey, Justin Verlander) and a final vote candidate (Pat Neshek). However, second place only has two final vote candidates (Jeremy Bonderman, Kelvim Escobar). Two teams have four AL All-Stars, but are in ninth and 10th place out of 13 teams.
There are always plenty of worthy players left off the roster, especially in positions deep in talent. But while they not make the Midsummer Classic, these guys are often the reason fantasy teams are in first place. So here's a rundown of "snubs" who probably are a key part of contending fantasy teams lacking in All-Stars (not counting the final ballot choices).
American League 1B:Kevin Youkilis, Red Sox; Carlos Pena, Devil Rays (both great bargain picks) 2B:B.J. Upton, Devil Rays (injuries hurt his chances) SS:Orlando Cabrera, Angels (third in the majors in hits); Jhonny Peralta, Indians (rebounding with 14 homers) 3B:Chone Figgins, Angels (speeding up after slow start); Casey Blake, Indians (nice bargain pick) OF:Gary Sheffield, Tigers (dynamite after very slow start); Curtis Granderson, Tigers (could use more steals from him) C:Kenji Johjima, Mariners (.300 average, other stats comparable to Pudge) SP:Jeremy Guthrie, Orioles; Fausto Carmona, Indians; James Shields, Devil Rays (recent slump doomed his candidacy); Erik Bedard, Orioles; Daisuke Matsuzaka, Red Sox RP:Al Reyes, Devil Rays
National League 1B:Adrian Gonzalez, Padres; Todd Helton, Rockies (would like more homers); Ryan Howard, Phillies (although his slow start probably hurt a lot of teams) 2B:Dan Uggla, Marlins (hard to ignore 17 homers); Brandon Phillips (15 homers, 15 steals) SS:Hanley Ramirez, Marlins; Jimmy Rollins, Phillies; Edgar Renteria, Braves (mandatory team picks mean four first basemen and three second basemen on the team despite NL shortstop being the most loaded position this season) 3B:Chipper Jones, Braves (injuries hurt him again); Aramis Ramirez, Cubs (logjam elsewhere on the diamond hurt him) OF:Eric Byrnes, Diamondbacks (13 homers, 15 steals prove '06 was no fluke); Shane Victorino, Phillies (where did 25 steals come from?); Corey Hart, Brewers (11 homers, 16 steals); Adam Dunn, Reds C:Bengie Molina, Giants (44 RBIs in that lineup is impressive) SP:John Maine, Mets; Oliver Perez, Mets; Tim Hudson, Braves; Ian Snell, Pirates; Derek Lowe, Dodgers RP:Kevin Gregg, Marlins (not a lot of options from those already taken)
Other notes for Monday: -- The Mets pitching staff is getting beat up all of a sudden with Jorge Sosa going on the DL with a hamstring injury and a back problem sidelining Oliver Perez. Mike Pelfrey returned to the rotation on Sunday and it appears Jason Vargas will be the next call-up to the rotation.
-- It didn't take long for A.J. Burnett to return to the DL with a recurrence of his shoulder injury. That 130-pitch outing a few weeks ago is still catching up with him.
-- Brad Lidge could come off the DL later this week but will be eased back into the closer's role. Meanwhile, new Orioles manager Dave Trembley appears to spread out the save chances a bit, taking a bit out of Chris Ray's value. And after blowing four straight saves, All-Star Brian Fuentes is temporarily out of the closer's role with Manny Corpas likely taking his spot. Fuentes allowed two runs in his first appearance as a middle man on Sunday.