Then, of course, there are the hitting questions like, "I wonder if now is the right time to trade for Prince Fielder," or "How much longer is Andre Ethier going to stay hot?"
The questions go on and on, and I‘m here to help.
Henry Rowengartner’s Encore
These flame-throwers won’t need to break their arms to post solid fantasy numbers this week. Make sure you lock them in to your lineup.
Dodgers starter Hiroki Kuroda -- Kuroda has pitched well thus far this season and will have a good match-up against an Astros team against whom he carries a career 1.93 ERA. He finishes the week against the Tigers. Both games will be at home.
Cardinals starter Chris Carpenter -- Carpenter has been a home warrior this season and will make two starts at Busch Stadium. He’s 3-1 with a 1.93 ERA at home, and is a combined 9-3 lifetime against the two teams -- Washington and Los Angeles (Angels) --- he’ll try and mow down.
Blue Jays closer Kevin Gregg -- Gregg is my start of the week at closer. The Blue Jays will play seven games, including five on the road where Gregg has comfortably recorded seven of his ten saves this season. Overall, he should get plenty of opportunities to save games, especially with the way Toronto (9-4) is playing this month.
The Boppin’ Bambinos
Here are a few fantasy players who by Italian standards are not little, and will be swinging for the fences like the great one this week.
Orioles outfielder Nick Markakis -- In his last three seasons, Markakis has combined to hit nine homers and average one RBI per every 3.2 at-bats against the three teams the Orioles will play this upcoming week. He has a lot of catching up to do in the home run and RBI departments.
Rockies outfielder Carlos Gonzalez -- Gonzalez will start his week against the Cubs -- against whom he has seven hits in 15 at-bats. He will finish facing the bottom part of the Royals pitching staff and ace Zack Greinke coming off just four days rest. The best part about his upcoming week, though, is that he’ll face seven right-handed starting pitchers. Why is this important? All three of Gonzalez’s homers this season have come off right handers.
Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner -- Hafner is due for a power surge, and against his upcoming opponents in his career he’s batting .284, .323, and .333 with 32 total home runs. Plus, he’s starting to heat up as it is, and is 11 for his last 26.
Colder than the Bad News Bears
Here are a few players who are making Walter Matthau’s crew seem like all-stars.
Mets outfielder Jeff Francoeur -- The Mets slugger has just three hits in his past 27 at-bats heading in to Friday’s games. He’s also struck out 11 times. Francoeur is currently batting .230 for the season.
Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter -- Jeter is three for his last 29, and is batting .246 for the month of May. The last time he homered was on April 30th against the Chicago White Sox.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp -- Kemp has been stuck on seven homeruns since April 21st. He has driven in just two runs in his last 20 games, and has six hits in his last 26 at-bats. Kemp is hitting .277 for the season.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes -- Reyes is 2 for his last 17, and still hasn’t homered this season. He’s currently batting .220, and has driven in just 10 runs through 132 at-bats. His On-Base Percentage is .273.
Brewers starting pitcher Randy Wolf -- In his last two starts, the Brewers lefty has allowed nine runs in 11 innings pitched while striking out just seven. His WHIP now sits at 1.55 for the season.
Hotter than Dottie Hinson
Here are a few players that are making Dottie look more like Courtney Love, Donatella Versace, and maybe even teammate Doris Murphy (Rosie O’Donnell) all wrapped in one. (All stats as of Friday)
Mariners outfielder Ichiro Suzuki -- Suzuki is 12 for his last 21 with one homers, four runs batted in, four stolen bases, and has recorded at least three total bases in his last five games for a total of 19 over the stretch.
Brewers third baseman Casey McGehee -- In his last six games, McGehee is hitting .435 with two homers, nine RBI, and 18 total bases. He is currently third overall in all of baseball with 32 RBI, and is hitting .323 while making Prince Fielder feel so very, very small.
Astros outfielder Hunter Pence -- Pence has come to life in the last five games. He’s 8 for his last 21, and has gone yard three times while driving in seven. Pence’s season batting average has gone from .210 to .240 in a matter of a week.
Padres starting pitcher Matt Latos -- In his last two starts, Latos has gone a total of 17 innings, has allowed no earned runs, has struck out 15 batters, and has recorded two wins. For the season Latos is 3-3 with a 3.32 ERA with 32 strikeouts in 43.1 innings pitched.
Tigers closer Jose Valverde -- Valverde has saved all three games he’s appeared in during the last seven days, and struck out five batters in three innings. For the season he has run his total to ten.
Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto -- In his previous start against the Pirates, Cueto went the distance while holding Pittsburgh to just one hit, and no runs. He also struck out eight batters. He has allowed just three earned runs in his last 15 innings pitched.
Roger Bomman’s Binoculars Say...
These 10 players are must starts this week.
Carlos Gonzalez vs. Chicago (N), Houston, and Kansas City.
Adam Lind vs. Minnesota, Seattle, and Arizona.
Colby Rasmus vs. Washington, Florida, and LA Angels.
Michael Young vs. LA Angels, Baltimore, and Chicago (N)
Chris Narveson vs. Pittsburgh.
Kevin Slowey vs. Toronto and Milwaukee.
Martin Prado vs. NY Mets, Cincinnati, and Pittsburgh.
Neftali Feliz vs. LA Angels, Baltimore, and Chicago (N)
Juan Uribe vs. San Diego, Oakland, and Arizona.
Jayson Werth vs. Pittsburgh, Chicago (N) and Boston
There’s nothing like going to the ballpark for a late game leading in to the weekend, especially on a night highlighted by plenty of blooper-like plays and deep fly balls. It was what I expected going in to the Phillies-Brewers Friday night showdown. However, much to my surprise I was also able to overhear a little conversation starting up in regards to fantasy baseball between two friends sitting directly next to me. So, of course, with my big right ear I listened to every word they spoke even while watching Ryan Howard tee off on Brewers pitcher Randy Wolf.
Now, I’m not going to make any accusations here, but based on what I do know about fantasy owners I can say that both came off as guys who wanted to chat all night long about fantasy, but neither one really bragged their team up. In other words, I could tell that their teams just weren’t that good.
I mean, let’s face it, as fantasy owners we will be the first to brag when our team is rockin’ the standings and stats columns; mine is (2nd in Rotocommunity.com‘s Expert NL League). At the same time, we’re also the same fantasy owners who will keep our lips zipped shut if our team is struggling, or just downright stinks like Limburger.
When I heard the one friend ask the other about his fantasy team only to hear the response "good" I immediately formulated the hypothesis that he’s not indeed doing so good. In fact, he may have been the last place team based on his body language, and sluggish boring responses.
Later on my hypothesis was proven right as their slow conversation dragged on, and they ended up talking about league formats, and how in some of their leagues they’re receiving points for On-Base-Percentage and Walks. That’s the homerun my friends. When you start talking about league formats and are not interested in bragging about your starting lineup or pitching rotation you clearly, absolutely despise your squad.
In a nutshell, instead of talking about how they love how Adam Wainwright is currently giving Roy Halladay a run for his money as fantasy baseball’s top pitcher with a 5-1 record, an ERA of 2.08, and a WHIP of 0.90 they wanted to talk about irrelevant league formats. Instead of talking about the draft day steals like the Cubs Marlon Byrd and his 84 total bases, or Orioles top hitter Ty Wigginton and his 10 homers, they talked about how the only Yankee they like is Nick Swisher. Worst of all, though, was the fact that not once during the time they were filling out All-Star brackets did they even mention or talk about perhaps the best player in fantasy baseball right now in Andre Ethier and his .392 batting average, 11 homeruns and league leading 38 RBI.
The three letters W, T, and F were the only letters that could express my displeasure in what I thought was going to be a meaningful fantasy conversation between two diehards. It honestly was more boring and stuck up than the old people who sat two rows in front of me, who were visually disgusted with two young men behind them cheering for their team, the home team no less.
The moral of this story: Be proud to talk about fantasy sports. Voice your opinion, educate your audience, and don’t be so dull. You just never know when someone like me will be listening.