This week our number priority is to thank the veterans. The second priority is getting ready for Week 9 in fantasy. That's where I come in. Happy Memorial Day. Thank you to all who have served for this great country.
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.
Rockies starter Ubaldo Jimenez -- Nobody should have Jimenez on their bench this week. He has two starts this week, one against Arizona, and one against San Francisco. He has pitched 14 scoreless innings and has recorded two wins against the Diamondbacks this season already, and has a 3.19 career ERA against the Giants. Oh, and did I mention he's the best pitcher in baseball right now at 9-1 with an ERA to make you drool like a St Bernard.
Cardinals starter Jaime Garcia -- Not only has Garcia recorded two straight scoreless outings to lower his season ERA to 1.14, but he has recorded two wins against the two teams (Cincinnati and Milwaukee) he will start against this week. The best part is that they are both at home where he has allowed zero earned runs in three starts this season.
Twins starter Nick Blackburn -- Blackburn has had five straight quality starts, and should get two starts this upcoming week. The first will be against a Mariners team that he has had success against in his career; 2.88 ERA in four starts. The second will be against an A's team that he has struggled against, but the game will be played in daylight, and the Twins starter has a career 3.11 ERA during the day.
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.
Yankees second baseman Robinson Cano -- Cano has 19 hits in his last ten games, but has hit just one homerun (Friday). However, with Baltimore on the schedule to start the week, a team that he has hit three homeruns against this season already, and the Blue Jays to end the week, a team for which he has 12 career homeruns against (four in 2009), Cano is bound to go deep a few times. In other words, this Bronx Bomber will be lighting up the skies.
Brewers outfielder Corey Hart -- It would be easy for me to put Ryan Braun in this spot, after all he does have 12 career homeruns against the Cardinals in 44 games, but right now the hot slugger is Hart. And as we've seen in the past, when No. 1 starts hitting the ball out of the ballpark they come in bunches. Forget about splits, Corey is red hot, and should stay that way for at least another week.
Twins first baseman Justin Morneau -- Morneau has been held homerless for ten games now, and will be up against two teams he has a combined 21 homeruns against in his career. He has maintained his average all season long, but now it's time he brings the power back in to his swing, which I think he will. All seven of the Twins games this week are on the road, and Morneau has launched nine of his 11 season long-balls away from Target Field.
Colder than the Bad News Bears
Here are a few players who are making Walter Matthau's crew seem like all-stars.
Braves outfielder Nate McLouth -- McLouth is one for his last 18, and has struck out eight times during the six game span. Overall, he has been a huge disappointment since arriving in Atlanta, and is currently batting .184 with just three homeruns and 13 RBI for the season.
The Uptons -- The Diamondbacks version (Justin) has just three hits in his last 18 at-bats, and has struck out nine times. He is batting .253 with 66 strikeouts for the season. The Rays version (BJ) has just two hits in his last 17 at-bats, and has struck out seven times. For the season he's batting .210 with 48 strikeouts.
Athletics shortstop Cliff Pennington -- Pennington has no hits in his last 15 at-bats, and just three in his last 22. He has driven just one run in the month of May after driving in 16 in April to start the season. Pennington has dropped hi batting average to .219 for the season.
Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth -- Werth has just three hits and has struck out six times in his last 19 at-bats. He also has driven in just two runs in his last ten games. Werth is a prime example of a hitter who's either blazing hot, or frost-bitten cold. Right now he needs to warm-up.
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 Saturday)
Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain -- In his last two starts Cain has pitched two complete games and has allowed zero earned runs while striking out 13 in 17 innings pitched. For the season Cain is 3-4 with a 2.50 ERA and 51 strikeouts in 68.1 innings pitched.
Mets starting pitcher Mike Pelfrey -- Pelfrey is 2-0 with a 0.69 ERA in his last two starts. He has also struck 10 batters in 13 innings pitched. For the season Pelfrey is 7-1 with an ERA of 2.54, and a WHIP (Walks & Hits per Innings Pitched) of 1.30.
Rangers closer Neftali Feliz -- In the month of May Feliz has converted nine saves and has struck out 12 in 12.2 innings pitched while boasting an ERA of 0.79. He has lowered his 5.40 April season ERA to now 1.74.
Red Sox third baseman Adrian Beltre -- In his last 29 at-bats Beltre has hit two homeruns, has driven in 12 runs, and has recorded 14 hits. For the season, he is hitting .342 with five homeruns, 34 RBI, and 20 runs scored.
Nationals outfielder Josh Willingham -- Willingham has nine hits, four of them homeruns, in his last 19 at-bats, and has driven 11 runs while scoring six times. For the season the Nationals outfielder is batting .286 with 10 homeruns and 34 RBI.
Mets shortstop Jose Reyes -- Reyes is 13 of his last 27 with one homerun, five RBI, two stolen bases, and six runs scored. He has boosted his season average back-up to .249, and is looking like the Jose Reyes of 2008.
Roger Bomman's Binoculars Say...
These 10 players are must starts this week:
- Ubaldo Jimenez vs. Arizona and San Francisco
- Robinson Cano vs. Baltimore, Toronto, and Cleveland (1 game)
- Roy Oswalt vs. Washington and Chicago (Cubs)
- Ryan Braun vs. Cincinnati and St Louis
- Neil Walker vs. Chicago and San Francisco
- Alex Rios vs. Texas and Cleveland
- Dan Uggla vs. Milwaukee and NY Mets
- Brandon Inge vs. Kansas City and Cleveland
- James Shields vs. Chicago (White Sox) and Texas
- PJ Walters vs. Cincinnati, and Milwaukee
Organizational philosophies often play a crucial role in not only how a manager manages his starting lineup, but how those players within the lineup perform.
The Toronto Blue Jays win with power, and don't believe in having their players sacrifice their at-bats for the better of the team (2 sacrifice hits). Lucky for them though, their pitching has been outstanding to complement their league leading 81 long-balls, thus they are 28-22 and in third place in the AL East.
On the flipside the San Diego Padres are the NL West leaders at 28-20, but are 26th in team homeruns (33). Instead, they have a sixth best 25 sacrifice hits, and a 2nd best 54 stolen bases. Clearly they are a team filled with speed, and like to play "small ball" coupled with solid pitching to win ballgames.
So which is better?
For winning in reality purposes, I, like so many others, prefer the Padres style of play. However, remember this is fantasy baseball, and in the fantasy world you don't want any of your players to sacrifice any at-bats. I would compare it to fantasy football's Brian Westbrook sliding before the end-zone, so the Eagles could run out the clock.
I mean, would Jose Bautista have 15 homeruns if he was sacrificing himself like Everth Cabrera? Would Vernon Wells have 12 big flies if he was stealing bases like Chase Headley? And would Alex Gonzalez have almost 30 more total bases than David Eckstein if he was hitting around .300?
No, no, and no!
However, there is a happy medium. Two words: Texas Rangers.
The Rangers currently sit atop the AL West with a 26-22 record. Their overall pitching is mid-pack, literally. They rank eighth in all of baseball with a .267 team batting average. They rank fifth with 47 stolen bases, and 12th with 47 homeruns. Most importantly, though, they rank 10th with 21 sacrifice hits.
At the top of their lineup is Elvis Andrus, a shortstop very similar in mold to the Brewers Alcides Escobar. Andrus is batting .304 with 17 steals on 25 attempts, and has a league leading eight sacrifice hits.
Packed in the middle are Michael Young, Josh Hamilton, Nelson Cruz, and Vladimir Guerrero, who are batting .313, .286, .327, and .342. Hamilton, Cruz, and Guerrero all have at least nine homeruns or more, and have a combined 12 stolen bases. Oh, and Ian Kinsler is back in the lineup, and looking to build on his 31 homerun, 31 stolen base performance from 2009.
At the bottom of the lineup is catcher Matt Treanor and outfielder Julio Borbon, who are both batting below .230, but have four and three sacrifice hits. Borbon also has six stolen bases hitting out of the number nine spot.
The funny thing is though, is that all of this Ranger reality and fantasy success is coming after the Doug Melvin era, who along with manager Ken Macha is now destroying the Milwaukee Brewers with their power-first mentality, even with speed players like Carlos Gomez and Alcides Escobar who have a combined seven stolen bases, and just five sacrifice hits; five of the team‘s 11 total for the season.
As a fantasy owner I say forget the Padres, Blue Jays, and Brewers for that matter. I'm playing all the Ranger players I can get my fantasy hands on, but could find a happy medium with different kinds of players from each of the four teams.