While the majority of the sports-watching world was away watching Kevin Durant battle Lebron James, there was actually a full slate of major league games last night. A lot of the usual happened; Albert Pujols hit a homer (relax, Pujols owners), the Yankees won their ninth straight game, and Adam Dunn managed to strikeout 3 times in his 3 at bats, but a few more notable outcomes also came about:
In the one non-interleague game of the day, Johnny Cueto dominated, as he has all season long. Last year, Cueto outperformed his 3.45 FIP and 3.90 xFIP to the tune of a 2.31 ERA, and this season he has nearly kept it up, posting a 2.38 ERA so far. I still think he’s going to regress somewhat, but Cueto has actually improved significantly from a skills perspective this year as well, raising his 6.00 K/9 rate last year up to 6.37 so far this season, while simultaneously lowering his BB/9 rate from an already-good 2.71 down to 1.90. I don’t think Cueto can keep this ERA up, but I do believe he will finish the season under a 3.25 ERA, and when that’s paired with a very solid WHIP and some Wins, Cueto could be a top 35 or so fantasy pitcher.
Pedro Alvarez took two balls deep against the Indians, but perhaps more impressively, he also managed four at bats without a strikeout! I’m not even close to buying in on Alvarez; he’s going to have these multi-homer outbursts every once in a while, but in between, he’s going to hit .150, strikeout every three at bats, and absolutely kill your team. Additionally, both of Alvarez’s homers came off of Jeanmar Gomez who is significantly worse against lefties, particularly from a power-perspective (coming into this game: .388 Slugging against vs Lefties, .310 vs Righties), which gives you even more reason not to buy in on him. Don’t listen to Napoleon Dynamite: vote for anyone else over Pedro.
In that same game, Jason Kipnis had himself another ‘Combo Meal’ (steal and homer). In my site’s most recent second base rankings update, Kipnis came in as the unanimous number 4 option (after Kinsler, Cano and Pedroia), and I believe he’s entrenched at that spot. Actually, number 4 might even be a little low for him, and if you’re in a dynasty or keeper league, in a couple short years from now Kipnis could easily be the number 1 fantasy second basemen in the majors—I’d buy in now if at all possible.
Max Scherzer had one of those ridiculous outings that makes fantasy owners wholeheartedly believe in his potential (8 Innings, 12 K’s, 0 BB’s, 7 Hits, 0 Earned runs, Win), which surely means his next outing is going to be a 3 inning, 12 earned run, A.J. Burnett-esque fiasco. Outside of Ricky Nolasco circa-2010, I can’t remember a fantasy starting pitching enigma as frustrating as Scherzer, but going forward, I think fantasy owners just have to play him and hope that this trend of his skills (this year: 11.49 K/9, 3.33 BB/9) being much better than his ERA / WHIP (5.17/1.52) is just randomness rather than a legitimate pattern. Keep Scherzer in your starting lineup, because he’s capable of impact nights like this one.
Corey Hart very quietly hit his fourteenth homer of the season, putting him on pace for 30+ homers this year. It seems to me that Hart is underrated almost every year, and in a year when power is scarcer than ever, people don’t seem to appreciate the consistency that Hart brings to the table. Even though he does get hurt every year (he’s consistent in that as well), Hart is money in the bank for a 25+ homer pace in the games he does play, and if anything, it seems he’s improved on that this year.
Ben Revere stole another base tonight against the Brewers. If you’re looking for speed, Revere is a phenomenal pickup (I wrote about it in more detail here), as he’ll contribute in batting average, runs, as well as be a 50-or-so steal threat in a full season, so around 30 steals the rest of the way is entirely possible.
Despite what I perceived to be a disappointing start to the season, Colby Rasmus is already at double-digits in homers, hitting his 10th on Sunday. Rasmus is now hitting .255 with 10 homers and 3 steals in 65 games. He is hitting more line drives than ever before, and his HR/FB rate appears to be sustainable; I’d buy in on him being a legit top 50 outfielder going forward, as he appears to be tapping into some of the potential that we all know is in him.
Matchup of the Week: I do not think Wade Miley is a very talented pitcher despite his 2.39 ERA, but I would happily play him this week in nearly any format, all the way down to 10 team mixed leagues. Not only does Miley have two home starts this week, he gets to pitch first against the Mariners and Hector Noesi on Monday, and then the awful Cubs offense on Sunday. It’s about as good as it gets for Miley this week; if he’s on the wire, don’t miss out.
Link of the Week: One of my favorite follows on twitter is a fantasy sports writer named Mike Gianella. This week, he wrote a fantastic piece called ‘The Difficult Ones’, which essentially details each type of annoying trade partner in all fantasy baseball leagues, and how to deal with them. It was a really fun piece to read, and well worth your time, as it made me laugh at nearly each section, because those types of owners are ubiquitous in any fantasy league. I highly recommend it.
Happy Birthday To: Dave Concepción! While there aren’t really any contemporary players born on June 17th, Concepción is an important member of baseball history, and is most famous for his part in The Big Red Machine as their starting shortstop.
By Moe Koltun, exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com.
Read more of Moe's excellent fantasy insight over at RotoAnalysis.com.
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