2012 Fantasy Baseball Round-Up: Luke Hochevar, Austin Jackson, Hector Noesi and More

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Kansas City Royals at Detroit Tigers: This one was a blood bath early, as the Tigers scored 8 runs in the first three innings. Luke Hochevar was the victim, giving up 12 hits and 9 runs over four. I hear Yuniesky Betancourt made a horribly lackluster play in the field to encourage the rally. Meanwhile, Austin Jackson put in work, going 4/5 and raising his average to .314. He's going to score a gargantuan amount of runs this year. Rick Porcello pitched decently, giving up just seven hits over eight innings and walking none. At some point he has to turn the corner, right (although that'd probably require a competent fielding infield)? Eric Hosmer went 0/4 and is hitting .180, but check out his batted ball rates. They look darn similar to last season. I'd be buying Hosmer, not unloading him for pennies. 

Seattle Mariners at Tampa Bay Rays: As a Hector Noesi owner, it was my first real chance to see him pitch (I'm not a night owl). Unfortunately, I wasn’t overly impressed, despite him exiting with a decent line (5.2 IPs, six base runners, three runs). It looks like he'll have real trouble against left-handers, as he throws from a 3/4 slot and basically stands on the 3B side of the rubber. Obviously that comes into play against a team like the Rays more, but he's not much of an option outside of Seattle. If you saw him try to get the ball in on Matt Joyce, you'd know what I mean. Speaking of Joyce, my word, he's on fire and is looking like a #2 OF in many leagues, capable of finishing with a .278 average, 25 HRs, 80 runs and 100 RBIs. Matt Moore was okay against the weak hitting Mariners, going five, but allowing eight base runners. He did K seven and threw 66 of his 101 pitches for strikes. Oddly, Michael Saunders took Moore deep as, for some bizarre reason, Moore keeps getting abused by lefties -- expect that to change. Fernando Rodney struck out the side to collect another save and Kyle Farnsworth was moved to the 60 day DL. That's at least another month for Rodney. Who would have thought Rodney would be one of the more stable closers in baseball, certainly in the state of Florida?

Arizona Diamondbacks at Washington Nationals: Some weak defense and weaker hitting ruined Bryce Harper's home debut. Harper went 0/3 himself as Trevor Cahill was dealing:  7.1 IPs, seven base runners, one ER, five K's and 66/95 pitches for strikes. Jordan Zimmermann didn’t fare as well. He had to work around an Ian Desmond error (you'd think he was use to that by now) and allowed three earned in 6.1 IPs. He let nine men get on base and threw 67 of his 95 pitches for strikes. Jason Kubel is loving National League pitching as he is up to .338/.400/.532 this year. Go grab him if someone dropped him after a slow start. 

Philadelphia Phillies at Atlanta Braves: Not so shocking that these two clubs played a low scoring affair that was aided by poor defense. Johnny Venters got the hard lock BABIP-to-death loss as he gave up two runs in 0.2 IPs. Hunter Pence went 2/4 with a run and an RBI and Ty Wigginton collected two RBIs to provide the bulk of the offense for the Phils. On the Braves side, Brian McCann did most of the damage in the form of a solo shot. Cole Hamels didn’t have his best stuff/was possibly getting squeezed by home plate umpire Mike Eastbrook, but he still K'ed 6 in 6 and allowed just 8 base runners. Brandon Beachy was effective without striking many guys out.  

Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees: Brian Matusz got his first win in what seems like forever, shutting down the Yankees: 6.1 IPs, 10 base runners, four K's and 63 of his 87 pitches for strikes. Okay, maybe he didn’t shut them down, but he pitched alright! Curtis Granderson hit his ninth HR and Derek Jeter hit another double: not shocking. Meanwhile Mark Teixeira continued his swoon, going O'fer in his four ABs. Chris Davis went yard for the Orioles again and is looking like this year's Mark Trumbo. Wilson Betemit went 1/4 with a run and RBI and is starting to heat up. He's worth an add for those of you who lost Evan Longoria.  Phil Hughes wasn’t that bad (six K's, 65% of his pitches were strikes) but he wasn’t that good either (two HRs allowed), expect people in NYC to overreact. 

Texas Rangers at Toronto Blue Jays: As an unofficial Blue Jays fan, I watch a ton of their games, but this was the first time I caught Drew Hutchinson. I was immediately impressed by his four K's to start the game. Of course, everything came unraveled after David Murphy got lucky and looped a pitch the left. At the end of the day, Hutchinson went 6, allowed nine base runners and struck out five. Not bad against a somewhat limited Rangers team. Kelly Johnson continues to validate his bounce back status: he went 2/3 with a homer, four RBIs and a walk. He will finish with a .250 average, 22 HRs and 13 SBs. Here's hoping Jose Bautista is getting on track, he hit a dinger and had a couple other scorchers that found gloves. Francisco Cordero came on in the ninth to close it, but gave up three two-out singles to blow the save. It's Santos job when he is healthy; Cordero doesn’t have the stuff to compete. Brett Lawrie said “don’t worry big ole fella, I'll pick you up:”  he homered off Mike Adams, no less, to win the game. Promptly his jersey was taken off; Bryce Harper has a lot to learn. The Jays came back from a 5-0 deficit; the AL East is kind of murderous. 

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Oakland Athletics at Boston Red Sox: That thing about the AL East being real good, well, maybe not. Felix Doubrant got the start and was ineffectively wild: 8 Ks in 4 IPs, but also 8 base runners and just 58 of his 94 pitches for strikes. Meanwhile Jarrod Parker was largely in control: 6 base runners in 6.2 IPs. That said he threw 59 of his 98 pitches for strikes. He got the win although Grant Balfour clearly tried to give it away. He entered in a non-save chance, walked two batters and gave up three hits. He was lifted for Jordan Noberto who got the save on a Dustin Pedroia ground out. So far, Balfour has been squeezed by the HR monster (21.4% HR/FB rate) and is walking a few too many batters. While his fast ball velocity is down a smidge, he’s still getting the same swinging strike percentage as recent history. Melvin did say Balfour remains the closer, and, really, he has to if the Athletics want to be able to trade him. If you're handcuffing, it's likely Ryan Cook. In the minors, Will Middlebrooks actually had a hard night at the plate, but is still hitting .333. If Kevin Youkilis misses much more time, he could have his ticket punched soon.

New York Mets at Houston Astros: Perhaps the two worst bullpens in baseball squared off and, what do you know, a few runs got walked home. This game was all Houston, as they got off to a quick start, including Jed Lowrie's third HR of the year. Boy, I bet the Sox wish they had him. Jon Niese didn’t throw well, and was all over the place (36 of his 60 pitches for strikes). The Astros bullpen actually pitched 2.2 scoreless innings and Brett Myers secured the win for J.A. Happ, who struck out 7 in 6.1 IPs. He also threw 75 of his 110 pitches for strikes. Still, it was the Mets. Ike Davis got a hit and raised his average to .188. 

 Miami Marlins at San Francisco Giants: Hey, what do you know? Jose Reyes isn’t Dee Gordon. Reyes went 1/3 with a walk, SB and run, in so doing, he pushed his OBP above .300. That terrible tease Ricky Nolasco went 7.1 IPs, gave up one run on a homer and somehow K’ed just one. Edward Mujica worked a perfect 0.2 IPs for the hold and Heath Bell had a clean inning for the first time since 1888. Matt Cain gets the hard luck loss as the Giants, surprise, surprise, struggled to score runs. Pablo Sandoval hit the HR and is looking like a healthy year will have him challenge for the top spots at 3B. Oh, and ‘cause apparently this is important, Giancarlo Stanton hit his HR and is laughing at Albert Pujols.

Milwaukee Brewers at San Diego Padres: Another low scoring NL West-ish affair. Shaun Marcum and Edison Volquez, both went seven scoreless and somehow, Volquez only walked two batters. He has a 2.92 ERA. Here’s hoping the move to a cavernous ballpark gave him the confidence he needed to throw strikes. All of the scoring came on a Mark Kotsay HR, yeah, you read right. If not for him, they’d probably still be playing. Andrew Cashner looked good in picking up the hold and Huston Street pitched a clean frame for his fourth save.

Los Angeles Dodgers at Colorado Rockies: A high scoring game in the NL West! Somehow, Dee Gordon hit a HR and Matt Kemp didn’t, that’s insane. A. J. Ellis hit a homer and double and is batting .305. I‘m pretty sure I called him a sleeper like two years ago, so, yeah, I’m buying him. Jhoulys Chacin was victimized early and often. In all but deep leagues, he deserves to ride the pine or be banished from the squad altogether. Javy Guerra allowed a hit but struck out two to close the door in the ninth.

Cleveland Indians at Chicago White Sox: So Ubaldo Jimenez walked six batters and gave up 8 hits in just 4.2 innings. He threw just 54 of his 102 pitches for strikes. He also gave up HRs to the “powerful” A.J. Pierzynski and Gordon Beckham. I bet every pitcher looked like Jimenez in 2009 to Beckham. At this point, in 12-team leagues, Jimenez is probably worth putting on the scrap heap. I’d hold him in deeper leagues, but can’t fault you for ditching the horror. “Closer” Hector Santiago got an inning of work, allowed three base runners, struck out two and came out of it without giving up a run. He threw 17 balls and just 15 strikes. Robin Ventura keeps suggesting that Santiago is the closer, but he’s clearly in, at least, a platoon with Matt Thornton. Going forward, given that Thornton is a lefty, I’m betting on Addison Reed getting the bulk of the saves. If he’s available, it’s time to grab him.

Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jerome Williams pitched a complete game shut-out, which means you need to start anyone when they’re facing the Twins. Denard Span was the lone bright spot, getting two of the team’s three hits. He’s batting .340 with a .392 OBP. He’s a solid OF, but, even with those on base skillz, will struggle to score runs. Mike Trout got a hit, a run, a walk and a strike-out. Torii Hunter hit his fourth HR and is batting .310. People seem to be ignoring this mini-resurgence, but T-Hunt is fully capable of finishing with a .275-.280 average, 24 HRs and five SBs. That’s darn solid.

Pittsburgh Pirates at St. Louis Cardinals: Jason Motte has to love a game like this: his bullpen mates blew it just enough to allow for a cushy save opportunity. Motte converted easily and made himself look good in comparison. Dude is one of the safer closers in the game. The Cards got to Charlie Morton early and often (as they should):  David Freese and Matt Holliday went deep and Yadier Molina scored three runs. Pedro Alvarez hit another HR, but he’s due to come back to earth. Ride the hot strike, but get ready to get off quick. In addition, if you can, try to trade him to Evan Longoria’s owner. Andrew McCutchen is having a quietly awesome season. Down on the far, Oscar Taveras, a Cardinals prospect, hit his 7th round tripper at AA. If he isn’t owned in your dynasty league, grab him.

Written by Albert Lang exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com

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