Philadelphia Phillies at Washington Nationals: The Phillies, after dealing two of their starting OFs, decided not to start Domonic Brown. He did get to pinch hit and he singled, so there’s that.
I can’t imagine Laynce Nix will keep starting over him that’s ludicrous. Speaking of ludicrous, somehow Stephen Strasburg gave up six earned in four innings. At least he didn’t waste a ton of innings toward that “limit.” Cliff Lee pitched spectacularly and earned the win. He’s real good, guys. Carlos Ruiz doubled and scored. Apparently he’s having one of those years.
Baltimore Orioles at New York Yankees: The Casey McGehee era begins. Think AROD will get Pip’ed by him? I tuned in mostly to see if Chris Tillman could swim with the big boys of the AL East. Of course Derek Jeter led the game off with a double, tying Miguel Cabrera for the most hits in MLB. Who said Jeter was a top SS option this year for The Fantasy Fix? Curtis Granderson followed with a single as Tillman continued to work his change in the zone against Grandy. Then Robinson Cano took a fastball out of the park. Not sure how long I’m going to watch this one. Nick Swisher followed with a single that Omar Quintanilla couldn’t get to. I pretty much quit paying attention to the game and did the dishes. What I wouldn’t give for one Orioles young pitcher to develop into something decent.
From a fantasy perspective, I’m not giving up on Tillman. He has a pretty darn good swinging strike rate and is averaging near 94 MPHs on his fastball (it does appear Tillman topped out at the low 90s in this contest though). He’ll put it together soon and post a 4.50 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 55+ K’s ROTW. He’ll be a match-ups guy though, as you’ll want to avoid most of his AL East starts. Of course, as bad as Tillman was, Ivan Nova was far, far worse and the O’s put up a seven spot in the following inning! Nova: the wins are nice, but that’s about it. Chris Davis is owned in less than 50% of leagues, yet he cranked his 18th HR, a grand slam. He’s going to hit 8-10 more dingers and bat .260. That’s pretty sweet. We’re seeing Nick Markakis return to previous power levels. I’m a believer…of course I want to believe. File him away, as you’ll likely get him incredibly cheap next year. Markakis could hit 16 HRs in just 530 PAs this season – look for him to flirt with 30 in 2013.
San Diego Padres at Cincinnati Reds: it looked like the Reds would run away with this one, putting up six runs after three. Ryan Ludwick homered and is scorching hot. Todd Frazier also added a dinger as the Jason Marquis resurgence got majorly derailed. Frazier added a crazy over-the-shoulder grab on a bloop in the top of the ninth. However, inconsistent Homer Bailey surrendered a six spot in the fourth as Cameron Maybin homered and Alexi Amarista and Will Venable both tripled. Amarista qualifies almost everywhere important and is putting together some nice numbers out west. If you need steals in the MI, go get him. Heck, I’d even entertain trading Elvis Andrus and picking up Amarista if all you need is steals. Brandon Phillips put the seventh run on the board for the Reds with a solo shot in the seventh as the Reds bullpen shut down the Padres.
LA Angels at Texas Rangers: Last season, in a drive toward a championship, I traded one of my premium keepers in Neftali Feliz. I was mostly worried he wouldn’t be great as a starter. Well, today we found out he is going to have Tommy John surgery. Hopefully he comes back better than ever. It makes sense why the Rangers went out and got Ryan Dempster. As a Dempster owner, this is probably the worst case scenario. Not much you can do about it, but be real careful how you use him going forward. Also, don’t be shocked with an ERA over 4.50. In other news, Roy Oswalt was demoted to the bullpen, and that’s where Alexi Ogando will stay it appears. As for the actual game, well it was an Angels’ offensive show. Mike Trout homered once and Albert Pujols homered twice. The Angels can just come at you with solid hitters. Chris Iannetta, fresh off the DL, went 1/2 with two walks – this matters for you OBP players out there. David Murphy, 8% owned, provided all of the offense for the Rangers as the entire offense was stymied by Jered Weaver (he nasty). In case you didn’t realize it, Murphy is hitting .293/.381/.478 this year with nine HRs and seven SBs.
Chicago White Sox at Minnesota Twins: a disappointing year from John Danks somehow found a way to get even more discouraging as he’ll get surgery on his ailing shoulder and be out for the rest of the year. Nick Blackburn somehow pitched well, yet the Twins still didn’t win. A.J. Pierzynski hit his 18th HR – that, right there, is probably the most unbelievable stat in all of baseball this year. Denard Span, who I keep writing about, went 4/5 with an RBI and stolen base. Newly acquired Francisco Liriano shut down his former team and K’ed eight over six IPs. Combining Liriano with Don Cooper allows for a lot of optimism. Addison Reed had a bit of an adventure in the ninth, but ultimately shut the door.
Cleveland Indians at Kansas City Royals: If he’s somehow available in your league, it’s time to get Greg Holland, who should be good for a 3.05 ERA, 1.24 WHIP and 35 K’s ROTW. Luke Hochevar was decent against the crummy Indians offense, while Derek Lowe continued to suck. Talk about two teams going in different directions. The Indians now have a worse run differential than the Royals. Alex Gordon doubled twice and has put together an amazing year that no one is paying attention to. Tim Collins pitched the seventh and eighth, while Aaron Crow pitched the ninth in a non-save chance. The Royals could be real interesting next year, from an offensive standpoint, with Will Myers in the line-up. It’s a shame they’ve got no pitching. Jack Hannahan has a better OBP than Johnny Damon.
Pittsburgh Pirates at Chicago Cubs: A.J. Burnett struck out Alfonso Soriano to end the game. Burnett gave up one hit and K’ed eight. Andrew McCutchen doubled (ho-hum) and Neil Walker homered and drove in all five Pirates. Casey Coleman started poorly for the Cubs – it’s going to be one awful starter after another in Cubbie land.
Houston Astros at Milwaukee Brewers: Talk about a game no one, aside from Yovani Gallardo and Ryan Braun owners, cares about. Braun went 1/2 with two walks, two runs and a SB. Gallardo went seven, K’ed five and lowered his ERA to 3.92. Jose Altuve went 2/4 and was the only Astros regular in the line-up with an OBP over .313. Brett Wallace did get the start at first and went 1/4. He makes an interesting gamble in deep and keeper leagues. He’ll get every opportunity to prove himself and he was a legitimate prospect not too long ago.
St. Louis Cardinals at Colorado Rockies: Jeff Francis and Kyle Lohse, a pitcher’s duel this was not. Carlos Beltran did some heavy damage, doubling, homering and collecting two RBIs. Matt Holliday chipped in a homer and four RBIs. That offense is rolling. For the Rockies, it was the Josh Rutledge show. He homered and doubled and collected three RBIs.
Detroit Tigers at Boston Red Sox: Non-traded Josh Beckett probably wishes he were anywhere but Boston. He left his start against the Tigers early with back spasms. Red Sox “faithful” booed. So, yeah, it’s a lost year for almost everyone involved. At least Jacoby Ellsbury hasn’t run into a teammate/opponent recently. In the contest, Ellsbury went 1/2 with a walk, SB and RBI. The Red Sox took this game after several rain delays – it went just 6.1 IPs.
Miami Marlins at Atlanta Braves: Apparently Carlos Lee turned down a trade to the Yankees. Bad news for the Marlins. Bad news for the Braves? Tommy Hanson has scheduled his yearly DL trip. Hanson has, apparently, been pitching with a strained lower back since the ASB. Maybe kick the tires on Kris Medlen? Medlen pitched well amidst a rain delay allowing just one run against the Marlins. He threw 40 of his 57 pitches for strikes. Ricky Nolasco sucked, per usual. Brain McCann homered and now has 18 on the year.
Tampa Bay Rays at Oakland Athletics: I keep saying Tommy Milone isn’t that good…and certainly we can’t use this one start against him. While his home/road splits are bad (which are part a product of the amount of fly balls he gives up), he does get ahead of hitters at an amazing rate, so his walk rate is not unsustainable. The Rays put together eight runs on a ton of hits, few of which went for extra bases. It was nice to see Matt Joyce get in on the action. The real star was James Shields who threw a complete game shut-out with 11 K’s. If Shields’ BABIP gets back to his norm and a few less runners on base score, you’re looking at a huge surge down the stretch.
New York Mets at San Francisco Giants: It sure will be interesting to see Hunter Pence play the vast and wonky outfields in SF. This is another change of scenery that hurts the player a tad. Clearly Pence has lived in some decent hitting ballparks for most of his career. That said, SF has only scored 20 fewer runs than the Phillies. The move will probably be mostly a wash. Tim Lincecum was brilliant: seven IPs, seven K’s, one walk and one run. He has been awesome in his last four starts (32 K’s to seven BBs, with a 2.70 ERA). It’s a small sample, but a promising one. Matt Harvey was pretty decent himself, collecting seven K’s in six – it might be a nice time to try to trade him – young pitchers can be so volatile. Unfortunately, Harvey couldn’t solve the mighty hitting Marco Scutaro or Ryan Theriot though, as both double and scored.
Arizona Diamondbacks at LA Dodgers: The arms race out west continues as each NL contender now has a Philadelphia OF. It has been a disappointing year for Shane Victorino, but he does have 24 steals and should have no problem finishing with 15 HRs and 35 SBs. This should be a fine move for Victorino. Chris Young batted lead-off for Arizona and doubled and scored (but he was hitless in his four other at bats). Paul Goldschmidt doubled and collected two RBIs. That would be all Wade Miley would need. Miley is a pretty similar case to Milone: he doesn’t walk anyone. However, Miley does pitch in the NL and doesn’t give up nearly as many fly balls, so you can be a tad more trusting of him. That said, unlike Milone, it’s hard to buy Miley becoming an absolute control artiste after showing just decent control in the minors. In addition, he is right about league average in first strike percentage.
Toronto Blue Jays at Seattle Mariners: The Blue Jays, on the road, don’t scare me (they are hitting .245/.310/.410 away). Jason Vargas at home is a great starter (he has a career 3.43 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, and 2.58 K:BB rate at Safeco). The Jays got just a smidge of offense and it mostly came from the intrepid Brett Lawrie, who doubled and singled and collected two RBIs. Aaron Laffey was laughable, as Dustin Ackley took him deep and Miguel Olivo (who is batting .208/.222/.344) doubled in another run.
If you’re a Brandon Phillips owner, you need to check out: http://marksheldon.mlblogs.com/2012/07/31/phillips-on-calf-no-bueno/.
I dislike the Yankees, but you can’t help but root for good players coming back from injury. Get healthy soon, Joba Chamberlain (and please save all your good pitching for the A’s, Rays, Blue Jays, Tigers, Angels and Red Sox): http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2012/07/31/joba-chamberlain-finally-back-with-yankees/.