Mark Teixeira lacerated his left pinky sliding into home plate last night and required three stitches to close the gash. Teixeira has missed eight games over the last two week with a back strain and a mysterious illness, and he will now miss another game or three while his hand heals. Given that he’s played just 10 games since the All Star break with a batting line of .154/.283/.333, Fantasy owners are much better off with whatever alternative options they may have.
Adam Eaton collided with the wall chasing down what ended up being a home run for Adam Rosales of the A’s. Eaton left the game immediately and was diagnosed with a bruised lower back after X-rays came up negative. The White Sox don’t expect he’ll need a DL stint but he is unlikely to play Thursday. Eaton has been on fire since the All Star break with a .440/.494/.520 line, seven RBIs and 13 runs scored in 19 games with four stolen bases.
The Phillies made it official: Cliff Lee is done for the season, not that we’re surprised or anything. The good news, if there can be any, is that Lee won’t need surgery for his elbow. He will receive a platelet rich plasma injection after resting for a while and begin throwing again in October or November.
There was a Carlos Gonzalez sighting last night, as the oft-injured slugger returned to the Rockies lineup and went 3 for 5 with a home run, two RBIs and three runs scored. With the Rockies playing for first pick in next year’s draft, CarGo may not play full time over the next eight weeks. His performance has been dismal, with a .244/.296/.441 line and just 11 homers and three stolen bases after four straight seasons of at least 20/20 with a .300 plus average.
Jarrod Cosart was scratched from his second start for the Marlins, scheduled for tonight against the Pirates due to an oblique strain. Cosart believes he hurt himself swinging the bat during his Marlins debut last Friday. Cosart hasn’t made it through the sixth inning nor registered a quality start since June 26. Over his last five starts he’s thrown 26.2 innings with an ERA of 7.76 and a 16:16 K:BB ratio, making him a dangerous Fantasy option in all formats.
Brett Anderson was placed on the 15-day DL with a lower back strain. Jordan Lyles was activated off the 60-day DL and started last night against the Cubs, who touched him up for four runs on six hits, including a home run. Lyles struck out four and walked one in his first outing since June 4. Lyles is no more than a desperation matchup play in deep NL-only leagues.
Tyler Flowers has never really panned out since his 2010 debut. After all, he’s a career .219 hitter who strikes out at a ridiculous 34.4 percent rate, and he isn’t all that terrific on defense either. But, dare I say it, Flowers has blossomed over the past month or so. In fact, over his last 20 starts he is batting .353/.397/.618 with three home runs, 13 RBIs and nine runs scored to bring his overall batting average up to a respectable .252. His success can be chalked up to dropping his K rate down to about 26 percent over that time while getting his Line Drive rate up to nearly 23 percent. Both would be career bests for any one month in his career. Can he keep this up? Not likely, but winning Fantasy baseball is all about identifying and capitalizing on hot streaks when they crop up. Flowers is definitely in the midst of the hottest streak of his career and players in two-catcher leagues or AL-only formats would do well to plant Flowers on their roster until he wilts. (Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.)
The home runs have been fewer and further apart for Victor Martinez since June, but any fears about his bat cooling off are completely unfounded. He’s in the midst of a six-game hitting streak and has hit safely in 15 of his last 17 games. Since the All Star break, Martinez has a .307/.341/.427 slash line with two home runs, 11 RBIs and 10 runs scored in 20 games. He’s even stolen a base, giving him three for the season so far. By the way, both of the home runs have come during the six-game streak, so it could be that Martinez is finding his power groove again after nearly a month without a round-tripper.
Earlier in the season, Josh Beckett was a nice comeback story with his no-hitter on May 25 and nice string of six starts that followed. But there is a reason why the Dodgers were sniffing around (unsuccessfully) for starting pitching at the deadline. That reason? Josh Beckett, because he has been just awful since the beginning of July. He’s started five games since July 1, hasn’t gone more than five innings in any, and didn’t make it to the fifth in three of the five. His ERA over those 22 innings is 6.55 with a 19:11 K:BB ratio and six big flies surrendered. His opponents batted .326/.400/.630 over that stretch. OK, I won’t pile on any more bad news. You get the point; Beckett’s nice story is heading for an ugly end.
Chris Young, currently in the starting rotation for the Mariners, spun his way to his tenth win of the season last night against the Braves, the first time he’s reached double-digit wins since 2006, when he was a member of the Padres. He’s been another nice story for baseball fans and Fantasy owners alike, who’ve been loving his 3.27 ERA and 1.14 WHIP this season. However, there are several very good reasons why Fantasy owners should sell high (well, sort of high) while they still can. First and foremost, Young has thrown almost 135 innings this season after missing virtually all of 2013 and only throwing 115 major league innings in 2012. Fatigue is a certainty, and his 3.99 ERA and four home runs allowed over his last 29.1 innings bear this out. Young’s recent downturn in ERA is also a function of regression. His Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP) is 4.76 and his xFIP (predictive FIP) is 5.15, both well above his 3.27 ERA, which indicates that what we’re seeing here is a mirage, propped up by a high strand rate (82.1 percent) and a ridiculously low .229 BABIP. More homers, more baserunners, more runs scored and a much higher ERA are on the very near horizon for Young. Run away!!
Patience is a virtue, but patience at the plate makes for a career year. Just ask Russell Martin, who is enjoying the highest walk rate of his career (13.9 percent), and the .282 batting average that goes with it. Martin missed 21 games earlier this season with a thigh strain, so he’s only started 67 games this season. His power numbers are down significantly this season, but it’s hard to argue against his current .282/.410/.382 slash line, which resembles the numbers he put up early in his career with the Dodgers in 2007 and 2008. Oddly enough, he is batting .333 at home and just .236 on the road, but all five of his dingers have come outside of PNC Park, home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
The Xpert Eye focuses its attention to the on field performance of players, but every once in a while there is a story off the field that rightfully commands attention. Once such story is that of the efforts of Cardinals’ starting pitcher Adam Wainwright, and his charitable effort, bigleagueimpact.org, which has organized Fantasy Football leagues that will be hosted by a group of MLB players to raise money for charities in cities across the country. Tim Hudson, starting pitcher for the San Francisco Giants, sat down with RotoExperts’ Scott Engel recently to talk about bigleagueimpact.org. You can listen to the interview on Sportsgrid.com, right here.
Each of the 10 leagues is hosted by a prominent baseball player and up to 11 sponsors can sign up to play in the league and compete against the player with a donation of $2,000 or more to the charities that the league is raising money for. Sponsors also get perks like tickets to a game, VIP access to batting practice and stadium tours, autographed souvenirs and more. There are prizes for the league champs and all net proceeds go to charity.
Some of the other players hosting leagues are Max Scherzer, Freddie Freeman, David Wright and Cole Hamels. This is a terrific initiative that Wainwright has started. At a time when a lot of ballplayers are vilified for being overpaid and out of touch with the common fan, we thought it was a good idea to point out that at least some of them try to give back.