Marucs Stroman is owned in just 35 percent of Yahoo leagues? Come on, guys. You're better than that.
When Stroman first got the call to the YYZ, back in May, the club wanted to use him in the bullpen. A handful of blowups ensued, and Stroman returned to his dominating ways in the minors. Since the subsequent recall, Stroman has been ridiculous: 2.21 ERA, 8.1 K/9, 3.93 K/BB, even a snappy 5-2 record.
The only bad start in that run came in Anaheim, and we'll float him a pass for that - the Angels are the No. 2 offense in the majors, after all. The hiccup didn't bother Stroman much - he hasn't allowed a run over his last two turns, covering 14 innings (5 H, 2 BB, 12 K).
The Red Sox scored 21 runs in the first three games in Toronto this week, but they ran into the Stroman buzz saw Thursday (seven one-hit innings). Here's some scouting video for you. I have no concerns using the rookie in the Fenway Park rematch, and after that he draws the swing-and-miss Astros. Good work if you can get it.
• I still don't have long-term faith in Joe Nathan, but his best outing of the year came at the perfect time. With Joakim Soria looking on, Nathan had no trouble with the Angels on Thursday - three strikeouts, 12 pitches. Where did that come from?
To be fair, Nathan has been better in July: seven scoreless outings out of eight, three walks against 12 strikeouts. But the one misstep was a messy three-run outing against Cleveland, probably the straw that broke Dave Dombrowski's back. Nathan still holds the closing baton in Detroit, but he can't be working with much of a leash. If he has two bad outings in close proximity, we're likely looking at Soria Time.
• Although it didn't result in a win, Corey Kluber had the best pitching performance from Thursday (9 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K). The Royals scored one cheesy unearned run, born from the carnival that is Ryan Raburn, outfielder. I saw enough of those shenanigans in Detroit.
Kluber wasn't on his game back in April, when he had three of his worst starts. But check what he's done since the calendar turned to May: 8-3, 2.32 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 23 BB, 127 K. He's been fantasy's No. 3 starting pitcher over that period, missing bats, throwing strikes, collecting ground balls by the bushel.
Clayton Kershaw is the obvious No. 1 starter on anyone's going-forward sheet, but how long until we get to Kluber? He's easily in my Top 10, and heck, maybe he's in the Top 5. I asked you to share your ranking thoughts on Twitter, many responded with strong endorsements.
I'm lining up in a similar way. Kershaw, sure. Sale and Hernandez, yes. Price (yeah, I regret it) or Cueto or Darvish versus Kluber, that's a conversation. Kulber versus any of the Tigers, I'm taking Kluber. And I'm a little worried about Wainwright, too.
• Danny Santana was locked in as Minnesota's leadoff man back in June, before his knee injury. He's five games back from the DL stint and he's been bounced around: he went 2-for-13 in three leadoff games before a shift to the No. 9 spot.
Santana's 4-for-6 since the switch, with a homer and triple, one caught stealing. We hate to analyze short samples like this, but here's hoping the Twins see the production as a reason to return Santana to the top of the lineup. Sometimes organizations trick themselves into thinking a lesser role is driving production rather than putting a cap on it - see Todd Haley and Jamaal Charles. Santana's plate discipline needs work, but he's more roto-interesting to us if he's in the catbird seat.
In the meantime, enjoy the three positions of eligibility (second, short, outfield). Santana is unowned in 74 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• The Padres didn't want Jesse Hahn to get stale over the break, so they gave him a brief return to the minors. He's back with the big club now, set to start Friday against Atlanta. Hahn has been useful in seven of eight starts, and although he runs up pitches rather quickly (all those strikeouts, a few too many walks), he's still worth owning - and worth watching. His curveball shouldn't be legal. Hahn is unclaimed freight in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues.
• High-strikeout relievers are worth a look in a lot of medium and deep roto pools, which brings us to Tampa's Brad Boxberger. He's collected a silly 62 strikeouts over 40.2 innings, along with a 2.21 ERA and 0.84 WHIP. A fastball around 93 mph is doing most of the damage, along with a plus change. You can roll boxcars in 93 percent of The Y. (I need to improve my K/9 in the Friends & Family bloodbath, so I'm kicking the tires. I like to kick things.)
• The teeth of the schedule hasn't kicked in yet, but let's tip the cap to Brandon McCarthy for his three-start open in pinstripes (18.2 IP, 3 ER, 3 BB, 17 K). He was criminally unlucky in Arizona earlier this year, so he's entitled to a good run.
McCarthy tamed the Rangers on Thursday and has a good chance to do it again next week (though it comes in Arlington). The Tigers loom after that, then a neutral schedule for a while. If you buy the revival, McCarthy awaits your call in 82 percent of Yahoo leagues. At minimum, he deserves preferred streamer status.
- Sports & Recreation