Short night at The Trop (USAT)
• The 2013 season started promisingly for Brett Anderson, with a couple of smooth turns against the Mariners and Astros. But the Tigers pelted the lefty for seven runs in his third turn, and then things totally collapsed against Tampa Bay on Friday.
Anderson gave up four hits and four runs through an inning under the catwalk, then left the game due to a sprained right ankle. We won't know the specific timetable on Anderson until he's re-evaluated over the next couple of days, but everyone is aware of his history with injuries (at least this new one isn't related to his arm in any way).
The Athletics are one of the few teams that can withstand this type of injury – they're blessed with outstanding rotation depth. Consider how right-handed pitcher Daniel Straily was optioned to Triple-A in the first week of April, immediately after spinning a gem at Houston (6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 11 K). Straily hit the ground running at Sacramento, winning two starts in dominating fashion (12.2 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 16 K), and remember he struck out 222 batters in professional baseball (190 in the minors) last year.
Straily is currently owned in just eight percent of Yahoo! leagues; that number might hit a significant spike in the next few days. Let's keep an eye peeled and see if the River Cats use Straily for his scheduled weekend turn. Then Red Sox and Orioles like in wait next week, tricky matchups, but I fully expect Straily to be mixed-league relevant for a decent chunk of this season.
• Tommy Hanson has been a fantasy tease for several seasons now, further underscored by what he's shown over his last two starts. Hanson couldn't handle the cushy matchup against the Astros last week (five innings, five runs), but he somehow posted six bagels against the Tigers in an easy victory Friday. The outing looks less impressive on a pitch-by-pitch view; Hanson walked four, struck out just two, had more than his share of batted ball fortune. Given that he's only struck out eight batters over 17 innings, it's going to take several more positive starts before I pay any interest here. I'm shocked Hanson is currently owned in 34 percent of Yahoo! leagues; that number is far too optimistic.
Before we leave the OC, let's offer a kind word about third baseman Luis Jimenez, who's off to a 9-for-19 start (six singles, three doubles). He had a zesty 3-3-2-0 line Friday, with a walk, and he posted a .309/.334/.495 line with 16 homers in 122 games at Triple-A Salt Lake last year. With Alberto Callaspo landing on the 15-day disabled list Friday (calf injury), the 25-year old Jimenez should get a chance to show what he can do. He's currently owned in just one percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Matt Harvey outpitching Stephen Strasburg isn't an actionable story in the fantasy world; no one can run out and grab Harvey today in a competitive pool. We know elite arms when we see them, and we know that modifier fits both pitchers. Anyway, let's allow the Mets fans to have their moment (did you catch the "Harvey's Better" chant from Friday?). Here's the latest Harvey scouting tape; lather, rinse, repeat.
The Duda abides (USAT)
• John Axford has been effective in his last four appearances (2 H, 0 BB, 5 K), working away from the rigors of the save chase, but it might be difficult to get another look in the ninth – Jim Henderson has been very sharp all year. The old Canadian closer is dead; long live the new Canadian closer.
Henderson's third handshake came in Friday's 5-4 victory over the Cubs, and it was punctuated by his defense: Julio Borbon was thrown out stealing, ending the game. Henderson's eight innings offer the tidy numbers we want from our ninth-inning men: 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 10 K, microscopic ERA and WHIP. There wasn't much of a pedigree with Henderson before he landed in Milwaukee last year, but you could say the same thing of Axford's emergence back in 2010. Henderson is currently owed in 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues while Axford trades at 48 percent; I'm surprised it's not closer to an 80-20 split.
• An elite athlete is nothing without confidence, and everyone can see Dustin Ackley doesn't have any right now. The Seattle infielder took another collar Friday, going 0-for-3, and he's carrying a .145/.190/.164 line for the season. He's been doing a lot of tinkering with his swing and stance, maybe too much tinkering.
The most logical move for all parties would be a demotion; let Ackley take some cuts against lesser pitching, rebuild his approach and his confidence, figure some things out. Touted middle-infield prospect Nick Franklin is off to a strong start with Triple-A Tacoma (.333/.450/.545, two homers, three steals) and might be ready for a close up, besides.
Speed Round: The Roy Halladay victory against Miami was hard to put much stock in, but his outing Friday against the Cardinals (7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K) reopens the argument. Are you back in on Halladay? He's at home against Pittsburgh next week, a favorable draw. I've been on the sidelines thus far and I'll stay that way, but I welcome your contrary argument. … Fab Five Freddie Freeman (oblique) might return to the Braves as soon as Monday. … Jose Bautista (back) returned to action Friday, taking the DH at-bats. He had a homer and walk in four plate appearances. … Domonic Brown (back) has a chance to play Saturday. Given the tryout nature of his season (Delmon Young looms), we want Brown back as soon as he can. … Austin Jackson was a mere 12-for-21 in stolen base attempts last year, but he's 4-for-4 in 2013. Clip and save: MVP sleeper. … Jason Kipnis (elbow) was productive in his first game back, reaching base three times and swiping a bag. … Jose Veras finally grabbed his first save of the year, though the post-game handshake needs some work. He hasn't fooled anyone through his opening seven appearances, allowing 10 hits and five turns over 6.2 innings (three walks, six strikeouts). We've yet to see a 1-2-3 inning. How desperate are you for saves again? … Justin Ruggiano clocked a game-deciding homer (off Aroldis Chapman, no less) as the Marlins upset the Reds. It was ridiculous for the Fish to toy around with Ruggiano's playing time on the eve of the season, but that looks like a dead issue now. Enjoy the category juice. … You're on your own for the rest of Saturday, gamers. See you at the record store. Happy Tim Lincecum Day.
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