• A lot of rotoheads were done with Carlos Marmol back in mid-May. Bad hamstring, bad slider, too many ugly blown saves. And with the Cubs kicking the ball around in 100 other ways, why would you want this team's closer?
Happier days have settled in for Marmol since he returned to action, and especially since he regained the ninth inning. Check what Marmol's done over his last 19 appearances: 17.2 IP, 15 H, 6 R, 12 BB, 24 K, 12 consecutive save conversions. He worked around trouble Thursday night for his latest handshake, stranding two Cincinnati runners. Electric on Waveland Avenue.
I realize you can say almost anything with stats if you pick the right endpoint, but we also have to consider Marmol was stripped of shake-off rights around the time his season flipped. These days, the catcher puts down a signal, Marmol cocks and throws. Sometimes the worst place for a pitcher to be is in his own head.
My buddy and colleague Mike Salfino has a theory about relievers being like french fries: basically you love them when they're hot, while realizing they seldom stay hot for long. Not every pitcher falls into that pithy logic, but it's on the mark nonetheless. And it's never that surprising when an out-of-nowhere story comes around to carry us, be it Fernando Rodney and Jim Johnson this year, or the last two months of Carlos Marmol. You need to be willing to ask "why not?" when others are saying "why bother?"
Perhaps this is my way of talking myself into Jim Henderson, this week's great story from Milwaukee. Maybe this is how the Marlins should be looking at Steve Cishek over Heath Bell. Maybe the Athletics will shock the world and start closing with someone not named Ryan Cook or Grant Balfour. You never know where the next great batch of fries is going to come from.
• Although the Reds stumbled at Wrigley on Thursday, Todd Frazier had a bang-up night (double, homer). He's up to 14 homers on the year, a nifty count for someone with just 271 at-bats.
I'm trying to wrap my mind around Frazier's low ownership tag (a mere 13 percent). I know he's been in a bit of a slump in the second half, Thursday to the side, but there are so many selling points here. A .266 average is not a deal breaker in the framework of today's MLB (same goes for his .323 OBP), and Frazier qualifies at three positions in the Yahoo! game (first, third, outfield). I wish I had this guy on all of my teams, Dusty whims and all. How many other batters have Sinatra music playing as they stride to the dish?
Hug like a champion today (USP)• For about six weeks, Adam Wainwright was a pitcher with a good process and bad results. Since then, he's simply back to being a great pitcher, period.
Wainwright picked up his third win in four starts Thursday, going seven strong innings (5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K) and outdueling Madison Bumgarner. Here's some video, go slay the radio star.
It's not hard to see Wainwright getting stronger (and more confident) as he gets further removed from his elbow reconstruction. He's posted a 3.10 ERA over his last 15 turns (97 whiffs, 20 walks), and his ground-ball and strikeout rates are at career highs. The 3.90 ERA at the front door might not impress you, but his peripheral numbers suggest a number almost a full run lower. While I generally want to get hitters in my keeper leagues (it's more reliable, year to year), Wainwright is an outstanding pitcher to build around — and he might not be priced like an ace in all leagues. I'm expecting a huge year from him in 2013, a Top 10 year.
• We stream because it's fun, and it's occasionally lucrative. Don't be afraid to roll with no-names and low-names if the situation is right. I'm fine with Francisco Liriano (47 percent) at home against Oakland, in part because Tommy Milone hasn't been sharp lately (or handled the road very well). Kris Medlen (17 percent) is an under-owned commodity, carrying dual eligibility and looking at a cushy New York start for Saturday. Franklin Morales (13 percent) might not be in Bobby Valentine's Circle of Trust, but I'd use him in a heartbeat at Cleveland.
I'll stay away from Bronson Arroyo at Chicago (unless you need a guitar player), and I'll dodge Johan Santana right off the DL. I see the argument for Hisashi Iwakuma, but then I see Mike Trout looming in the batter's box and I walk away, briskly.
Speed Round: Logan Morrison (knee) isn't expected to return this year, which means more Justin Ruggiano for the rest of us. Come on, love the Rug Rat with me. … The Mike Fiers story has been a blast, but are we almost at the end? He's collected 135 innings thus far in 2012, and the Brewers might not ride him through the end of the year. … Mike Morse has finally booted up, with a .319 average and six homers (two Thursday) over the last month. He's knocked in 21 runs over that span. Score another hit for the Nelson Cruz All-Stars (that's late bloomers, not constantly-hurt sluggers). … The Red Sox are set to bring Scott Podsednik back, two weeks removed from his trade to Arizona. Oh, those cute Red Sox and their front office. I'm sure they have a plan, somewhere. … Manny Machado had a nifty debut, with a single and triple out of the No. 9 slot. I'd like to think Buck Showalter will quickly move Machado up in the order if the rookie keeps swinging well, but then I recall how Uncle Buck kept Matt Wieters buried most of last season. … The Wheel of Ubaldo came up aces, as Jimenez struck out 10 batters in a strong start against Boston. Does this mean he'll have a repeating delivery and strong command of his fastball next week at Anaheim? I'd never bet on him. You're on your own, gamer. … Without a lot of fanfare, Matt Moore is turning into that guy everyone thought he'd be. He's 8-3 with a 2.90 ERA over his last 13 turns, with 76 whiffs over 80.2 innings. He's still walking too many guys (35 over that span), but you can see the future No. 1 tag here. This could easily be Clayton Kershaw 2.0, and I'd never throw that sort of comparison around lightly.