• The Toronto offense might not be very modern, but to this point in the year, it's been very effective. Don't thumb your nose up at their approach; you can find some fantasy help here.
The Blue Jays won a keg-tapper over the Rangers on Friday, taking advantage of a gusting wind and grabbing a 16-10 victory. Five different Jays hit homers – Aaron Hill, Adam Lind, Vernon Wells, Lyle Overbay and Travis Snider. Every Toronto starter had a share in the run production.
And that's what this Toronto offense has been doing through 37 games, producing runs by the truckload. The Jays are fourth in the majors in runs scored, first in homers by a fair amount, and tops in slugging percentage. Without a lot of fanfare, these guys can put the hurt on you.
Alas, their approach isn't a trendy one. This is a free-swinging bunch, a team that hacks first and asks questions later. The Jays are hitting just .240 and they've got a paltry .312 on-base percentage. No club has swung at more pitches out of the strike zone, or offered at a higher percentage of pitches, period. Forget working the count and waiting for your pitch, these guys want to cut to the chase.
The scoring Jays have been getting more run in our coverage of late; Brad Evans gave Jose Bautista(notes) some pub this week, while Andy Behrens and yours truly each stumped for Snider recently. And it's time to add Fred Lewis(notes) to the hit list; he's the triggerman at the top of the lineup, and while his approach doesn't fit the the traditional idea of a leadoff man, he's putting up some very useful fantasy numbers.
Lewis is hitting .301 since he joined the Jays 25 games ago, along with 17 runs, 13 RBIs, two homers and three steals. Those stats might not sound like a lot, but project them out to a full year and we're looking at a 110-13-84-19 line. Okay, he's only walked six times and he's not the prototypical leadoff man, but this is the hacking Jays we're talking about. Lewis has some pop, he runs well, and it almost makes sense that he's the man out in front of this unconventional lineup.
Lewis is owned in just five percent of Yahoo! leagues as this Closing Time goes to press; there's time to get in on this story. Bautista is available in 80 percent of leagues, and Snider is just 10-percent owned. Sure, teams may adjust to the swinging Jays eventually and this offense could collapse at some point this summer, but production is production and the gravy train is almost six weeks old. Why not kick the tires on some of these guys?
• The Yahoo! fantasy sports staff tried to have a conference call Friday afternoon but we were done in by Doc Behrens. The Grizzly One was briskly walking to Wrigley Field for the matinee and the gusting wind kept blowing against his cell phone and interfering with our chat. "The wind is definitely blowing out today," Behrens proclaimed. Shortly after that, he hung up.
Behrens wasn't just trying to duck the rest of us; the wind really did come to play, pushing the Pirates to a 10-6 victory. Andrew McCutchen(notes) and Garrett Jones(notes) had the most fun, combining for 10 hits, seven runs, seven RBIs and a pair of homers (McCutchen also swiped two bases, giving him 12 – he's basically Carl Crawford(notes) without the hype).
Chicago starter Tom Gorzelanny(notes) didn't finish with a pretty line but he did strike out seven over his five innings. His 3.60 ERA looks legit to me; he's fanned 83 batters over 78.1 innings since joining the Cubs at the end of last year. Stick with this one. The Bucs salted the game away with their hard-throwing bullpen; Evan Meek(notes), Joel Hanrahan(notes) and Octavio Dotel(notes) combined for four scoreless innings, striking out eight.
• Offense is a lot harder to come by with the other Chicago team these days; the White Sox barely put up a fight at Kansas City, managing just six hits and one run off Gil Meche(notes), Dusty Hughes(notes) and Blake Wood(notes) (not exactly Saberhagen, Cone and Greinke, is it?). But eventually the Pale Hose have to catch a break on offense; Chicago's batters have a collective BABIP of .237, which is utterly ridiculous.
• The Phillies scored a 9-5 victory at Milwaukee but I was hoping for a closer game, eager to see two pitchers totaling 85 years team up for a win and a save. Alas, it was just a victory for Jamie Moyer; Jose Contreras doesn't get a stat for his scoreless ninth.
At some point this year I'm going to add the remarkable Moyer to my Friends & Family roster as a homage; it really isn't a shrewd move (despite his five wins, his 4.57 ERA and piddly strikeout rate kill his value), but I have so much respect for someone who can be reasonably effective at his age and with such a limited repertoire. Has any professional pitcher ever done more with less? I hope he plays into his 50s, I hope he chases 300 wins (he's 37 short), and know he'll be a fantastic pitching coach someday if he wants to go in that direction.
And yes, those Philly throwbacks are fantastic.
• Max Scherzer(notes) opened the year with four promising starts but he's been a mess ever since; including Friday's horror show against the Red Sox, he's now allowed 27 runs and six homers over his last 18 innings. "His slider has not been good and his fastball has been in the middle of the plate," Jim Leyland explained. David Ortiz(notes) homered twice off Scherzer, and Dustin Pedroia(notes) also connected (roll the tape).
• Rafael Furcal(notes) was expected to come off the DL on Friday but the team has changed the plan; he won't be activated this weekend and he'll probably need to go on another rehab assignment to test the leg. Furcal made it clear he doesn't want to play until he's at full throttle. "In my mind, I don't feel I can do it the way I want to do it," he told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com. "It's 80, 85, 90 percent. I want to be aggressive. I don't want to play and they take me out after two innings and they lose me for 60 days."
Chasing Saves: The Reds had some cheap hits off Ryan Franklin(notes) (one an infield hit, another a bloop single), but he was definitely lucky when a scorched grounder turned into a game-ending double play. … Chad Qualls(notes) wasn't as fortunate in Atlanta, as the Braves turned three singles (one on a bunt, another a flare to right) into a game-winning rally. The Diamondbacks have now lost seven in a row, and A.J. Hinch called the defeat "a dagger in the heart." Qualls might be in trouble if the Snakes had anything behind him, but everyone in this bullpen has been terrible this year. … Jonathan Broxton(notes) finally worked a clean inning this month, picking up his fourth save in eight days. … David Aardsma(notes) had his good stuff at Tampa Bay, striking out two of three.
Speed Round: Nick Swisher(notes) (biceps) started Friday but took just one at-bat before he had to come out; an MRI revealed a slight strain. Have alternate options ready for the weekend. … Anibal Sanchez(notes) is a little like Lucy Van Pelt and that football gig – just when you trust him, he tricks you and has a good laugh over it. He's been effective over his last five starts (30.1 IP, 31 H, 9 ER, 9 BB, 22 K), but are you ready to roll with this guy in a mixed league? I don't have the nerve to use him at St. Louis next week. … Eric Young has a stress fracture in his leg; no timetable is set on him yet. … Nelson Cruz(notes) returned to the Texas lineup and collected four RBIs. He might sit out one game on the weekend, however, just to play things safely, especially on the Toronto turf. … Aroldis Chapman(notes) had a rough Triple-A start on Friday, allowing eight runs over 3.1 innings. His ERA jumped from 2.84 to 4.63 after the messy appearance. … Justin Duchscherer(notes) (hip) is healthy enough to start Saturday against the Angels; he had a cortisone shot earlier in the week. This looks like a time to scout the righty, not start him.
- The Blue Jays