No dominant theme on a busy Thursday – let's bullet the blue sky and see where it takes us.
• It wasn't a great night for hitting in Chicago on Thursday but that didn't help Jake Peavy(notes) much against the Angels; he still allowed eight hits and six runs over six innings. There's still decent stuff here, of course (Peavy rang up eight strikeouts), but it's becoming harder and harder to trust the righty against less-favorable matchups.
Let's simplify things and look at the divisional breakdown: in four AL Central starts (two against Cleveland, two against KC) he's got a 3.04 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP; in five starts out of division those numbers swell to 8.31 and 1.62. Peavy's strikeout count has been consistent everywhere, but he's walked more batters out-of-division and also run into some gopher-ball problems. The Peavy plan for next week was already obvious, even without the stats: use him at Cleveland, and duck him at Tampa Bay.
• There's some news with Brandon Webb(notes) and good luck finding a positive spin here. He had a recent visit with Dr. James Andrews – you know what that generally means – and the pitcher was told he needs to change his arm slot, basically retrain himself on the mound. "I just have to," Webb told the Arizona Republic. "Even though I'm almost 10 months out of surgery and I've been throwing for five months, I've been almost wasting my time throwing bad." I'm no doctor but this sure sounds ominous; good luck getting anything useful out of Webb in 2010.
• The Tampa Bay hitters took advantage of favorable conditions en route to four homers and an 8-6 win at Yankee Stadium on Thursday night. Ben Zobrist(notes) (finally), Carlos Pena(notes) and B.J. Upton(notes) all went deep courtesy of the right field jetstream – Andy Pettitte(notes) was noticeably upset after Pena's homer, a ball that didn't look like it was struck that well – and Pena later added a second round-tripper, crushing a pitch from the batting practice machine known as Chan Ho Park(notes). James Shields(notes) didn't have his best stuff but he battled through it, lasting into the eighth (4 R, 3 ER) and picking up seven strikeouts along the way.
• About once a month Luke Hochevar(notes) throws a gem just to tease us; that's what he was doing at Cleveland on Thursday (CG, 4 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 7 K). He'll get the Rangers next and then the Red Sox or Angels – I can't recommend him for those assignments.
• Atlanta's miraculous 10-9 comeback victory over Cincinnati was a better real-life story than a fantasy one; there weren't many roto elements to take away from here (if you started Laynce Nix(notes) on a whim, do a sack dance in the comments).
Don't beat up Francisco Cordero(notes) for the loss and the blown save; he only faced one batter, and the walk-off grand slam from Brooks Conrad(notes) was a fairly cheap opposite-field homer (see for yourself, at left and in the video here). Mike Leake(notes) was sharp again for the Reds (6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) and deserved to get his win safeguarded by the Cincinnati bullpen. Meanwhile, Tommy Hanson(notes) didn't have a thing on the other side (1.2 IP, 8 R), then admitted after the game that he felt dizzy on the mound. We'll keep close tabs on him as he gets ready for the Marlins and Pirates next week.
• A.J. Hinch is still a relatively inexperienced manager – remember he got the Arizona gig with no coaching experience whatsoever – and although his bullpen has let him down for most of the year, he also makes some odd decisions. An example came Thursday, where Aaron Heilman(notes) was yanked after allowing a two-out walk in the top of the ninth, no matter that he had already retired five men in a row and successfully negotiated the heart of the San Francisco lineup. Hinch and the Diamondbacks got the result they wanted – Chad Qualls(notes) struck out Juan Uribe(notes), closing out the victory – but it's puzzling to me why Heilman wasn't allowed to finish up given how sharp he had looked to that point. Alas, Hinch has a psychology degree from Stanford University, and I don't.
• Is the bloom coming off the Kevin Gregg(notes) rose? He had a messy blown save Thursday, at Seattle of all places, and he's only had two perfect innings in his last nine appearances. He's carrying a 6.48 ERA in May and a 2.04 WHIP. I'm not suggesting that anything is imminent here, but keep in mind that Scott Downs(notes) has better numbers than Gregg, and while Jason Frasor(notes) was terrible early on, he's been strong of late (just one run over his last nine appearances; one walk, nine strikeouts).
• The Brewers finally got this bullpen thing right for once, getting three scoreless innings out the door in a 4-3 victory at Pittsburgh. Sleeper John Axford(notes) worked the seventh and eighth (0 H, 1 BB, 2 K), and Carlos Villanueva(notes) slammed the door in the ninth (fly out, plunked batter, GIDP). It's not clear when Trevor Hoffman(notes) will be cleared to pitch, or what role he'll be used in; I think Ken Macha is crazy if he doesn't give Villanueva a chance to run with this job, but when Macha hops on the dugout phone, he's not calling for my opinion.
More Handshakes: After going through April with just one save, Jonathan Broxton(notes) now has seven over the last 14 days. That's just how these things fall sometimes. … Jose Contreras(notes) made his own mess against the Cubs (HBP, single) then got out of it in style, striking out two and inducing a pop-up, all while the tying run stood on third. Well played, veteran. … Jose Valverde(notes) is still walking too many guys (nine over 18.2 innings) but no one is hitting him and he's 11-for-12 on save chances. … Ryan Franklin(notes) finally issued his first walk of the year but otherwise it was a smooth save against Florida; he needed just 12 pitches. … Randy Choate(notes) made a mess of the ninth in New York, much to the appreciation of Rafael Soriano(notes), who came in for his 11th save. … Brian Fuentes(notes) worked a perfect ninth on the South Side of Chicago, getting three fly-ball outs.
Kings of Pain: Nate Schierholtz(notes) got good news on his shoulder MRI – he's only dealing with a bruise – but nonetheless he'll be held out of a couple of games. … Aramis Ramirez(notes) is dealing with a sore thumb and was limited to pinch-hitting Thursday. … Jacoby Ellsbury(notes) (ribs) collected three hits in a minor league game Thursday and should join the Red Sox on the weekend. … The Mariners won't get Erik Bedard(notes) (shoulder) back until late June at the earliest. … Magglio Ordonez(notes) (heel) returned to action and rapped out two hits. … Gregg Zaun(notes) took an early shower after suffering a shoulder injury. … Kyle Blanks(notes) (elbow) landed on the 15-day DL. … Manny Ramirez(notes) (foot) rested again and remains day-to-day. If you own Planet Manny in a daily transaction league, you pretty much need another west coast outfielder to serve as a lineup caddy, ready to go when Manny can't. Roster tip – as the day moves along, be sure to keep your options open at the utility slots.
Universal-Friendly Speed Round: We're running out of superlatives for Ubaldo Jimenez(notes). He allowed just one hit over seven scoreless frames at Houston, lowering his ERA to 0.99. I could say more, but Andy already hosted our official Jimenez Discussion Party this week. … Luke Scott's(notes) eighth-inning strikeout hurt Baltimore's comeback hopes at Arlington but otherwise he had a good series, going 5-for-8 and adding a walk. Here's hoping Dave Trembley finds a spot for Scott when the Orioles lose the DH at Washington this weekend. … Nelson Cruz(notes) continues to mash away, collecting four hits, a homer and four RBIs against Baltimore. If you took what he's done through four weeks (remember he was hurt for two weeks) and roughly applied it to a full season, you'd be looking at something in the neighborhood of 48 homers, 180 RBIs and 42 steals. It's fun to be invested in this offense, especially when the Rangers are at home.
Vladimir Guerrero(notes) is up to .342 with nine homers, and don't forget he's at five games in the outfield, which carries eligibility in many groups. … Max Scherzer(notes) got it together in his first minor league turn, throwing eight innings of one-hit baseball and striking out 10. … Macha decided to flip Prince Fielder(notes) and Ryan Braun in the order Thursday; you do those sorts of things when you're on a nine-game losing skid. Fielder went 1-for-4 out of the No. 3 slot, while Braun took the collar at cleanup. … Adam Wainwright(notes) is such a joy to watch – he's competitive, works quickly, and yes, that's a dandy curveball. … Eric Hinske(notes) has been a secret weapon for the Braves this year (he's got a .389/.425/.722 line this month) and his path to at-bats cleared a bit with the Matt Diaz(notes) news (thumb injury, down a month). … There are probably 1,000 stories I didn't get to; please talk of your favorite stats and players in the comments.