There's a 12-year age difference between Matt Harvey and Roy Halladay. When it comes to 2013 fantasy value, the difference might as well be 12 miles. The kid is obviously going places, while the aging veteran might be out of bullets.
The two trains continued to move in opposite directions when they met up Monday night in Philadelphia. Harvey was just about untouchable over seven brilliant innings (3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 9 K), while Halladay's tour of hell continued (4 IP, 7 R, 3 BB, 3 K). It's hard to believe Halladay went 5-6 rounds earlier than Harvey in a lot of drafts last month.
At what point does Halladay's poor start become a cliff season? He's coming off a messy 2012 campaign, he was hammered in most of his spring work, and he's dealing with lessened velocity as he closes in on his 36th birthday. Perhaps he needed shoulder surgery after last season, as opposed to rest and rehab. Can he reinvent himself at this juncture of his career? Is there a final act worth chasing? The next turn at Miami sounds good on paper, but the way Doc is scuffling right now, maybe that doesn't matter. Monday's New York lineup didn't look like a formidable challenge, either.
I realize the Halladay name still commands a lot of respect in baseball and fantasy circles, but let's be careful with that. The circus leaves town for everyone eventually; gravity is the only winner in the end. Unless the acquisition price is a ridiculous giveaway (and thus, with no real risk), I don't see any reason to buy into Doc at this point. Let someone else put their ratios in jeopardy.
On the positive side, Harvey's starts are quickly becoming appointment television. Imagine where the Mets might be in a year or two if highly-touted prospect Zack Wheeler hits, forming a dynamic 1-2 punch at the front of the rotation. Harvey's fastball and slider are already plus pitches in the show, and his curveball has the potential to be an excellent third pitch. He picks up a favorable matchup at the end of the week, working at Minnesota.
I'll probably have Harvey inside the Top 20 on the next Shuffle Up for pitchers, figuring he has a shot at 200 strikeouts in his first full professional season. He already has 89 punchouts over his first 73.1 frames with the Mets, against a reasonable 30 walks. The K/BB ratio for this year is a glittering 19/4. Enjoy this one, Metropolitans; you've been kicked around for long enough.
• Paul Maholm isn't a pitcher who sizzles with upside, but perhaps he's in line for a breakout season. Maholm is off to a tidy 2-0 start after Monday's shutdown of the Marlins, allowing just seven hits over 12.2 clean innings to open the year. He's walked four, stuck out 13. The support backdrop looks appetizing in Atlanta, where the Braves offer a strong defense, capable offense and imposing bullpen.
We already knew Maholm as one of those pitchers who doesn't beat himself on the mound. He collects ground balls at a tidy rate (52 percent for his career) and he walks less than three batters per nine innings. His strikeout clip this year is far beyond anything he's shown before, but Maholm did push his K/9 to a solid 6.7 last summer. I wouldn't be surprised if he found a way to 15 wins, and the ratios he posted in his late-season Atlanta run (3.54/1.19) seem like reasonable targets. The veteran lefty remains unowned in about half of Yahoo! leagues.
• Luke Hancock turned into a dynamic closer for Rick Pitino's basketball Cardinals, torching the nets under the most pressurized of situations. If only the baseball redbirds had a similar option to turn to for the ninth inning.
We're still waiting for news on Jason Motte, who's been as good as underground since his elbow started barking in the third week of March. He'll have an MRI on Tuesday. The Cardinals haven't had Motte on a fast track in his rehab, which makes us a little nervous. But it's not our elbow and it's not our asset.
Mitchell Boggs has been a carnival ride as the stand-in closer. He blew his first save chance a week ago in Arizona, and he completely unraveled in Monday's loss to Cincinnati (seven runs, six earned, just one out recorded; an error behind him certainly didn't help). Boggs was working in a tie game Monday, top of the ninth - that's standard work for any closer these days. If he doesn't right the ship quickly, Mike Matheny might be forced to try other options.
Fireballing youngster Trevor Rosenthal might ultimately prove to be the highest upside reliever in this bullpen. Rosenthal has been scored upon in two of his last three appearances, but his seasonal numbers still look pretty good (5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 7 K). And if you've caught any of the games live (or on tape), you know he passes the eye test.
The 22-year-old cut his teeth nicely as a late-season reliever last year (2.78/0.93 over 22.2 innings, 25 K, 7 BB), and Baseball America and MLB.com both considered Rosenthal a Top 45 prospect into this season. Eventually the plan is for Rosenthal to be a starting pitcher (as he was for most of his minor-league days), but perhaps he'll follow the Adam Wainwright path to big-league relevance. Rosenthal is free to add in 89 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• I've yet to see or hear about a specific a public changing of the guard in Milwaukee, but it sure looks like Jim Henderson is the reliever you want. The Calgary product put out the fire in Chicago on Monday afternoon, striking out two and working around an infield error. The appearance also took 30 pitches (22 strikes), so Henderson might need a day off before he works again.
The Cubs miraculously received a scoreless inning of work from displaced closer Carlos Marmol, though it was high-wire balancing all the way (two base runners, two strikeouts). Chicago was trailing by five runs when Marmol entered; he's clearly buried in the pecking order now. I fully expect Kyuji Fujikawa to take that closing gig and run with it. We're had this discussion all month, you know the story here.
• Ned Yost watched the Greg Holland horror show last weekend in Philadephia, but he's not going to shuffle things up yet. Despite the presence of Kelvin Herrera and Aaron Crow, Holland is still in possession of the ninth-inning baton.
"[Holland has been] kind of a slow starter -- he was last year, too," Yost told MLB.com. "Once he gets his feet underneath him, he's lights out. We'll adjust it out . . . His stuff's really good, he's just missing off the plate. His command is pretty good, but he's just off an inch or two," Yost said. "And you're not going to be a successful closer by throwing a fastball down the middle. You've got to work the thirds of the plate, and he does that really well."
If you need to hedge, the first stop should be Herrera. Crow picked up Sunday's rogue save basically because the other guys needed a day off. But if I could have anyone in this bullpen right now, assuming the same cost, I'd still ride with Holland. Boom, Yosted.
Speed Round: Apparently the "anybody against Houston" streaming angle even includes journeymen like Joe Saunders. Good grief, Charlie Brown. The soft-serving Saunders posted six bagels against the hapless Astros (6 H, 1 BB, 5 K), then gave way to his fireballing bullpen. If you're playing the anti-Houston card for the rest of the week, here's the rundown: Brandon Maurer, Blake Beavan, Tommy Hanson, Jered Weaver (check status) and C.J. Wilson. And for the early-birds, please note the Astros visit Oakland and host Cleveland next week. … Joe Nathan doesn't even need to work in the zone these days; he's able to mentally intimidate umpires into calling strikes for him. The endgame in Texas had to be seen to be believed. Sorry about that, Rays Nation. … Michael Saunders had another productive day (4-2-2-0, steal) and remains unclaimed freight in 81 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Mmmm, category juice. … I didn't expect much from Travis Hafner prior to the year, but I'll admit he looks trimmed down and worth owning again. He's off to a 9-for-23 start with two homers and four walks, a site for sore Yankee eyes. He had a monster day Monday (3-3-2-4, homer, two walks) as New York spoiled Cleveland's home opener. Hafner only qualifies at utility in the Yahoo! game, but nonetheless his eight-percent ownership tag is on the light side. Robinson Cano also homered twice Monday, washing out the bad taste of the opening week. … Keep an eye on the torrid Carlos Santana, who took a pitch off the thumb Monday. X-rays came back negative, so that's good news, but you never want to mess with those thumb injuries. … We could always write more, but we need to get to the cinematheque. Heads up on the Tuesday lineups, the Jays and Tigers are playing a matinee. Good luck with your stat grabbing.