Hope you had a terrific Canada Day (USAT)
We've known all along that Rajai Davis is a one-trick pony, but if you have a need for speed, it's a pretty good trick.
The Blue Jays have used Davis as an everyday player over the past week (filling in for the injured Melky Cabrera), and he's taken things up a notch over his last five games: 9-for-19, six runs, a couple of walks. But what really gets the juices flowing is Davis's nerve on the bases. This is a guy who seems to take off every time he gets an opportunity. He's swiped seven bags in eight attempts over the last four games, putting him 21-for-23 on the year (in a modest 131 at-bats). Rabbit, run.
The .321 average and .357 OBP won't be around for too long - the career numbers (.273/.319) tell us who Davis really is. But so long as the Jays are giving him a job and the ever-present green light, we'll happily let the specialist into our fake-baseball lives. The YYZ speed merchant is owned in a modest 24 percent of Yahoo! leagues; check your waiver wire, amigos.
The Jays had their way on Canada Day, rolling past Detroit behind the resurgent R.A. Dickey (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 4 K). Dickey's velocity has rebounded of late, which leads us to believe he's finally healthy again. But we're talking about a 38-year-old who throws the most erratic of pitches - there are no guarantees here. If I were shuffling arms right this second, I'd have Dickey in the $13-15 range. I don't know where the story is headed, and neither do you.
• The Internet has taken plenty of shots at Jayson Werth over the years; let's offer a few positive angles. He's the owner of outstanding facial hair. His last name is conveniently slotted on the keyboard. And he's been productive in Washington since returning to action a month ago (.292/.364/.494, 14 runs, four homers, 16 RBIs).
The Nationals moved Werth to the No. 2 position in the lineup for Monday's rout over Washington, an interesting place to be now that Bryce Harper has returned. Werth came through nicely with two hits and six runs produced. I can't promise you the 34-year-old will stay healthy for the balance of the year - that's always the rub here - but he's an underowned commodity at a mere 49 percent.
• Justin Smoak has been mostly a fantasy tease during his career, but maybe we can catch lightning in a bottle this week. He's been useful since returning from a quad injury, posting a .365/.359/.529 slash with three homers and five walks. The schedule plays nicely, with six road games on the way (three in Arlington, three in Cincinnati). Granted, the lack of a DH could squeeze Smoak out of the lineup here and there on the weekend, but let's see what happens against the Rangers first. The 26-year-old post-hype case is ready to add in 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
A strange brew (USAT)
A strange brew (USAT)
Gallardo's velocity has been falling for two years, in addition to his swinging-strike rate. You can argue he's been unlucky with his strand rate, but when you're not pitching well, you're not going to work out of trouble regularly. The league is ripping line drives 25.5 percent of the time against Gallardo - you keep throwing a mediocre fastball over the plate, eventually someone drills a ball to the gap. We're halfway through this dance; it's time to accept a bad start is actually a bad season. That 87-percent ownership tag should be considerably lower.
• The 2013 book on Bronson Arroyo has become clear: he's tidy and trustworthy in the NL, and someone to avoid when the AL heavies come calling. The Cincinnati guitarist has been kicked around for 23 hits and 15 runs over his three inter league starts (the Indians and A's really beat him up), but it's smooth sailing when he's in the NL. The Giants didn't do much off him Monday (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 3 K), in what turned into a rain-shortened victory.
If we grade Arroyo solely on his NL work for 2013, we get a 2.66 ERA and 1. 08 WHIP. Obviously no one expects him to pitch that well for the balance of the year, but his collection of soft stuff is better suited for the junior circuit. This weekend presents a conundrum of sorts - an AL opponent is on the way, but it's just the unthreatening Mariners. I'm prepared to stream Arroyo on the weekend, especially with Jeremy Bonderman opposing him. The option remains available in 57 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Speed Round: My expectations on Alex Rodriguez (hip) are as low as anyone's, but he's ready to start a rehab assignment, if you wanted to know. He'll likely spend a solid three weeks in the practice games before the Yankees decide what to do next. In the meantime, good luck with David Adams and his .503 OPS . . . Josh Willingham is battling a balky knee and is headed for an MRI . . . Evan Longoria (foot) hasn't played in three games, but the club thinks he can avoid a DL stint . . . Dan Haren (shoulder) is ready to throw a simulated game, which probably means 3-4 simulated homers will fly over the fence . . . The Diamondbacks reset their bullpen on Monday - Heath Bell worked in the seventh, David Hernandez pitched the eighth and J.J. Putz blew the save in the ninth. Just to add insult to injury, Josh Collmenter frittered away the 14th inning lead and the Mets walked off with the victory . . . Let's enjoy Jose Fernandez while he's still pitching in 2013 - he was brilliant over eight scoreless innings against San Diego (2 H, 1 R, 10 K). He's at 92.2 innings at the moment, as the Marlins have handled him carefully; perhaps a shutdown isn't imminent in this case . . . A tight hamstring kept Edwin Encarnacion out of Monday's lineup . . . Miguel Gonzalez had a sharp June (four wins, 2.88/0.96, 28 Ks) and is getting plenty of stream attention in advance of Wednesday's start against the White Sox.
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