Call it a comeback (USAT)
Lackey had perhaps the best game of his comeback season, working seven solid innings (8 H, 2 R, 0 BB) and piling up 12 strikeouts. His ERA is under 3 for the year and he's specifically impressed in his home, cozy ballpark (1.36/0./97). There was a lot of mad-lib smirking when Lackey showed up to camp in "the best shape of his life" but heck, being physically fit comes with obvious advantages. Don't dismiss that observation out of hand.
The secondary numbers stand in support of Lackey's year. He's moved his strikeout and walk rates in the right direction, he's allowing less hard-hit contact, and he's even spiked his ground-ball rate up to 50 percent. The music should keep playing through the summer.
Oswalt has thrown plenty of strikes in his two return starts, but they've been far too hittable. He's allowed 18 hits and nine runs over his 11 innings, and let's not play the bad-luck card for him: opposing batters are producing a line drive 26.5 percent of the time. Oswalt's tidy K/BB rate (16 whiffs, one walk) stands in his defense, but now he has to go back to the thin air of Colorado and try to make things work. Did we learn nothing from Oswalt's 2012 mess in Arlington? Even in NL-only formats, I'm not interested here.
• I know you want to be wary of playing the arbitrary endpoint game when cutting up samples of data, but in the case of Josh Reddick, there's a good reason why you separate the stat collections. Reddick's first five weeks were done in by a wrist injury, but he's been a useful player since his return 23 games ago (.287/.340/.414). The pop isn't where we want it, but otherwise he's been taking good hacks. You might be able to buy low on the bearded one right now, pointing to his still-ugly seasonal slash line (.218/.300/.330).
• I see the obvious fleas with Brian Dozier. That .226/.303/.369 slash is a deal breaker for a lot of rotoheads up front, and he's a coin flip on the bases (6-for-12). The five homers this month have fluke written all over them, sure. But before you completely discount him, make note of the improved batting eye this month (14 walks, 10 strikeouts). That's earned him some starts near the top of the lineup, and solidifies his starting spot in the first place. Dozier qualifies at both middle infield spots and is available in 87 percent of Yahoo! leagues. There might be something here.
Up with Knucklers (USAT)
• There are 99 problems with the Yankees offense right now, but Ichiro Suzuki isn't one. The estimable vet has five hits in the Texas series (two homers, one steal), and it's all part of a dynamite June (.321, three homers, seven steals). Ichiro's wheels have held up nicely into his late 30s; the bags are there if he wants them. And the banged-up Yankees have finally accepted that Suzuki needs to be in the everyday lineup. You can add him for nothing in 54 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• I know it's difficult to have a lot of faith in Miami's management, but it sure sounds like Ricky Nolasco will be moved before the trade deadline hits. And with that idea in tow, it's time to speculate now. Nolasco has a solid 3.68 ERA and 1.20 WHIP through the opening three months, with 77 strikeouts, and while that's been assembled in the cushy NL East, he'd still be a worthwhile roto investment in a number of other NL cities. As per usual, we'll start dreaming of the NL West landing spots - maybe LA, San Diego or San Francisco will throw a hat into the ring. Nolasco is waiting your call in 80 percent of the Y! Let's act before he's liberated from Shawshank the fish tank.
Speed Round: The Angels are still waiting on Peter Bourjos (thumb), who hasn't played since Sunday . . . The Braves apparently have some interest in Kevin Gregg, the shockingly-valuable Chicago reliever. The Cubs save chase would become an absolute mess if Gregg left town . . . Bryce Harper (knee) is expected to play a full nine innings at Double-A on Thursday. Looks like we'll see him in Washington at the beginning of next week, barring a setback . . . Despite a 4.64 ERA and 1.43 WHIP, Tim Lincecum remains owned in 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues. It doesn't make sense . . . Jedd Gyorko left Wednesday's rehab game due to groin soreness . . . Mark Teixeira (wrist surgery) is out for the season . . . Carlos Gomez (shoulder) will miss his third straight game Thursday. All clear for Rickie Weeks, however; Scooter Gennett has been returned to the minors . . . So much for the Tyler Colvin story: he's in an 0-for-23 slump with a zillion strikeouts. He'll be in the minors come the weekend . . . Dexter Fowler (hand) will have an MRI on Thursday. He's been trying to play through the injury but a DL stint might be required after all.
- Sports & Recreation
- John Lackey
- Roy Oswalt