Brilliant by the bay (USAT)
Sonny Gray's major league starting debut at Toronto last week was a mixed bag, no getting around that. But the wise streamers in the roto crowd had his first home start circled and highlighted, and as expected, Sonny came home with a vengeance.
When you see the Houston Astros on the dance card, it's time for celebration.
Oakland's 5-0 victory over Houston on Thursday afternoon had little suspense to it - Gray settled in quickly and his mates had little trouble solving Erik Bedard. Gray's performance looks terrific on the sheet (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K) and on the videotape. Quality heat, snappy curve. His juicy strikeout rate from Triple-A has translated to the big leagues, at least through a couple of turns.
To be fair, Thursday's result probably outlines the crummy Astros more than it underscores Gray's potential. When you're looking for the next streaming star, Houston is one of your first calls. The Astros are 27th in the majors in runs, 29th in batting average, and they're far and away the strikeout leaders (a whopping 112 ahead of the Braves). Where's Kelly Leak when you need him?
The Angels host the Astros on the weekend, which sets up streaming potential if you're willing to work with an average pitcher. Jerome Williams (six percent owned) gets the Friday call, surging Garrett Richards (five percent) works Saturday, and home-favoring Jason Vargas (15 percent) holds the Sunday assignment. Richards would be the first name in this group I'd look into, but all three have a legitimate deep-league case. Sharpen the pencils, start your audit.
Back to Gray, you'll want to hold onto him with the Mariners coming into Oakland next week. But a turn at Detroit at the end of August is probably something to avoid.
• A lot of things have gone right with the 2013 Cardinals, starting with second base breakout star Matt Carpenter. Third baseman David Freese? Not one of the bright spots. With those two things in mind, a wheel play might be in the works. Say hello to Kolten Wong, prospect of note.
Wong was added to the big-league roster after Thursday's game and his Triple-A numbers make an impression (.303/.369/.466, 10 homers, 20-for-21 on steals). He's only played second base in the minors, however, so if he's going to play, Carpenter needs to move elsewhere - say, third base. Sounds like the scuffling Freese (.386 slugging, .733 OPS, spotty defense) could be out of a job, effective immediately.
Back to Wong, the 22-year-old infielder is a former first-round pick and he's shown up on prospect lists the last couple of years. He's worth a spec grab in medium and deeper pools immediately. The Cardinals didn't outline their plans Thursday night but we can connect the dots. Wong is unowned in 96 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• If you're chasing wins more than strikeouts, the Saturday streaming card has some interesting pitch-to-contact candidates. Andrew Albers hasn't allowed a run through two starts, and now he's up against the mediocre White Sox. We discussed the pros and cons of the lefty earlier this week. The Henderson Alvarez story isn't getting much play in Miami, but he's worth a look against the ordinary Giants. And everyman Joe Kelly has a shot at Wrigley; no one's afraid of the Cubs.
Petco Park is always a good spot for the temporary shopper, as Zack Wheeler and Tyson Ross reminded us Thursday (such a delicious box score). How is New York righty Jenrry Mejia owned in just 10 percent of Yahoo! leagues? He's posted terrific ratios (2.22/1.07) over four starts, and a K/BB rate (22/3) that sings; give him some Saturday work at San Diego. Strikeout source Martin Perez (17 percent, home against Seattle), underrated Wily Peralta (13 percent, home against Cincinnati), resurgent Bud Norris (27 percent, home against Colorado) and surprisingly trustable Ubaldo Jimenez (18 percent, at Oakland) are also worth your consideration. Start pointing and clicking.
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