Sox and the City (USAT)
Category juice is a major part of what we seek in this fake-baseball numbers racket, so it's a touch odd to suggest a player who currently has zero homers and zero stolen bases. Be that as it may, let's talk about Conor Gillaspie, anonymous Chicago hitter.
All sorts of fun stats are on display with the Gillaspie page. That .389 average sure is pretty, though it's fueled by a crazy .402 BABIP. But it's also a case of Gillaspie making his own luck: he's lacing a line drive 33.7 percent of the time. He cranked nine doubles and one triple over 101 at-bats (he missed some time with a hand injury).
If you prorate Gillaspie's run-production stats to a full season, you get 84 runs and 90 RBIs. Okay, that plays. The surrounding lineup, one of the best in the majors, also helps the cause. It's a scoring-friendly park, as you know.
Gillaspie cranked 13 homers in 408 at-bats last year (albeit with a puny .245 average), so the home-run bagel is something of a fluke. Eventually some of those doubles will sail over the fence. And Robin Ventura seems to like the cornerman, using Gillaspie in the No. 3 spot in 15 of 27 games.
Nope, it's not a sexy pickup, but it's one most of you can make: Gillaspie is free to add in 96 percent of Yahoo leagues. He's eligible at both corner spots and he's in the sweet spot for player growth, two months shy of his 27th birthday. Offense isn't that easy to find in deeper mixers, is it? Who's with me? The context adds up here.
Before we finish our pizza and bolt Chicago, there's also the case of post-hype kid Gordon Beckham (another Age-27 siren). Full disclosure, I talk myself into Beckham once a year. He's on a .277-15-3-10-1 run for his 25 games, useful as a middle infielder. He's only owned in eight percent of Yahoo. He's not posh and he's not spicy, but that ownership tag looks low to me. This is a fun offense to run with, kids, especially when Jose Abreu comes back.
• The Chicago bullpen, you ask? Andy Behrens runs that beat, and he has you covered here. Ronald Belisario took the Behrens endorsement to heart, securing Chicago's win at Kansas City on Tuesday. It wasn't a perfect shutdown (2 H, 1 R), but it had a happy ending. Hey hey hey, goodbye.
Belisario's 4.15 ERA might scare some off, but he's been terrific in May – and around the strike zone all year (five walks, 19 whiffs over 26 innings). Compared to some of the other wild chuckers here, Belisario is downright relaxing. He's ready to go in 89 percent of the Y.
Land of the Lottery (USAT)
The schedule won't throw Bauer a bone (at Baltimore; home against Colorado; at Texas) but maybe it doesn't matter. The Orioles and Rangers aren't thumping yet, and obviously the Rockies are a different team on the road.
Before Bauer took to the Cleveland mound, Salazar made his walk of shame at Triple-A Columbus (2.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 1 K). I don't know if it's a physical or mental problem here. Obviously he's just 24, a whole career ahead of him. But in standard mixers, I don't see any reason to stash-and-hope with Salazar. Play for today, players.
• Justin Verlander took the loss at Cleveland, as his beguiling 2014 continues. His strikeout rate has plummeted to 6.7/9, walks bloated to 3.7/9. His fastball is down to 92.1 mph, a 1.2 drop from last year (and 2.5 off his career average). A 3.55 ERA is playable, sure, but probably not what you paid for. Then again, he was a 3.46 man last year.
Let's be clear: I'm not sounding an alarm here. This isn't a Lincecum/Sabathia bulletin, this isn't Panic in Detroit. But maybe it's worth exploring a trade – perhaps you can find someone who still considers Verlander a Cy Young contender, rather than merely a solid pitcher. I'm not that guy, but you know how this roto thing works – it's a game of differing opinions.
Verlander had similar concerns around the middle of last season, though he ended the year with a terrific September. His second-half numbers were slightly better than his first-half ones, but not elite. I know name brands die awfully hard, but just try to keep an open mind here.
• We've had the Sean Doolittle discussion most of the year, so Tuesday's smooth save and subsequent closer endorsement was really just a victory lap for you. Congratulations, proactive gamer. You don't need mountains of proof before you act. You can see these stories develop before the other guy, and that's the game, in a nutshell. Figure it out before they do.
To the myopic dinosaurs who snuck in late, meet Doolittle: 22 IP, 1 BB, 30 K, good against lefties and righties. Fearless, with outstanding facial hair. He allowed a homer to Mike Trout last month and had another mess at Houston (four runs), otherwise he's been dominant. The A's are smart enough to realize a pitcher like Doolittle might be better served outside the ninth, but that doesn't matter for the moment – Bob Melvin is going with The Doctor as the head of the bullpen. Enjoy your Wave of Mutilation Tour, 2014. Upper deck seating still available.
• Drew Pomeranz keeps making sweet music for us, albeit it's in two-minute segments. Enough of the pop songs, release an LP, lefty. Pomeranz hasn't allowed a run over three consecutive victories, all of them covering five innings. It adds up to this: 15 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 16 K.
Throw in a first-round pedigree and Oakland pitching guru Curt Young and you better believe I'm interested. A good bullpen also helps, not to mention Oakland's glorious offense. Pomeranz is ready to start working deeper in games, finally stretched out. (And again, this is all review. Nonetheless, Pomeranz remains unowned in half of Yahoo leagues.)
Tampa can't hit lefties, so Pomeranz was an easy call Tuesday night. The schedule is about to get harder: at the Jays; home against the Angels; at the Yanks. I won't blame anyone who dodges the YYZ start; that team can hurt you. But I don't want Pomeranz to sit on your waiver wire (or your opponent's roster), either. Do the right thing.
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- Conor Gillaspie