Whether it's rescuing cuddly kittens from Justin Verlander's allergy wrath or fantasy owners from the power dungeon, Detroit's Matt Joyce isn't a pussyfooter.
D-Town's latest ThunderCat clubbed his third homer in fours days against Minnesota, a darting two-run blast off Scott Baker. Over his past four games, the 23-year-old has slapped eight hits, including seven extra-base hits, in just 17 at-bats.
The lanky lefty-swinger has taken full advantage of increased playing time with Magglio Ordonez on the 15-day DL. Including his recent bleacher binge, Joyce has averaged a very Marcus Thamesian one homer in every 11.25 at-bats.
Although he's made several missteps defensively, the Tigers' No. 7 ranked prospect per "Baseball America" has drawn high praise from manager Jim Leyland for his offensive contributions. As the grizzled skipper told MLB.com earlier today:
"I like him a lot," Leyland said. "He's a real good prospect."
The former Florida Southern product's fly-ball happy ways (51.4 FB%) and susceptibility for strikeouts (20.7 K%) exude inexperience, which makes him streaky, but his thunderous bat is very likable.
After today's game, Leyland expressed frustrations with the lack of consistency his bank-breaking offense has showcased, which is a plus for the outfielder:
"We haven't got the offense on a consistent basis all year," Leyland said. "We made a little run there to make it exciting. We still had our shot, and you certainly appreciate that. But the truth of the matter is, we haven't done enough offensively all year."
It's this attitude that should keep Joyce with the senior club even when Ordonez returns from an oblique strain sometime after the break. However, unless a significant injury besets Ordonez or DH Gary Sheffield, the likelihood Joyce would receive regular at-bats is minimal. But if he did earn everyday at-bats, he has the tools to compile second-half lumber numbers similar to Jack Cust last year (11 HR, 40 RBI).
Still, with a short week upcoming, mixed-leaguers, especially those in head-to-head formats, looking to maximize power production may want to employ the 99.9 percent available youngster's services while he's untamable.
• Rockies GM Dan O'Down confirmed to the Denver Post that former stopper Manny Corpas will be given another crack at the closer's job in the event Brian Fuentes is traded. Ardent Taylor Buchholz suppoter Grizzly Behrens is angry, very angry.
Owners who backed Corpas earlier this season surely drowned their sorrows in numerous Coors Light vent sessions. But since June 1, he's rediscovered his slider, notching respectable 3.50 ERA and 9.0 K/9. The 25-year-old is still available in over 65 percent of Y! leagues.
• Trade speculation in Washington could also shake up another bullpen. A Nationals source remarked to MLB.com that 10 teams have inquired about Sasquatch Jon Rauch's availability. Obviously, if he were shipped to a contender, his value would dip dramatically in a setup role. Luis Ayala (6.15 K/9, 9 career saves, 0.04% owned) would likely become Manny Acta's new door slammer if Rauch was dealt. Considering his unattractive peripherals, Ayala would make Todd Jones look like Goose Gossage.
• The least owned cleanup hitter in fantasy, Chad Tracy, went 3-for-5 with three RBIs against Philadelphia. The 99 percent available infielder (1B/3B eligible) has four multi-hit games in his past five contests. Hopefully, you followed the "moderate buy" advice from this week's Noise.
• Ryan Garko (38.7% owned) drilled Detroit collecting two hits (1 HR) and five RBIs. It was his first multi-RBI game and homer since June 9. The C-Town first basemen has underperformed greatly this season, but keep in mind after the break last year he hit .286 with 12 homers and 31 RBIs. He's someone to watch in 12-team mixed leagues.
• Ryan Zimmerman is expected to join Single-A Potomac Monday for a two game rehab assignment. If everything goes smoothly, he'll join Triple-A Columbus for four games starting Thursday. The 56.7 percent owned three-bagger could return to the Nationals lineup within 10 days. Given the nature of Zim's injury (labral tear), power expectations should be tempered, but he could be more than serviceable in 12-team mixed leagues in BA and RBIs after the break.
• Another masterful start for Charlie Hough's illegitimate son, Tim Wakefield. Versus Baltimore the 32 percent owned knuckler went seven innings for the eighth time in 10 starts, allowing one earned with six strikeouts. Yes, he's tallied a ridiculously fortunate .244 BABIP but the forty-something hurler continues to be a quality start monster. Right now, he's more than streaming material.
• Injury imp victims: Pedro Martinez (right shoulder tightness), Julio Lugo (DL'd with quadriceps strain), Edgar Renteria (hamstring), A.J. Pierzynski (left leg contusion), Rick Ankiel (left ankle sprain), Hanley Ramirez (shoulder)
Quick programming note: Due to the brief upcoming scoring period, this week's "Weekly Rundown" is on hiatus. It will return in this space next week.