Any series at Colorado is likely to give us a roto story or two, and the Athletics and Rockies are already on their way in that department. Let's start the sandlot shakedown with a few graphs from the thin air.
Tyler Colvin picked up another start for the hosts Tuesday and came through with a homer and two walks; he's now on a silly 7-for-10 tear over the last three games, with four homers and three free passes. There's really no consistent place for Colorado to play him as the Rockies already feel good about Carlos Gonzalez, Dexter Fowler and Michael Cuddyer in the outfield — assuming the versatile Cuddyer sticks in the outfield. But we can't help but dream about the post-hype sleeper potential of Colvin if he gets a dedicated spot, somehow; we're talking about a former first-round pick who already has 33 career homers on just 697 MLB at-bats.
It's always tricky to anticipate how Jim Tracy will fill out his lineup card: you'd like to think Colvin is a sure thing to play Wednesday while he's this locked in, but maybe Tracy will sit Colvin up against Oakland soft-tosser Tommy Milone, ignoring the fact that Colvin's been crushing lefties in limited exposure (.414 average, .759 slugging over 29 at-bats). I can't guarantee that Colvin will be relevant for any length of time, but he is ready to pick up in 98 percent of Yahoo! leagues. And the Rockies are at Detroit on the weekend, which will open up some DH opportunity. I'll kick the tires on Colvin for the remainder of the week, see where the story takes us.
While Colvin and the Rockies had the early push Tuesday, it was the Athletics who scored the 8-5 victory, riding a four-homer outing from its pedestrian infield (Brandon Moss hit two, with Cliff Pennington and Brandon Inge crunshing one each; you're on your own with all of them). Outfielder Seth Smith (two doubles, one run, two RBIs) looks like a good rental for the balance of the series; he came into the week swinging a hot bat (he's now on a 13-for-24 binge) and he knows a little bit about hitting in the thin air. He's only rostered in four percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Oakland manager Bob Melvin opened up his bullpen a few days ago, declaring a committee for the ninth inning. The Athletics enjoyed a four-inning run of zeroes in Tuesday's victory, perhaps buoyed by the fact that Brian Fuentes never got a call. Underrated lefty Sean Doolittle worked a scoreless sixth inning, Grant Balfour was money in the seventh and eighth (six up, six down, three strikeouts), and Ryan Cook handled the handshake in the ninth, working around a couple of base runners.
I don't care how you want to attack this group for fantasy purposes, so long as you do the obvious thing: keep Fuentes off your roster. He can't get righties out with any consistency and the rest of the league knows it; if Oakland wants to try to drum up interest in the aging lefty, it should leave him in a job that he can handle (lefty specialist) and hope someone comes calling later. Cook would be my first save speculation play in Oakland, but Balfour can't be completely discounted.
• I don't have any stake in the Brian Roberts comeback story in Baltimore, but I'm happy to root for the story. He hadn't played a big-league game in over a year, and post-concussion problems are a cruel thing, something you wouldn't wish on your worst enemy.
Roberts went 3-for-4 out of the leadoff spot Tuesday, with one strikeout between all the singles. His production in the minors (10-for-41, one homer, no steals, seven walks, eight strikeouts) wasn't anything special, whatever you can learn from a short sample. If Roberts can stay healthy the remainder of the year — and that's a major leap of faith — I could see him hitting around .270-.280 with the occasional homer and steal. And I'm assuming the Orioles will slot him first whenever he plays. If you feel lucky on this one, Roberts awaits your contract in 88 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• The Johnny Cueto story keeps cruising right along — he spun a six-hit beauty over the Indians, allowing just one run and striking out seven. Cueto's now 7-3 on the year with a 2.46 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, numbers that make him the No. 19 starting pitcher in the Yahoo! game to this point. My buddy Mike Salfino and I have been debating Cueto, passionately, over the last week; Mike's in on this one for the long haul, while I'm worried about second-half fatigue kicking in (Cuteo's career ERAs in the July, August and September months have not been pretty).
Which way are you playing it in Cincinnati? Is Cueto a buy, a sell, or a hold? Has he become one of those pitchers who knows how to beat his peripheral-suggested ERAs, one way or another, or is this a case of an over-achieving pitcher (and FB/HR fortunate son) due for a sharp correction? Let's figure this out in the comments.
• Generally speaking, I'd prefer not to roster any NL speedster who bats low in his respective lineup. You have to deal with the bunting pitcher and NL game dynamics, and that poor slot can often turn into an excuse not to steal bases. That established, Everth Cabrera is finding a way to make things work in San Diego, and it's time to consider him for our mixed-league lives.
The E-Cab was on duty Tuesday at Seattle, swiping three bags and pushing the slash up to .278/.352/.468. That's not enough to make anyone forget Robby Alomar, but one thing at a time. Cabrera is a perfect 8-for-8 on steals since joining the club 23 games ago, a pace that should get everyone's attention. With the batting eye coming around (nine walks, though some of them surely are slot related), perhaps the Padres will consider giving Cabrera a better-order position later in the summer. Cabrera is owned in just four percent of Yahoo! leagues, and he'll cover you at second base or shortstop. Famous Chicken, are you with me?
• I probably wrote off Clay Buchholz for good after his May 21 mess in Baltimore. The messy walk/strikeout ratio was part of my disdain, of course, not to mention a consistent gopher problem. But I can't deny the dazzling four-start comeback Buchholz has shown since then, rattling off three wins along with this snappy line: 31 IP, 23 H, 5 R, 6 BB, 28 K. The K/BB rate tells you everything you need to know: he's locating his fastball better, getting ahead, making good choices with his put-away pitches. All of the usual AL East caveats apply, but I have to assume Monday's home start against Miami is a usable one. Are you back in on Buchholz?
• One of the caveats mentioned in our Trevor Plouffe propaganda 24 hours ago was the fact that he doesn't hit right-handed pitching well. But when someone like Kyle Kendrick is on the mound, maybe it doesn't matter. Plouffe kept the hits coming in Tuesday's 10-7 victory over the Phillies, with a single, double and homer. Ben Revere (5-0-3-2) also filled the stat line nicely, though he was rubbed out on a stolen-base attempt. Last call on the Flaky Plouffe; he's up to 27 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues. A four-position rover is a beautiful thing, especially when he clouts nine homers in 19 games.
Speed Round: Shawn Camp entered the Chicago save club in Tuesday's victory over Detroit, getting a 1-2-3 inning on batted-ball outs. The journeyman righty doesn't have a bad line for the year (2.76 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 10 BB, 27 K), but his career norms aren't nearly as tidy. This looks like a temporary play; do what you have to do in save-desperate leagues. … Brandon Morrow (oblique) was placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday, as expected. All context clues point to him being on the shelf longer than the two weeks. … Bud Norris sprained his knee at San Francisco and departed after throwing just 80 pitches. He already had a bad draw on this night, because his mates had little chance against Madison Bumgarner (12 Ks). … Kevin Millwood (groin) will get two extra days of rest before he faces the Giants on Saturday. The earlier assignment against San Diego was preferred, but they're both good matchups. … Stephen Prior (groin) is going to be on the DL for a bit, clearing up the Seattle bullpen for us. Now it's a matter of seeing if and when Eric Wedge will give Brandon League another ninth-inning shot. On the weekend Wedge hinted at League being close to ready for the ninth again, but League went on to allow four hits and two runs in a non-leverage role later that day. I'm still riding with Tom Wilhelmsen until I have a strong reason not to. … Dee Gordon marked his territory at the right time, going on a 13-for-48 rally this month with six steals and the occasional walk (three in all). A .340 OBP for June isn't going to make the roto gods weep, but it's a step in the right direction — and it allows the Dodgers to keep Gordon not only in the lineup, but back up at the No. 1 slot. Gordon stole three bags in Tuesday's victory over the Angels. … Rafael Soriano (blister) needed a day off Monday but he was back at work Tuesday, closing out the victory at Atlanta. The Yankees will get David Robertson back soon, but Soriano has clearly put his stamp on the team's ninth-inning post. … The Max Scherzer Inconsistency Tour continued at Wrigley Field: six innings, three runs, five walks, eight strikeouts, no decision. Scherzer at least couldn't blame the HR/FB spinner; he didn't allow a souvenir for the first time in nine starts. He's at home against Colorado this weekend, for those that dare.