Fill in your own Smoak pun (USAT)
The careers of Justin Smoak and Brett Wallace have constantly been linked in our roto universe. Both players were drafted in the first round in the summer of 2008 - Smoak went 11th, Wallace 13th. Both players were traded relatively early in their professional lives (Wallace more than once). Both sluggers moved through the minors with plenty of hype - Smoak was a Top 15 prospect before hitting the show, while Wallace cracked the Top 30.
And both guys have offered us squadouche to this point, nada, zip, the bagel parade. But we're always on the lookout for a change in a player's path and potential, and maybe that's the story now. Both cornermen homered in Friday's meeting in Houston, a 10-7 victory for the Mariners.
The case for Smoak is a stronger one at this point - I'm surprised he's owned in just eight percent of Yahoo! leagues. He's been on a tear since his return from an oblique injury, posting a .329/.415/.622 slash with six homers. Safeco Field hasn't been a problem; Smoak's OPS is actually 20 points higher at home. Maybe things are starting to click.
Smoak's a switch-hitter in name only - he's always struggled against left-handed pitching, especially this year - but you can have fun with this story if you focus on the right-handed opponents. Seattle faces three southpaws in its next 13 games, in line with the general handedness of the league.
Wallace's complete 2013 line doesn't look like much, but let's focus on what he's done since his recall on June 25 (.300/.344/.667, five homers). Plate discipline isn't supporting the story (three walks, 16 strikeouts), but maybe that's a good thing in this instance - Wallace had a pretty walk rate with the Astros back in 2011 but there wasn't any power attached. Sometimes the best pitch to hit comes early in the count.
Wallace might not have a dedicated spot in the Houston lineup yet, but he can play first base and third base and the Astros also have that new DH slot to play with. This is a team in evaluation mode and future mode; they'll probably make room for Wallace, somewhere. If you're intrigued about the potential upside, you'll find Wallace ready to grab in 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Before we close the book on the Mariners for the day, we should also mention rookie shortstop Brad Miller, who clubbed a pair of homers in the Friday win (along with a single, a walk, and five RBIs). Miller has a classy .273/.351/.500 line through his opening 17 games (after tearing up two levels of minor league ball), and he's been in the leadoff spot for about two-thirds of his appearances. After watching the Ackley/Ryan hacking mass for a couple of months, it's fun to see Nick Franklin and Miller doing some work in the Seattle infield. Miller is owned in just six percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• On Friday night I finally got around to the biggest missing piece in my ballpark collection, attending my first game at AT&T Park. I came for the city and the stadium and the bay and the outstanding company (and an uncounted number of adult beverages), but Chad Gaudin forced his way into the conversation, too. If you dialed him up on a stream, collect your reward: seven scoreless innings, three walks, eight strikeouts, a creamy-smooth victory.
Gaudin found his way into the Giants rotation through the Ryan Vogelsong injury, and the club might prefer Gaudin in that spot all season. The 30-year-old journeyman has a 2.23 ERA and 0.94 WHIP over his seven turns (along with four wins, and 35 strikeouts against just nine walks), and obviously he's working in a pitcher-friendly park and division. Gaudin's best fastballs from Friday were topping out around 90 mph, but he showed excellent command of his off-speed pitches and the Diamondbacks took plenty of off-balance swings against him. That's how you earn Circle of Trust privileges.
Gaudin ventures outside the division for a couple of starts - the Reds at home, the Phillies on the road - but that's nothing to be afraid of. He's ready to add in 88 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Speed Round: With Matt Holliday (hamstring) going on the DL, it could be a fun time to kick the tires on Matt Adams, who's 89-percent available in Yahoo! leagues . . . The Rangers and Cubs have been in Matt Garza talks for a while, with prospect Mike Olt considered one of the possible return items. You know the risks of an Arlington summer, of course - the Dempster dive and Oswalt bomb should be fresh in everyone's mind. Here's hoping Garza isn't the next casualty . . . The Astros are doing all they can to move right-handed pitcher Bud Norris. For the love of all that is holy, please move him back to the National League . . . I don't care much about "the cycle" - especially when it's someone like Brandon Barnes doing the work. If you want to talk yourself into that story, go right ahead . . . Andrew Bailey (shoulder) is unlikely to pitch again this season. Keep doing what you do, Koji Uehara . . . Shane Victorino is still battling a sore hamstring; he left Friday's game early and isn't in Saturday's lineup. Stephen Drew (hamstring) is back in the mix, though, if that matters to you . . . The Diamondbacks want to be careful with Patrick Corbin's workload, so he won't pitch until Tuesday. He's already at 130.1 innings for the year, and he's never gone past 187 in any professional season . . . Tweet-master Brandon McCarthy (shoulder) is ready to start a rehab assignment, but the Snakes don't have a timetable on Trevor Cahill (hip) . . . Aramis Ramirez (knee) is unlikely to return before August, and the same goes for Curtis Granderson (finger) ... With Rafael Betancourt (appendicitis) back on the DL, the Rockies will probably use Rex Brothers as their temporary closer.
- Sports & Recreation
- Justin Smoak
- Brett Wallace