Known as the Sacagawea of fantasy primers, the Weekly Rundown guides head-to-head owners through a forest of obscure stats and exploitable matchups in an attempt to help solve lineup conundrums. While reading, keep in mind matchups are subject to change due to managerial moves, unforeseen injuries and Mother Nature's influences.
LEADING OFFLivan Hernandez(notes), has closed down
In his past 16 innings, the portly pitcher has trimmed his ERA considerably conceding just two runs, including a Clydesdale performance against the Nationals May 26 (127 pitches, 9 IP, 1 ER, 9 H, 6:1 K:BB, W) -- a game afterwards Hernandez confidently boasted he could have reached an obscene 150 pitches, a total only Dusty Baker could appreciate.
Quietly valuable in deeper mixed leagues (14-teams plus), the well-traveled righty, who is pitching for his fifth team in four years, has posted a very serviceable 2.70 ERA, 1.38 WHIP and 3-0 mark in five May starts. According to Baseball Monster, that output ranks in an identical tier as beloved hurlers Derek Lowe(notes), Chad Billingsley(notes) and Matt Garza(notes).
No longer the reputable strikeouts source he once was as a member of the now defunct Montreal Expos, the 34-year-old, who has averaged 13.3 wins per season since 2000, has developed into the definitive contact pitcher (87.2 CT%). Scaling back on fastballs thrown and featuring his change more prominently, he's induced more favorable contact (1.39 GB/FB), improved his K/9 ('08: 3.35, '09: 5.10) and, more importantly, decreased ball visits to souvenir city ('08 HR/9: 1.25, '09: 1.15). He's also attracted generous run support, indicative in his 4.89 RS/9.
Based on Livan's recent history and unappealing strikeout rates, most fantasy owners would go all Todd Tichenor on the 13-year veteran before affording him the opportunity to plead his case. Sure he has experienced troubles away from Citi Field (4.91 ERA, 1.50 WHIP), but with superb road matchups against the Pirates and recently dominated Nationals, the seven percent-owned Metropolitan is one stream option that demands owners' attention.
• Garrett Atkins'(notes) bat has been as cold as the Rockies, but Jim Tracy's surprising promotion of the struggling third baseman from sixth to clean-up could provide a major confidence boost. Per the tone of the new skipper's post-game remarks Friday, the move seems semi-permanent:
"I sat over on the other side of the field in this ballpark for a number of years and I watched Garrett Atkins drive in over 200 and some odd runs over the course of a couple of different seasons. If we're going to turn some things around, he needs to be in the middle of our order...He just needs to find some green grass."
As the Noise first discussed three weeks ago, Atkins underwent a similar groin-kicking swoon early in '07 (.223 BA April/May) only to rebound with a .338-22-91-66 line after June 1. His stark GB/FB shift ('08: 0.91, '09: 1.13) is worrisome, but his respectable contact rate (84.8) and rise in walks percentage ('08: 6.1, '09: 9.8) are encouraging signs he could reverse course.
• Just call David Price(notes) the Lawnmower Man. Cutting down one Twins batter after another, the lefty phenom delivered one of the season's most electric performances. In only his second junior circuit start, he conceded one run over 5.2 innings (5 HA, 2 BB), fanning 11 (See highlights here). Blowing away one of the league's hottest lineups with 96-98 mph gas, the 23-year-old exuded more pose and polish compared to his reckless first start. Deservedly, the home crowd showered him in adoration upon his exit. Afterwards, a gushing Joe Maddon said this was only the tip of the iceberg:
"Once he feels comfortable and really gets command of his fastball, you can heap on as many expectations as you want. He's going to be fine with all of that. You can see it. He's still growing into this position."
"It's not even about expectations. It's about being 20-something years old and getting his first couple of starts in the big leagues. This guy has not spent a lot of time in pro ball. And that's what you have to understand, there's still development that has to be done. And we understand that, that's part of the patient process. He's going to be very good. He's going to be really good. His stuff was dominant."
Price's already lofty cost has officially reached an unaffordable level.
Sure he's incredibly gifted and will have a very fruitful career, but managers in non-keeper leagues would be wise to advertise his services. The tremendous hype surrounding the southpaw combined with today's high-K yield will likely garner a bevy of banner talent via trade. Before this afternoon's mouth-watering effort, he recently attracted Lance Berkman(notes), Curtis Granderson(notes) and B.J. Upton(notes) in Y! Plus league one-for-one deals.
Considering his unrefined command and long-ball proneness (1.24 HR/9 at Durham), boom and bust cycles should be expected. Put him in the store window.
•Battered, bruised or should not be used: Justin Duchscherer(notes) (minor back tightness during rehab, return pushed back a few days), Hank Blalock(notes) (may see bench time with five LHPs on deck this week), Kaz Matsui (hamstring, DLed), Ryan Doumit(notes) (wrist, cleared to resume baseball-related activities, mid-June return likely), Joey Votto(notes) (undisclosed personal issue, 15-day DL), Coco Crisp(notes) (shoulder, day-to-day), Joakim Soria(notes) (shoulder, could return Tuesday), Jose Valverde(notes) (calf, should begin rehab assignment this week), Melky Cabrera(notes) (shoulder, mid-week return possible), Chad Tracy(notes) (oblique strain, placed on 15-day DL), Victor Martinez(notes) (kneecap, day-to-day pending a more thorough examination), Vladimir Guerrero(notes) (Ortizophoma)
For stream conscious owners who want to push the innings-pitched envelope this is the list for you. Run support, ballpark factors, historical and recent trends, opposing offenses, opposing SPs, managerial tendencies and meteorological influences are painstakingly taken into account to give you the top double dippers of each week.
Other NL Double Dippers: Aaron Cook(notes), Col (at Hou, at StL), Andrew Miller(notes), Fla (Mil, SF), Ian Snell(notes), Pit (NYM, at Hou), Jeff Suppan(notes), Mil (at Fla, at Atl), Billy Buckner(notes), Ari (at LAD, at SD), Kevin Correia(notes), SD (Phi, Ari), Felipe Paulino(notes), Hou (Col, Pit), Craig Stammen(notes), Was (SF, NYM)
FEAST OR FAMINE?
Torn between two stat-similar infielders this week? Use the pitching and hitting staff sorters below to help you decide whether or not Adam LaRoche or Rick Porcello is fantasy feast or famine. Stats are for games played through May 29:
Photo courtesy of US Presswire