June 10, 2009
I can't blame you if you didn't watch as much baseball as usual on Tuesday night; the NHL Finals, NBA Finals and MLB First-Year Player Draft have a way of grabbing your attention. No worries if you're a little behind on the Roto happenings of the day, that's where I come in. Let's play catch up and see what's out there.
• Johnny Cueto(notes) was the hot thing in the fantasy world for a short time early in 2008, but he's been far more reliable this time around, sneaking a little under the radar. He's worked deep in each of his last 10 turns, including Tuesday's stroll at Washington (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 B, 5 K).
Cueto is throwing his slider a little harder this year and he's been more efficient, cutting his walk rate and giving up some strikeouts as well. He's also trimmed the home-run rate, albeit a notable drop in HR/FB has something to do with that, too. Eventually it's a net win for fantasy owners if Cueto can stay in games longer – you get more use from his tidy ERA and WHIP (2.33, 1.05) and a better shot at victories. It might be time to put Cueto among the top dozen pitchers in the National League. If you want to check it out for yourself, give Cueto some scouting time Sunday at Kansas City.
• Brandon Morrow(notes) had an extended middle-relief outing for the Mariners Tuesday (2.1 IP), and according to Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times, that stint didn't happen by accident. The M's apparently are going to return Morrow to Triple-A this week and start the process of making him a starting pitcher again. Morrow's worth to the club ultimately will be greater if he's able to stay in one piece and work every fifth day, no one disputes that.
David Aardsma's(notes) fantasy value probably gets a kick forward with the Morrow news, as his leash as the Seattle closer gets longer, in theory, with Morrow no longer looming as a threat. Aardsma's been a curious case as the Seattle stopper in the ninth, carrying a 1.91 ERA despite a gaggle of walks (20 over 28.1 IP) and a 1.31 WHIP. I'll be surprised if the ERA doesn't swell in coming weeks, but Aardsma nonetheless has the live arm and strikeout potential you want in the ninth inning, and he's converted 9-of-10 save chances thus far.
• Fernando Rodney(notes) didn't have a thing in Chicago (three walks on 18 pitches; that's all for tonight, son), but his save ledger is clean because technically Detroit's three-run lead evaporated on Brandon Lyon's(notes) watch. The Tigers would have lost the game in the bottom of the ninth if not for a snappy relay from Ryan Rayburn to Adam Everett(notes) to Gerald Laird(notes), cutting down DeWayne Wise(notes) with the winning run at the plate. Hobbling hero Miguel Cabrera(notes) won the game for the Tigers in the tenth, swatting his 11th homer of the year over the left-center fence.Just say no to Dontrelle Willis(notes), who was lucky to escape with just three runs on his card (5 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 3 K, 1 HR). Nothing to see here, keep moving right along.
• A.J. Burnett(notes) came to the Yankees with the reputation of being a Red Sox killer of sorts, but he couldn't find the plate Tuesday and didn't last long at Fenway (2.2 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 5 BB, 1 K). The somewhat-polarizing Josh Beckett(notes) was sublime on the other side, checking the Yanks over six sterling frames (1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K). Much-maligned Teddy Bear David Ortiz(notes) swatted his third homer of the year, a shot into the center-field bleachers. Look for offense from both sides Wednesday night, when Chien-Ming Wang(notes) and Tim Wakefield(notes) go at it.
• You don't want to go crazy over a three-game sample but Troy Tulowitzki(notes) did end the St. Louis series on a high note (5-for-12, homer, double, stolen base), and a nine-game homestand waits the Rockies on Friday. Chris Iannetta(notes) (hamstring) was also back in the Colorado lineup Tuesday, though he went 0-for-4.
• Matt Wieters(notes) hasn't done a lot for the Orioles yet (though he did get two hits Tuesday), but his arrival may have helped out righty Brad Bergesen(notes), who's been sharp in three turns since Wieters
walked across the Potomac River came up. Bergesen's best turn of the lot came against the Mariners Tuesday, eight scoreless innings along with zero walks and six strikeouts. He'll get a home turn against Derek Lowe(notes) and the Braves Sunday.
• I spent most of the weekend trying to execute a buy-low on Jimmy Rollins(notes) and failed; now, it's probably too late. Rollins hit the ball hard all through Sunday night's game (2-for-4), and he followed that up with a homer and three hits in Tuesday's loss to the Mets. I'm not sure how much longer Charlie Manuel plans on keeping Rollins in the No. 6 spot in the Philly lineup, but given how deep this team's offense is, let's not worry about it too much. Just be glad Rollins is back taking the types of swings you'd expect from a player this established.
• I thought Jose Arredondo(notes) had righted the ship in early May but he's hit a rough patch of late and the Angels aren't going to wait around. He's headed to Triple-A, bringing his 5.55 ERA and 1.64 WHIP with him. There's still plenty of stuff in that electric right arm – 27 whiffs in 24.1 innings, and no homers allowed – and he's been unlucky on balls in play, but you can't walk a batter every other inning and get away with it, not for Mike Scioscia anyway.
• Bobby Cox switched his bullpen pecking order on Tuesday, bringing in lefty Mike Gonzalez(notes) for some eighth-inning lefties, then letting Rafael Soriano(notes) close out the ninth. I realize this sort of thing is a little frustrating to fantasy owners, but from a real-life perspective we should be saluting Cox for being one of the rare skippers in the bigs who actually has a clue how to properly handle a bullpen.
• David Wright(notes) finally whacked his fourth homer of the year Tuesday, but it's hard to quibble because he's filled the other categories nicely. The wind was actually blowing in at Citi Field when the game started but the ball traveled just fine as the night wore on; the Phils and Mets combined for seven round-trippers on the night, with most of them coming from brand-name stars (Philly's four biggest names went deep – the three infield studs and Raul Ibanez(notes) – while Wright, Carlos Beltran(notes) and Ryan Church(notes) trotted for the Mets).
Speed Round: You surely know all about the Brad Lidge(notes)/Ryan Madson news by now (Lidge to the DL, Madson to the ninth); we're still lingering in the early-Tuesday thread if you want to stop by. … Kevin Kouzmanoff(notes) had just one hit at LA but it was a two-run single, giving him six RBIs in two games. Hitting behind well-respected Adrian Gonzalez(notes), good work if you can get it. … Jordan Zimmermann(notes) (elbow) was scratched from his Tuesday turn but should be hale enough to pitch Saturday. … Tip of the cap to Adam Lind(notes), who went deep again in Texas and now has four taters in five games. … Milton Bradley(notes) (calf) returned to the lineup with a thud, going 0-for-6 and striking out three times. Feel free to predict the next Bradley malaise in the comments. … Forget stolen bases, the Dodgers rocked Chris Young with the home-run ball Tuesday; Andre Ethier(notes) hit a pair, Orlando Hudson(notes) went deep and Matt Kemp(notes) had a homer and three hits from the No. 8 slot (don't get me started). Rafael Furcal(notes), slotted seventh, put up a 3-1-1-1 line and stole his fourth base. … Charlie Morton(notes) will join the Pirates in time to start Wednesday against Atlanta. The 25-year-old righty, one of the main prongs of the Nate McLouth(notes) deal, has been sharp in Triple-A from the word go (7-2, 2.26, 62 Ks in 71.2 IP). … Willie Bloomquist(notes) stole three bags against the Indians (he's up to 11), and Rajai Davis(notes) (3-1-1-1, SB) is now a regular in Oakland due to injuries, so if you're looking for a little deep speed, there you go. … The Ben Zobrist(notes) Mafia will now assemble and discuss his 12th homer of the year; he's got a zesty .304/.418/.676 line on the year. … Nolan Reimold(notes) doesn't plan on riding the minor-league bus ever again; he's up to .295 and hit his seventh homer Tuesday.
Images via Associated Press.