August 11, 2009
Get over to the North Side of Chicago on Wednesday night or settle in front of the TV – the Pedro Martinez era is about to start for the Phillies. Martinez had a snappy 11 strikeouts against no walks in his last minor league turn at Double-A and the slumping Phils have decided to plunk him in the rotation and slide Jamie Moyer(notes) to the bullpen. Jeff Samardzija(notes) gets the spot-start for the Cubs; first pitch (probably Ball One from Samardzija) is set for 8:05 EST.
Obviously we're not looking at the game-changing Pedro of old, but he's not the worst win-chase in the world down the stretch, tied to the best offense in the NL and working in front of a strong defense. Martinez has a chance to settle in as an effective 5-6 inning pitcher and spot-play for your mixed-league enjoyment. We welcome your Pedro Predictions in the comments; the most accurate call wins a round of miniature golf with a Chicago-based Yahoo! scribe (or maybe that's the antihistamenes talking, hard to say).
• The other cleat dropped on Chris Young in Arizona on Monday as the Snakes finally demoted the struggling outfielder to Triple-A. Young's puny .194 average wasn't all that great a shock given the type of player he was during his first two seasons, but it's been a stunner to see his power go completely out the window (seven homers, .359 slugging). It's likely we'll see Young again during September expansion, unless things go from bad to worse in the minors.
• Gio Gonzalez(notes) was left for dead in fantasy leagues after his July 20 nightmare against Minnesota (11 runs in a crazy no-decision) but he's circled the wagons nicely since then, stringing together four excellent turns. Gonzalez kept the ball rolling Monday with a duck-and-weave beauty in the Baltimore heat (6+ IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K), and he wasn‘t intimidated against stronger competition in his three previous starts (Texas, at New York, at Boston). Feel free to consider Gonzalez for his home outing against Chicago, especially if you're on a strikeout chase. If Oakland can keep its young pitching staff healthy, this is going to be one heck of a club in a couple of years.
• The Blue Jays probably did the right thing when they dumped Alex Rios's bloated contract on the White Sox with nothing in return; the folly was signing Rios to the six-year, $64 million extension in the first place back in April 2008. Get your last shots in at J.P. Ricciardi's expense; it's hard to imagine he'll be running the Jays very much longer.
Rios's fantasy value doesn't change much with the Pale Hose; he figures to settle in as the center fielder and send Scott Podsednik(notes) to the bench (assuming Carlos Quentin(notes) doesn‘t have any further issues with his foot). Chicago's offense isn't any better than Toronto's. Maybe the pennant race will put a bounce in Rios's step and maybe it won't; it's hard to make assumptions on that sort of thing.
Rios leaving doesn't offer us any immediate fantasy help in Toronto – Joe Inglett(notes) and Jose Bautista(notes) manned corner outfield spots Monday – but keep an eye peeled for Travis Snider(notes) at some point. He's got a tasty .320/.417/.653 line and 12 homers in 150 Triple-A at-bats; he's ready for another trial.
• Enjoy your victory lap if you had Troy Tulowitzki(notes) and his monster game Monday (cycle, seven RBIs). Tulo narrowly missed a second homer, a grand slam in fact, on a moon shot to left that was ruled just foul; he rapped a two-run single on the next pitch. I could write more, but "Tulo's pretty good" doesn't qualify as breaking news.
Carlos Gonzalez(notes) didn't start as we speculated in last night's closer, but he figures to get plenty of run the rest of the week as Colorado faces five right-handed starters in six days. Gonzo might be needed for some center-field time as well; Dexter Fowler(notes) jammed his left knee in the ninth inning Monday and hobbled off the field (at least he didn't need the assistance of the cart).
Colorado's offensive explosion came in support of the dazzling Jorge De La Rosa(notes) (7.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 11 K); the nasty left-hander is 10-2 with 74 Ks in his last 13 turns. Mind you it's hard to tell when the next seven-run mess is coming from De La Rosa – the Phillies, Rays, Dodgers and Braves have all rolled that number against him this year – but at minimum let's give him a shot at Florida this weekend.
• Does Jim Leyland still think he's managing in the National League? He ordered an Adam Everett(notes) bunt in the top of the seventh at Boston while the Tigers were down two runs, and in the eighth Everett was allowed to bat during a critical spot (two runners on, one out); the light-hitting shortstop whiffed on three pitches. The Red Sox were probably laughing at Leyland's small-ball tendencies; while the Tigers have 42 sacrifice bunts for the year, Boston has just 11.
Injury Blog: Jordan Zimmermann's(notes) snappy rookie season looks over – he recently met with Dr. James Andrews and Tommy John surgery was recommended. Zim might get a second opinion but considering the reputation of Andrews, we have to assume the young pitcher will be shelved well into 2010 (MASN says he could miss up to 18 months). … Chad Billingsley(notes) (hamstring) had some discomfort in a throwing session Monday and won't start Wednesday as hoped, according to MLB.com's Ken Gurnick. Jeff Weaver(notes) and James McDonald(notes) are possible options at San Francisco. … Tim Hudson(notes) (elbow) will start his rehab work at Triple-A later this week according to Mark Bowman of MLB.com. … Tom Gorzelanny(notes) was knocked around at Colorado (1.1 IP, 6 R) then left with a foot injury. X-rays came back negative. … Torii Hunter(notes) (groin) will start a rehab assignment Tuesday and might be back with the Halos by the weekend. … Orlando Hudson(notes) tweaked his groin at San Francisco and looks doubtful for Tuesday. … Johnny Cueto(notes) lasted just two innings at St. Louis before a tight hip flexor knocked him out. "I think I will be alright," Cueto offered after the game. "I didn't want to risk anything." He's tentatively slated to pitch against Washington this weekend.
Speed Round: Matt Lindstrom(notes) couldn't handle a mop-up job in the ninth inning against Houston, which meant Leo Nunez(notes) had to finish up and get the final two outs. Perhaps the baton passing will be put on hold for a while; Florida is in the playoff hunt and can't be experimenting while Lindstrom works out the kinks. … Mark Ellis(notes) had five hits and four RBIs in the Oakland romp and while he's never going to get to the All-Star Game without a ticket, he's not the worst middle infielder out there, a sneaky power-and-speed option. … J.D. Drew(notes) has reached base six times in his last two starts and the Red Sox have a gaggle of home games on tap, so consider a short-term rental of the AL's most soulless player. … Everyone seems to fear the scoring potential of Great American Ballpark but it hasn't helped Cincinnati much. The Reds have scored just 210 runs at home this year, second-worst in the majors and barely ahead of San Diego (206 runs). … Jonathan Broxton(notes) recorded save No. 25 despite a moon-shot from Bengie Molina and another sharp hit. No strikeouts, either. The velocity is still there with Broxton but he doesn't look right to me. … B.J. Upton(notes) batted ninth for the second straight game Monday, going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. He's got a messy .232/.255/.305 line since the break. Upton called the shift "almost like a kick in the face" Sunday night but he better get used to it; new leadoff man Jason Bartlett(notes) homered and posted a 5-2-3-2 line Monday.