August 30, 2011
Enjoy those AT&T games while you can, gamers. I don't think we're going to see any October baseball in San Francisco this year.
Tim Lincecum(notes) versus Randy Wells(notes) is a mismatch on paper, but Monday's matchup turned into an easy victory for the Cubs. The plucky visitors rapped four homers (DeWitt, Pena, Soriano, Soto) while the Giants offense failed to launch (two hits, one walk, seven strikeouts). By the end of the baseball night, the Giants had fallen five games behind the division-leading Diamondbacks.
No offense, Giants, but you've got no offense these days. San Francisco is the lowest-scoring team in the majors in 2011, and the problems have been magnified since the All-Star break. The Boys of Bochy have just 122 piddly runs in the second half, which is 30 behind the next closest team (Washington). These guys score less than Gilbert Gottfried did in college.
With all due respect to the San Francisco pitching staff, we have to view the Giants as a streaming target the rest of the year. Wake up, smell the cat food. Matt Garza(notes) was already an easy call for Tuesday's matchup, and I'm temped to try Joe Saunders(notes) by the bay on Friday. Ian Kennedy(notes) and Daniel Hudson(notes) follow after that, with a trip to San Diego on tap for next week (Tim Stauffer(notes), Wade LeBlanc(notes), Aaron Harang(notes)). Keep an open mind to the possibilities here, the defending champs are not to be feared at the plate. There's a soft weeping coming from McCovey Cove.
• It hasn't been the smoothest ninth-inning push off for Bobby Parnell(notes), but it's been good enough. He's closed up shop in the last three Mets victories, including two appearances in the Monday sweep of the Marlins. The last appearance was a four-run game and didn't lead to a handshake, but Terry Collins still made the call. Parnell has allowed four baserunners in these three innings (including a Gaby Sanchez(notes) homer), but as we've said so many times over the years, the hardest part about closing is simply getting named to the position. Working as a push-button option protecting a multiple-run lead isn't that difficult. You can add Parnell in 85 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Jordan Walden(notes) has only thrown 6.2 innings this month, and he had to be bailed out from a mess Saturday in Texas, though the bottom-line numbers look good (2.70 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 55 strikeouts against 22 walks, just one homer allowed). It's a little surprising that he's actually blown nine saves with this solid profile. Perhaps the Angels are already starting to ease his workload, because Walden admits fatigue is setting in. "It's getting close to September. And I've never thrown this much in my whole life," the rookie told the Los Angeles Times. "It's different. Your body, you just get tired." Scott Downs(notes) has been the No. 2 man in the bullpen most of the year, though Hisanori Takahashi(notes) picked up the rogue save in Arlington.
• The Twins haven't been a mystery to most AL pitchers this year, but Mark Buehrle(notes) really has their number. Buehrle took a shutout into the eight inning Monday en route to his 11th victory, and he's posted a 0.29 ERA and 0.65 WHIP against Minnesota over 30.2 innings this year. Enjoy Buehrle while he's around, there aren't many like him. An afternoon start on Sunday at Detroit sounds daunting, but I'm not afraid to use him there.
• Brandon McCarthy(notes) didn't get a victory at Cleveland but his bottom line (8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 K) is useful in any format. He's quietly posted a 3.64 ERA and 1.17 WHIP this year (with an outstanding 93 strikeouts against 22 walks) and I like him to potentially take it a step higher next year, his age-28 season. Don't forget the prospect buzz that was tied to him back in the White Sox days, and working in roomy Oakland is obviously a plus. Put him down on the early 2012 sleeper list, or give him a try this weekend against Seattle.
• I don't think anyone is surprised when James Loney(notes) goes on a batting tear — when you're a .286 career hitter, that's going to happen now and again — but where did the recent power come from? Loney roped a double and a homer Monday in support of Clayton Kershaw(notes), and the first-sacker is on an 18-for-35 binge with four homers and five doubles over his last eight games. More of you should be running with this streak; Loney is owned in just 26 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Adam Lind's(notes) homer Monday was appreciated, by the Jays and his fantasy public. Give Lind 23 taters on the year and 75 RBIs, a solid comeback if you look at 2011 in one glance. But what's happened to this guy in the second half? He's carrying a .185/.213/.340 slash since the break, with 36 strikeouts against five walks. I suppose we shouldn't be too negative, given that the club is up to .500 for the year, Jose Bautista(notes) homered Monday, and the club stole four bases (including two by Brett Lawrie(notes), the cure to all that pains you). Canadian smiles, everyone.
• Nelson Cruz's(notes) hamstring simply wasn't going to be ignored. The high-maintenance Ranger has a Grade 1 hamstring strain and will probably need to rest for three weeks. Can Texas make a move for Lance Berkman? Can Ron Washington handle the heat of a pennant race? Why can't I stop asking rhetorical questions? The streaky David Murphy(notes) picks up sure playing time while Cruz is out, assuming there isn't a bigger deal in the works. At least Adrian Beltre's(notes) hamstring is on the mend — he's on a rehab assignment and should rejoin the Rangers on Thursday.
• Ted Lilly(notes) gets the streaming call for Wednesday's home start against San Diego. The soft-tossing lefty is on a nice push over the last month (2.20 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 28 strikeouts) and no one is afraid of the San Diego lineup. You can download Pictures of Lilly in 43 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Other solid choices: Randy Wolf(notes) (43 percent) against St. Louis, Chris Capuano(notes) (13 percent) versus Florida and Josh Collmenter(notes) (39 percent) against Colorado. If you're desperate for someone, maybe I can interest you in James McDonald(notes) (11 percent) at Houston.
• Dayan Viciedo(notes) has hit the ground running with the White Sox, going 4-for-6 with a homer and two walks in his first two games. He stole a base in Monday's victory, too. Viciedo is owned in just eight percent of Yahoo! leagues, but commenting legend Fitzy thinks that number should rise ignificantly. I agree. The 22-year-old swinger was a .296/.364/.492 man at Triple-A Charlotte (20 homers), and the Carlos Quentin(notes) injury clears the deck.
It should be an interesting final month in Chicago, as Ozzie Guillen appears to be on the way out. Guillen has his quirks, but he won't have any problems finding another managerial post, should he want one for 2012. Don't run a fine man out of town, Kenny Williams.
Speed Round: How many Pocorobas are you willing to spend on Alex Gordon next year? The post-post-post hype sleeper had four hits at Detroit, including his 19th homer, and is up to .305. That lofty .363 BABIP will make many suspicious, though he's making some of that luck with a 22-percent line-drive rate. Max Scherzer(notes) didn't return the weekend Roto Arcade love, getting knocked around for 10 hits and seven runs (including three homers). I'll still try him against the White Sox in his next turn. … Cole Hamels(notes) didn't get a win in his first start back, but otherwise he was terrific at Cincinnati (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K). Full-speed ahead for the Saturday turn at Florida. … Raul Ibanez(notes) (groin) is just about ready to return to the Phillies, but he'll have to contend with John Mayberry(notes), who's been a power source this month. … You get the idea Dustin Ackley(notes) will be hitting third in Seattle for the balance of the decade. He had a single, double and triple in Monday's victory over the Angels. Eric Wedge must run a loose ship in Seattle, because he's allowed Miguel Olivo(notes) to attempt 11 steals (Olivo swiped his sixth bag Monday). … Wandy Rodriguez(notes) loves the home cooking, but his sharp stuff from Monday would work anywhere. He struck out a career-best 13 Pirates en route to his tenth win of the year. The challenge will be trickier on the weekend, when Milwaukee comes to town. … Andre Ethier(notes) (knee) got back to work and had a double and two singles.
Images courtesy Associated Press