Roto Arcade - Fantasy

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.

Note: Due to the All-Star festivities in St. Louis, there are no double dippers scheduled for the upcoming scoring period. Until next week, enjoy the condensed Rundown.

LEADING OFF

Whether seen on the strike line or sports field, facial hair is a symbol of male camaraderie and kinship.

For the St. Louis Cardinals, cookie dusting has become a cherished pastime. This season, several players have sported furry features. From Rick Ankiel's(notes) bushy "Ditka" to Skip Schumaker's(notes) well-groomed "Bream" to Josh Kinney's(notes) handle-barred "Beck," the Central Division pacesetters are a greasy group unafraid of sacrificing looks for wins. Just call them the Tom Selleck All-Stars.

However, one player's Zorro-styled ‘stache and statistical contributions have stood out from the lady tickling crowd. His name: Joel Pineiro(notes).

Grossly underappreciated in mixed leagues, the 10-year veteran has undergone a dramatic metamorphosis. Completely altering his strategy and approach, the righty has abandoned traditional whiff-generating tactics in order to draw weaker contact. When looking at his past and present underlying numbers side-by-side, it's safe to conclude he's evolved into Aaron Cook(notes).

Seattle '03: 6.42 K/9, 3.23 BB/9, 0.81 HR/9, 1.32 GB/FB, 80.6 CT%
St. Louis '09: 3.75 K/9, 0.94 BB/9, 0.23 HR/9, 2.73 GB/FB, 88.1 CT%

As the Noise first noted back in early May, Pineiro's goal this season was to trust one pitch: his sinker. Throwing it over 11 percent more often compared to last year, the gravity ball has done wonders for his overall production. Since June 1, he's compiled a 2.34 ERA and a 0.94 WHIP in 50 innings. Per Baseball Monster, he's the 20th-best starter in mixed leagues during that stretch. Wins have been elusive, strikeouts are a luxury and he's a bit of a split personality (Home ERA: 2.55, road: 3.68), but his terrific two-cat contributions, especially in WHIP, are invaluable.

More remarkable, as Viva El Birdos discussed earlier this week, he's on pace to become only the fourth pitcher since 1920 - Carlos Silva(notes), Bob Tewksbury and La Marr Hoyt the others - to total a K:BB ratio of 4.00 or better with a K/9 under 4.00. With only 12 walks in 115.1 IP, his spot-hitting abilities are unmatched. The wizardry of "Dumbledore" Dave Duncan is astonishing.

But will the 50 percent-owned hurler maintain his current level of consistency?

The answer: Yes.

His spectacular 2.97 FIP suggests further ERA trimming could occur. As long as he continues to vigorously pound the strike-zone, he will be what Chien-Ming Wang(notes) once was - an undervalued groundball-generating machine with three-cat upside. Pineiro deserves strong pick-up consideration in 12-team and deeper mixed leagues.

Fearless Forecast (post-break): 97.2 IP, 7 W, 3.29 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 37 K

QUICK HITTERS

The pain and misery of Jay Bruce's(notes) Mendoza-flirting BA will no longer be felt for approximately the next six weeks. On a sliding catch attempt in the first inning, the promising outfielder jammed his glove hand into the Citi Field turf, fracturing his right wrist. Short-term, Laynce Nix(notes) and Chris Dickerson(notes) are expected to fill the void.

Obviously the injury is the cherry-on-top of the O-fer sundae for Bruce backers. Mired in a soul-destroying 17-for-119 nose-dive (.143 BA), he had reached the bleachers just four times and knocked in 11 runs since June 1.

The catastrophic injury will surely expedite Walt Jockety's search for an outfielder. Matt Holliday(notes), Alex Rios(notes) and Josh Willingham(notes), among others, have already been discussed as possible trade targets. A move to the Queen City would increase Rios' value minimally in mixed formats, but for Holliday and Willingham a change of address would significantly boost their overall worth.

If the whispers build to screams over the break for Holliday and Willingham, consider pitching an offer to an owner while the sale price still applies.

Surprisingly, the Cubs promoted outfielder Sam Fuld(notes) from Triple-A Iowa early Saturday instead of a catcher. With Geovany Soto(notes) on the 15-day DL, powder keg Jake Fox(notes) is currently listed as the backup to Koyie Hill(notes). According to the Chicago Tribune, the multi-eligible youngster could don the mask Sunday against archrival St. Louis. Here are the mouth-watering details:

"The kid wants to play," Piniella said. "We might catch Fox one game [Sunday]. We're going to use him back there. He's basically our backup catcher and he has caught a lot. I'm not scared to use him, believe me. I have confidence in him."

If Fox, who did catch twice at Iowa this year, does start one of Sunday's games, it most likely would be the second for Randy Wells(notes), whom he caught years ago in the minors.

"I know what he throws," Fox said. "The hard part about Randy is that he has come so far with his pitch selection and execution that it would take some time to pick up his rhythm again."

Of course, Fox isn't going to turn down any assignment that might keep him in the major leagues.

"I tell people when they talk about changing positions, I'm always a catcher at heart," he said. "I've been catching since I was 8-10 years old. Maybe I can get back there and have some fun and see where it takes me."

Per Yahoo! rules, Fox would need 10 appearances or five starts behind the dish to earn eligibility, which he possibly could achieve in the near future. However, in leagues where requirements are less restrictive, his value certainly soars.

If he's at least suitable in the role, don't be surprised if he forces a partial timeshare with Soto down the road. Given the Cubs' inconsistencies on offense, Fox's booming bat would greatly enhance the club's run-creating potency. Owners starving for production at catcher should immediately employ the 23-percent owned master blaster.

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 July 10:


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Image courtesy of the AP

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