By Andy Behrens
June 27, 2007
Roto Arcade This Week : June 26
It's too bad that sick kids don't ask fantasy experts to visit them in hospitals. If they did, I would totally promise a home run today … from Frank Thomas.
Tonight, Boof Bonser is going to give up the Big Hurt's 500th career home run. It's the milestone hit that Boof was born to surrender. The Twins' right-hander has already allowed 30 home runs in his 185.1 Major League innings. Despite his 167 career Ks, all those dingers have really prevented Boof from emerging as a universally-owned fantasy pitcher. He was absolutely terrific in May – 2.45 ERA – but he's struggled a bit in his last two starts, allowing eight earned runs in 12.1 innings. Bonser has coaxed groundballs with slightly greater frequency this season (his G/F was 0.96 last year, and it's now 1.14), but he's also walking hitters more often – his BB/9 was 2.15 in 2006, but this year it's 3.60.
Thomas is a notoriously patient hitter who's bashed four home runs in his last nine games. He hit a solo homer off Boof last year, too. Thomas definitely gets number 500 tonight. No doubt about it, really. Are you listening, sick kids? This one's dedicated to you. (Try to imagine me pounding my chest, kissing two fingers, then pointing at a webcam). I'll do my best, little Billy. You just start feelin' better, OK slugger?
The Boof/Thomas thing is a near-perfect fantasy confluence for me: a starting pitcher I've been infatuated with all season, and a slugger who occupies the UTIL spot in most of my leagues. This fact brings me to a question that gets asked at least once a week via email, usually by a novice fantasy owner: Is it OK to start a hitter and a pitcher who are opposing one another? Or sometimes the question is about two starting pitchers who happen to be facing each other.
In either case, the answer is yes. There's nothing wrong with starting players who square off against one another. Even if Boof allows a home run or two to Thomas this evening, he can still produce a useful fantasy pitching line. Similarly, two opposing pitchers can help your squad, even though only one of them can collect a win.
For example, it's not like anyone got burned if they started both Jon Garland and James Shields last night. That combination would have given you 14 innings, 14 strikeouts (11 of them from Shields), an ERA of 3.86, a WHIP of 1.14, and a Win (from Garland). That's a pretty successful night in fantasy terms. The most important thing you can do with your pitching staff – at least for those of you who aren't streaming – is to make sure you're getting innings from pitchers with good ERAs, WHIPs, and K-rates.
Homer Bailey was a wreck Tuesday night. It's not just that his stats were bad, either. Bailey shook off his catcher, he walked the opposing pitcher, he neglected base-runners – which led to a sweet second/home double-steal involving Michael Bourn and Carlos Ruiz – he was nowhere near the plate against weak hitters, and he grooved hittable pitches to Ryan Howard and Chase Utley. Bailey pitched 1.2 innings, allowed six hits, six runs, three walks, and struck out only one batter. It's tempting to just write it off to rookie control issues, but his velocity was oddly low, too. I don't think he topped 87 mph on the radar used by the Phillies' broadcast. Gary Matthews commented on this fact not long before Bailey was pulled. If you were trying to throw a game, you wouldn't be as bad as Bailey was on Tuesday. Don't start him in his next outing.
The Brewers' website has reported that Yovani Gallardo will go to the bullpen when Chris Capuano returns. This is really another case where the long-term interests of a young pitcher interfere with the short-term plans of thousands of fantasy owners. Gallardo should still start on Friday against the Cubs, and he'll almost certainly get a start or two in July. The Brewers have a stretch of 18 games in 17 days following the All-Star break.
Speaking of Milwaukee prospects, 24-year-old left-hander Manny Parra threw an 11-strikeout perfect game for Triple-A Nashville on Monday. He'd recently made the jump from Double-A. Parra now has a 2.45 ERA and 98 Ks in 95.2 innings. Nice to have an overpowering lefty in the high minors, eh? He's either a huge trade chip for the division-leading Brewers, or he's bullpen help for the stretch run.
The Chicago Sun-Times' Joe Cowley reports that Mark Buehrle is apparently off the trading block, and close to signing an extension. That seems like relatively good news for White Sox fans, and unquestionably terrible news for Buehrle's fantasy owners. It just means more starts against the Tigers and Indians, and more pitiful run support.
Pedro Martinez, who's still only 68.6 percent owned, threw to minor league batters on Tuesday. Add him.
James Loney, who's almost completely un-owned, went 3-for-5 on Tuesday with a double, a homer, two runs scored, and three RBI. That's four multi-hit games in his last four starts. He's your new Dodgers first baseman. Nomar Garciaparra, your new Dodgers third baseman, went 0-for-5 on Tuesday and left eight runners on base.
Lots of heavily-owned pitchers starting on Thursday. If you're streaming, try Scott Olsen (37.3 percent owned) versus Pittsburgh or Paul Byrd (14.3) versus Oakland.
Andy Behrens has written for ESPN.com, the Chicago Sports Review, NBA.com, the Chicago Reader and various other publications. In all likelihood, Andy owns more Artis Gilmore memorabilia than you. Follow him on Twitter. Send Andy a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.
Updated on Wednesday, Jun 27, 2007 12:41 pm, EDT
Email to a Friend | View Popular