Bringin' the Noise: Lack of support

Brad Evans
Yahoo! Sports

Support is what politicians constantly strive for, social causes desperately need and voluptuous Hollywood starlets must have plenty of when evading shape-shifting robots.

For pitching commodities in virtual baseball, wins can be a ridiculously fickle thing. Even the most consistent quality start machines are subjugated to the whims of teammate bats. Just ask the 39 percent of Yahoo! skippers who currently roster Arizona's Doug Davis(notes).

Seemingly surrounded by a sea of sand and fruitlessness, the crafty southpaw is a castaway trapped every fifth day on a lonely island. Too bad he doesn't have an inanimate object to converse with. Due to the D-Backs' fangless offense and defensive inadequacies, Davis, who has posted the ninth-best ERA on the senior circuit (3.13) this year, has been plagued by gross misfortune. His No. 66 ranking in run support in the NL tells a maddening tale. With a little more assistance, his 4-8 record could easily be flipped.


Doug Davis has a reason to pout. Due the D-Backs' lack of offensive venom, Double-D has garnered two wins since May 25 despite seven quality starts in nine appearances. But if Brewers GM Doug Melvin submits to the outspoken demands of his front office deputy, the lefty could soon return to beer and brat country.

(US Presswire)

Recently, the frustration has reached unbearable heights. Since June 1, he's notched a sparkling 1.88 ERA. Only SP behemoths Tim Lincecum(notes),Dan Haren(notes),Ricky Nolasco(notes),Clayton Kershaw(notes),Jon Lester(notes) and Felix Hernandez(notes) have surrendered fewer runs over that stretch. Though his counterparts have averaged 3.7 victories each during that span, the unfortunate Davis has emerged victorious just twice. The isolation he's endured has understandably caused him and manager A.J. Hinch to harbor malcontented feelings:

"He certainly deserves a better record. One of the positives of 4-8 is that it means he's been in for a lot of decisions and he's pitching late into games. He's pitched well and he's had the type of career where he gets a lot of decisions, he pitches deep in games."

With Arizona in rebuilding mode, Davis, who is in the final year of a $22 million contract, could finally acquire the backing he deserves elsewhere. Though he is open to signing an extension with the Snakes, the humble hurler will likely be shipped to a contender by the deadline. A very familiar location, Milwaukee, is the most probable destination. However, according to Brewers assistant GM Gordon Ash, Arizona's present price tag is a tad bit inflated. Self-appointed player/manager Ryan Braun vehemently disagrees.

If the two sides reach common ground, the Brewers' explosive offense and Davis' favorable history in Miller Park would significantly boost his value. In 58 career starts in Costumed Sausage Land, he's compiled a 19-14 record with a 3.37 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 7.88 K/9 and .229 BAA.

Scrutinizing the 33-year-old's peripheral profile, he's surprisingly benefited from Lady Luck. His 4.23 FIP suggests an ERA ascension is possible. Due to his disgusting 4.18 BB/9, Davis is definitely the constantly-flirts-with-disaster type. But because he limits long-balls (0.88 HR/9), coaxes appreciable grounders (1.25 GB/FB), gets hitters to nibble on outside pitches and has performed admirably in clutch situations, the scales have routinely tipped in his favor. For a player who stared down and conquered thyroid cancer only a year ago, continued success in high leverage situations is a reasonable expectation.

Despite his unappealing WHIP returns, the star-crossed starter is bound to experience a reversal of fortune. Assuming he's dealt, he could be a very useful post-break rotation caboose in 12-team mixed leagues, racking above average numbers in ERA, strikeouts and, hopefully, wins.

It's unfair that some rickety pitchers can go 7-1 (Finger point: Matt Palmer(notes)) while sound producers like Davis can't muster enough aid to reach a serviceable W level. But the maligned tosser is just one trade away from obtaining the support he's undoubtedly earned.

Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 86 IP, 7 W, 3.78 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 67 K

Here are this week's flames, lames and stars of video games:

Fantasy Flames
Adam LaRoche(notes) PIT 1B 156 53
Market Value: Moderate Power Buy (12-team mixed, NL-only)
Lowdown: The midway point of the season usually marks the time when LaRoche finally awakens from a deep first-half slumber. The notoriously slow starter has indeed shown signs of busting out. Though he's collected just one hit in his past 16 at-bats, from June 23-July 2 he compiled five multi-hit performances, three homers, seven RBI and eight runs. Exhibiting more patience this season (12.1 BB%), he's abstained from flailing at outside pitches, turning more on throws over the inner-half of the plate. On pace for a 23-75-86 campaign, the results have proved positive. Likely to be shipped by the deadline, the elder LaRoche could land in San Francisco or New York (Mets). Both locations would boost his RBI chances, but at a potential homer cost. Regardless of location, he should remain an above average three-cat contributor from this point forward. Remember, he's a career .297 hitter after the break.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 255 at-bats, .286 BA, 11 HR, 42 RBI, 40 R, 2 SB
Hideki Matsui(notes) NYY OF 257 44
Market Value: Strong Power Buy (12-team mixed, AL-only)
Lowdown: Just a few weeks ago, fishing for gold Seiko watches in a pool brimming with hungry piranha on a Japanese game show was less risky than rostering Godzilla. However, the once revered power source is once again flexing his muscle. Operating out of the DH spot, Matsui has clubbed three homers, driven in 11 runs and raised his average 20 points this month. Though he still hobbles around the bases on his surgically repaired knees, not roaming the outfield has alleviated stress on his joints and increased his overall comfort level. At 34, the import is slowly regressing, but based on his keen eye (12.8 BB%), career best 16.7 HR/FB percentage and regular spot behind A-Rod in the Yanks order, he will continue to be very productive, especially in the jet stream-aided confines of the Bronx bandbox. Assuming his rickety knees hold up, expect a terrific second-half yield.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 250 at-bats, .289 BA, 13 HR, 50 RBI, 43 R, 0 SB
Skip Schumaker STL 2B, OF 228 37
Market Value: Strong BA/R Buy (12-team mixed, NL-only)
Lowdown: The gigantic shadow cast by Albert Pujols has masked Schumaker's sensational efforts. His remarkable transition from outfield to second base has been seamless. He has admitted to feeling mentally exhausted at times, but the outward support of Tony LaRussa has boosted his overall game. More confident at the dish, the multi-eligible commodity has scorched of late, hammering out nine hits in his past 25 at-bats. Due to his superb contact numbers (89.0 CT%), turf-pounding 3.69 GB/FB demeanor and catbird seat in the Cardinals order, he will be one of the more valuable sources of BA and runs in the second half. On pace to touch home 91 times, it's not unfathomable he could easily surpass the century mark in fantasy's most overlooked category. To put that in perspective, only four two-baggers accomplished the feat a year ago.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 265 at-bats, .300 BA, 4 HR, 20 RBI, 51 R, 4 SB
David Murphy(notes) TEX OF, 1B? 510 8
Market Value: Moderate Power Buy (14-team mixed, AL-only)
Lowdown: After starting the season 0-for-23, Murphy has quietly restored owner confidence. Batting a commendable .311 since his opening-month slide, the Rangers outfielder recently noted feeling more relaxed, which has forced his "physical mechanics to straighten out naturally." Roping the ball into open spaces routinely, the lefty-swinger has earned additional playing time and has appeared regularly in the RBI-friendly three-spot in recent weeks. Due to Josh Hamilton's(notes) return and Chris Davis'(notes) demotion, Ron Washington plans to work him out at first base in upcoming weeks. Because of his sharper eye ('08 BB%: 7.0, '09: 11.6), smooth line-drive stroke and growing power ('08 HR/FB%: 10.6, '09: 11.9), he could accumulate laudable HR, RBI and runs post-break. Consider him an above average No. 5 outfielder/utility option in deeper mixed leagues.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 220 at-bats, .278 BA, 8 HR, 34 RBI, 37 R, 5 SB
Everth Cabrera(notes) SD SS 861 7
Market Value: Strong Speed Buy (12-team mixed, NL-only)
Lowdown: Currently rotting away on most mixed league waiver wires, Cabrera is the Mount Everth of minimally-owned speed options. With David Eckstein(notes) on the shelf, the fleet-footed shortstop has seized playing time and the Pads' leadoff spot. Since June 19, he's tallied a serviceable .290 BA with 10 RBI, 12 runs and six steals. Known for his electric wheels, he swiped 73 bags last season in the Rockies organization. Similar to Luis Castillo's(notes) early seasons with the Marlins, the 22-year-old switch-hitter is a patient, ground-ball slapper (2.50 GB/FB) who draws above average contact. Since Eckstein's hamstring injury will sideline him through at least the end of the month, Cabrera will be an invaluable steals source over the next several weeks and possibly beyond.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 180 at-bats, .282 BA, 0 HR, 13 RBI, 28 R, 18 SB
Jordan Zimmermann(notes) WAS SP 801 56
Market Value: Moderate Sell (all non-keeper leagues)
Lowdown: The second 'n' in his last name may stand for "nasty," but the Nationals' most ballyhooed pitching product is a profit-turning candidate. Finding a groove since June 1, the rookie has exuded the polish of a 10-year vet, routinely getting ahead of hitters early in counts. The results have been very useful. Over that stretch, he's compiled an admirable 2.44 ERA, 1.23 WHIP and 8.66 K/9 in 33.2 innings. More encouraging, his unfortunate .341 BABIP and 3.44 FIP suggest his current 4.52 ERA could be significantly lower. But despite his praiseworthy accomplishments and strong peripherals, Zimmermann is a player to shop. Since the Nats are out of playoff contention, front office officials will likely want to preserve his arm, possibly by September 1. Plus, due to poor run support, wins will be a luxury. The future is blindingly bright for the youngster, but his value may have reached its '09 peak.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 74 IP, 4 W, 4.37 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 65 K
Brett Anderson(notes) OAK SP 901 13
Market Value: Moderate Buy (14-team mixed, AL-only)
Lowdown: Mesmerizing in his last start in Boston, the freshman starter tossed his first career shutout, scattering just two hits while posting a magnificent 9:2 K:BB split. Afterward, Terry Francona noted the lefty's strike-zone-pounding approach and mixture of power fastballs and sliders "pretty much carved us up." Anderson thrived after receiving two extra days of rest because of arm fatigue. Clocked routinely between 88 and 93 mph over the first two months, he's added approximately 3-4 mph to his heater since late June. He's always believed he "throws harder as the season goes on," which implies more spectacular outings could lie ahead. Under the microscope, his 2.59 BB/9, 1.30 GB/FB and .312 BABIP are favorable signs that further ERA trimming is on the way. However, his unsightly 1.40 HR/9 must be corrected for that to occur. Similar to Zimmermann, he could be shut down later this year, but because of his increased velocity and confidence, he's a pitcher to grab in deeper mixed leagues.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 72 IP, 6 W, 3.89 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 67 K
Alfredo Aceves(notes) NYY RP 84 30
Market Value: Moderate Buy (14-team mixed, AL-only)
Lowdown: Aceves, one of the finest middle relievers in fantasy, will be given a shot to prove his mettle as a starter. With the Wanger fried, Aceves is slated to toe the rubber Thursday against the Twins. Stretched out over his past five appearances, the swingman has tallied a 0.80 ERA, 0.63 WHIP and 9:1 K:BB in 11.2 innings. Not overpowering like bullpen partner Philip Hughes, the 27-year-old deceives hitters with pinpoint command over his variable arsenal – 89-92 mph fastball, cutter, curve, change. His .240 BABIP, 0.74 GB/FB and 90.6 left-on-base percentage are unsettling, but he has the stuff, mindset and run support to be a quality back-of-the-rotation starter in deep mixed leagues. With an admirable effort against Minnesota, he could remain a fixture in the rotation over the next few weeks. Recall that in four September starts last year, he compiled a 2.34 ERA and 1.22 WHIP.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 66 IP, 4 W, 3.56 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 51 K
Fantasy Lames
Evan Longoria(notes) TB 3B 50 99
Market Value: Strong Power Buy (all leagues)
Lowdown: Over the past several games, Longoria has waded in a cesspool of disappointment. Channeling his inner Chris Davis, the All-Star selection has racked a .195 BA with just three homers and nine RBI since June 1. That's the 28th-best performance by a third baseman during that span, one spot behind powerhouse Geoff Blum(notes). Bothersome hamstring tightness since late May has plagued him at times, but the primary reason for his absent punch stems from a steady diet of bewildering off-speed pitches. Until he makes the necessary adjustments, juicy fastballs exposed over the plate will be few and far between. Because of his suspect contact rate (74.2 CT%) and high strikeout percentage (25.4 K%), Longoria never profiled as a .300-plus hitter to begin with. Eventually the power will resurface, but expect a marginal BA over the second half.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 260 at-bats, .274 BA, 15 HR, 46 RBI, 43 R, 2 SB
Ben Zobrist(notes) TB 2B, SS, OF 66 97
Market Value: Strong Buy (all leagues)
Lowdown: It's good to be the Zobrist – hot and talented wife, breakout season, All-Star nomination, awesome nickname ("Zorilla"). But despite his attractive auxiliary qualities, many in fantasyland are still uncertain about his future production. Due to his recent performance, owner suspicion in the Swiss Army Knife is justified. Mired in an 8-for-41 nose-dive (.195 BA), Zobrist has trimmed nearly 20 points off his season BA. More discouraging, he's reached souvenir city just once and driven in five runs since June 21. But have no fear. The Zorilla will be terrorizing Japanese citizens AL pitchers once again very soon. Joe Maddon believes the root of the problem is due to an overextension of his strike-zone. Because he's continued to showcase a selective eye during the slump (29.2 BB%) and make hard contact, one of fantasy's biggest surprises isn't going to suddenly change course. Unconfident Zobrist owners should be prayed upon. This week he was swapped for Frank Francisco(notes), Victor Martinez(notes) and Brandon Inge(notes) in one-for-one Plus league transactions.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 245 at-bats, .279 BA, 13 HR, 39 RBI, 39 R, 7 SB
Alex Rios(notes) TOR OF 119 96
Market Value: Moderate Buy (all leagues), Trade Watch (NL-only)
Lowdown: Intolerably mediocre over the past month-plus, the popular early-round pick has batted just .231 with four homers, 19 RBI, 14 runs and nine steals since June 1. Along with teammate Vernon Wells(notes), the duo's inconsistent production has many Toronto fans and media members anxious to dish them to a contender. To their dismay, beloved hurler Roy Halladay(notes) may cross the border first. If the Jays' rumored deal with the Reds materializes, Rios might benefit greatly from an address change. Though his .260 BA is rather undesirable, his '09 peripherals are nearly identical to last year's, which means an average surge is likely. Assuming the present trends stabilize, a .275-20-85-80-25 campaign is still very attainable. Don't be swayed by the negative press. Frankly, he is undervalued. This week, Rios attracted Aubrey Huff(notes), Matt Wieters(notes) and Randy Wolf(notes) in one-for-one Plus league deals.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 275 at-bats, .286 BA, 11 HR, 43 RBI, 41 R, 16 SB
Ryan Ludwick(notes) STL OF 235 89
Market Value: Strong Power Buy (all leagues)
Lowdown: The leader of St. Louis' Three Suckateers (Rick Ankiel(notes) and Chris Duncan(notes) the others), Ludwick has already acquired a one-hit wonder label in various circles. But the sleepwalking outfielder isn't quite Skee-Lo material yet. Maintaining an upbeat attitude through the malaise, the journeyman knows "he's better than this." Despite his sharp HR/FB percentage downturn, several uplifting signs suggest Ludwick will turn things around. He's cut back on the Ks, made more consistent contact on outside pitches and maintained a similar GB/FB as last season (0.57). The hamstring injury he suffered in May was a major setback that he's just now fully recovered from. With four multi-hit games and four extra-base hits since June 28, he's showing signs of a breakout. More importantly, because most pitchers are finally refusing to pitch to Pujols, Ludwick will likely see numerous beach ball-sized offerings over the second half. Your opportunity to purchase at a discount is about to expire.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 240 at-bats, .273 BA, 16 HR, 48 RBI, 35 R, 2 SB
Edwin Encarnacion(notes) CIN 3B 1272 28
Market Value: Moderate Power Buy (14-team mixed, NL-only)
Lowdown: Slowly working his way back from a wrist injury that sidelined him for 58 games, Cincinnati's Easy E hasn't exactly been a fantasy gangster. Just 3-for-15 since returning from the DL, he's been demoted to the RBI-unkind eighth spot until his bat revives. Despite the sluggish start, Dusty Baker and Encarnacion are both confident he will eventually shake off the rust, but it could take a couple of weeks for the hot corner to demonstrate a serviceable level of production. Last season, the 26-year-old made a noticeable power leap, blasting 26 homers, 10 more than in 2007. Once his contact totals rebound to near 80 percent and he begins to show signs of vigorous undercutting, the power numbers will roll in and he'll likely be promoted back into the sixth spot, where he was penciled in often earlier this year. Don't expect banner BA returns, but he deserves to be placed in the Blalock/Stewart/Cantu class of three-baggers.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 220 at-bats, .263 BA, 11 HR, 36 RBI, 30 R, 0 SB
Cliff Lee(notes) CLE SP 785 97
Market Value: Moderate Sell (all leagues)
Lowdown: The Indians front office appears content on letting Lee fester in futility. Though his trade price tag is likely exorbitant, the reigning Cy Young winner would be the perfect upgrade for many contending teams. Assuming he remains in Cleveland, wins will continue to be elusive. More concerning, his command has eroded sharply in recent outings. Over his past four starts, he's posted an uncharacteristic 4.30 BB/9 and 25.3 line-drive rate. He's still inducing a favorable amount of grounders (43.4 GB%) and his unlucky .339 BABIP arrows to better days, but due to the Indians repulsive bullpen, questionable run support (4.05 RS/9) and Lee's declining K/BB, he should be auctioned off in all formats. This week he coaxed Brandon Inge, Ryan Zimmerman(notes) and Matt Holliday(notes) in one-for-one Plus league moves.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 98 IP, 5 W, 3.86 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 66 K
Rich Harden(notes) CHC SP 904 95
Market Value: Moderate Strikeout W/K Buy (12-team mixed, NL-only)
Lowdown: Because chicks truly do dig the long-ball, Harden could probably transform Juan Pierre(notes) into a bona fide love machine. Plagued by gopheritis, baseball's version of Axe Body Spray has surrendered a repugnant 1.96 HR/9 this year. Struggling to command his off-speed junk, he was tattooed for seven earned in two innings against Milwaukee on Independence Day, the worst outing of his career. Despite his recent horrendous returns, unsettling 4.17 BB/9 and fly-ball-centric 0.89 GB/FB, he's a pitcher worth pursuing at a clearance rate. His unfortunate .323 BABIP and tremendous 10.04 K/9 are positive indicators an ERA deflation is near. With Aramis Ramirez(notes) finally healthy and Derrek Lee(notes) excelling, Harden should also have plenty of run support down the stretch. An extended DL stint is always a concern, but he has the skill set and offensive backing to reverse course after the break. Take a chance.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 90 IP, 7 W, 3.59 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 102 K
Dan Haren ARI SP 2 99
Market Value: Strong Sell (all leagues)
Lowdown: Haren may have the appearance of a train-hopping vagabond, but the righty has been arguably the most valuable pitcher this season. Leaning more on his newly incorporated cutter, he's totaled an absurd 7.93 K:BB split and 16 quality starts in 17 turns. Those achievements explain why he currently ranks only behind Albert Pujols(notes) in the Y! game. But historically, the All-Star has lived a Jekyll and Hyde existence. His post-break career ERA (4.12) is a full point higher than his pre-break tally (3.12). Couple that with his fateful .247 BABIP, and Haren could experience a monumental tide shift over the season's final two-plus months. Considering the marquee talent he's attracted in one-for-one Plus league deals this week – Carl Crawford(notes), Justin Morneau(notes) and Ian Kinsler(notes) – profit seekers should post his availability on Craigslist.
Fearless Forecast (Rest of season): 88 IP, 7 W, 4.01 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 87 K

*All stats are for games played through July 7th

To remind colleagues Jeff Passan and Mark Pesavento of the $50 donation they'll be contributing to the Noise's import beer fund, Nelson Cruz's(notes) long-ball tally will be noted each week. Remember, the original bet was over/under 25 homers.

Caribbean Cruz connections since last week: 1
Season total: 20
Moonshots to the money: 6
Pace: 40