Roto Arcade This Week: April 2
Here's Contreras' line from Monday: 1.0 IP, 7 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 1 K.
Yikes … Sometimes, a shrewd drop can be just as satisfying as a shrewd add.
Trot Nixon went 3-for-4 Monday hitting second for Cleveland behind Grady Sizemore and ahead of Travis Hafner. Tough to imagine a better lineup position for anyone, particularly a guy with a .366 career on-base percentage. Currently he's only 0.9 percent owned. If you don't mind the daily roster management involved in owning a platooned hitter, Trot could be extremely useful.
Chicago's other Opening Day starter was nearly as horrid as Contreras. Carlos Zambrano went five innings against Cincinnati, giving up six hits, five earned runs, and five walks. He struck out only two and gave up a pair of homers to Adam Dunn. Naturally, he plunked Brandon Phillips, the guy who followed Dunn in the Reds batting order. Zambrano's line looked curiously like his Opening Day start last season: 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 HR, 5 BB, 5 K. Dunn homered in that one, too.
Here's something I'll probably never write again: I really liked Jerry Narron's lineup. Last season, the variability of the Reds batting order – and the frequent absence of Ryan Freel and Edwin Encarnacion from it – made fantasy owners, and me in particular, endlessly frustrated. Narron opened this season batting Dunn second with Freel leading off, Brandon Phillips third, Ken Griffey Jr. clean-up, and Encarnacion fifth. If that lineup holds – and that's a giant if – it should be fine news for everyone involved, particularly Freel and Dunn. Among Dunn's many underappreciated traits is a willingness to take pitches. Last season he was fourth in the NL in pitches per plate appearance with 4.18. Only 15 players in the league averaged four or more P/PA. The frequency with which Dunn allows pitches to reach the catcher's mitt – he had 194 K and 112 BB last season – will give Freel plenty of opportunities to run. And getting on base at his usual .380 clip ahead of Phillips, Griffey, and Edwin, Dunn will score 120 runs.
Punk rock kids in Kansas City, assuming such kids exist, should all go out and get t-shirts that say, "Please Gil Me." Gil Meche – easily the most maligned, derided, and otherwise disrespected offseason free agent signing – was spectacular Monday against one of baseball's best lineups. Meche (5.6 percent owned) pitched into the eighth inning, giving up one run, striking out six, and completely out-dueling Curt Schilling, who had uncharacteristically poor command.
There's a guy I'll be trying to acquire from frustrated owners, by the way. Schilling's fastball reached the mid-90s, but didn't go precisely where he intended. He hung a few splitters, too. The Royals just wore him out in a 33-pitch first inning. The best theater on Monday might very well have been Alex Gordon's first major league at bat. It came with the bases loaded and one out against Schilling in the first. It went like this …
First pitch: 91 mph fastball, center-cut. Practically on a tee. Called strike, 0-1.
Second pitch: 92 mph high fastball. Fouled off, 0-2.
Third pitch: splitter, low and away. Check swing foul, 0-2.
Fourth pitch: Another splitter. Low, 1-2.
Fifth pitch: Fastball, 93 mph, high and inside. Foul, 1-2.
Sixth pitch: Splitter, 85 mph, low and inside. Too hittable. Foul ball, 1-2.
Jason Varitek then visited the mound and apparently told Schilling that he didn't need to throw the splitter anywhere near Gordon's bat.
Seventh pitch: 84 mph splitter, very low and very far away. Swinging strike.
That final splitter was really a repeat of the third pitch, one that Gordon had almost accidentally spoiled. The best pitch the rookie saw was the first, a totally hittable fastball. I'm going to guess he'll learn not to let those go.
As mentioned Monday, I'm all over Boof Bonser, who's still only 11.7 percent owned. I'm propping up that ownership-percentage, too, by starting Boof in three leagues on Tuesday. Wednesday's best streaming option looks to be Jake Westbrook (42.0 percent owned) at Chicago – he went 3-0 against the White Sox last year with 10 K, a 1.69 ERA, and a 0.96 WHIP. Tom Gorzelanny (0.8 percent) at Houston is intriguing, too. He finished a forgettable spring with an eight strikeout effort.
Add Oliver Perez (7.8 percent) in anticipation of Friday's start against Mark Redman in Atlanta. You don't have to start him, necessarily, but if Perez is as effective as he was throughout the spring (3.51 ERA, 25.2 IP, 20 K, 7 BB), there'll be a crazy rush to add him. No pitcher available in so many leagues has so much obvious, proven upside. Perez is, of course, the embodiment of the concept of pitcher volatility. His 2004 was mythic; his 2005, abysmal. I'm full of optimism – for now.