In the NFL, quarterback/wide receiver relationships have always been heavily publicized -- Montana to Rice, Manning to Harrison, Brady to Moss. However on the diamond the partnership between pitcher and catcher is often overlooked, especially for fantasy purposes.
Owners really should pay more attention.
It's a well-known fact Matt Wieters'(notes) mystical powers could end feline AIDS, replenish the world's glaciers and single-handedly dominate North Korea in a nuclear war. Seriously, he's destined to become baseball's first 20-time MVP winner. Though the future perennial All-Star hasn't lived up to his massive offensive expectations thus far (.233 BA), he has excelled in a category unmeasured in virtual baseball: game calling. Just ask Bradley Bergesen.
On the outside, the burgeoning chemistry between the two O's may seems like the baseball equivalent of Shaun Hill to Michael Crabtree. Based on each player's ownership numbers it undoubtedly is. But the widely available Bergesen (11 percent owned) has quickly developed into a relevant starter, even in 12-team mixed leagues.
This afternoon against Atlanta, the 23-year-old righty tossed his fourth-straight quality start and first career complete game, surrendering just two runs on seven hits. Although Gregg Zaun(notes) crouched behind the dish today, it was Wieters' previous three outings with Bergesen, and the pitcher's inclusion of a newly developed breaking ball, which have greatly enhanced his comfort level and overall fantasy worth. The proof is in the splits:
Pre-Wieters: 50.1 IP, 2 W 4.85 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 4.85 K/9, 2.69 BB/9
Post-Wieters: 32 IP, 3 W, 1.41 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 4.22 K/9, 1.41 BB/9
Because Bergesen plays in the hitter-heavy AL East and subscribes to a pitch-to-contact philosophy (84.8 CT%) many will unfairly write-off his recent accomplishments. But given his soaring confidence, groundball-inducing stuff (2.25 GB/FB) and masterful control, he's essentially the junior circuit's version of Zach Duke(notes).
It's time to hop aboard the bandwagon.
• Blitzkrieged in the Bronx, Johan Santana(notes) was torched for nine earned in three innings, the worst outing of his career. It was also the first time the two-time Cy Young winner had conceded seven or more earned runs in a game since May 17, 2005. The rough outing skyrocketed his ERA from 2.39 to 3.29. Supporters expressed their frustration by shouting expletives.
Even for superstars, occasional implosions happen, but the southpaw's sharp decline in velocity raises a red flag. Against the Yanks, his fastball was routinely clocked between 88-90 mph. His heater's average speed heading into today was 90.9.
It's tough to pinpoint Johan's specific ailment. It could merely be a dead arm period. However, it could be something much worse.
Johan owners: keep your lips firmly pressed to the bottle and your cursor over the Roto Arcade banner as the story unfolds.
• The Rays end-game slot machine registered three Hs as J.P. Howell(notes) nailed down his third save of the season, closing out the Nationals on three consecutive punchouts. Despite blowing five saves on the year, the crafty lefty has showcased quality stuff in his past several appearances. The four-year vet has not yielded a run since May 23. He has also tallied an impressive 10.63 K/9 on the year. If the 57 percent available reliever is waiting to be rescued in the free agent pool, toss a life raft immediately. It appears he's forged a ninth-inning platoon with fellow southpaw Randy Choate(notes).
• Hidden behind Torii Hunter(notes), Vladimir Guerrero(notes) and Kendry Morales(notes), Juan Rivera(notes) has quietly thrived. Hitting in the fifth-spot, the 29-year-old clubbed his seventh and eighth homers of the season. Scorching since June 7, he's tallied nine RBIs and four multi-hit games, raising his BA to an outstanding .308. Only 23 percent owned in Y! Plus leagues, his robust 89.3 contact rate implies a .300-plus BA is sustainable. Throw in his 25-homer, 80-RBI skill set and it's safe to conclude Rivera might be the most disrespected outfielder in fantasy.
• After receiving sparse run support in previous campaigns, Giants flamethrower Matt Cain(notes) has benefited greatly from San Fran's occasional offensive spurts. Extending his record to a nearly flawless 9-1, the power righty tossed a complete game, one-earned effort against cross-bay rival Oakland. He also notched a stellar 9:0 K:BB split.
Despite the libido-driving performance, Cain is someone to auction off. Heading into today his -1.66 difference between FIP and ERA pointed to an inevitable decline. If he can slice his BB/9 further, he will continue to defy the law of averages. However, his historical track-record of inconsistent control evokes unconfident feelings. This week he was shipped for Javier Vazquez(notes), Curtis Granderson(notes), Miguel Tejada(notes) and Trevor Hoffman(notes) in one-for-one Plus league transactions.
• Bumming a Lucky Strike off Joe Saunders(notes), Jered Weaver(notes) continued to throw Lady Luck the Heisman, hurling a five-hit complete game shutout against the dreadful Pads. Sage owners should shop his services immediately. His 0.67 GB/FB, .251 BABIP and 3.42 FIP suggest he's simply not 2.08 ERA, 1.00 WHIP good. His "Jeff" side will eventually surface. This week he attracted Alex Rios(notes), Adrian Gonzalez(notes) and Adam Lind(notes) in one-for-one Plus league deals.
Quick Hitters: Ryan Howard(notes) swiped his third base of the season. Entering '09 he had two steals in 572 career games. In other news, the Noise has begun construction on an underground backyard bunker...Gabe Kapler(notes) reached the cheap seats for the third straight game. Now with Matt Joyce(notes) wallowing in Triple-A, he could see extensive action this week, especially given his scorching stick...Piano Man favorite Ty Wigginton(notes) accumulated a crooked tally today totaling a 4-4-3-3, 2 HR line. The O's Swiss Army knife is a part-time stopgap, but has the talent to be deep league serviceable if a significant injury fells Melvin Mora(notes) or Brian Roberts(notes)...Adam Jones was a late scratch with a bruised shin. He's considered day-to-day...Jermaine Dye(notes) didn't roam right field due to a strained calf. He should return Tuesday...Apparently, Godzilla is not yet extinct. The gimpy outfielder clocked his 10th homer of the season. Matsui (46 percent owned) has a nearly identical line to Ryan Ludwick(notes) (95 percent) in just ten more games...Ronny Paulino(notes), who has primarily started against LHP, launched two homers and knocked in three in a 4-for-5 outburst versus Toronto. Hitting .379 this month, he could wrest away more starts from John Baker(notes) if he continues to hit...Corey Hart(notes) is finally turning things around, launching two homers today against the Sox. Over his past four games he has six hits, two homers, six RBIs and five runs. Your opportunity to buy low is quickly disappearing...Charlie Morton's(notes) start Tuesday was pushed back a day, meaning Paul Maholm(notes) will net two starts in the upcoming scoring period. Adjust your rosters accordingly...A walks snowman for Dontrelle Willis(notes) versus the frightening Buccos. City officials should strap him to Tigers Stadium when it's detonated. His value to fantasy society is completely worthless.
Image courtesy of AP