In my view of the world, Brett Myers should stay in Houston. That's where ZZ Top is from (and surely he wants into the band, look at the facial hair). The Astros could use a veteran presence. And our fantasy teams could use a few more handshakes.
His blown save from Thursday was a mess, sure — four hits, six runs. But if you take a broader view of everything, it's not really the worst thing in the world. Only one of the runs was earned, and outings like this might actually enhance (or at least protect) Myers's fantasy value.
Myers certainly made some bad pitches against the Padres: John Baker missed a home run by about two feet and light-hitting Alexi Amarista crushed a game-sealing grand slam into the right field seats. Myers also plunked Carlos Quentin on a two-strike pitch, forcing home a run. But the H-Town closer had some bad luck in this appearance, too. Chris Johnson botched a sharply-hit grounder that looked like an easy 5-4-3 double play (it would have ended the game), and Chase Headley's single was a dying quail that barely made it into the outfield.
How does a blown save help fantasy value? Simple: it potentially scares away real-life trading partners. Myers is still firmly entrenched in Houston's closing chair, but it's just about impossible to find a contending club that would view him as a ninth-inning man. If Myers packs his bags later this summer, he's probably leaving his fantasy value in Houston. If you own Myers, you don't want him going anywhere. Maybe Thursday's mess will help in that regard. Trade eliminator.
• It looks like the Red Sox might have done a nifty recycling job with Franklin Morales. Although the lefty had to take a no-decision at Seattle, we'll all welcome his tasty line (seven scoreless innings, seven strikeouts). He's collected 18 innings since joining the rotation in the middle of the month, stacking up this way: 14 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 24 K. Anyone with a K/BB ratio in that area jumps off the page; I'm assuming Boston will keep him in the rotation for a turn at Oakland next week (now confirmed: Morales sticks).
The latest Morales effort brings up a second point: Safeco Park, more than ever, is suffocating offense this season. Everyone knew into 2012 that Seattle was a favorable place for pitchers, but it's been extreme through three months of the year. For a deeper look into the story, check out Dave Cameron's piece on Fangraphs. And let's be aggressive as we stream against the Mariners (or in some cases, with the Mariners); anyone want to try Felix Doubront on Sunday?
• The Trevor Bauer debut wasn't anything special (4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K), though he was still fun to watch. And he might have pitched better than the box score indicates: he seemed to be squeezed on some tight pitches in the third inning, and Justin Upton didn't have a great day in right field, turning a couple of potential outs into gift hits. With better defense, Bauer doesn't allow any runs.
The fantasy scouting report on Bauer hasn't really changed, at least for 2012. He's going to strike out his share of batters and he's going to walk a fair amount too. Because of those facts, it will be hard for him to routinely last more than 5-6 innings. He probably was limited to four innings and 74 pitches Thursday because he threw 50 pitches back on Sunday in Triple-A. It was odd to see him work on partial rest here, but it's not my team to run. I'll slotted Bauer at $10 in the current starting pitcher Shuffle Up.
• Maybe we should have run a Thursday night blog devoted to Andrew Cashner, not Bauer. The San Diego righty was Straight Cash, Homey at Houston (6.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 9 K) and obviously he'll get the benefit of expansive Petco Park for his home starts. The Astros didn't even have a hit off Cashner until the righty started to tire a bit in the seventh inning.
I'm concerned about Cashner's control going forward (he does have 19 walks in 34.2 innings this year, after all) but he's also capable of missing bats (43 strikeouts for the year). He also has a very easy delivery; his fastball jumps into the high-90s with modest effort. There's certainly a plausible upside here, which is all we need to see in deeper leagues. Give him a look at Arizona next week, even in that hitter-friendly environment.
• Although it took him 17 pitches, Bobby Parnell's first save conversion was a smooth 1-2-3 landing. Ground out, ground out, fly out, handshake line. My gut feel is that a healthy Frank Francisco would get his job back in the ninth inning, but maybe Parnell can make enough of an impression to complicate the equation. Parnell is still free to take in 72 percent of Yahoo! leagues, which seems low for someone who has the ninth all to himself for the moment.
• Clip and save this note on Jim Thome: he might be in an American League uniform at some point in the second half. The Phillies are apparently willing to discuss moving Thome (why wouldn't they be?), and this is an intriguing left-handed bat that could help some teams. Maybe Detroit would consider a two-month rental, or Cleveland, or Tampa Bay. Thome would be fun to watch in Arlington or Baltimore. And as we saw during his DH tour earlier this month, he can still hit.
Speed Round: There's no new tale to tell about aces like Felix Hernandez (13 K) and Madison Bumgarner (one-hit wonder). Keep enjoying them as you normally do. … Same goes for A.J. Burnett, who's now won eight games in a row. If you take the Hurdleism Start at St. Louis out of the mix (no pitcher should be asked to absorb a 12-run shellacking), Burnett has a 2.05 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. As we've been saying all season, let go of the past, gamer. Accept today's reality. … Max Scherzer had a smooth six innings at Tampa (4 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 7 K) while James Shields threw batting practice (7.2 IP, 14 H, 4 R). I've been burned too many times on Mad Max, it's hard to trust. Jose Valverde had a smooth nine-pitch save, but I can't tell you anything about it: I've promised myself I won't watch him the rest of the year. We'll see how long that vow lasts. … Rafael Soriano needed a day off, so David Robertson handed away a game against Chicago (page me when the Dayan Viciedo homer lands). It spoiled a terrific outing from underrated Ivan Nova (7.1 IP, 1 R, 3 BB, 5 K). Start Nova next week under the catwalk. … At this point, let's give Mike Trout the MVP, the Cy Young, and maybe a Golden Globe or two. Utterly ridiculous. … Major thumbs down to Davey Johnson, who couldn't realize the upside of using Tyler Clippard in a tie game at Colorado. Clippard last worked on June 23, skip. Stop letting the save rule run your life. … Dan Uggla is in a .156 /.330 /.312 funk this month and might get a day off over the weekend. Those high-strikeout, high-fly hitters tend to be streaky commodities. … The Astros are taking it slow with Jose Altuve and his hamstring injury.