Say this for Dexter Fowler — he has a sense of timing.
A mere 24 hours ago I took a shot at Fowler, questioning his fantasy value as we assembled our High Fives in the outfield. When someone who's ostensibly a table setter and speed merchant returns a .237 average and three piddly steals through 43 games, I think we have a reason to be frustrated.
Fowler did his best to give me roto remorse, putting on a show in Monday's doubleheader sweep over the Astros. Fowler racked up a 7-for-9 day, with a triple, homer, steal, and five runs scored. His OPS jumped 94 points from one glorious afternoon. His Yahoo! ownership also hit a spike, climbing to 42 percent. He's been the most-added player in our game through the first half of Tuesday.
Okay, time for a new tack with Fowler. Maybe this is a case where the home/road splits tell the story. Perhaps Fowler is the rare player you carry with the strict idea of only using him half of the time.
Fowler's been a .333/.435/.538 stud at Coors this year, but the story collapses on the road: .178/.260/.311. The gap isn't as severe in his career stats, but it's similar (the OPS is 190 points higher at home). This sort of split, while extreme, isn't that unusual. The advantages of Coors are known to all, but there's also reason to suspect that Colorado hitters are adversely affected on the road. Breaking pitches aren't as effective in Denver's altitude but they have normal bite in other locales; in short, the Rockies offense is forced to play two distinctly different types of baseball, home and away.
It will be interesting to see if Fowler sticks in the leadoff spot for a while; he hit there Monday for just the second and third times this year. Most of the season he's been batting second or eighth. We should also mention that all of Fowler's damage this year is coming as a left-handed batter (there's a major 2012 bias in his lefty/righty splits), but he's been just about neutral in this area for his career, so let's not worry about it too much.
If you're in the mood to kick the tires on this story, the schedule is your friend. Eleven of the next 14 Colorado games are at home, and even the three road matches (at Arizona in early June) are set for a hitter-friendly environment. The Rockies also visit Philadelphia and Texas later in June, fun places to take your hacks. Why not make a move here, bet on the elements? Gravity always wins.
• I'm officially sick of writing about the Cubs bullpen in 2012 (and you're probably sick of reading about it). It's toxic. Kerry Wood knew when to walk away. Bad things happen back there. But we're slaves to the save chase, so we have to mention these guys again today.
The Cubs finally got a win Monday, breaking a 12-game losing streak and outlasting the Padres, 11-7. The final three Chicago relievers combined for seven outs: Shawn Camp picked up a strikeout on three pitches in the seventh, James Russell retired three of four men in the eighth and Casey Coleman did the same in the ninth. The four-run edge kept the save chance out of the picture, but Dale Sveum said Coleman would have closed if it came down to it.
Coleman could be an interesting reliever down the line. He had a good strikeout rate but a messy everything else in last year's failed trial in the rotation. Obviously you shield your eyes from a 6.00 ERA and 1.75 WHIP, and his control was poor. But so many of the best relievers come from failed starters. Coleman hasn't been lights out in the relief role this year, but he's been solid: 10 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 3 BB, 6 K. If every save has a blood value in your league, add Coleman to your never-ending carnival list.
Rafael Dolis is no longer around (mercifully demoted to the minors), but Carlos Marmol might be back in the mix eventually. He rejoined the team Monday, after a two-week DL stint. Sveum made it clear Marmol wouldn't go back to the ninth inning now, but everyone can see it's in the team's best interests to try to fix Marmol later in the season.
• Matt Adams had some great swings in the weekend series with Philadelphia (including his first homer), and he kept it up Monday at Atlanta (3-for-5, double, three RBIs). Adams now has a tasty .382/.417/.618 slash for his nine games in the show, and while he's been hacking away freely (just two walks), his contact rate is just a shade below league average. In other words, he hasn't been overmatched at this level.
With Allen Craig potentially back at the end of the week, Adams needs to do all he can to mark his roster space. Mind you, Craig can play other positions, though the safest place to stick him does appear to be first base. A shame the Cardinals don't have a DH slot to work with. I'll keep rolling with Adams in a mixer until the situation forces me to re-evaluate. You can still grab Big Country in 80 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Welcome Lonnie Chisenhall back into your lives, everyone. After a solid 28 game at Triple-A (.324/.353/.541, four homers), the 23-year-old Chisenhall got the call to Cleveland and promptly went 2-for-4 with a homer. Chief Wahoo likes this.
Most of Chisenhall's production at Columbus came against right-handed pitching, though he wasn't terrible against the southpaws (.764 OPS, though one walk against 13 whiffs). I wouldn't bother with a move in a shallow league, but he's worth considering in medium and deep pools (to be fair, the deep-leaguers were the ones snapping him up Monday, pushing his ownership tag up to four percent). Keep in mind he was Baseball America's No. 25 prospect entering 2011 (and the No. 31 prospect in the prior season).
• So much drama with Chris Sale over the last few months. He's a starter, no he's a closer. No, he's hurt (maybe). Okay, maybe he's not hurt. Put him back into the rotation. Read Keith Law saying snarky things (then read the White Sox bloggers firing back). You hear "inverted W" tossed around so much with Sale, it feels like a Sesame Street time warp.
But never mind the bullocks, here's the snappy Sale video at Tampa Bay on Monday. When on the mound chucking a baseball, Sale is pretty freaking good — and it's clear to friends and foes alike (here's a ringing endorsement from an impressed Ben Zobrist).
The tale of the tape reads this way: 7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 15 K. And Sale was efficient, only needing a reasonable 116 pitches (not an abusive number) to record those 22 outs. His smashing effort obscured a needed bounce-back from Tampa lefty Matt Moore (7 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 10 K). As per usual, there wasn't much hitting under the catwalk.
I wish I owned Sale anywhere; I don't. Two of my most-trusted colleagues (Andy Behrens, Mike Salfino) have been staunch Sale promoters all season. I salute the White Sox for keeping the lefty in the rotation; there's no proof that his injury risk would be significantly lessened in a relief role. Your best arms should always be giving you the most innings they can, all else equal.
As for Moore, he took advantage of a good draw here: the Pale Hose are fifth in OPS against righties this year but the rank collapses to 17th against southpaws. Moore's next opponent is Baltimore and that's a bad matchup: the Orioles have the second-highest OPS against lefties this year, only trailing St. Louis. This could be a perfect time to sell those Monday stats.
And now, a few words of wisdom from my amigo, Dr. Behrens. Take notes, there may be a pop quiz later in the week.