Sox shutout: Is Buchholz back?
How was my vacation, you ask? Just fine, thanks. Except for the night I heard about Masahiro Tanaka's elbow and cried myself to sleep, anyway.
We'll start today's entry with studs & duds, and there was no bigger stud on Sunday than Red Sox SP Clay Buchholz, who shut out the Astros on three hits while striking out 12 batters. Since coming off the DL three weeks ago, Buchholz is 2-1 over four starts with a 2.73 ERA, a 0.71 WHIP and 23 strikeouts against one walk in 29 2/3 innings. Buchholz is owned in just 40.1 percent of FOXSports.com leagues; is it time to grab him?
Yes, even with the caveat that the Astros have struck out more than any other team in the majors. Buchholz is throwing harder than he did before his DL stint, and is reminding manager John Farrell of the first half of 2013, when he posted a 1.71 ERA over 12 starts before missing three months with a neck injury. One dominating outing doesn't mean everything, but Buchholz is certainly worth a look if he's in your free-agent pool, no matter how deep the league. He'll start Friday against the Royals.
Sunday's other studs & duds
Stud: Brian Dozier, who slugged his 17th and 18th home runs of the year for the Twins. You knew he'd be this good, right?
Stud: Buchholz's teammate, Brock Holt, had a homer among his five hits against the Astros.
Dud: Let's go with Pirates SP Francisco Liriano, who allowed three runs on three hits and SIX WALKS over four innings in his return from the DL. You just never know when this guy will completely forget how to throw strikes.
News & notes
Looking to identify some players that will decline in the second half of the season? This Baseball Prospectus on FOX article will help. I spent much of last week's vacation telling my dad to unload J.D. Martinez in our AL-only league, and maybe the BP folks will help to convince him.
Rookie 2B Arismendy Alcantara, who hit his first big-league home run on Sunday, is making it awfully difficult for the Cubs to send him back to the minors. That doesn't mean it won't happen before Friday, though.
FYI, our streaming starter record is 55-40 heading into the break. We're almost as good as the Oakland A's!
Speaking of the Angels, OF Colin Cowgill is expected to miss a month with a broken nose and right thumb.
There are plenty of good options in tonight's Home Run Derby, but I'll always bet on the guy who can hit the ball 8,000 feet. That's Giancarlo Stanton.
There aren't any games until Friday, but I'll try to keep the blog interesting until then. See you back here tomorrow morning.