Mike Harmon reviews the week that was in fantasy baseball.
By Michael Harmon FoxSports
How much caffeine are you ingesting these days?
Between Olympics coverage, training camp tidbits and the post-trade fallout in Major League Baseball, I suspect that television sales and computer click counts are through the roof. Most sports fans would now be described as “sleep-deprived,” and I bet more than a few of them arrived to work in mismatched socks.
It’s a fantastic time in the sporting world, to be sure. I didn’t even point out the arrival of the first preseason college football polls.
Baseball fans and fantasy owners are still evaluating the look of their favorite team’s roster following the trade deadline. They’ll spend their lunchtimes pondering post-waiver deals and late-minute call-ups. Mike Olt from the Rangers, anyone? How about Dan Straily in Oakland?
How are you feeling if you’re a Ryan Dempster owner following that debacle in Arlington?
Let’s review the good, bad and ugly of the past week while arming ourselves with tidbits to win all debates and trivia battles.
Cincinnati outfielder Ryan Ludwick went 2-for-4 with two home runs and two RBI in the 9-7 win over the Rockies. In his past 10 games, Ludwick has hit four doubles with five home runs and 17 RBI while batting .459 (17-for-37).
The A’s don’t score a ton of runs, but when they do, you can expect to hear the name Yeonis Cespedes involved. Cespedes went 2-for-4 with a triple, home run and three RBI in a 6-1 win over the Orioles. He’s hit safely in eight of his past 10 games with nine RBI.
Jordan Zimmermann won his fifth straight decision in a six-inning start against the Brewers. Zimmermann allowed a single earned run on five hits and a walk with six strikeouts to earn his eighth win of the year. He’s lowered his season ERA by one-half of a run since June 27. Zimmermann takes the hill Saturday against the Marlins with a 2.28 ERA.
Minnesota starter Samuel Deduno shut down the Indians, allowing one earned run on two hits and five walks with six strikeouts. Deduno would later win his third consecutive start by pitching six shutout innings against the Red Sox. He allowed two hits and four walks and effectively pitched around contact.
Minnesota outfielder Josh Willingham homered for the second straight game, his 27th of the year, with two RBI in a 12-5 win over Cleveland. Willingham has homered four times in his past 10 games with 11 RBI. He does carry a streak of 11 straight games with a strikeout into the weekend.
Anibal Sanchez pitched terribly in his debut with the Tigers. Sanchez allowed five earned runs on eight hits and three walks. Three of the hits he allowed sailed into the stands. He’ll next pitch on Friday against the Indians.
Colby Rasmus hit one of the three longballs against Sanchez and drove in three runs. It was Rasmus’ 18th home run of the season (he hit his 19th on Wednesday) and 13th since June 1.
Zack Greinke pitched seven strong innings in his Angels debut against the Rays, but absorbed a defeat in a rare misfire by the Anaheim offense. Greinke allowed two earned runs on seven hits and a walk in his seven innings pitched with eight strikeouts. Alas, we didn’t get to see him pitch in that ridiculous mid-week series against the Rangers.
The Pirates have been one of the great stories of the 2012 season, but things have unwound for starter James McDonald. McDonald struggled in his fourth consecutive post-All-Star start against the Astros. He allowed five earned runs on six hits with seven walks in five innings pitched. McDonald’s pitched to a terrible 8.71 ERA in this four-game stretch with a 2.27 WHIP.
Mike Morse homered and drove in four runs as part of a 2-for-4 performance in a wild 11-10 win over the Brewers. Morse enters the weekend series with Miami with an active 11-game hitting streak with three home runs and nine RBI.
Matt Wieters went 1-for-3 with a home run and three RBI in the Orioles’ 6-1 win over the A’s. It was his first home run since July 5 and 13th of the season.
R.A. Dickey got back into the win column against the Diamondbacks. Dickey allowed one unearned run on four hits and three walks in seven innings with eight strikeouts. He’d allowed four or more earned runs in four of his previous seven starts.
Matt Latos pitched eight innings of two-run ball to continue the season of misery in Colorado. Latos earned his ninth win of the season for the Reds, allowing four hits and three walks with eight strikeouts. He’s pitched to a solid 3.65 ERA with a record of 8-1 since May 1.
Corey Hart went 4-for-5, including a solo home run, in the Brewers’ 11-10 loss to the Nationals. Hart has hit safely in eight of his past 10 games with three home runs and nine RBI.
Jeremy Hellickson pitched six shutout innings against the Angels to earn his second straight victory and evened his season record at 6-6. Hellickson allowed two hits with five strikeouts. He’s pitched to a 3.23 ERA overall, but has been among the game’s hard-luck hurlers.
Detroit starter Max Scherzer struggled against the Red Sox, surrendering five earned runs on seven hits and two walks. Scherzer owns a middling 4.62 ERA overall, and this effort obviously didn’t help, but he’d been fantastic in his previous eight starts. He’d pitched to a 2.77 ERA during that eight-game period with a record of 5-1 and 62 strikeouts.
John Axford blew a save on Sunday, but he bounced back nicely to earn his 17th save in 24 chances against the Astros. His ERA sits at a lofty 5.04 accompanied by a dismal 1.43 WHIP.
Drew Stubbs homered for the third consecutive game and produced his sixth multi-hit game in eight starts against the Padres. Stubbs also stole a base for the Reds in the 11-5 defeat. He enters the weekend series against Pittsburgh with a dismal .234 batting average, but owners will take his 13 home runs and 23 stolen bases.
Boston rookie Will Middlebrooks hit his 13th home run of the season and drove in two runs during a 7-3 win over Detroit. Middlebrooks had his nine-game hitting streak halted on Thursday by the Twins. He enters Friday’s action with a .296 batting average, 14 doubles and 48 RBI in 67 games.
The Cubs’ season has been marked by sell-offs, a mountain of losses and the arrival of a new management structure. Hopeful fans have also celebrated the arrival of slugger Anthony Rizzo, who homered for the eighth time since his call-up as part of a 3-for-4 performance against the Cardinals. Rizzo has generated a .316 batting average with four doubles, eight home runs and 20 RBI in 117 at-bats.
New York outfielder Ichiro Suzuki homered, a solo shot, in front of the adoring home crowd in a 5-4 loss to the Orioles. Suzuki went 1-for-4 with his 18th stolen base of the season. He enters the weekend series with his former Seattle squad with a nine-game hitting streak.
Kendrys Morales accomplished a tremendous feat by hitting home runs from both sides of the plate with six RBI in one inning. He then homered for the third time in the slugfest series on Thursday. Morales has enjoyed a nice comeback season in this robust Angels lineup with 12 doubles, 12 home runs and 47 RBI.
Cliff Lee rebounded from a disappointing start against the Brewers with seven shutout innings against the Nationals. He allowed five hits and a walk against seven strikeouts to earn just his second win of the season. The Phillies have won just six of his 18 starts this season.
Washington starter Stephen Strasburg was battered by the much-maligned Philadelphia offense. Strasburg allowed six earned runs on eight hits, including two home runs, and a walk in just four innings of work. He struck out three batters.
A.J. Burnett pitched a one-hit shutout against the Cubs to earn his 13th win of the season. He struck out eight batters against two walks and lowered his season ERA to 3.27.
Infielder Neil Walker went 1-for-3 and drove in all five runs in the 5-0 victory over Chicago. Walker hit his 11th home run and maintained his .291 batting average. He’s hit safely in seven of his past eight games and has quietly driven in 55 runs for the upstart Pirates.
Arizona first baseman Paul Goldschmidt went 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI against the Dodgers, his second straight game with a home run. Though his power numbers haven’t been overwhelming, Goldschmidt does enter the weekend series against the Phillies with 15 home runs, 30 doubles, 53 RBI and a .304 batting average. Put him on your list for 2013.
Matt Harvey absorbed his first major league loss, but he pitched well in six innings against the Giants. Harvey allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits and three walks in six innings. He struck out seven batters in the 4-1 loss. Remember, Harvey struck out 11 batters in his debut against the Diamondbacks.
The enigmatic Tim Lincecum pitched seven innings of one-run ball to defeat Harvey. Lincecum allowed six hits and a walk while striking out seven batters. He’s generated three quality starts in his past four turns, pitching to a 2.70 ERA with 32 strikeouts during this period.
Juan Pierre didn’t record an at-bat against the Nationals, but he swiped two more bases, his second straight two-stolen base effort. Pierre’s quietly batted .312 in 276 at-bats with 25 stolen bases for the disappointing Phillies.
Cincinnati outfielder Ludwick has been tormenting opposing pitchers of late. Ludwick went 3-for-4 with a home run and four RBI against the Padres, his fifth consecutive game with at least one RBI. He’s hit four home runs with 13 RBI during this period and has hit safely in nine of his past 10 starts.
Mike Fiers won his second straight start, taking full advantage of his opportunity against the woeful Astros. Fiers allowed two earned runs on eight hits with six strikeouts in his six innings pitched. He’s allowed just five earned runs in his past seven starts spanning 46 innings. Do the math. That’s a ridiculous, unworldly 0.98 ERA. He’s pitched to a 1.88 season ERA while striking out one batter per inning pitched.
Chris Johnson, now of the Diamondbacks, went 2-for-3 with a solo home run in the 4-0 win to complete the sweep of the Dodgers. It was his fourth home run in six games and sixth multi-hit game in his past nine starts. Johnson’s worth a run on the waiver wire for a second-half power surge.
Do you remember the early-season struggles of Albert Pujols? Look who’s laughing now. Pujols homered twice for the second straight game to raise his season total to 22 in a high-scoring loss to the Rangers. He enters the weekend series in Chicago with a four-game streak of multi-RBI games. Pujols has raised his batting average to .286 with 73 RBI.
Phil Hughes earned his second straight win and 11th of the season. Hughes allowed one earned run on nine hits and two walks in six innings pitched. He’s pitched to a fantastic 2.77 ERA since June 1.
Yu Darvish was roughed up by the Angels, his third terrible start in his past four turns in the Texas rotation. Darvish allowed seven earned runs on four hits and six walks in his five innings pitched with seven strikeouts. He’s pitched to a dismal 7.66 ERA during this four-start stretch, thereby elevating his ERA to 4.38 with an accompanying 1.41 WHIP.
Ernesto Frieri blew his first save in 13 opportunities against the Rangers. He allowed four runs, three earned, on three hits, including two home runs in his inning of work. Frieri has walked 22 batters in 32 1/3 innings, but he’s effectively closed the door for Mike Scoiscia’s squad.
Newly-installed closer Greg Holland saved his first game for the Royals against the Indians. Holland pitched a perfect inning to record the save. His walk rate (23 in 41 2/3 innings overall) is frightening, but the old mantra applies. “A closer is a closer is a closer.”
Mark Trumbo ended a 10-game homerless streak by blasting a solo shot, his 28th of the year, in the 15-9 loss to Texas. Trumbo’s batting .296 with 70 RBI entering this weekend’s showdown with the White Sox.
We cautioned fantasy owners about Ryan Dempster’s introduction to the American League in this week’s podcast. Dempster absolutely imploded in a dismal performance against the potent Angels lineup. He allowed eight earned runs on nine hits, including two home runs, with three walks in his 4 2/3 innings. Dempster’s allowed 15 earned runs in his past three starts spanning 16 2/3 innings pitched.
Josh Hamilton pushed aside all of the off-field rumor, conjecture and speculation, if only for a night, with a 2-for-6 performance against the Angels that included four RBI. Hamilton’s batted just .201 since June 1. He entered that day’s game against the Angels with a ridiculous .368 batting average.
** A total of 76 runs were scored in this four-game series.
Josh Reddick went 2-for-4 with a home run, his 23rd of the season, and two RBI in support of Bartolo Colon. Reddick had gone hitless in 18 at-bats in his previous four games.
Colon pitched another gem for the surprising A’s against the Blue Jays. Colon shut out Toronto over eight innings, allowing seven hits and a walk with three strikeouts. He’s produced four quality starts in his past six turns in the Oakland rotation, pitching to a 2-1 record and 2.14 ERA during this period.
Cole Hamels lost his second straight start, but received absolutely no support against the Nationals. Hamels allowed three earned runs on eight hits and a walk in seven innings with nine strikeouts. He’s pitched to a mediocre 4.18 ERA since June 1.
Washington phenom Bryce Harper went 0-for-4 in a 3-0 win over the Phillies. Harper has produced just four hits in his past 32 at-bats (.125 batting average ) with zero RBI. He’s homered once since June 28.
Johnny Cueto hardly dominated, but he earned his fifth straight win against the Padres. Cueto allowed four earned runs on eight hits, including two home runs, and a walk in his 7 1/3 innings pitched. It was the second straight game in which he’d allowed four earned runs, thereby elevating his ERA to 2.52.
Carlos Santana has been a fantasy bust in 2012, but his bat has seemingly awakened in the past two weeks. Santana homered for the second straight game in a 2-for-5 performance with four RBI against the Royals. He’s hit four home runs in his past seven games, batting .286 with six home runs and 17 RBI since July 1.
Jayson Werth returned to action for the Nationals following a three-month absence because of a wrist injury. Werth went 1-for-3 with an RBI and a walk in his return to the field.