Fantasy Notes: Cole, Cool and Collected
Face it. You got a little panicky at the end of May when Cole Hamels put up back-to-back stinkers. Well, he sure has bounced back brilliantly in June. After his seven strong innings Monday against the powerful BoSox, Hamels is now 2-0 through three starts this month, with just 13 hits, four runs and six walks allowed in 24 IP while fanning 22. I’d say he’s back, baby. If he continues to stay healthy this year, Hamels will challenge for the Cy Young.
What’s up with Chase Utley? He’s taken an 0-for-20 in going hitless in his last five games. What a stiff! Actually, believe it or not, he’s batting under .260 since the end of April, but with his 11 dingers and 39 RBI over this stretch, you’re probably not complaining too vociferously.
Jimmy Rollins got off to a crappy start this month, but he’s picked up the pace in the past few games, batting .345 in the last week. Obviously, his DL stint is a big factor here, but J-Roll won’t come close to duplicating the career-high 94 ribbies he put up last year.
Okay, he’s still not performing anywhere near his 2006 MVP pace, or even 2007, but Ryan Howard has definitely continued to dig his way out of an early-season hole. He’s batting .300 in the past week with four dingers and 13 RBI – much more RyHo-like than what we saw earlier this year. Still, it’s going to take a serious run for Howard to avoid the worst season of his career.
Despite Howard’s struggles, the Phils continue to boast the best offense in the NL, pacing the Senior Circuit in both runs and slugging percentage.
The continuation of Pat Burrell’s career year is sure helping in this department. He’s already launched five long bombs in June to go along with a sizzling 1155 OPS.
Shane Victorino, on the other hand, is cooling off after a big May. He’s batting just .250 with two steals this month after swiping 11 bags and maintaining a .322 BA last month.
Carlos Ruiz has been solid behind the plate, but has failed to build on his big rookie season from an offensive standpoint. A .230 BA with just 20 runs and 20 RBI has rendered Ruiz an afterthought in all but the deepest of NL-only leagues. Even though he’s playing less (for now — I’d watch this one), I’d prefer to own back-up catcher Chris Coste.
It might be time to take another gander at crafty old veteran Jamie Moyer, at least in NL-only leagues. He had won five straight decisions until Tuesday, when again he pitched well enough to win (five innings, four hits, two runs), but came away on the short end of the stick. Over his last three starts, the 45-year-old lefty has only given up 11 hits and four runs in 18 1/3 IP. He’s walked nine, which is a concern, but has generally pitched around them thanks to his nice groundball rate. If you need Ws, Moyer can help without killing your ERA or WHIP, so he’s especially attractive in 4×4 leagues.
Another Phillie starter that deserves a second look is Kyle Kendrick. The sophomore struggled out of the gates, but has gotten steadily better as the season has waned. He falls directly into the same category as Moyer – he’ll give you Ws, but no Ks – however, Kendrick has upside potential at his age. Moyer? Uh, I’m pretty sure we’ve seen everything he’s going to throw at us by this point.
Still with the Phils’ rotation, Adam Eaton could be a decent short-term gamble in NL-only leagues. He’s 1-1, 3.26 in June and he’s actually looked quite serviceable his last five times out. Eaton has stayed healthy enough to finally log some innings, and he’s really improved his home run rate. Take a peak; you could do worse.
Brett Myers, unfortunately, has proved to be the weak link in the Phils’ rotation, and he keeps getting dropped as a result. While he looked unhittable in his first start of June (despite some serious control issues), Myers has been bitch-slapped since, which – when you think about it – is actually rather appropriate. Home runs allowed are really hurting him, and the fact that the Phils have surged to first in the East despite Myers’ woes is a real testament to the rest of the staff (and the O, of course). At this point, I’d sit Myers down and hope for better results. You probably can’t dump him. Can you?
It’s time for more kudos to Brad Lidge. We all slammed him (myself included) heading into the season, assuming he’d crumble in the pressure cooker that is Philly. Well, we’re in mid-June and the dude has a 0.90 ERA and is perfect in save chances. ‘Nuff said. Sorry I slagged you, man.
Owners in NL-only leagues that track holds would be wise to pick up J.C. Romero. He’s rhymed off six straight scoreless outings and has – surprisingly – really built on his fine 2007 season.
While we’re at it, how about some love for Chad Durbin? He’s upped his K rate, improved his command and has been lights out. Deep NL-only leaguers take note.
Ryan Madson has improved his control and is whiffing more batters this year, but is not getting any love. Since a sub par April, he’s been lights out, so he’s another reliever worth examining in NL-only leagues.
Time to throw a pity party for the Braves. John Smoltz is toast for the year; who the hell knows when Mike Hampton will pitch (although, he’s teasing us again right now); Tom Glavine is done until the All-Star break; Rafael Soriano has pitched just nine times this year (although he’s almost ready to come back, too); and Mark Kotsay’s back has forced him to the DL as well (but, again, he could be back shortly).