Yesterday afternoon we heard that Carlos Quentin had dropped his appeal of his 8 game suspension, so he will not be in the Padres lineup when the team travels to Los Angeles tonight. When I learned of this, my first reaction was "will the Dodgers retaliate by hitting Chase Headley?" Headley is scheduled to return from the DL on Tuesday. I doubt that they will, as I am sure the umpires will give a warning before tonight's game that they will immediately eject any pitcher who hits a batter, intentional or unintentional. With that said, there might be some rough slides into second and third base in this series.
Clay Buchholz: John Farrell making a difference in Boston
Last season, the Red Sox pitching staff had the 12th worst team ERA (4.70) in the American League. This season, the team is second in the AL with a 3.03 team ERA, and I think some of the improvement has to be due to John Farrell. Farrell was the Red Sox pitching coach before leaving to manage the Blue Jays.
Yesterday, Clay Buchholz showed us that he might be in the midst of a breakout, as he flirted with a no-hitter for 7 innings.i He ended up giving up just 2 hits, walking 4 and striking out a career high 11 batters. He is now 3-0 with a microscopic 0.41 ERA, a 0.95 WHIP and a 23 strikeouts in 22 innings pitched. He won't finish the season with a 0.41 ERA, but he is pitching great this season, so a low 3s ERA would not surprise me.
Jake Peavy: As dominant as ever
Jake Peavy was once one of the best starting pitchers in the game, then injuries relegated him to just an ok starter, but he is now a very good starter who can show flashes of his former dominant self at times. One of those times was on Sunday. He held the Indians to just one run in 7 innings of work, giving up 5 hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts. He is now 2-1 with a 3.93 ERA, 3.42 FIP and a 2.21 xFIP. His 11.79 K/9 ranks him 6th in all of baseball among qualified starters, behind usual suspects Max Scherzer, Yu Darvish, Jeff Samardzija, and a few surprises in Ryan Dempster and A.J. Burnett.
Is Roy Halladay back?
It is no secret that Phillies starter Roy Halladay has struggled this season, so his owners had focused interest in how he would fare vs the Giancarlo Stanton-less Marlins. You see, the Marlins are the worst hitting team in baseball, with a .206 team average and an amazing 19 runs scored in 11 games thus far. Well, Halladay did not disappoint. He held the Marlins to just one run on 5 hits, a walk and 2 strikeouts in 8 innings of work. He needed only 87 pitches to get through 8 innings, so he was very efficient. Old Halladay actually. Or was he? The 2 strikeouts are concerning for me, as is the 5 swinging strikes. The question for fantasy owners going forward will be whether he has turned the corner or not. Was this start Halladay returning to his old self? Or was it Halladay facing a terrible Marlins lineup? We will know by next Friday when he will face the loaded Cardinals lineup in Philadelphia.
Johnny Cueto: placed on the 15 day DL
Reds starter Johnny Cueto was placed on the 15 day DL on Sunday with a right lat strain. Here is injury expert Will Carroll via his twitter account on how much time we should expect Cueto to miss with this injury:
Average time lost for a lat strain over last few seasons is 60 days. Bad news for Cueto unless very minor strain. Thx @dwade.— Will Carroll (@injuryexpert) April 14, 2013
So, if this injury is not a minor strain, Cueto owners are looking at him missing up to two months. Ouch. I own Cueto and Zack Greinke in one of my leagues.
Here is what else I saw on Sunday:
Braves starter Paul Maholm is turning into an ace. Maholm tossed 7.2 shutout innings yesterday, holding the excellent Nationals lineup to 4 hits, a walk and 7 strikeouts in the Braves 9-0 win to sweep the weekend series. Maholm is now 3-0 with a 0.00 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP. That is no typo. Maholm has yet to give up a run this season.
Braves first baseman Chris Johnson had a big day at the plate, going 4-5 with a run scored and 2 RBI, raising his season average to .405-.436-.514 with a HR and 4 RBI. He has multiple hits in four of the last six games.
Reds set up man Jonathan Broxton had a day to forget on Sunday. He entered the game with the Reds up 6-3, and proceeded to give up 6 runs on 3 hits and 3 walks, including home runs to Michael McKenry and Starling Marte. The Reds look smart for giving Aroldis Chapman the closer job again, but look stupid for signing Broxton to a 3 year deal.
One Pirate who didn't participate in the team's comeback, a comeback which saw them score 10 runs in the last two innings, was third baseman Pedro Alvarez. Alvarez went 0-3 with 2 walks and a run scored, but is hitting just .079-.186-.079 with one HR, 3 runs and 5 RBI in his 12 games played this season. He has struck out 15 times in 38 at bats, which means he is whiffing in about 35% of his at bats. One positive, if there is a positive, in his 2013 season is that Alvarez has always been a slow starter, so he should start making more contact real soon. The question is will the Pirates allow him to work out his struggles in the big leagues or not.
Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp had offseason shoulder surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff. He vowed to be ready for the start of the regular season, and he was. Fantasy owners are wondering if maybe he should have started the season on the DL, as Kemp looks like half the hitter he was last season. Kemp went 0-4 with 3 strikeouts yesterday, and is now hitting just .176-.220-.239 with no homers, no stolen bases, 4 runs and 4 RBI. He has struck out 14 times in his 46 at bats, while walking just 3 times. I have watched him a lot this season, and his bat looks slower than in past seasons, and is behind on average fastball velocity. Owners hope his shoulder gets healthy soon and he returns to the player we expected when he was drafted in the top 5 or 6 in mixed league drafts this season.
Speaking of struggling hitters, Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista has struggled in the nine games he has played this season. Sure, he has three home runs and six RBI, but he is hitting just .200-.282-.486, and has walked just 4 times in 35 at bats thus far. Bautista was one of the hitters I recommended avoiding this season, so we will see if his slow start will make me look prophetic or not.
The back end of the Cardinals bullpen is hoping that Jason Motte will be healthy enough to return from the DL and resume closing this season, especially after another blown save from Mitchell Boggs yesterday. Boggs came in to preserve a one run lead in the 9th inning, but gave up a run on two hits to blow his second save in the last week. Set up man Trevor Rosenthal has struggled just as much, as he gave up two runs on two hits, including a home run to Ryan Braun in the 8th inning.
Mariners closer Tom Wilhelmsen pitched scoreless 9th inning for his 5th save of the season on Sunday. Wilhelmsen has one of the better fastballs in the game, but currently owns a below average 2-4 strikeout to walk ratio in his 5 innings of work.
Red Sox closer Joel Hanrahan has struggled in his last two appearances, including being pulled after walking the first two hitters he faced on Saturday night. He apparently has a right hamstring injury, and will rest for the next few days. Pick up Andrew Bailey if he is available in your AL-only or mixed leagues, as he has pitched better than Hanrahan this season.