Albert Pujols hits 500th career home run
I am beginning to think that I was totally wrong on Angels first baseman Albert Pujols this season. I ranked him as my 10th ranked fantasy first baseman in our preseason consensus rankings, and right now that appears too low.
Last night, Pujols made history by going 2-5 with two home runs and five RBI in the Angels 7-2 win over the Nationals, including his 500th career home run. He hit his 499th home run in the first inning, a three run shot, and his 500th home run in the fifth inning, a two run shot. Thus far, Pujols is hitting .274-.337-.619 with 8 home runs, 15 runs and 19 RBI in 20 games. His foot injury from 2013 is behind him, and he is showing that he is fully healthy, and capable of being the old Albert Pujols in 2014. Great players like Pujols go through a decline phase, and sometimes have another great year before the decline continues, so maybe this year is one of his last great years.
For more on Pujols and his 500th career home run, check out Halos Heaven, SB Nation's Angels fan site.
Jose Fernandez: Best pitcher in baseball
I made a case for Jose Fernandez being the best starting pitcher in 2014 in the preseason, and he is showing that his second half dominance last season was no fluke. Last night, Fernandez thoroughly dominated the Braves, shutting them out on three hits, no walks and 14 strikeouts in eight innings in the Marlins 1-0 win. He needed 109 pitches to get through eight innings, 77 of which were strikes, with 26 of those coming on swinging strikes. The swinging strikes shows hitters were not catching up to his heat. Then again, the Braves lineup is filled with hitters who strike out a lot.
The win moves his record to 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and a 47-6 strikeout to walk rate in 31.2 innings. That K/BB rate puts him in the Cliff Lee elite level, then again Lee might be on a planet of his own with his K/BB rate. I read yesterday that over Lee's last ten starts, he as a 90-3 strikeout to walk rate, dating back to last season. Otherwordly.
For more on Fernandez's dominating effort last night, check out Fish Stripes, SB Nation's Marlins fan site.
Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer got back on track June, ending the season hitting over .300 but with little power for a fantasy first baseman. After going 4-5 with two doubles, three runs and an RBI, he is hitting .311-.363-.392 with no home runs, 7 runs, 6 RBI and no stolen bases in 19 games thus far. So, Hosmer has yet to hit for much power or steal any bases after three weeks, which is a little disappointing for his owners. Then again, the whole team has struggled to score runs this season, so Hosmer, and his teammates, are due to start scoring runs real soon.
Indians starter Danny Salazar received lots of love from many fantasy writers this offseason, but has failed to meet expectations in the early going of the 2014 season. Salazar was knocked around for his third straight start, giving up five runs, four earned, on seven hits, two walks and six strikeouts in 4.1 innings in the Indians 7-2 loss to the Royals. Salazar has failed to pitch into the fifth inning in three of his four starts this season, and is throwing a lot of pitches, as he has thrown at least 82 pitches in each of his starts, despite pitching into the fifth inning just once in four starts. He is currently 0-3 with a 7.85 ERA, 1.96 WHIP and a 23-10 strikeout to walk rate in 18.1 innings.
Rays starter David Price may not be a Ray for more than the next few months, as he will be one of the more highly sought after starting pitchers come the trade deadline this season. He and Cliff Lee will hear their names in plenty of rumors in June and July. Last night, Price showed he is still an ace, as he limited the Twins to three runs on six hits, one walk and 12 strikeouts in the Rays 7-3 win. Price is now 3-1 with a 4.04 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and an absurd 40-4 strikeout to walk rate in 35.2 innings this season.
Braves young starter Alex Wood was the tough luck loser in the Braves 1-0 loss to Jose Fernandez and the Marlins last night. Wood was dominant as well, as he limited the Marlins to one run on four hits, no walks and 11 strikeouts in eight innings of work. On the season, Wood is 2-3 with a 1.54 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a 35-7 strikeout to walk rate in 35 innings. Wood has been a pleasant surprise this season, but I am curious how long he can pitch like this.
Tiger first baseman Miguel Cabrera has struggled to start the 2014 season, and I wondered when he would break out of his season long slump in a recent Roto Roundup. Well, Miggy responded by going 3-5 with a home run and three RBI last night in the Tigers 8-6 win over the White Sox. Miggy's season numbers are still well below expectations, but this could be the game that begins his hitting streak.
Many in the game questioned what kind of hitter Nelson Cruz would be now that he is off PEDs. If the first three weeks are any indication, he is the same hitter we saw over the last few seasons. Last night, Cruz went 2-5 with a home run and three RBI in the Orioles 9-3 loss to the Blue Jays. Through the first three weeks of the season, Cruz is hitting .290-.372-.522 with 4 home runs, 12 runs and 16 RBI, with manager Buck Showalter hitting him all over the Orioles lineup, including batting him second last night.
Who is Collin McHugh? Well, the Mariners discovered who he was last night, and last night he looked like Nolan Ryan, as he shut out the Mariners for 6.2 innings, giving up just three hits and striking out 12. He needed just 89 pitches to get through 6.2 innings, inducing 17 swinging strikes in the process. He is probably available in all leagues, but I wouldn't rush to my league waiver wire to pick him up just yet. His start last night was the best of his major league career, and I would want to see him start a few more times before adding him.
I wrote about Chris Colabello in Tuesday's Roundup saying he is due to regress. Apparently, that isn't happening any time soon. On Tuesday, Colabello had another good night at the plate, going1-4 with a home run and two RBI in the Twins 7-3 loss to the Rays. The two RBI give Colabello a major league leading 22 on the season.
It appears the Pirates might have the best pitching coach in baseball. His name is Ray Searage, and he turned around the careers of several starting pitchers including Charlie Morton, A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano and his new project Edinson Volquez. Volquez turned in another fine outing last night, limiting the Reds to two runs on five hits, a walk and three strikeouts in the Pirates 4-1 loss to the Reds. Volquez is now 1-1 with a 1.93 ERA, 0.93 WHIP and a 16-5 strikeout to walk rate in 28 innings. He has given up two runs or less in all four of his starts this far, and is still available in 78% of leagues right now. Feel free to grab him off your league waiver wire and reap the rewards.
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