Baseball is back!!! After needing the break for the All Star game earlier in the week, Thursday came and I was hoping there were games scheduled, but that was not to be the case. Let's take a look at what happened on Friday night.
Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun ended the break as the NL leader in home runs and built upon that lead last night, going 4-4 with 2 HRs, 3 runs, 3 RBI and a stolen base. Braun is now hitting .315-.399-.624 with 26 HRs, 59 runs, 64 RBI and 16 stolen bases. So much for those who wondered if he was juicing last season. Or those who thought he would miss Prince Fielder. He is having a better season this year than last, and could be the # 1 pick in 2013 drafts right now. I am not sure who I would want over him.
You never know what you are going to get from Twins starter Francisco Liriano on any given night. He may come out and give up 6 earned runs, walk 5 and strike out 5 in 5 innings of work, and other times he will pitch like he did last night vs the Athletics. Liriano dominated the A's, giving up 4 runs, 3 earned runs, on 4 hits, a walk and 15 strikeouts. Liriano took the loss, and is just 3-8 on the season with a 4.93 ERA and 1.41 WHIP, but he has lowered his ERA from 8.47 to 4.93 since late May, and has given up 1 run or less in half of his last 10 starts.
If you are looking for some cheap stolen bases, take a look at Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano. He went 1-3 last night with 3 stolen bases to raise his season total to 6. He is hitting .388-.459-.741 with 6 HRs, 15 runs and 17 RBI in his 85 at bats this season. He is a 30 year old outfielder who will play a lot now that Giancarlo Stanton is on the DL for the next 6 weeks.
More Roundup after the jump:
Nationals third baseman Ryan Zimmerman ended the first half on a tear at the plate, and that continued last night, as he went 3-4 with a HR and 2 RBI. Zimmerman was one of my top 5 hitters to target in the second half, and he started the second half on the right foot. He is now hitting .250-.314-.401 with 9 HRs, 43 runs and 42 RBI, and he appears to have figured things out at the plate since his early season struggles.
Another guy I included in my Top 5 hitters to target in the second half was Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira, and all he did was go 2-4 with 2 "TEXT messages" and 5 RBI last night. For those of you asking what is a TEXT message, Yankees radio play by play announcer John Sterling has a nickname for home runs hit by every Yankee player. For Teixeira it is TEXT message, for Andrew Jones he says after the HR call "uh uh, Andrew Jones, keeping up with the Joneses." Anyway, Teixeira is now hitting .253-.336-.493 with 17 HRs and 59 RBI. Fantasy owners wish they could have the Teixeira from 2009 or prior, as he was a .290-.300 hitter before becoming a Yankee, but is still a solid producer in the power categories.
The Phillies lost again last night in Colorado, and two guys who fans thought would help them when they returned to the lineup, Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, have struggled since coming off the DL. Utley is hitting just .216-.250-.378 with 2 HRs and 4 RBI, while Howard is hitting .182-.250-.273 in his 3 games played since returning from the DL. I have to think if these two don't get going at the plate by next weekend, the Phillies will be dealing Cole Hamels, Shane Victorino and maybe others. I don't believe the recent news that the Phillies are preparing a big offer for Hamels. I think they said that so their fans won't be upset when they end up dealing Hamels. They can say they gave him a very good offer and he rejected it. Time will tell.
The Rockies called up shortstop prospect Josh Rutledge before Friday night's game, and he responded by going 2-2, with a walk, 2 RBI and a stolen base. All this facing one of the best pitchers in the game, Phillies hurler Cliff Lee. I picked up Rutledge in the UBA NL only keeper league last night to replace my injured Dee Gordon. Rutledge was hitting .306-.338-.508 with 13 HRs, 57 runs, 35 RBI and 14 steals in AA this season, so he has some speed and pop, and should be owned in NL only leagues, and deeper mixed leagues.
Alfonso Soriano has been the subject of recent trade rumors, and he helped his cause last night, going 4-4 with 2 HRs, 2 doubles, 3 runs scored and 5 RBI. For the season, he is hitting .275-.331-.503 with 17 HRs and 53 RBI, and he continues to be a cheap source of power in fantasy drafts. He can certainly help a team like the Rays who are looking for power in the middle of their lineup.
Red Sox starter Franklin Morales has been just what the doctored ordered for the Red Sox rotation over the last few weeks. He shut out the Rays for 5 innings last night, giving up just 2 hits, walking 3 and striking out 5 to earn his 2nd win of the season. He has given up 2 runs or less in 4 of his 5 starts this season, with a 3.16 ERA and a 31-8 strikeout to walk ratio in 26.1 innings pitched.