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Roto Roundup: Francisco Liriano, Justin Verlander and Others

Ray Guilfoyle highlights some of the best, and worst, fantasy performers from Thursday night's action.

J. Meric

The Thursday night slate of MLB games was quite thin, so this Roundup will be short today.

Mat Latos bounces back

Coming into his Thursday night start vs the Marlins, Mat Latos had struggled in his previous two starts, giving up 9 earned runs in 11 innings. He performed like one would expect vs the Marlins, giving up just 2 earned runs on 4 hits, a walk and 4 strikeouts in 8.1 innings. He entered the ninth inning with a one run lead, but proceeded to give up the tying run and did not factor in the decision. He is now 4-0 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and a 51-15 strikeout to walk rate in 58.2 innings. I wrote earlier in the week that he should now enter the fantasy ace conversation, and should be a Top 15 starter going forward.

Darvish vs Verlander

I was asked earlier in the week whether fantasy owners should be worried about Tigers ace Justin Verlander. I responded that he should be fine, as his K rate was actually higher this season than last, despite the drop in velocity. Well, last night he put up an awful pitching line vs the Rangers, lasting just 2.2 innings, giving up 8 runs on 6 hits, 2 walks and just 3 strikeouts. He needed 70 pitches to get 8 outs, and has walked 20 batters in 54 innings thus far, pushing his walk rate up by almost a walk per nine innings. He is now just 4-4 with a 3.17 ERA, 1.30 WHIP and a 60-20 K-BB rate in 54 innings. Not what you would expect from Verlander this season, but then again, it is only one start.

Verlander's counterpart on the mound was Rangers ace Yu Darvish, who lasted 8 innings after a shaky start. Darvish gave up 4 runs on 7 hits, a walk and 6 strikeouts in 8 innings. One concern coming from this start is that Darvish threw a season high 130 pitches. He is now 7-1 with a 2.97 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and an amazing 86-19 strikeout to walk rate in 60.2 innings of work.

Could Darvish strike out 300 this season?

Francisco Liriano: has he turned the corner?

The Pirates activated free agent signee Francisco Liriano last weekend, and he impressed in his first start, going 5.1 innings, giving up one run on 6 hits, 2 walks and striking out 9. After that start, I asked how high is ownership percentage would be on Monday. Well, it sits at 37% in ESPN leagues right now, but that could be the result of another solid start last night from Liriano, this time vs a very good Brewers lineup. Liriano limited the Brewers to one run on 6 hits, 3 walks and 7 strikeouts in the Pirates 7-1 win last night.

Liriano has teased us with solid outings in the past, only to resort to the Liriano that lacks command. One positive is that he pitches in a pitchers park in Pittsburgh, but has he gotten over the command issues? I am not sold after two starts, but he is an intriguing add right now in mixed leagues, NL only leagues and for those of you who like to stream starting pitchers.

More Roundup

Nationals starter Stephen Strasburg finally won a game last night for the first time since Opening Day. He limited the Padres to 2 runs, one earned as a result of another Ryan Zimmerman throwing error, on 3 hits, 3 walks and just 4 strikeouts. He is now 2-5 with a 2.83 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and a 55-18 strikeout to walk rate in 57.2 innings. Strasburg threw 8 innings last night for the first time in his career, throwing a season high 117 pitches in doing so. It was his fifth time throwing 110 pitches or more this season.

Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper returned to the lineup after missing two games after running into the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium on Monday night. Harper showed no ill effect from running into the wall as he hit a home run in four at bats. Harper is now hitting.298-.393-.629 will 11 HRs, 25 runs, 22 RBI, 1 SB and an excellent 24-20 strikeout to walk rate.

Mets second baseman Damiel Murphy might be the hottest hitter of week 7 as he went 4-4 with 2 doubles, 2 runs and an RBI in the Mets 5-2 win over the Cardinals on Thursday afternoon. Since there was talk that he could lose playing time due to his lack of hitting, Murphy has gone 11-20 with 5 doubles, 4 runs and 3 RBI. He has improved his average from .258 to .297 over the past five games.

Yankees starter Andy Pettitte left last night's game with a tight left trapezius, and there is a chance he could miss his next start. Pettitte is starting to show us that he is 40 years old with a few minor injuries this season and fantasy owners should expect at least one DL stint from the former Yankee ace.

Angels first baseman Albert Pujols has struggled to start the 2013 season, mainly due to a plantar fasciitis injury. Pujols homered last night, driving in two runs, but has been a disappointment to fantasy owners thus far. He is hitting .248-.326-.433 with 7 HRs, 20 runs and 25 RBI, so owners are hoping he can repeat his 2012 offensive surge in 2013. He is on pace for 28 HRs and 99 RBI this season, which is good, but not what we have come to expect from him. I have stated before that i think he is in his decline years of his career.

Closer News

Rays closer Fernando Rodney has not been the Rodney from 2012, but for anyone to expect him to repeat that season would be silly. Last night, Rodney entered the ninth inning to preserve a two run lead and proceeded to lose his control, giving up 3 runs on a hit, 4 walks and two strikeouts to blow his third save of the season. He needed 35 pitches to get two outs, and was replaced by Alex Torres. It might be time for Rodney owners to grab Joel Peralta. Could manager Joe Maddon give Peralta the next save opportunity in Tampa?

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