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A Few Notes from the NL

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Looking at a handful of National League players that caught my eye in fantasy baseball (for good or for bad) over the last couple of days.

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I attended Sunday’s Dodgers/Cardinals game, and one of the more interesting things I noticed in occurred in the ninth inning. After being pulled from his last save chance after walking three consecutive batters, Trevor Rosenthal successfully protected a 5-2 lead. However, he walked Adrian Gonzalez, the first batter he faced, meaning he has issued six walks over his last three appearances and at least one in each of his last four. On Sunday, after the walk to Gonzalez, Rosenthal got to a three-ball count on Yasmani Grandal before ultimately getting a strikeout and following it with a game-ending double play. Getting back to the part I thought was worth noting, Mike Matheny had Seung Hwan Oh warming up (Kevin Siegrist had already pitched, FYI) the instant Rosenthal issued the lead-off walk to Gonzalez. I’m not sure what would have happened if he had also lost Grandal, but it’s no secret that Rosenthal has struggled with control issues throughout his career, and if nothing else it appears that Matheny may have had him on a very short leash Sunday.

Over in Arizona, Michael Bourn batted second for the Diamondbacks and started in center field on Monday. I was kind of hoping Bourn would have a couple of early hits, maybe steal a base and score a run or two, and generally look like he was successfully fighting to save his career so that he could make me feel smart for picking him up in one of my NL-only leagues last week. Instead, Bourn started the game 0 for 2. But then things got a little more interesting:  he made a great leaping catch, and then scored on a Jake Lamb home run* after reaching on an error. After that, the D-Backs went a little crazy, and Bourn had a walk, a stolen base, and finally his first hit as a Diamondback in his fifth at bat. If you’re desperate for steals or runs in a super deep league, you never know what could happen if Bourn can find a way to earn significant playing time batting at the top of a productive Arizona lineup.

Speaking of being desperate in a deep league, don’t look now, but Matt Cain has turned in two consecutive quality starts. He is still winless on the season and his overall numbers are atrocious (5.87 ERA, 1.48 WHIP), so he’s not exactly going to look tempting sitting on the waiver wire. Sunday, however, he got a no-decision against the Diamondbacks after allowing just one earned run over seven innings. His previous start against Toronto was even better, despite the fact that he got saddled with a tough loss -- two earned runs on six hits in eight innings, and most importantly no walks against seven strikeouts. I’m not saying I’m terribly optimistic, but I know if he were available in my deepest NL-only league (in which I happen to be in dire need of a capable starter or two) I’d probably take a flier on him.

In Monday’s Marlins/Phillies game, Justin Bour hit his seventh home run. After a slow start (he didn’t hit his second home run until April 29th) that made it look like he wouldn’t come close to his 2015 numbers (23 HR/73 RBI in 409 at bats), he is suddenly on pace for 28 home runs and 85 RBI. His BB% is up over last year (10.3% this year, 7.6% in 2015) and his K% is down (20.7%, vs. 22.6% last year). His average (.265, which is also what ZIPS projects for the rest of the season) isn’t anything to write home about, but also isn’t a huge liability in exchange for the power production. Clearly he’s a must-own in a deep/NL-only league, but it seems like his ownership numbers should be higher across the board (21% Yahoo/28% ESPN/42% CBS).

In the same game, rule 5 pick Tyler Goeddel made his fourth consecutive start in left field and got three hits and an RBI for the Phillies, batting out of the seventh spot. With just one steal on the season, he hasn't displayed any of the speed he did in the minors (28 stolen bases last year for the Rays AA affiliate, the Montgomery Biscuits), but if nothing else, the Phillies finally seem to be ready to give him enough playing time to see if there's any chance he has a future with the team.  Whether or not Goeddel succeeds as a major league baseball player, I'm glad I looked into him a little bit -- I am embarrassed to admit that I had never heard of the Montgomery Biscuits, but am happier as a human being just knowing that a professional baseball team called the Biscuits exists.  With a logo that includes an adorable, googly-eyed cartoon biscuit.  Who has a tongue.  Made of butter.

Meanwhile, in Monday night's Dodger game, Yasiel Puig sat in favor of Trayce Thompson. With the exception of a big game last Friday against the Cardinals, Puig has looked lost at the plate lately. His batting average sits at .234 and his on base percentage is .276. He has always had a habit of swinging at too many pitches, particularly soft stuff down and away, and the opposition has definitely been taking advantage. He’s managed to make adjustments and correct this somewhat in the past, so perhaps the day off will help him get in the right mindset to do so again. His current K% is 20.7%, and both ZIPS (19.8%)and Steamer (20.3%) pretty much predict this will continue for the rest of the season. But his BB% projections are much more optimistic: ZIPS has him at 8.2%, and Steamer 8.8% for the rest of the year – both doubling his current BB% rate of 4.1%.  And while we wait to see if Puig gets it together, don't sleep on Thompson.  I was going to write about how he came in to Monday's game with a .275 average and 11 runs/4 HR/14 RBI in just 69 at bats... and then he hit two more home runs, scored three runs, and added three RBI while I was writing this.

*(Side note: if Jake Lamb is available in your league, or if you own Jake Lamb, I am a little jealous of you. He seems like he keeps getting better and better at playing baseball. Disclaimer: this is just a gut feeling, fueled largely by the fact that I didn’t hold on to him in one of my NL-only keeper leagues and have been regretting it since the beginning of the season. This is not based on any actual statistic, chart or graph. Though I’m thinking some of the numbers will back this up if I can ever stop being sad over dumping him long enough to do some actual research on him...sigh).