After getting rocked June 12 on the road against the Angels, Gaudin has stringed together three very nice starts. Sunday was his best performance of the year, as he cruised through eight innings against the Rangers in a cool 101 pitches.
If Gaudin can keep up his recent K-rate, he'll definitely be an option in fantasy leagues. His last three starts, he is averaging over nine strikeouts.
Matt Garza - Rays
W, 8 IP, 1 ER, 7 K, 3 H
It has been an up and down season for the Rays' 25-year old hurler. Garza hasn't made it out of the sixth inning in his last three starts, and Tampa Bay's offense hasn't given him much run support.
Maybe this outing will propel Garza going forward. His peripherals so far have been pretty good. His K-rate is way up from last year, and he's held opponents to just a .216 batting average. Expect big things in the second half from Garza.
Aaron Cook - Rockies
W, 7 IP, 1 ER, 4 K, 3 H
It's a bit shocking to think Colorado was in the World Series just two years ago. Now they sit nine games out of first in the NL West behind the Dodgers, but are still five games over .500. Cook is a big reason why.
He'll never be flashy, but when he's on the mound, Cook is always reliable. He doesn't get many strikeouts, but doesn't walk many either.
Nick Blackburn, Minnesota Twins
vs. Pittsburgh Pirates
9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 K, 1 BB, W
While some teams have to go through hell and back during interleague play against their heated rivals, others get a chance to taste life on easy street. But it's up to the players to take advantage of this good fortune and Nick Blackburn didn't miss the opportunity to pad his numbers against the lowly, white flag Pirates.
While Blackburn isn't what you'd call a strikeout specialist, he's become a very dependable second starter for the Twins and hopefully maybe your fourth or fifth. When it comes to the back end of your rotation, having a solid pitcher like Blackburn is a luxury that doesn't come along very often. He'll take the ball every fifth day and you can count on solid, not great, production on a consistent basis.
Adrian Gonzalez, San Diego Padres
vs. Seattle Mariners
4-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB
It's frightening to think of what this Padres team would look like if Gonzalez weren't a part of it. After a very successful 2008 season, Gonzalez hasn't lost a step in 2009 and leads the NL with 23 round trippers and 53 free passes.
He's an absolute fantasy beast and one of those players you'll never even think twice about trading. This is especially true in a dynasty league due to the fact that this slugger is only 27-years-old. In the NBA that might seem ancient, but in MLB, he's only getting started.
Scott Richmond, Toronto Blue Jays
vs. Philadelphia Phillies
8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 11 K, 1 BB, W
Outside of a solo home run by Phillies outfielder Jayson Werth, Richmond was absolutely untouchable last night. He mowed down ten while picking up the win against the leaders of the NL East.
And if you are looking at that stat line and thinking to yourself, 'Is he available in my league?' The answer is probably yes. Richmond is owned in about 16% of ESPN leagues and is a relative unknown commodity.
He went through a bit of a rough patch in May, but he's still sporting a respectable 5-3 record and 3.58 ERA.
Curtis Granderson, Detroit Tigers
vs. Cleveland Indians
3-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB
The Chicago product has returned to top form this season after suffering through injuries only a year ago. Granderson's the spark in the Tigers offense and is a big reason why they've gotten off to such a solid start in 2009.
What's great about Granderson is that he can give you a little bit of everything on a consistent basis. He's got enough speed to swipe a bag at any time, he can go yard from the leadoff spot and drive in enough runs to make him a viable center fielder for any fantasy squad.
Felix Hernandez - Mariners
CG, 2 H, 0 ER, 6 K's
Is Hernandez finally fulfilling his enormous potential, or does yesterday's outing say more about the Padres' offense than Hernandez's development? Judging by his recent pitching lines, it looks like Hernandez has turned the corner.
In three starts in this month, Hernandez has two seven inning, one earned run outings under his belt. Add in what he did yesterday and you get a 2-0 record with a .78 ERA in June.
Hernandez is still walking a few too many (his K-BB ratio is only 2:1 this month), but it looks like he's for real. At 23, he's only getting started.
John Lackey, Los Angeles Angels
vs. San Francisco Giants
7 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 10 K, 0 BB, W
With only two games on the docket yesterday, we were worried that a mediocre performance would have to claim the top pitching spot of the day. But Lackey allayed those fears by fanning 10 in the Angels win against the Giants.
Overall, Lackey has been unimpressive this season and was coming off his worst start of the season in which he gave up eight earned runs in only five innings of work. But the big right hander could be picking up steam for a great second half stretch if the Angels offense can get in, and stay in gear.
Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers
vs. Cleveland Indians
3-5, 1 HR, 4 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to interleague play.
Braun absolutely destroyed Indians pitching yesterday en route to helping the Brewers beat the Tribe in a slug fest, 14-12. Those who were unfamiliar with this 25-year-old left fielder had a tough time justifying a first to second round pick on him. But the proof is in the pudding, or in this case, the sausages and Braun is holding it down as one of the best outfielders in fantasy baseball.
He ranks in the top ten in HR, R, SLG, RBI, OBP and OPS, with a .319 AVG as an added bonus. And there's no reason why Braun should slow down anytime soon.
Cleveland's Cliff Lee drew all the headlines Sunday by taking a no-hitter into the 8th inning against the Cardinals, but Cain may have been even better against the lifeless A's. It shouldn't be a surprise. Lately, Cain has been the pitcher in the National League.
The win was Cain's ninth of the year, which ties him with Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers for the most in the league. Yesterday made it six straight starts that ended with a W next to his name.
To me, it seems like the first third of baseball's season went unusually fast. Maybe it's different for us Chicagoans because we had playoff hockey and basketball to distract us for a while. Don't you wish it could work that way every year? Instead of having thousands of Cubs fans ready to jump off the ledge after a poor Ted Lilly start in May, we got to suspend those baseball anxieties for a little bit longer.
Still, here we are, 1/3 of the way through the MLB season. We thought this would be as good a time as any to throw out some awards and recap the season so far.
Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
vs. Chicago White Sox
9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 9 K, 1 BB, W
After a couple of dark, injury filled seasons in which he couldn't perform to the level we had come to know and expect, Justin Verlander is officially back.
Of course this isn't really news to you my fantasy friends. You already know all about Verlander's sterling 7-2 record and his AL leading 106 K so far this season. Verlander has all the tools necessary to be one of the game's most dominant pitchers and it looks like he's finally back on track to becoming just that.
Alberto Callaspo, Kansas City Royals
vs. Cleveland Indians
4-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI
Callaspo's first career grand slam came last night while leading the Royals to a 9-0 win over AL Central foe Cleveland. He's a relatively unknown player in these parts, with only 207 career games played so far in his four years in the bigs.
He's a more than serviceable contact hitter who is maintaining a .311 AVG and .362 OBP.
Sean West, Florida Marlins
vs. San Francisco Giants
8 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 6 K, 1 BB, W
If it wasn't for an Edgar Renteria single in the eighth, West may very well have ended up with a no-no in only his fourth career start in the bigs. Looking through his first four starts, there's a lot to like about the 22-year-old southpaw out of Texas.
If you've got an extra spot on your bench or an aging veteran hurler who just isn't getting it done, take a shot on West.
Adam Lind, Toronto Blue Jays
vs. Texas Rangers
2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI
The first time Lind appeared in this space was on Opening Day and this is what we had to say about the Blue Jays slugger:
"Is Lind going to finally take advantage of the talent that had many believing he was one of the elite prospects in the game?
If last night was any indication Lind may be primed for a breakout season."
I'm proud to say that it appears as if we actually knew what we were talking about. Lind has already matched a career high with 11 home runs and is cruising right along with a sparkling .313 AVG.
Lind very well may turn into the best waiver wire pickup of 2009 if he can keep up this torrid pace.
It seems like every year baseball fans are ready to anoint the title of "best pitcher in the game" to a new guy. Maybe we should all calm down and try to appreciate how consistently great Harry LeRoy Halladay has been the last few years in Toronto.
Halladay was dazzling last night at home against Kansas City, which has pretty much been par for the course for him this season. He leads the majors in wins with 10 - the next closest guy sits at eight - and is fifth in the AL in ERA.
You have to wonder how long Halladay can continue to pitch at this rate. He's 32 and will hit the 2,000 innings mark later this year. He may not be a great bet for sustained success in keeper leagues, but for right now, there may not be a better pitcher alive than Halladay.
It's not early anymore. With two months in the books, our first ever official fantasy league is starting to take shape. After the jump, we'll take you through the standings, some key moves, and what to expect from here on out.
Jeff Niemann, Tampa Bay Rays
vs. Kansas City Royals
9 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 9 K, 1 BB, W
It's about time we see some life coming out of the Rays rotation. Niemann was straight up dealing last night against the upstart Royals in what could only be considered the best performance of his young career.
But I wouldn't get a spot on my roster ready for this 26-year-old right hander just yet. He's still too inconsistent and can get into trouble when he loses his command of the plate. However, keep an on him just like you would any other prospect.
There are definitely some signs of potential in Niemann and you don't want to be late to the party if this kid starts to heat up.
Brandon Phillips, Cincinnati Reds
vs. St. Louis Cardinals
3-5, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 SB
Brandon Phillips has managed to turn himself into one of the best fantasy second basemen in the game. He's got the speed to swipe a bag at any time and can rake with the best of them at his position.
The Reds are a young team littered with potential future All-Stars in guys like Phillips, Joey Votto, Edison Volquez and Johnny Cueto.
But for now, it's Phillips turn in the spotlight with this stat stuffing performance against the Red Birds.
Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
vs. Los Angeles Angels
9 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 14 K, 1 BB, W
It's a shame that Halladay's talents are wasting away up in the baseball albatross that is the Toronto Blue Jays.
Doc is absolutely filthy and last night he set a career high with 14 strikeouts. He's leading the American League with nine wins and is an early candidate for the Cy Young Award at season's end.
So why doesn't he merit more consideration as the number one overall pick on draft day instead of guys like Tim Lincecum and Johan Santana?
Raul Ibanez, Philadelphia Phillies
vs. Toronto Blue Jays
3-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI
What Ibanez is doing right now for the Phillies is unreal. He's either leading or just behind the leader in almost every single statistical category and hasn't showed any signs of slowing down.
With his two jacks last night, Ibanez is only four off of his home run total for all of 2008. Where this kind of production is coming from is anybody's guess. But keep riding the hot hand and it wouldn't be a terrible idea to consider moving him while the iron is hot.
Joba Chamberlain - Yankees
W, 8 IP, 2 ER, 5 K
The big news - for Yankee fans but especially for fantasy owners (because, really, who cares about Yankee fans?) - is that Joba could be taking the 3:10 train to the bullpen shorty. If he keeps pitching the way he did yesterday though, it won't happen any time soon.
Fantasy owners better hope not. The Yankees desperately need an 8th inning guy - and Joba has had tons of success in that spot in the past - but the role would virtually make Chamberlain worthless in fantasy circles.
Hopefully New York finds a way to fill that void via a trade. Chamberlain is simply too good to waste away in the bullpen.
Jon Lester, Boston Red Sox
vs. Toronto Blue Jays
6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 12 K, 3 BB, W
Apparently all Lester needed was a little kick in the rear from the Fantasy Factor to get it going again. Lester looked dominant against the Jays, picking up 12 of the 18 possible outs during the day's work via the strikeout.
We'd still like to see his ERA and record improve, but yesterday's outing was definitely a step in the right direction.
Kevin Youkilis, Boston Red Sox
vs. Toronto Blue Jays
2-4, 2 HR, 3 R, 2 RBI
Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Boston Red Sox edition of your fantasy wake up call.
Simply put, Youk can flat out rake. He's leading the American League in the categories we crave for our fantasy baseball rosters, OBP (.478), OPS (1.150) and SLG (.672). Add his .366 AVG to the mix (2nd in the AL) and you'll see that Youk is one of the premier fantasy assets in the game.