Matt Olsen: May 2009 Archives

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 29

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Josh Beckett, Boston Red Sox
vs. Minnesota Twins
7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 4 BB, W

It looks like Josh Beckett is starting to turn the corner and head straight back to becoming one the game's elite fantasy pitchers. After back to back starts at the end of April in which he gave up a combined 15 earned runs in only 9.2 innings of work, Beckett has now produced five quality starts with only nine earned runs allowed.

He's as dominant as they come and for those of you who were patient are reaping the benefits. For those of you who scooped him up at the right time from a panicky owner, we congratulate you.

Batting

Luke Scott, Baltimore Orioles
vs. Detroit Tigers
2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI

Who?

Don't feel bad because we barely had this guy on our radar up until a couple weeks ago. But it might be time for you to keep Scott in mind if you're looking for a little extra pop in your lineup.

Despite recently returning from a shoulder injury, Scott has been straight raking in his last five games played going 10-for-16 with four home runs. Not too shabby Mr. Scott.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 28

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels
vs. Chicago White Sox
8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 2 BB, W

Weaver always seems to have the White Sox number and delivered another solid eight inning outing late last night out on the West Coast.

All in all, Weaver is having a very sturdy season to say the least. Sitting with a 4-2 record, Weaver is second in the American League with a 1.03 WHIP and in the top ten in IP, ERA and strikeouts.

He's a solid contributor that would be a welcome addition to any fantasy staff.

Batting

Jay Bruce, Cincinnati Reds
vs. Houston Astros
3-4, 2 HR, 1 3B, 2 R, 4 RBI

Bruce started off his rookie season on a torrid pace, only to fall face first back to earth as the year progressed. Hopefully he's picked up a thing or two after going through such a roller coaster ride and we're tempted to give him the benefit of the doubt.

But we'll hold back for the moment because entering yesterday's game, Bruce was in the midst of a 1-for-17 stretch reminiscent of his struggles in 2008. He remains one of the most promising talents in the game, but we'd really like to see him get rid of the high number of strikeouts that he seems destined for each season.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 27

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Zach Greinke, Kansas City Royals
vs. Detroit Tigers
9 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 0 BB, W

Is there any doubt about who is the best fantasy pitcher in the bigs right now?

Greinke is straight up filthy when he takes the bump and last night was no different. He completely shut down a Tigers lineup that had been showing some signs of life lately and recorded his American League leading fifth complete game.

But he's also leading the AL in the following categories:
Wins: 8
WHIP: 0.88
Innings Pitched: 75
ERA: 0.84
Winning Percentage .889

And with 81 strikeouts on the season, Greinke only trails Justin Verlander by four strikeouts for the AL lead.

Should we just hand him the Cy Young now and get it over with?

Batting

Jayson Nix, Chicago White Sox
vs. Los Angeles Angels
2-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB

Unless you're a diehard Chicago White Sox fan, the chances of you actually knowing who Nix is are pretty slim. And there's just cause for that as this gem of a performance came in only his 37th game in the bigs.

Owned in a whopping 0.2% of ESPN leagues, Nix shouldn't be considered a diamond in the rough kind of waiver wire pickup by any means. The team likes the toughness he brings to the plate, but Nix is much too far from securing a starting role for the organization to be a viable fantasy commodity.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 20

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Joel Pineiro, St. Louis Cardinals
vs. Chicago Cubs
9 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 5 K, 0 BB, W

Despite this gem of a performance against a very good Chicago Cubs team, we'd advise to you resist the urge to pick up Pineiro for your fantasy rotation.

The Cubs simply couldn't figure Pineiro out last night. That's going to happen from time to time, especially when a good hitting team goes up against a guy with the caliber of control (7 BB in 54 IP) Pineiro possesses.

But leave Pineiro on the wire for now. He's not a fantasy pitcher by any stretch of the imagination. That doesn't mean he's not a solid major league starter, but the standards in which the GM's of MLB go by differ greatly from those of us fantasy freaks.

Batting

Matt Holliday, Oakland A's
vs. Oakland Athletics
2-4, 1 HR, 1 R, 3 RBI, 1 BB

We've been giving Holliday a beating this season and rightfully so. His big move out to the Bay Area has been nothing short of a disappointment thus far and fantasy owners are none too happy about it.

But Holliday is finally starting to show some signs of life, raising his average from a paltry .237 to .268 in the last week. We're still waiting for those MVP caliber numbers to come, but for now we'll settle for anything better than what he'd done the first couple months of the season.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 19

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Scott Richmond, Toronto Blue Jays
vs. Chicago White Sox
7 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 7 K, 1 BB, W

New rule: Start anyone you have against the Chicago White Sox. I don't care if the guy selling peanuts in the upper deck gets the start, put him in your lineup and don't look back.

Richmond was just the latest to pick apart the helpless White Sox, finishing off a four game sweep of the South Siders. Overall we'd have to say that Richmond is somewhat of an intriguing prospect, owned in a miniscule 27% of ESPN leagues at the moment.

He's shown some flashes of fantasy potential, but remains a question mark due to his overall lack of experience. In deeper leagues you could snag a Scott Richmond and trot him out there every fifth day without too much consequence.

Batting

Jason Bartlett, Tampa Bay Rays
vs. Oakland Athletics
3-3, 0 HR, 3 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB

Shortstop is one of the most crucial positions to fill in fantasy baseball. Snag one of the premier players at the position and you'll never have to worry about it for the rest of the year.

Try to get cute and go with a prospect and you'll end up spending the rest of the season trying to find a competent replacement.

But with a guy like Bartlett, you're getting the best of both worlds. He's been swinging a hot bat from day one and his numbers are of the All-Star caliber at this point in the young season.

AVG: .384 OBP: .423 HR: 5 RBI: 22 SB: 11

With Bartlett you're getting a little bit of everything and he's certainly one of the nice surprises in 2009.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 14

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Cliff Lee, Cleveland Indians
vs. Chicago White Sox
7 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 9 K, 1 BB, W

You can't win games without run support and Cliff Lee is a perfect example of that. Last year's American League Cy Young Award winner is sporting a disappointing 2-5 record in 2009, validating some of those who claimed he was simply a flash in the pan.

But looking closer at the numbers reveals something more. Namely that Cliff Lee isn't Superman and can't do it on his own. After two rough outings to begin the season in which he gave up a combined 11 earned runs, Lee has been outstanding over the last six giving up a total of 6 earned runs.

In the four losses that he accrued in that time span, Lee got a grand total of two runs in support from his teammates on the Tribe. That's Johan Santana-esque run support and can drive a pitcher insane.

As long as Lee keeps doing what he's doing, the Indians should come around in time to drive that win total up.

Batting

Chris Iannetta, Colorado Rockies
vs. Houston Astros
3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 1 BB

After a sluggish start to his 2009 campaign, Iannetta is slowly but surely working his way back to being one of the more productive fantasy catchers in the game. But what worries me is seeing that Iannetta only has 16 RBI to go along with his respectable 7 HR this season.

That's not entirely Iannetta's fault because it's the responsibility of those in front of him to get on base. If that doesn't happen, Iannetta may become the king of the solo shot and fall short of matching last year's 65 RBI.

Hitting in Coors Field can help anyone's numbers improve dramatically and Iannetta is no different. I feel like a broken record in saying that catchers can make or break seasons and Iannetta is of the championship caliber you are looking for.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 13

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Roy Halladay, Toronto Blue Jays
vs. New York Yankees
CG, 5 H, 1 ER, 5 K, 0 BB, W

If Halladay was pitching for the team he dominated last night hailing from the Bronx, I think it's safe to say that he would be a household name by now. He'd have at least one weekly SportsCenter segment dedicated to him a month and his starts would lead off every highlight show.

But he's stuck up in Canada, playing for the best team in baseball.

Halladay is as consistent as a starter you're going to find in MLB and in fantasy that's solid gold. You never have to worry about matchups and can rest easy just plugging him in as a SP every week. He's the first to win seven games this season and is third in the AL in K (49) and WHIP (1.03).

Keep on dealing Doc.

Batting

Jim Thome, Chicago White Sox
vs. Cleveland Indians
2-3, 2 HR, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 BB

It's nice to see a player that has never been tied to performance enhancing drugs isn't it?

Big Jim Thome can still pound a baseball and his first home run of the day was to the deepest part of Jacobs Field 409 ft away. Whether it's the crowd or the atmosphere, players tend to step their game up while playing against a former team. And in Thome's case, Cleveland was the place where his career took off and where he became one of MLB's most decorated sluggers.

Thome is owned in 80% of ESPN leagues, meaning there's a chance he could be available in yours.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 11

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Brett Cecil, Toronto Blue Jays
vs. Oakland A's
8 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 6 K, 2 BB, W

If you had no clue who Brett Cecil was, join the club.

For the 3% of you who owned him in ESPN fantasy leagues, color us impressed by your fantasy acumen. Don't look know, but this little known lefty out of Dunkirk, Maryland has made two solid starts for the Jays and may have earned himself a spot in the rotation.

It's tough to predict Cecil's value long term because as he piles up the starts, opposing scouts will be able to collect a video library of his tendencies and break him down. This is just another classic example of the ebb and flow of baseball at its best.

If you've got a roster spot open and you can afford to give an unproven rookie a chance, Cecil isn't a bad pickup. He'll be on your waiver wire (ESPN doesn't even have a picture for his profile) and if he continues to run roughshod over the American League, you'll get at least a week's worth of bragging rights to your league counterparts.

Is it worth it?

Batting

Adam Dunn, Washington Nationals
vs. Arizona Diamondbacks
3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 3 RBI

Dunn is one of the most predictable players in baseball which also translates into him being one of its most consistent. With Dunn you can always expect high numbers in home runs, RBI and strikeouts.

But that's just fine with us fantasy folks who love the big Texan. We can compensate for the high strikeout totals with other players on our roster and his shoddy defense doesn't affect us in the least.

Dunn just continues to drop bombs on opposing teams, making him one of the most valuable OF/DH players in fantasy.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 8

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels
vs. Toronto Blue Jays
9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 0 BB, W

Is Weaver one of the most underrated fantasy pitchers in the game right now? Take last night for example.

He shuts down the Blue Jays, the most productive offense in the bigs and yet is still owned in only 90.5% of ESPN leagues. Granted, many of the leagues that are set up amongst strangers that don't have to pay anything to join have about as much activity as the housing market. But, the question remains, what part of a 3-1 pitcher with a 0.98 WHIP don't you want anything of?

Weaver will have his rocky moments as most pitchers do. But there's too many good moments to spoil your opinion of him.

Batting

Bengie Molina, San Francisco Giants
vs. Colorado Rockies
3-5, 2 HR, 2 R, 4 RBI

How can you not love the Molina clan? Which is your favorite?

I'm going to roll with Bengie, the mauler out in the Bay area. We all know that finding a catcher that can produce at the plate is crucial in building a successful fantasy squad. And while most will target the big boys like Geovany Soto (garbage right now) and Joe Mauer, picking up a guy like Molina on the cheap may be a better option.

You won't have to waste a high pick on a catcher and could end up with a guy like Molina and his seven round trippers and 27 RBI in the early goings of the season.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 7

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Johan Santan, New York Mets
vs. Philadelphia Phillies
7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 10 K, 3 BB, W

The best fantasy and real life pitcher in baseball was up to his old tricks again last night and even picked up a rare win. His team is constantly trying to find new ways to screw up every Santana start, much to the detriment of the fantasy world.

You're looking at a guy who's sporting a 4-1 record, and matching WHIP and ERA at a miniscule 0.91.

Not bad for a pitcher that this fantasy writer had labeled as second behind Tim Lincecum of the Giants. Again, it's a long season and things could ultimately swing in the youngster's favor.

But for now, the old dog is doing tricks kids could only dream of.

Batting

Jorge Cantu, Florida Marlins
vs. Atlanta Braves
3-4, 1 HR, 2 R, 5 RBI, 2 2B

Everyday I feel like there's another Marlin popping up in one of these spots. Cantu is straight raking in the early going of 2009. He's already smashed eight round trippers, driven in 30 RBI and was awarded the NL Player of the Week award last week.

Cantu is quietly turning into one of the most consistent first baseman in fantasy after almost falling out of baseball in 2007. It's a great story and the team who was smart enough to snag him on draft day is also enjoying beautiful numbers in SLG (.685) and OPS (1.085).


More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 6

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Edison Volquez, Cincinnati Reds
vs. Florida Marlins
8 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 7 K, 4 BB, W

It takes a real man to admit a mistake and I'm on the cusp of admitting that I may have been wrong about Edison Volquez this season. I argued that due to the ridiculous amount of innings he pitched in his first full season in the bigs (196), 2009 would be shaky for the 25-year-old right hander.

While I'm still not giving up on the idea that Volquez may be prone to breaking down later in the season, you can't argue with his production thus far. With a very solid 4-2 record, Volquez has struck out at least six batters in four out of those six starts. But again, be wary of the fact that he's averaging 103.3 pitches per game in 2009.

That kind of wear and tear can be handled by only a handful of major league hurlers, let alone a kid who's in only his second year as a starter.

I wish him luck, and I'll be the first to admit I'm wrong about Volquez, but don't say I didn't warn you.

Batting

Shane Victorino, Philadelphia Phillies
vs. St. Louis Cardinals
4-5, 1 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 1 2B

Who doesn't love them some Flyin' Hawaiian?

Victorino is the spark that makes the Phillies go and in last night's slug fest against the red hot Cardinals, he delivered. What's nice about Victorino is that he gives you a little bit of everything at a very reasonable price.

If he could only raise his OBP, we could be looking at a fantasy monster capable of hitting 15 HR and swiping 40 bags. That kind of player is a rarity in the modern era of baseball and Victorino's stock would soar if he could reach that level.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 5

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Zach Greinke, Kansas City Royals
vs. Chicago White Sox
9 IP, 6 H, 10 K, 0 ER, 0 BB, W

Come on, who else would it be?

In an effort to save everyone time, why don't we all just agree to place Greinke in this spot every night when he's on the bump. This kid is absolutely filthy right now, mixing his pitches like nobody else in baseball. He owns the inside of the plate and isn't afraid to throw a little chin music to let the hitters know just that.

Once he establishes the inside position, you can forget about generating any kind of offense. The outside corner becomes the death zone once that breaking ball heads in your direction.

He's the best fantasy pitcher in baseball, sporting an unthinkable 0.40 ERA and a 6-0 record.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 4

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers
vs. Cleveland Indians
7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 11 K, 1 BB

That makes two consecutive outings in which Verlander appears to once again becoming a legitimate fantasy starter. Going seven and fanning eleven will make anyone stop and take notice, but even more so with a guy who was once considered one of the best young arms in baseball.

Earlier in the season Verlander continued to struggle, though his strikeout totals have been consistent throughout. His K:BB ratio of 45:12 thus far serves as a reminder of the talent Verlander brings to the table.

He'll have another shot at the Indians this Friday and I'd certainly take my chances with him on the bump.

Batting

Carl Crawford, Tampa Bay Rays
vs. Boston Red Sox
3-5, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 6 SB

Crawford set a modern day record while swiping six bags against the division rival Red Sox on Sunday.

He's already got 17 stolen bases on the young season and fantasy owners everywhere are rejoicing at this kind of production. Crawford is a rare mix of speed and power, capable of lacing a double, stealing third and scoring on the very next play. This is the kind of outfielder you should be targeting in the draft early on because the sluggish, power hitter a la Adam Dunn can be had for a dime a dozen.

More to come after the jump...

MLB Fantasy Wake Up Call - May 1

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Players of the Night

Pitching

Matt Garza, Tampa Bay Rays
vs. Boston Red Sox
7 2/3 IP, 1 H, 10 K, 0 ER, 1 BB

Is Garza slowly turning himself into one of the most dominant pitchers in the American League?

With performances like this one, it's going to be hard to argue otherwise. Garza's record (2-2) and ERA (3.82) aren't going to make you stop and stare. But looking at his WHIP of 1.06 and the 34 K he's collected in five starts will make you pay serious attention to this California kid.

He'll take the mound next on Tuesday against the Baltimore Orioles, a team that's been sneaking up on some people this season. Don't hesitate to use Garza though, he'll do damage just like you need him to.

Batting

Evan Longoria, Tampa Bay Rays
vs. Boston Red Sox
3-5, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 3 R, 1 2B

Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the Tampa Bay Rays fantasy wake up call.

Let's cut right to the chase: Evan Longoria is a flat out, fantasy beast. He never looks confused at the plate and possesses that 'Oh s...' factor that makes fans of opposing teams squeamish when he's got a bat in his hands.

This man should never be removed from your lineup, no matter how you try to over think your weekly matchups. He's too good to be counted out against any hurler.

More to come after the jump...

About the bloggers

Matt Wood is a web editor for suntimes.com and editor of CenterstageChicago.com. He is also a contributor for satirical sports publication The Heckler. Have a fantasy question? E-mail him.

About this Archive

This page is a archive of recent entries written by Matt Olsen in May 2009.

Matt Olsen: April 2009 is the previous archive.

Matt Olsen: June 2009 is the next archive.

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