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Kuroda still hasn't allowed a run since coming off the disabled list a few weeks ago, and he remains eminently available in ESPN standard mixed leagues. He is owned in 21.4 percent of leagues, with half those owners adding him in the past week, possibly as a spot starter against the struggling Braves. Hey, why not keep him?
Like many Dodgers pitchers, Kuroda is thriving at home, with a 3-0 record and 2.44 ERA over seven starts, but even on the road Kuroda sports a usable 4.29 ERA, though he hasn't won much. The Dodgers don't score many runs, and Kuroda is one of the least-supported pitchers in baseball, thus his losing record. But he's pretty safe.
Kuroda combined a mid-90s fastball with hard sinkers that the Braves pounded into the ground. He threw a lot of first-pitch strikes, and manager Joe Torre called it a robotic performance, with 15 of the outs coming on ground balls. Kuroda fanned six Braves, all in the first four innings, then relied more on his defense after that. He threw 61 of 91 pitches for strikes, and allowed one baserunner on a Mark Teixeira double in the eighth inning. As legendary announcer Vin Scully said after seven innings, call your friends, something special is happening here. It surely was.
Compare Kuroda's performance with, say, the Mets' Pedro Martinez and you'd be surprised to know which right-hander is owned in more leagues. Martinez allowed only two runs in 5 1/3 innings and fanned a season-high six batters, but he entered the game with a 7.39 ERA. He was also owned in twice as many leagues, probably due to name recognition. Martinez was blessed with an 8-0 lead after three innings, thanks to the hittable kindness of Philly fifth starter Adam Eaton, but still ran up a high pitch count and didn't exactly save the tired Mets bullpen.
Kuroda is technically a major league rookie, but at 33 he's only three years younger than Martinez. That's about the only similarity, however. In three of Kuroda's past four starts, he hasn't allowed a run at all. His season WHIP is 1.20, and while he's had a few ugly outings this season, he seems to be peaking now. If choosing between these two Monday night winners, Kuroda's the one you want.
Ubaldo Jimenez did not come recommended for Monday's start in Milwaukee, mainly because of his strange home/road splits. Jimenez was 0-6 with a 6.96 road ERA heading into the outing in Wisconsin, but he didn't allow any runs in seven innings. Jimenez permitted three singles, though he did walk five. ... Matt Holliday had a big weekend at home against the Marlins, with three home runs and nine RBIs, and did just fine on the road Monday, hitting another home run and knocking in a pair. ... Grant Balfour could be in line for saves over Dan Wheeler after Monday, as Wheeler allowed four runs in the 10th inning to Kansas City, including home runs to John Buck and Mike Aviles. The Royals' Joakim Soria also allowed a pair of home runs, a ninth-inning shot by Carlos Pena to blow the save, and a solo shot to Eric Hinske, but picked up the win. Soria had permitted two home runs all season. ... Scott Baker matched Daisuke Matsuzaka for seven scoreless innings, then the bullpens took over. Baker got a no-decision, striking out seven in seven innings, but picked up his sixth consecutive quality start. Matsuzaka didn't allow a run in 7 1/3 innings, and now has dropped his ERA from 3.46 to 2.84 by giving up one run in his past three starts. ... Jonathan Papelbon bounced back after losing Sunday night's game against the Yankees. He retired all three Twins he faced on nine pitches, eight for strikes. ... Most people probably weren't aware that former Royal Runelvys Hernandez was in a major league rotation, but Monday was his third start for the Astros. It didn't go well. Hernandez was added in 0.6 percent of ESPN standard leagues, the shallow ones, and those owners saw their addition allow 13 hits and four walks, plus 10 runs, in four ugly innings. Yikes. The Pirates had scored eight runs all weekend in Milwaukee. ... Seven of the nine starting hitters in the Pirates lineup had RBIs by the end of the fourth inning. Nate McLouth and Ryan Doumit each homered. ... Damaso Marte picked up his second save of the season, his first since Pirates closer Matt Capps went on the DL. Capps won't be back for two months. ... The Angels' Francisco Rodriguez set the major league mark for saves before the All-Star break, notching his 35th to finish off the Rangers. K-Rod did put two men on base, and had to retire Josh Hamilton, the tying run, to end the game. ... Hamilton knocked in his 85th run, in his 87th game. Amazing. ... Chone Figgins walked and stole a base in the first inning. Figgins hadn't stolen a base in two weeks. ... Dustin Nippert could be in line to join the Rangers rotation at some point soon. In relief of Luis Mendoza, who allowed nine runs and registered four outs, Nippert threw seven innings of one-run ball. ... Texas' Chris Davis hit his fourth home run in 11 games. In that same span, he has two singles and a .206 batting average. ... Florida's Ricky Nolasco scattered five hits over eight strong innings, allowing only a Chase Headley solo home run. Nolasco hasn't lost in more than a month, and over his past five outings, he has 39 strikeouts, nearly eight per start. ... Headley has five home runs in his 19 games with the Padres, but the other stats aren't impressive. He has seven RBIs, total. And he has yet to walk, but he's struck out 22 times. ... Oakland's Wes Bankston has been in the majors a week, and has three multi-hit games and four extra base hits. Bankston homered off Jarrod Washburn, and it appears he will get a long look at first base, as Daric Barton continues to sputter. ... Oakland reliever Brad Ziegler threw two scoreless innings against the Mariners, and hasn't allowed a run in 18 major league innings. It's the longest scoreless streak in Athletics history to begin a career.
Torii Hunter, Angels
With two swings of the bat, Hunter equaled his total June home-run output in one game. His three July home runs also tie his total May production. Hunter is on pace to post some of the worst power numbers of his career despite being typically a first-half hitter.
Adam Eaton, Phillies
Not that Eaton is owned in many leagues, but after Monday night, he has a 5.20 ERA, 1.56 WHIP and 52 strikeouts in 100 1/3 innings. Circle his starts when planning your daily hitter's lineups.
Rockies first baseman Todd Helton, placed on the DL over the weekend with back problems, will receive an epidural Tuesday in hopes of relieving back and leg pain. Helton is expected to return to the Rockies shortly after the All-Star break, but with little power and a .266 batting average, fantasy owners aren't anxiously waiting for him. ... The Twins could be getting right fielder Michael Cuddyer back shortly after the All-Star break, while there remains no timetable for shortstop Adam Everett. Cuddyer has a sprained finger, but is expected to start swinging a bat in a week. Everett has a stress fracture in his shoulder, and has begun taking infield practice at the team's spring training facility in Fort Myers, Fla. ... Remember when Florida lefty Mark Hendrickson was a popular April pickup? He did start the year 4-0 with a 2.56 ERA in April, after all. Since then the former Philadelphia 76ers forward has an ERA over 9. He's bullpen bound now that Josh Johnson is coming off the DL and Chris Volstad was called up over the weekend. ... David Ortiz took batting practice Monday for the first time since going on the DL, and says he should have a more definitive time frame for his return from a sore wrist by the end of the week. ... The Pirates called up corner outfielder Steve Pearce last week, tempting fantasy owners, but he was given only three at-bats, before returning to the minors so Ian Snell could be activated. Look for Pearce to make his mark later this season when an outfield spot opens up. ... Matt LaPorta, the key to the CC Sabathia trade, will report to Double-A Akron and play left field. Those in dynasty leagues might not get major league stats from LaPorta until September, if at all this season.
-- Rob Neyer Full Story
• Jeff Suppan was placed on the DL with right elbow irritation. Suppan has probably been the Brewers' worst starting pitcher, but it appears manager Ned Yost is holding his rotation spot anyway, probably a week after the All-Star break. It would be stunning if Dave Bush, currently No. 21 in baseball in WHIP, lost his spot, so that, with C.C. Sabathia in town, Seth McClung is running out of time. His performance Monday was erratic, as the wild right-hander walked five Rockies in 4 2/3 innings.
• In a move that shouldn't surprise too many people, Jeff Francoeur is back with the Braves, less than a week after being sent to Double-A Mississippi to find his swing. The Braves intended to leave Frenchy in the minors longer, but placing three players on the DL Monday, including utility man Omar Infante, expedited the move. Francoeur went 7-for-13 in three days away from the Braves. He did not play Monday because his flight to Los Angeles did not arrive in time for the game.
• In another move that shouldn't surprise many, the Red Sox have optioned Justin Masterson to Triple-A Pawtucket so he can work as a relief pitcher, and Clay Buchholz will take his spot in the rotation later Friday against the Orioles. This switch was originally rumored to happen this past Saturday, but Masterson pitched well against the Yankees. The Red Sox need set-up help for Jonathan Papelbon, with most members of the bullpen struggling.
•Brett Myers allowed two earned runs over 7 1/3 innings, striking out six and allowing no home runs in his second start for the Iron Pigs. Myers is expected to make at least two more starts in Triple-A. Meanwhile, he faced Homer Bailey, who struck out eight and walked none in six innings, but he allowed four runs and took the loss. Bailey has made 16 starts for Louisville and has a 4.42 ERA.
• Norfolk third baseman Scott Moore, who has all of eight at-bats for the parent Orioles club this season, went 4-for-4 Monday, with a pair of doubles, his seventh home run and four RBIs against Durham. One would think the Orioles will take a look at Moore, the eighth overall pick by the Tigers in 2002, later this season.
• Brandon Inge, on a rehab assignment for Triple-A Toledo as he recovers from an oblique strain, hit a three-run home run off Yankees prospect Jeff Karstens. Inge should be back with the Tigers this week. Ramon Santiago, also on a rehab assignment, went 4-for-4 with two RBIs.