Steve Mitchell/US Presswire
Ask yourself this: Which is better, a Hall of Fame résumé absent a no-hitter, or a no-hitter and a checkered career? Fantasy owners with short memories might have only cared if Clayton Kershaw had completed a no-hitter on Sunday; I can assure those owners that they're almost assuredly better off that he didn't.
Kershaw's performance was a sight to behold; he flashed a curveball that had manager Joe Torre comparing him to Sandy Koufax, stunned Marlins hitters with called third strikes on four occasions and even mixed in a dozen changeups, a season high. He tossed seven innings of no-hit baseball, before losing the bid on a double by Cody Ross, on a high-and-outside fastball, to begin the eighth.
The problem: Thanks to nine strikeouts, four walks and several other deep counts, it took Kershaw 108 pitches to complete his seven no-hit innings. Torre admitted afterward he hadn't decided the precise point at which he'd remove the sophomore left-hander; he didn't have to worry about it after Ross ruined Kershaw's chance at history.
Kershaw finished with a career-high 112 pitches, only the seventh time in his 29 starts that he even made it into the triple digits. For his career, he has averaged 91.0 pitches per start, a product of the Dodgers attempting to preserve his 21-year-old arm. It's probably a smart approach by them, but at the same time it makes 110-pitch-or-more outings higher-risk affairs. For that reason, it's probably better for Kershaw's full-season prospects that he got the hook when he did, rather than throw 130-plus pitches and a full nine frames.
Don't be shocked if the well-preserved Kershaw takes a small step backward in performance as a result of the hefty workload in his next turn, either Friday or Saturday against the Angels. With four consecutive strong outings and six in eight starts for the season, though, he's quietly turning into one of this year's better breakout candidates. This was an especially encouraging performance in that it came on the road: He entered the day with a 2-6 record, 6.45 ERA and 1.75 WHIP in 15 career road games (14 starts).
Good thing he still has (mostly) a full tank of gas for the trip ahead!
• David Huff's major league debut wasn't a memorable one, as he was the one tattooed by the Rays for all seven of their runs and seven of their eight hits. He was uncharacteristically wild, walking four and throwing 53 of 97 pitches (54.6 percent) for strikes, perhaps a product of rookie jitters. Huff might get another chance this weekend in Cincinnati, but in no way is he trustworthy in fantasy leagues right now, especially not in that ballpark.
• Speaking of struggling youngsters, Luke Hochevar's second start of 2009 wasn't much more impressive than his first; he lasted 3 1/3 innings and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits and three walks. Not that the Royals are loaded with alternatives, but Hochevar might not be far off a return assignment to Triple-A.
• The month of May has not been kind to Armando Galarraga, and he endured his worst performance yet in the month, recording only two outs and allowing five runs on four hits to, of all teams, Oakland, ranked dead last in team OPS (.656). More disturbing: He walked three batters and threw just 23 of 41 pitches for strikes (56.1 percent). Galarraga is now 0-4 with a 10.90 ERA and 2.08 WHIP in four May starts, after going 3-0 with a 1.85 ERA and 1.23 WHIP in four April starts. The good news: He had a 4.55 ERA in May 2008, but an ERA of a run or more better in April, June, July and August, so maybe it's just a "May" thing. The bad: Galarraga's struggles could portend hidden injury issues, which wouldn't be surprising for a pitcher who set a career high in innings pitched in 2008 (190 2/3) and experienced a 29 2/3-inning bump in the category from the year before. When Jeremy Bonderman returns from the DL sometime in the next couple of weeks, it might be Galarraga, not Dontrelle Willis, who exits the Detroit rotation.
• After allowing at least one run in six consecutive appearances, Brad Lidge has notched saves in back-to-back games in which he wasn't scored upon. He needed only two pitches on Sunday to induce a game-ending double-play grounder from Josh Willingham, after tossing one inning of one-hit, one-strikeout baseball during Saturday's doubleheader. It's progress for Lidge, whose recent struggles might have been related to a knee injury that has been plaguing him. He's worth slotting back into fantasy lineups, but before declaring Lidge back to top-10 closer status, it'd be nice to see him be able to complete a shutout frame against a more threatening team than the Nationals.
• Though overshadowed by a 10-run, seventh-inning meltdown by his bullpen, Ubaldo Jimenez offered the Rockies an effort worthy of a win. He went six innings of one-run, five-hit baseball, striking out seven Pirates, giving him a 2.00 ERA and 1.00 WHIP in four May starts. Most impressive: Jimenez has allowed but six free passes in 28 innings, and thrown 61.4 percent of his pitches in that time for strikes. He's one of the hotter pitchers in the game, but it's days like this that help keep him beneath the radar.
• Darren O'Day converted a four-out save, the first of his major league career, but don't be too hasty to add him at the expense of a meaningful player. The submariner got the call by the Rangers most likely because C.J. Wilson, the prime candidate for saves in Frank Francisco's absence, had worked on each of the previous two days. But that means O'Day might be No. 2 in the pecking order, so keep an eye on him in deeper formats.
• Injury alert: Rickie Weeks will travel to Phoenix on Monday to see a hand specialist after leaving Sunday's game with soreness in his left wrist, according to the Brewers' official Web site. That's a troubling bit of news for Weeks owners, as the second baseman has twice had surgery on his hands, once in 2005 to repair a tendon at the base of his left thumb and once in 2006 for a right wrist injury. He was also intentionally vague when asked if the injury was related. "It's the left wrist, and that's all I want to say right now," said Weeks. "I'm going to get it checked out. I can talk to you all some other time." If the Brewers are stuck without Weeks for an extended period, they might have to either use Craig Counsell regularly at second base, or insert Mat Gamel at third base and shift Bill Hall to second base, a strategy that would vastly weaken their infield defense.
Nate McLouth, Pirates
For the second consecutive day, McLouth hit a home run, and he went 3-for-5 with four RBIs in the Pirates' comeback victory against the Rockies. That brings his season totals to seven homers and 28 RBIs in 31 games, and to put those numbers into perspective, he had seven homers and 25 RBIs through his first 31 contests in 2008. The only difference: McLouth was batting .323 at this point last year, compared with .294 today.
Jake Peavy, Padres
Peavy's complete-game effort couldn't have come at a better time; it bailed out a worn-out bullpen that was forced to work 10 1/3 innings and throw 149 pitches the night before. He struck out eight Reds and didn't allow a walk, and extended his streak to four consecutive quality starts, during which time he has a 1.80 ERA and 0.73 WHIP.
Johnny Damon hit his 10th home run of the season on Sunday in the Yankees' 37th game (and his 35th). It's the quickest in any of his 15 big league seasons he has gotten to double digits; his previous best came in 2006, when he did it on June 17, in the Yankees' 66th game (and his 64th). Damon is on pace for 46 home runs, almost double his previous career high (24 in 2006), and considering he's batting .365 with seven homers and 1.130 OPS in new Yankee Stadium in what is a contract year for him, he has an extremely realistic shot at his first 30-homer campaign.
• The Nationals, in need of a spot starter on Monday due to this past Saturday's doubleheader, promoted left-hander Ross Detwiler from Double-A Harrisburg for the assignment. He got the call mostly thanks to his status on the team's 40-man roster; he was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA and 1.41 WHIP in six starts for Harrisburg, not exactly call-up-worthy stats (especially not two levels). Scott Olsen was placed on the 15-day disabled list with shoulder tendinitis, guaranteeing at least two or three starts for Detwiler, not that fantasy owners should be jumping to sign him.
• Here's a name familiar to fantasy owners: Tom Gorzelanny, promoted from Triple-A Indianapolis by the Pirates after they placed Tyler Yates on the 15-day DL with right elbow inflammation. Gorzelanny will provide bullpen help for now, and isn't a worthy fantasy addition. Even if he eventually shifts to the rotation, he has plenty to prove, having registered an underwhelming 4.02 ERA and 1.39 WHIP in seven minor league starts.
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Jayson Stark: I think Peavy and Holliday look like the best bets to me right now. The Padres have won four of their last 29 games (entering the weekend). They have a $43M payroll. And Peavy will make $15M next year. You can read more about this in this week's Rumblings column. And the A's don't look like they're going to contend. So unless they have a big turnaround in the next 4-6 weeks, I'm sure you'll see Billy Beane move aggressively to trade Holliday. Cliff Lee is a tougher call because the Indians hold an option on him for next year. So he's not quite a parallel to CC Sabathia last year.
-- Full chat transcript
Stephania Bell: Nice observation. The team certainly isn't drawing a connection but it doesn't mean there isn't one. You know his outing before this last one he still had a lot of strikeouts and the team played poorly defensively so you couldn't hang it all on him. This outing was worse. Makes me want to watch from a distance for a bit to see what transpires..
-- Full chat transcript
Monday's fantasy chat schedule:
Christopher Harris, 11 a.m. ET
Matthew Berry, 3 p.m. ET
• Speaking of near no-hitters, David Price tossed five no-hit innings for Triple-A Durham before being pulled from his outing. He struck out nine batters and walked two, but due to his strict pitch count (in this case 82), wasn't allowed to continue in the game. That makes back-to-back strong outings for Price, 1-4 with a 3.93 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 34 1/3 innings, though he has yet to pitch more than five innings in any of his eight starts. The Rays are clearly preserving the youngster's arm, perhaps to save most of his innings for once he's promoted later in the year, but one has to wonder when his pitch count might rise, the most obvious hint that that promotion is coming.
• Michael Bowden, whom you might remember as "the guy who threw two shutout innings of relief against the Yankees in his big league debut on 'Sunday Night Baseball,'" threw eight scoreless frames for Triple-A Pawtucket, for his fourth consecutive quality start since being returned to the minor leagues. He has a 0.86 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in seven starts for Pawtucket, and is holding opposing batters to a .136 average. There's little doubt Bowden, like Daniel Bard before him, could help the Red Sox (and AL-only owners) out of the bullpen right now. But he might even be behind in the pecking order as a starter to Clay Buchholz, 2-0 with a 1.03 ERA and 0.74 WHIP in six starts for Pawtucket.
• John Lackey, ejected after throwing only two pitches in his 2009 debut on Saturday, will make his next start on Monday, according to the Los Angeles Times. It's a much better matchup for him; he has a 2.79 ERA in 13 career starts at Seattle's Safeco Field, as opposed to a 6.12 ERA in 15 career turns at Rangers Ballpark (where he pitched Saturday). Still, if the two pitches he threw -- one behind Ian Kinsler's back and the other hitting him in the ribs -- weren't intentionally thrown at Kinsler, one has to wonder about his command fresh off the disabled list. In shallow mixed leagues, I'd advise a little caution.
• The Dodgers get to feast on Mets starter Tim Redding, fresh off the disabled list due to shoulder fatigue, as their current starting eight have batted a combined .419 (13-for-31) with four home runs and a 1.406 OPS against the right-hander in their careers. Andre Ethier is 3-for-3, with two doubles and one home run.
• For more on Monday's games, check out Daily Notes.