AP Photo/Darren Calabrese
The Red Sox placed Tim Wakefield on the disabled list with a lower back issue that the knuckleballer -- who will turn 43 next week -- described as a "minor setback." He suffered a spasm during a side session this weekend, and thinks he'll miss three starts. Thus, Buchholz was summoned once again, and will start against the Rangers tonight.
With Brad Penny's name floating around in trade rumors and the John Smoltz experiment not off to a good start, it's entirely possible that, if he pitches well, Buchholz gets a longer stint in the rotation than just the duration of Wakefield's DL stint. As Buchholz told the Associated Press, "This is an odd situation. Things have a way working themselves out."
Although the 24-year-old righty fell flat with a 6.75 ERA in the big leagues last season, he's a different pitcher this year, reminding everyone why there was so much hype about him before last season and looking more like the pitcher that threw a no-hitter in his second big league start in 2007.
His fastball command has improved, and he's more aggressive, attacking hitters and trusting his stuff rather than trying to paint the black and make the perfect pitch. He's firing more 96-mph heat and not relying on his curveball so much. Even though the curveball is a plus pitch, it was a crutch that he went to too often last season.
Considering his upside and the fact he's owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN leagues, as of this morning, he's well worth considering if you need another quality arm on your staff.
• Manny Ramirez owners also dodged a bullet as X-rays came back negative after he was hit on the hand by a pitch during Tuesday's game. He didn't appear to be in a huge amount of pain when he left the game, so the X-ray was likely just a precaution, and he's listed as day-to-day.
• Lance Berkman will miss a few games after an MRI showed that he suffered a Grade 2 strain of his left calf. For now, it appears he will dodge the disabled list, and should be available to pinch hit in the meantime.
• Cliff Lee allowed just one run in a complete game win over the Blue Jays, but got some help from Scott Downs's blown save in the ninth after Brett Cecil threw seven shutout frames, striking out nine. Cecil has been Jekyll and Hyde this season. In 10 big leage appearances, he has allowed zero or one runs five times, but allowed five runs or more three times. Still, his strikeout ability continues to make him a viable option in AL-only play.
• Dexter Fowler had two hits and two RBIs for the Rockies, and it's worth noting that he's been getting on base at a .429 clip this month while posting nine steals. He could be in line for a very nice second half.
• Pedro Martinez threw 62 pitches in four innings in a simulated game, and will throw a bullpen session on Thursday if his shoulder recovers well. Barring any setbacks, the Phillies hope Pedro is ready to pitch in the big leagues in early August, but he's a five-inning pitcher at best at this juncture. It's worth noting the number of teams that passed on him after seeing him throw before Philly picked him up.
• Mark DeRosa left the yard twice for the Cardinals. That is a good sign that the injured tendon sheath in his wrist may not be as bad as first feared and that his power may be relatively unaffected.
• Rangers' outfielder Nelson Cruz, dealing with a small fracture in his right ring finger, was able to swing the bat on Tuesday, and hopes to return to the lineup Wednesday. We'll have to see how much his power is affected, even if he is able to play, but it is an encouraging sign that the pain isn't to much for him to bear, much like the pain teammate Michael Young endured last season with a similar injury.
Erick Aybar, Angels
Aybar raised his average to .315 for the season by going 7-for-9 in the Angels' doubleheader, with five runs scored, four RBIs, two doubles, a triple and his eighth stolen base of the season. While some fantasy players wonder why Brandon Wood never gets a shot, Aybar has quietly established himself as a viable fantasy option.
Tommy Hunter, Rangers
Not only did Hunter throw his fourth straight quality start to pick up the win against the Red Sox, he allowed just one run in six innings and out-dueled Josh Beckett to drop his ERA to 2.17. The right-hander is on a nice little run right now, but it's not likely to last, given his penchant for leaving the ball up in the zone, so enjoy it while you can.
That is the number of runs allowed by the Reds' Homer Bailey (although only six were earned). He failed to get out of the third inning against the Dodgers, and failed to record a strikeout. There was a lot of speculation that Bailey's new splitter was going to be the pitch to finally get him over the hump in the big leagues. Instead, new repertoire, same results. He has a 6.84 ERA and a 1.59 WHIP in his five starts since returning to the big leagues.
• The Yankees officially placed Sergio Mitre in the rotation Tuesday, designating Brett Tomko for assignment. Mitre picked up the win against the Orioles, allowing three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings. Mitre has problems with left-handed hitters, in addition the issues he has had staying healthy in his career, so keep your expectations low.
• The Giants sent Kevin Frandsen back down to Triple-A (again), and recalled Matt Downs, who started at second base and doubled once in four at-bats. Downs will be given another chance to win the everyday job at second base, but doesn't bring much to the table offensively. The team also put Rich Aurilia on the DL with an ankle injury to make room for Tuesday's starter, Ryan Sadowski.
• Mike Sweeney returned from the disabled list for the Mariners after battling some back issues, with Josh Wilson being designated for assignment. Sweeney will battle Chris Shelton for playing time behind Russell Branyan, and has little value even in AL-only leagues.
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AJ Mass: I never expected him to be anything more than a 5 IP with the occasional victory. So, while I think he might get back up to that low level of success, I wouldn't expect anything more.
-- Full chat transcript
Brendan Roberts: I've never seen power coming from B.J. Upton. Honestly, I did, looking at scouting reports, until I interviewed him once in the clubhouse. Dude is all skin and bones. Brother Justin has a "backside" that generates a little more power, but B.J.'s power is all in his wrists, and I don't think he's going to hit for power. Not sure how he did it that year he did ... must have just turned on a bunch of balls. Great speed, but I think maybe 12-homer power, at the most.
-- Full chat transcript
Wednesday's fantasy chat schedule:
Eric Karabell, 3 p.m. ET
• Remember me? Part 1: The Pirates' Ian Snell has allowed zero or one runs in five starts since being demoted to Triple-A, giving up a single tally in six innings and striking out nine. Snell said on Monday that reports that he doesn't want to return to the Pirates are nonsense, and he is on the trade block as we approach the deadline.
• Remember me? Part 2: Yankees southpaw Kei Igawa has acquitted himself well at Triple-A this season, firing seven shutout innings on Tuesday to lower his ERA to 3.45 in 18 starts. Lefties are batting just .170 against him, and a potential big league bullpen role may be in his future.
• With John Danks missing his scheduled start with a finger problem, the White Sox will turn to 26-year-old rookie righty Carlos Torres, who was leading the International League with a 2.20 ERA and was second in strikeouts. A sinker/slider pitcher who has shown improved command this season, he'll draw a tough assignment against the Rays, and will likely be up for just this start. Aaron Poreda was sent down temporarily to make room.
• Sometimes you've just got to go with your gut and play a hunch, because Trevor Cahill has not had a quality start in his past four trips to the mound. However, he matches up well with the Twins, if he can keep his sinker down in the strike zone, and might be worth a look in head-to-head leagues Wednesday, if you're desperate for some pitching help.
For more on Wednesday's games, check out Daily Notes.