AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar
Owned in just 35 percent of ESPN leagues as of this morning, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen showed he should be a consideration in even shallow mixed leagues by belting three homers Saturday night.
The 11th overall pick in the 2005 draft, the 22-year-old McCutchen hadn't quite met his power expectations in the minor leagues, but perhaps his outburst Saturday means we just need to be patient. He also showed off his speed with a bunt single. He had a chance at a fourth homer in the eighth inning but grounded into a double play.
Before Saturday, his bat had cooled off a little bit since the All-Star break, but he's now hit .293 with six homers and gone a perfect 9-for-9 on the base paths in 51 games since being promoted to the big leagues and installed at the top of the lineup. His 37 runs and 31 RBIs are very healthy totals for the amount of time he's played, and he's been a legitimate producer across the board in all categories. His ownership percentage is lower than it should be, especially as he's started hitting the ball with a bit a more authority now that he's settled in at the big league level.
• Hanley Ramirez left the Marlins game after the third inning with a left knee contusion after being hit by a pitch. Ramirez said he felt fine after the game, and manager Fredi Gonzalez indicated that there was even a possibility Ramirez would be able to play Sunday, but that regardless, he didn't expect Ramirez to be out long.
• Edinson Volquez will miss the rest of the season, as he will undergo elbow surgery Monday after aborting a bullpen session Friday because of pain. It is unclear whether Tommy John surgery is needed at this time, but it's possible he could miss all of next year.
• Carlos Beltran took his first swings since hitting the disabled list, taking batting practice Saturday. He still walked with a noticeable limp in his injured right knee, according to the team Web site, but did not appear to be hindered in the cage. He said earlier in the week that he hopes to return within three weeks.
• The Orioles said they are considering promoting top pitching prospect Brian Matusz to the big leagues just a week after Chris Tillman made his debut, and having Matusz make his debut Tuesday against the Tigers. Matusz was pulled early from his start Saturday night. The team previously had said they wanted to leave Matusz in the minors all season, but he's gone 7-0 with a 1.55 ERA in eight starts since being promoted to Double-A, and will be a must-add in AL-only leagues. A full profile of Matusz is available here.
• Wandy Rodriguez left his start early with a strained right hamstring but told the Houston Chronicle that he does not expect to miss his next start.
• Carlos Zambrano exited after just three innings with a stiff back, but he said that he doesn't expect it to be a big issue and that he should make his next start.
• Josh Beckett won his 13th game with seven shutout innings against the Orioles. He is another reason not to read too much into slow starts by pitchers in April. Beckett had a 7.22 ERA entering May but stands at 3.27 after Saturday's outing.
• Shane Victorino (knee) pinch-hit Saturday night and could be back in the lineup today.
• Jason Frasor picked up the save for the Jays by recording the final two outs of the game, as Scott Downs was pulled after taking a ball off the foot, and may have had a recurrence of his toe injury. For now, expect Frasor to start seeing more save chances in the Jays' bullpen.
• Chris Carpenter now has a 1.13 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in four starts since the break after a one-run complete game Saturday against the Astros.
Matt Holliday, Cardinals
Holliday continues to thrive since his move back to the National League, going 3-for-4 with two homers to beat the Astros almost single-handedly. Since the Cardinals acquired him, he's gone a ridiculous 20-for-33 with nine extra-base hits in his nine games with the team.
Tim Lincecum, Giants
The Giants hurler did not allow a run for his second straight outing, striking out eight in eight innings to pick up his 12th win and lower his ERA to 2.18. Since June 1, Lincecum's ERA has been just 1.58 in 12 starts with a 0.94 WHIP.
That was Erick Aybar's batting average after a 1-for-5 night that featured a triple and a run scored. The average is notable because Aybar's .414 mark in July was the best in the American League, cementing his place in the lineup. Coincidentally, his teammate Howie Kendrick (who did not play Saturday) had the second-best batting average in the AL last month, hitting .387.
• The Marlins activated Matt Lindstrom from the disabled list, and he is expected eventually to return to the closer's role. Leo Nunez picked up seven saves while Lindstrom was out, but the team remains committed to developing Lindstrom in the role. "We probably won't run him out there in the ninth inning with a one-run lead against anybody until we make sure he's OK," manager Fredi Gonzalez told the team Web site. "We'll do that a couple times before we throw him back out there in the closer's spot again." Gaby Sanchez's chances for playing time with the Marlins disappeared when Nick Johnson came on board, so he was sent back to Triple-A.
• The Giants sent fifth starter Ryan Sadowski to Triple-A, and he is expected to be replaced in the rotation by either Kevin Pucetas or Joe Martinez on Wednesday, with the former being an intriguing NL-only fantasy option.
• The Padres released Mark Prior from his minor league contract after his failure to recover from a second major shoulder surgery in three years.
Stephania Bell: I have Webb in a keeper league too -- because there was never really anything definitively wrong with his shoulder -- and I felt like he should be able to progress back through rehab which is what 3 specialists said when they evaluated him recently. He continues to be unable to progress and when all else fails, they reluctantly will usually do a scope, in case there is some pathology that they just can't see on imaging. Problem is, we don't know what they'll find, how much they'll do, and surgery in the absence of a definite problem is a red flag to me. So it's a gamble. He's still young and I'm keeping him for now.
-- Full chat transcript
Tristan H. Cockcroft: It's amazing that's not as ludicrous a question as it might sound, but I do like Lastings Milledge and he'll get a fair share of playing time looking forward. I do think higher of Rios, naturally, but he has disappointed and Milledge is more talented than most give credit.
-- Full chat transcript
Thursday's fantasy chat schedule:
Christopher Harris, 11 a.m. ET
Matthew Berry, 3 p.m. ET
• Having refused to part with outfield prospect Dominic Brown in a deadline deal, the Phillies promoted him to Double-A, where he made his debut Saturday, going 0-for-3 with two walks. Brown, who missed time earlier this season with a broken hand, had hit .303 and slugged .517 in 66 games at high Class-A before his promotion, and is a five-tool player who is likely a couple of years away.
• Mariners second-round pick Rich Poythress hit his first homer as a professional Saturday night for the club's rookie-league team in the Arizona League. He is getting his feet wet for five games at that level before an expected promotion to Double-A and should be on the fast track through the M's system. The first baseman has big-time power potential.
• One of the Rockies' better pitching prospects, Esmil Rogers, is still struggling with his command since being promoted to Triple-A. He allowed four runs in five innings Saturday and has a 5.93 ERA in five starts at that level, after posting a 2.48 mark and allowing just two homers in 15 outings at Double-A. He's behind Jhoulys Chacin on the development curve and likely won't have a chance at any fantasy impact before 2011.
• Tim Alderson won his debut in the Pirates' system after being acquired in the Freddy Sanchez deal, allowing two runs -- one earned -- in 5 2/3 innings and striking out four. Alderson has had velocity and command issues since being promoted to Double-A earlier in the year but could make a run at a rotation spot next season.
• Highly touted Astros pitching prospect Bud Norris, fresh off a successful long relief outing, makes his first big league start against the Cardinals.
• Ian Snell makes his debut with his new club but draws a tough assignment: taking the mound for the Mariners against the Rangers in Arlington. The change of scenery does make him a sleeper in fantasy play once again. He'll be opposed by Scott Feldman, who is seeking to rebound from his worst outing of the season.
• Looking for a sleeper today? It might be Clay Buchholz against the Orioles, as he seeks to show why the Red Sox were so eager to hang on to him at the trade deadline.