Howard Smith/US Presswire
The Phillies picked up one left-handed ace at the trade deadline. Judging by Tuesday's results, they might now have two.
Cole Hamels, who previously occupied the role of left-handed ace for Philadelphia (you know, during the 2008 postseason), was up to his old tricks, tossing a brilliant two-hit shutout versus the playoff-hopeful Giants. He struck out nine, threw 80 of 118 pitches for strikes and threw 22 first-pitch strikes to 29 hitters. He helped command the pace of the 2-hour, 20-minute, 1-0 victory.
So that makes back-to-back stellar outings by Hamels, a top-10 fantasy starting pitcher on draft day but one who disappointed for much of the season. He has tossed 17 shutout innings, allowing only nine hits with 16 K's combined in his past two starts. And since the All-Star break, he has a 3.24 ERA, a 1.11 WHIP and 50 K's in 58 1/3 innings. Curious -- those numbers are very similar to his 2008 season stats of 3.09 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and 7.76 strikeouts per nine innings.
Keep in mind, though, that Hamels' recent run of success has come against a soft portion of the Phillies' schedule. Since the All-Star break, he hasn't faced an offense that ranks in the top 10 in the majors in team OPS, and five of his nine opponents during that span have ranked in the bottom 10 in that category. Still, the mark of a good pitcher is one who not only capitalizes on his favorable on-paper matchups, but also dominates them. Hamels sure did that Tuesday.
Although the Phillies have little left to play for other than playoff seeding, one thing in support of Hamels is that his schedule remains fairly soft the rest of the regular season. Philadelphia faces only one team with a top-10 OPS the rest of the way, the Brewers in Milwaukee from Sept. 24 through 27. Chances are, Hamels might yet be able to help fantasy teams down the stretch provided, of course, he hasn't already sunk you with his disappointing start to this season.
• Although Brandon Phillips said Monday that he had been dealing recently with a hairline fracture in his left wrist, an injury that might have threatened the remainder of his season, he took a moment Tuesday to clarify his status to the Reds' Web site. "My wrist is not broken. I didn't mean to say broken," Phillips said. "I know I didn't say 'broken.' I said 'fracture.' I didn't know 'fracture' and 'broken' meant the same thing. My wrist feels like it's fractured. Yeah. That right there. The last time I took an X-ray, it said there's nothing broke. Broken and fractured are the same thing. It feels like it's broken, fractured or broken -- it's the same thing. But my wrist really does bother me." OK, now I'm probably as confused as you are but at least we know Phillips is fine. (I think.)
• Fantasy owners were thrilled to learn David Wright was activated from the 15-day disabled list by the Mets on Tuesday, started at third base and batted third in the order. He went 1-for-3 with one walk, incidentally. What they might not like: manager Jerry Manuel's initial plan to rest Wright every other day. The New York Times reported after Wright's performance Tuesday that Manuel might renege, though, giving the third baseman only an "occasional day off."
• Hanley Ramirez hasn't been the healthiest fella this season, missing the occasional game with wrist, groin and hip issues. So when we hear that he left Tuesday's game after four innings with left hamstring tightness, it's only natural we don't fret. Still, any hamstring issue bears watching for a player who generates a good chunk of his fantasy value with his legs.
• If first impressions are everything, Carlos Carrasco is doomed. He served up back-to-back homers in his first career big league inning and was routed for six runs on nine hits, three of them homers, in three innings in his debut start. The Indians can afford to grant Carrasco a few more chances to enhance his case for a 2010 rotation spot, but fantasy owners cannot. Cleveland also brought up Michael Brantley and Jose Veras from Triple-A Columbus. Brantley, who batted .267 with 59 walks and 46 steals in 116 games for the Clippers, got the start in left field and went 2-for-4. He might play regularly versus right-handers, and his speed makes him an AL-only sleeper. (Check on the right for more of the Sept. 1 roster expansion moves.)
• Perhaps there's something to this A.J. Burnett-Jorge Posada disconnect. For the second time in his past three starts, both of them caught by Posada, Burnett was pounded, this time for six runs on 11 hits, two of them home runs, in 5 1/3 innings at Baltimore. For the season, Burnett is 5-6 with a 4.96 ERA and 1.52 WHIP in 15 starts working with Posada, compared to 5-3 with a 3.38 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 11 starts working with Jose Molina, Kevin Cash or Francisco Cervelli. Unfortunately for Burnett, he's going to have to adapt to throwing to Posada, because the Yankees aren't about to tolerate Molina's bat in the postseason, but fantasy owners should consider the adverse impact on Burnett's numbers in future matchups.
• Most fantasy owners probably have long since written off Milton Bradley as one of 2009's biggest busts, but it's not entirely fair. He went 2-for-4 with his 12th home run Tuesday, more homers than people probably think he has hit, and he did have an .877 OPS in July and .911 in August. The Cubs face a lot of thin pitching staffs (Mets, Pirates, Reds, Brewers) the remainder of the season, so Bradley, bad rap and all, might be a sleeper during your stretch run. In other Cubs news, they recalled Micah Hoffpauir from Triple-A Iowa. Hoffpauir, unfortunately, lost his utilityman appeal with the emergence of Jake Fox, and his .640 OPS in 23 games for Iowa suggests the team's opinion probably should not change.
• Mat Latos fans, you might get one more start out of him this season. Padres general manager Kevin Towers told the team's Web site that Latos, who has thrown 120 innings between the majors and minors this year, might get one final start Saturday against the Dodgers. "I don't see anything beyond that," Towers said. Sadly for fantasy owners, that's not a favorable matchup to exploit.
• Tim Hudson had to put up with a roster-related delay of one day, then a rain delay of 2 hours, 50 minutes, but after all the waiting, his return start from Tommy John surgery wasn't all that bad: 5 1/3 innings of two-run, six-hit baseball for the win. He might not go much longer than that in his starts over in the season's final month, and his command might waver a bit at times, but it was a promising sign that Hudson can help NL-only and deep-mixed owners the rest of the year.
Josh Hamilton, Rangers
He snapped a 99-at-bat homerless drought, belting back-to-back home runs against Brian Tallet in Game 2 of Texas' doubleheader. Not that Hamilton hadn't been hitting for average in the meantime; he had 33 hits in those 99 at-bats.
Doug Fister, Mariners
For the fourth time in his first five big league starts, Fister pitched a quality start, this time holding the potent Angels attack to one run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings. The main worry: Three of his final five starts probably will come on the road.
On the morning of June 5, Jorge De La Rosa had 10 starts and zero wins, the latter tied for dead last in baseball. He would win for the first time on that date, and since (and including) that game, he has 13 wins, which is two more than anyone else in the majors during that span.
• The Red Sox summoned Junichi Tazawa from the Gulf Coast League and activated George Kottaras from the disabled list. Tazawa is the familiar name, a candidate to get starts as the fifth man in the rotation until Tim Wakefield is healthy. Kottaras might catch any remaining Wakefield start; he was Wakefield's personal catcher for 17 of his first 18 turns this season.
• The White Sox promoted Tyler Flowers and Carlos Torres from Triple-A Charlotte, and activated Chris Getz and DeWayne Wise from the DL. Torres should serve as the fifth starter in September but is a high-risk fantasy proposition, while Getz should get some starts at second base versus right-handers. Flowers is an interesting sleeper; he was a .297 hitter with a .939 OPS in 108 minor league games, and with catcher eligibility, he could be an AL-only target.
• The Rockies promoted Jason Giambi from Triple-A Colorado Springs to deepen their bench and give them a spot starter when Todd Helton needs rest.
• The Marlins recalled Cameron Maybin and Rick VandenHurk from Triple-A New Orleans, and will start VandenHurk on Wednesday against the Braves. He's an NL-only spot starter at best. Maybin, who batted .319 with 39 RBIs in 82 games for the Zephyrs, might see the occasional start in center field.
• The Royals activated Jose Guillen from the DL. He didn't start Tuesday but should see fairly regular time in right field in September.
• The Angels called up Sean O'Sullivan, Rich Thompson, Reggie Willits, Bobby Wilson and Brandon Wood from Triple-A Salt Lake, and traded Sean Rodriguez to the Rays as the player to be named later in the Scott Kazmir deal. With Kazmir now on board, O'Sullivan might not make another start all season.
• J.J. Hardy is back with the Brewers, having been promoted from Triple-A exactly 20 days from the day he was demoted, a number significant only in that it delays his free agency by a year to after the 2011 season. Alcides Escobar remains Milwaukee's regular shortstop, but Hardy did get the start Tuesday and might somewhat often in September, so that he can be showcased for a winter trade.
• The Mariners activated Adrian Beltre and slotted him back into their lineup, hitting fifth. You should follow suit and activate him ASAP.
• The Cardinals activated Troy Glaus from the DL, but don't get your hopes up -- he most likely will be a pinch hitter and get only an occasional start.
• The Rays summoned Andy Sonnanstine from Triple-A Durham to take the departed Scott Kazmir's spot in the rotation, and he was hammered for five runs (three earned) on eight hits, two of them home runs, in four innings by the Red Sox. Don't expect much more success accounting for Tampa Bay's remaining schedule.
• The Rangers activated Brandon McCarthy from the 60-day DL in time for him to toss 6 1/3 innings of one-run, three-hit baseball versus the Blue Jays. He might have some deep-league matchups appeal, but keep your expectations fairly low. Craig Gentry, a .303 hitter with 49 steals in 127 games for Double-A Frisco, also was promoted and might be a sleeper for AL-only owners to monitor.
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Brendan Roberts: What he was before was just a player who had trouble adjusting both socially (learning the language) and physically in the States after coming over from Cuba. That happens a lot with Cubans, who are almost isolated from the big-league game, its players and its culture where they're at. He's adjusted now, and I think he's still on the rise, if anything. So yes, I think he can repeat what he did this year.
-- Full chat transcript
Wednesday's fantasy chat schedule:
Tristan H. Cockcroft, 11 a.m. ET
Eric Karabell, 3 p.m. ET
• Daniel Hudson was pulled after only three shutout innings in the first game of a doubleheader for Triple-A Charlotte, a decision The Virginian-Pilot reports was made because he's being promoted by the White Sox. Hudson finishes the minor league year 14-5 with a 2.32 ERA and 0.94 WHIP in 26 starts at four minor league stops, and AL-only owners should scoop him up. He might get a couple of starts.
• Austin Jackson celebrated his being named International League rookie of the year by going 4-for-6 with one double and five RBIs, bringing his season totals for Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to a .298 batting average and 62 RBIs in 126 games. He also has 23 stolen bases but only four home runs. Jackson might get a long look for the center field job with the Yankees in the spring, but don't be surprised if he needs a bit of an adjustment to major league pitching.
• All fantasy owners should plan the conservative route with Wednesday's other "debut dandy," one who most certainly is not a dandy: Brad Penny, the newest Giant. He has a 5.89 ERA and 1.57 WHIP between the 2008 and 2009 seasons, and the game is at Citizens Bank Park. Stay away.
• Josh Beckett will be looking for redemption after serving up 12 home runs in his past four starts combined, during which time opposing hitters have a .982 OPS against him. The game is at Tampa Bay, though, against noted Red Sox killer Matt Garza, so Beckett's bounce-back effort might need to wait for another day.
• For more on Wednesday's games, check Daily Notes.