Athlon Sports takes a spin around the fantasy baseball diamond
Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2012 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire every Monday and a Weekend Rundown every Thursday.
Mets’ Knuckleballer Has Been R.A. Diculous
Johan Santana may be the one credited with the first no-hitter in Mets’ franchise history, but it’s his teammate, R.A. Dickey, who’s doing a number on the history books right now.
On Monday night, Dickey became the first pitcher in 24 years to throw consecutive one-hitters. What’s more, he’s the first pitcher in modern baseball history (since 1900) with back-to-back one-hitters while striking out 10 or more, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
Dickey leads the majors in wins (11) and ERA (2.00, tied with Brandon Beachy) entering Thursday, but that only scratches the surface of his statistical dominance so far this season. Dickey has struck out 103 batters in 99 innings pitched and has a WHIP of 0.89. He is currently first in the NL in every category mentioned, except for innings and strikeouts (second) and he also leads the league with three complete games.
He hasn’t allowed an earned run in 42 2/3 consecutive innings, the second-longest streak in Mets’ history. The franchise record is 49, set by Dwight Gooden in 1985.
On April 18, in his third start of the season, Dickey gave up eight earned runs on eight hits in just 4 1/3 innings in Atlanta. Since then, Dickey has given up a total of 11 earned runs and 45 hits in 81 2/3 innings pitched (11 starts).
In his last nine starts, which includes all of May and to this point in June, Dickey is 8-0 with a miniscule 0.92 ERA and 75 strikeouts over 68 2/3 innings. During this span, he has allowed 39 hits, including just one home run, while walking only 11.
Dickey is not only the No. 1 fantasy pitcher in all of baseball; he’s in the midst of one of the most dominating stretches of mound performances the sport has seen in some time, especially by a knuckleballer. Whether he keeps this up, especially at this rate, remains to be seen, but for now let’s all sit back and enjoy the ride. I know all the Dickey owners are.
And while no one pitcher’s been anywhere near as good as Dickey has been the past two months, there are several that have been on decent runs over the past several weeks.
Matt Cain, who tossed the 22nd perfect game in MLB history on June 13, certainly deserves some recognition. The Giants’ right-hander has as many wins (six) as Dickey over the last 30 days with a 1.90 ERA, 1.03 WHIP and 46 strikeouts in 42 2/3 innings.
However, Cain is owned in 98 percent of Yahoo! leagues, making him more of a household name. Here are some other starting pitchers who have been getting the job done over the last 30 days that are owned in less than 70 percent of Yahoo! leagues:
Clay Buchholz, BOS – 4 wins, 2.43 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 31 Ks in 37 IP
A.J. Burnett, PIT – 5 wins, 2.01 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 25 Ks in 31 1/3 IP
Matt Harrison, TEX – 5 wins, 1.43 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 25 Ks in 44 IP
Wade Miley, ARI – 3 wins, 2.50 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 27 Ks in 36 IP
Ivan Nova, NYY – 5 wins, 2.48 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 21 Ks in 36 1/3 IP
Votto’s Red Hot
While Dickey has been dominating on the mound, no one’s been harder to get out at the plate recently than Joey Votto. On May 24, the Cincinnati first baseman and 2010 NL MVP was hitting a respectable .295. Since then, he’s been getting along at a .489 clip (43-for-88) with 21 runs scored, 13 doubles, six home runs and 17 RBI. He’s also walked 14 times compared to 17 strikeouts during this span.
On the season, Votto has walked (55) more times than he’s struck out (54). His current on-base percentage is .486, which would be the seventh-highest single-season mark in the expansion era (since 1961). The six other higher OBPs belong to Barry Bonds (five) and Frank Thomas.
Votto already has 30 doubles through the Reds’ first 68 games, putting him on pace for 71. The record for most doubles in a single season is 67, set by Earl Webb way back in 1931.
Votto’s not the only one who’s done his share of damage at the plate over the last 30 days as Colorado's Carlos Gonzalez is closest to Votto in batting average (.388), while hitting nine home runs, with 19 RBI, 21 runs scored and four stolen bases. The Angels’ Mark Trumbo leads the way with 30 RBI over the past 30 days, and is tied with Toronto’s Jose Bautista with 11 home runs during that span.
But all of these guys are owned in at least 91 percent of Yahoo! leagues so here are a few names who may still be available on the waiver wire (less than percent ownership) if you are in the market for a hot bat.
Aaron Hill, 2B/ARI – .385, 14 R, 5 HR, 16 RBI, 2 SB, 1.133 OPS
Jason Kubel, OF/ARI – .311, 17 R, 5 HR, 24 RBI, .941 OPS
Trevor Plouffe, 2B/3B/SS/OF, MIN – .350, 18 R, 10 HR, 18 RBI, 1.196 OPS
Colby Rasmus, OF, TOR – .315, 19 R, 9 HR, 21 RBI, 2 SB, 1.010 OPS
Alfonso Soriano, OF, CHC – .267, 18 R, 10 HR, 21 RBI, .947 OPS
DL Watch and Other Injury News
*Detroit catcher Alex Avila, who has been on DL since June 6 because of a hamstring issue, has been rehabbing in the minors and appears to be on track to return to the Tigers today.
*Atlanta placed right-hander Brandon Beachy on the DL on Sunday with a sore right elbow. The news has only gotten worse since as Beachy has been diagnosed with a partially torn UCL and is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery today. Beachy’s 2012 season is over and at this point, there’s no telling when the 25-year-old will be back on the mound as the typical recovery time is anywhere between 12-18 months. The Braves are expected to recall Jair Jurrgens to start in Beachy’s place on Friday in Boston, but Kris Medlen, the reliever who was sent to the minors to be stretched out to start, is an option as well. Medlen probably offers more fantasy potential than Jurrgens, who was sent to AAA after going 0-2 with a 9.37 ERA in four starts earlier this season.
*Matt Capps, Minnesota’s closer, hasn’t pitched in a game since last Friday, as he was sidelined with an inflamed shoulder. The good news for Capps is that he’s expected to return to his closing duties in the near future. He has yet to undergo an MRI as the team doesn’t think his shoulder issue is serious. Capps has blown only one save in 15 opportunities so far this season, although his ERA is a bit high for a closer at 3.55.
*Cubs’ ace Ryan Dempster was put on the DL on Monday with tightness in his right lat muscle. It’s something the right-hander has been dealing with during his last several starts, although his results (3-0, 0 ER in 22 IP in June) don’t reflect it. The move was more precautionary as Dempster is expected to be one of the most sought-after starters available via trade with the Cubs languishing in last place in the NL Central.
*Jeremy Hellickson went on the DL on Tuesday with shoulder fatigue. The Tampa Bay right-hander struggled mightily in his last start, giving up eight runs on nine hits in 3 2/3 innings against the Mets, and is 4-3 with a 3.45 ERA on the season. The good news for Hellickson is that x-rays came back negative, so right now he’s only expected to miss a couple of starts. The Rays called up Chris Archer, one of their top pitching prospects, from AAA who made his major-league debut on Wednesday night against the Nationals in Washington. After giving up three runs (only one earned) on three hits in the first inning, Archer settled down and held the Nats scoreless and hitless through the next five, finishing his night with just one walk and seven strikeouts in a 3-2 loss.
*Tampa Bay third baseman Evan Longoria was pulled from his rehab assignment on Monday after feeling soreness in his hamstring. The team shut him down immediately, and at this point it’s still not known when he will resume his rehab or when to expect him back with the Rays and in the lineup.
*Shaun Marcum (5-3, 3.39 ERA) was scratched from his scheduled start on Tuesday due to elbow stiffness and inflammation. The Milwaukee pitcher said there doesn’t appear to be any structural damage, but it’s not known when the right-hander will return to the mound. Marcum had Tommy John surgery back in 2009.
*Mitch Moreland injured his hamstring running to first base in his first at-bat in San Diego on Tuesday and is expected to go on the DL this weekend. The Rangers’ first baseman got off to a slow start, hitting just .231 with three home runs and six RBI in April, but had been swinging the bat better since then, posting a .292-7-19 line in May and June.
*Dustin Pedroia's thumb injury kept him out of the lineup on Wednesday, but he hopes to be back in there tonight against Miami. Pedroia is known for his toughness and gutting it out, but discretion may be the better part of valor in this case. The Red Sox second baseman initially injured the thumb on May 28 and missed the next six games. Since returning to the lineup on June 5, Pedroia is batting a meager .170 (9-for-53) with no home runs, five RBI, five runs scored and no stolen bases. An extended break or perhaps even a DL stint may be necessary to get “The Laser Show” back on track.
*Mark Teixeira was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday after getting hit in the right foot on a ground ball on Tuesday. He did double as a pinch-hitter in the eighth yesterday against the Braves. The Yankees are off today and Teixeira hopes to be back in the starting lineup on Friday in the series opener against the Mets at Citi Field.
*It has been rough being a Toronto starting pitcher recently. The first to go down was Brandon Morrow (7-4, 3.01 ERA), who went on the 15-day DL on June 13 with a strained left oblique. Next was Drew Hutchinson (5-3, 4.60 ERA), who left his start last Friday against the Phillies after just nine pitches. The right-hander is out indefinitely with an elbow strain, but for now it does not look like he will need surgery. That is not the case for fellow righty Kyle Drabek, who left his start early on June 13 and had Tommy John surgery on Tuesday. For Drabek it was the second Tommy John operation in five years, which means he could be out even longer than the typical 12-18 months.
*Troy Tulowitzki is scheduled to undergo surgery on his left groin area today. Tulowitzki, who went on the DL on May 31 was rehabbing last week in AAA when he pulled himself out of the game. The Rockies have said they will have a better idea regarding Tulowitzki's timetable after the surgery is performed.
— By Mark Ross, published on June 21, 2012