As they say in a Jewelery District of any major city, Johnny Cueto pitched a gem. Well, any major city except Detroit. There they call a gem, “Slowly remove it from your finger, and no funny business!” Against the Pirates yesterday — 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 12 Ks. Pretty much across the board for Cueto’s career, I haven’t been a fan. His xFIP has always been much worse than his ERA, and his K-rate has never been close to an elite starter. Well, a weird thing happened on the way to his fifth start of the year, he looks like an ace. His xFIP is down to 2.55, his K-rate is 10.50 and his walk rate is 2.40. Those are fantasy ace numbers. Last year through April, he had a 2.80 xFIP, 9.35 K-rate and 3.12 walk rate. Those numbers aren’t that different. Hey, random italicized letters are my shtick. Not right now, Random Italicized Voice. Whoa, snippy! There is one fairly significant difference between Cueto this year and last. About a mile per hour on his fastball. In some instances, his fastball is averaging two extra miles per hour from last April, and he’s cut out his, uh, cutter, and his ground balls have remained. He’s pitching slightly different, slightly better, and, for the first time I can remember, I’m really liking what Cueto is showing. Ain’t that a kick in Jason LaRue’s head? His ERA won’t stay at 1.50, but I also wouldn’t be looking to sell him high. Anyway, here’s what else I saw yesterday in fantasy baseball:
Nick Franklin – 1-for-4, 1 run as he was recalled to play some outfield and DH while Logan Morrison figures out why he can’t stay healthy. “Is it because I cut in front of that Native American shaman at a Subway? I thought he ordered already.” That’s Morrison soul-searching. Franklin has pounded the ball in the minors in the first two weeks — hitting close to .400 with 4 homers. He’s hit well in the minors before and still hit .225 for Seattle last year, though with power and some speed. The Mariners are a better team with Franklin playing over Morrison even if the latter is healthy and latter means Morrison. I was gonna write a sleeper post about Franklin in the preseason if he had a starting job. Had my iCal reminder set in my mind. See that? I upgraded from a brain to a Mac product just that easily. Steve Jobs, you were a pioneer in consumerism! Speaking of revolutionary products, I just bought a white desk, and now I can see every smudge I make, so how about a can of dust spray? Never again do you have to obsess about one little smudge; you can now cover your brand new desk in dust rather than wait for it to naturally accumulate. Good idea, right? Thank me. I could see Franklin giving 50/15/60/.290/10 in 400 ABs. Does he get 400 ABs? Highly unlikely, but worth picking up if you have room and can platoon him because he’s not assured playing time.
Taijuan Walker – Shutdown for the next two weeks. At this point, we’ll probably be lucky to see him sometime late-May. That guy getting tear tattoos under his eye isn’t an ex-con trying to show his loyalty to the tear-tattoo ex-con mafia, it’s me. To show all passers-by my true feelings on Walker. Why do you hurt me, Fantasy Baseball Overlord? Why? I’m seriously curious.
Jose Tabata – Collided with a fence and left the game with a concussion. At first I read the headline and thought it said he collided with a face. Then I was like, “Was he hang gliding over Mt. Rushmore?” Then I reread it and had a good laugh! This is good news for Travis Snider’s playing time. He does have some pop, but won’t hit for much of an average. Oh, and he was a post-post-post-hype prospect while Lawrie was still only a post-post-hype prospect.
Francisco Liriano – 7 IP, 3 ER, 9 baserunners, 7 Ks. At the start, he looked like he had no control of the crap he was throwing, then settled in nicely, then pooped the bed on the way out. Sounds like the human life cycle.
Joey Votto – 1-for-3, 2 RBIs and his 4th homer. Votto has come alive with pleasure like a good Newport cigarette.
Billy Hamilton – 1-for-3, 2 runs and two steals, raising his average to .170. I think there’s 2 to 1 odds that he hits under .220 this year. 3 to 1 odds that he gets pulled over for doing 55 MPH in a school zone, while he’s out walking his dog.
Chase Headley – Out with a biceps strain. He says it hurts when he swings a bat. Funny, it hurts his fantasy owners when he swings a bat too.
Andrew Cashner – 7 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 10 baserunners, 5 Ks. When it goes in my favor, like last night since I own Cashner, I’m all for it, but doesn’t it seem odd to someone that a pitcher makes an error and a run is unearned? I mean, they are completely at fault for that. More so than if, say, a fielder doesn’t get to a grounder in time, that they should’ve got to, and the runner is safe.
Justin Morneau – 3-for-3, 2 RBIs and his 2nd homer in four games. See, playing for the Rockies is paying off! Oh, these games were on the road. Well, The Concusstador doesn’t know the difference. On the fo’really, Morneau is only owned in 30% of ESPN leagues. Huh? Yeah, that makes no sense. He’s not what he once was, but he’s hitting .354. He’s that much worse than, say, Ryan Howard?
Mike Moustakas – Didn’t start yesterday but did homer. I fear we’re not gonna have Mostsuckass to kick around much longer. He looks like he’s slowly losing his job to Valencia. Probably too slow, since he’s batting .119. Yesterday, might’ve bought him another week.
Jason Castro – 2-for-4, 2 RBIs and a home run, his third. 3, 2, 1… Yes, he should be owned!
George Springer – 1-for-5 and a run as he hit 2nd. People were impressed he was in the two hole in the lineup. Those same people haven’t taken a moment to look at the Astros lineup. Where’s he going to hit? Below Marc Krauss? I liked Krauss’s song on the O Brother soundtrack, but that’s about it.
Jose Valverde – 1 IP, 2 ER. Why are you bringing in Valverde with a five-run lead? Kazaam!
Dillon Gee – 7 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 3 Ks. Reliable but not flashy with Ks. This was brought to you by the letter Gee.
Eric Young Jr. – 1-for-4, 1 run and two steals, now up to nine. Something about cheap steals and saves that just makes it that much more exhilarating. It doesn’t go away either, if a guy has the opportunity. If they’re pitching in the 9th, they’ll get saves. If a guy is starting that is fast, he will get steals. You can’t say the same about starters or power hitters. The starters could have good starts, but lots of factors go into that. Power hitters could get hot, but they will cool off. Speed guys don’t lose their speed from one day to the next. SAGNOF until I die!
Maikel Cleto – 1/3 IP, 3 BBs, and had an opportunity to close for the White Sox, but he can’t throw strikes, so Robin Ventura went to old unfaithful, Matt Lindstrom, who of course blew the save. At some point, the gooftard that is Robin Ventura will realize Daniel Webb should be the closer. Yes, the Webb who also gave up a run yesterday (c’mon, it was in three innings). He’s got much better stuff than Lindstrom. They might wait until the trade deadline, pass off Lindstrom on someone for a prospect then put Webb in the job.
Paul Goldschmidt – 2-for-4 and his 3rd homer. Au shucks!
Aaron Hill – 1-for-4 and his 1st homer. Good to see it was more of a hump than a Hill. My little lady humps! Nobody knows what it means, but it’s provocative!
Luke Gregerson – 2 IP, 1 ER. Blown save last night might’ve did more good for Johnson than Johnson’s done all year. This is a fluid situation and Gregerson’s headed up the river.
Kole Calhoun – Hits the DL after rolling his ankle, and will miss four to six weeks. Still haven’t heard of one person hurting a cankle. God, you messed up!
Tyler Skaggs – 6 IP, 4 ER, 10 baserunners, 2 Ks. The big blow was a three-run homer by Moss, then he settled down for two more innings. I’d give him another start to make it up to you.
David Robertson – Hoping to return on April 22nd, the first day he’s eligible. So, that puts the kids of closers currently at Gregerson, Johnson and Robertson. Sorry, Jansen.
Masahiro Tanaka – 8 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 10 Ks. If he keeps pitching like this, there’s going to be a serious shortage of emojis in Japan.
Michael Pineda – 6 IP, 0 ER, 5 baserunners, 3 Ks. You know how you zoom out your grandparent’s iPhone font size so it’s really small and you tell them they must be going blind? Maybe if they go take a nap it’ll be better when they wake, then while they’re napping you rob their wallet. The Yankees pitching yesterday zoomed out the Cubs font.
Carlos Beltran – 3-for-5 and his 4th homer. Late in the 1st game of the doubleheader, the 36-year-old Beltran was replaced defensively to keep his legs fresh by the 40-year-old Ichiro, then he was replaced by Jesse Barfield.
Craig Kimbrel – Declared himself ready. That’s nice, still waiting until he throws in a game.
Julio Teheran – 9 IP, 0 ER, 3 baserunners, 4 Ks vs. Cliff Lee (9 IP, 1 ER, 12 baserunners, 13 Ks). I felt like The Iron Sheik yesterday chanting, “Teheran number one.” The Adverb wasn’t too shabby either. -ly had the advantage for fantasy with the Ks, but also in real-life because he was facing the Krazy Braves. I mean, Jason Heyward struck out once from the dugout. Teheran number one! Teheran number one! Teheran number one!
Evan Gattis – 4-for-4 and a solo homer, his 4th. This was his best day since he was living in a dumpster with his homeless buddy, Norm, who told him he had crabs. After a panicked moment, Norm revealed discarded stone crabs.
Jake Odorizzi – 5 IP, 3 ER, 8 baserunners, 4 Ks. Odorizzi came into the season with very little fanfare and has lived up to that spectacularly.
Zach McAllister – 6 IP, 1 ER, 6 baserunners, 4 Ks and a 2.04 ERA. He’s been getting lucky with balls batted into play and home runs, accounting for a 4.32 xFIP. In English, he’s getting lucky with balls batted… Well, that was English. Just an arcane, nerdilect.
Lonnie Chisenhall – 2-for-4 and a steal, hitting .421 in very limited duty. Hehe, I said doodie. Chisenhall has played a few games in a row, but the longer Santana hits under .200, the Indians may feel it’ll help Santana’s bat to get on the field. That is hogwash, of course, but this is how clubs think.
Zach Walters – 1-for-1 with his 2nd pinch hit homer in as many games. Rusty Staub called, he wants his pinch-hitting ability back! Two homers in back-to-back games had me curious who Zach Wawa was so I looked up his stats and he hit 29 homers last year! Wawa indeed. Forget interviewing Gabourey Sidibe at a Stuckey’s, you should be in the majors! ZiPS has his projections at 18 homers and 3 steals. Well, Howdy Dowdy to you too! He is somewhat stuck behind Desmond with his natural position of short, but he’s played some 3rd base. Maybe the Nats will play Rendon at 2nd base and Walters at 3rd. *thinking* Damn Matt Williams!
Doug Fister – Headed to extended spring training. Watch out, ladies of Florida, a Fister is coming to town!
Bryce Harper – Scratched due to quad tightness. When your injury updates outnumber your ‘good game’ updates four to one, you might want to beef up less with the weights, and get on the field more, Harper.
Derek Dietrich – 1-for-4, 3 RBIs and his 3rd homer as he bats .286. The Marlins went out and got Furcal to read bedtime stories to Yelich, right? I mean, they’re not actually gonna bench Dietrich, are they?
Jose Fernandez – 7 IP, 0 ER, 4 baserunners, 10 Ks. Is he the top starter taken off draft boards next year? Okay, too far into the future. How many Braves does he strike out next time? 15? The Uptons are at an over/under of 6?
Marcell Ozuna – 2-for-4, hitting .339. Oh-Swoona.
Paul Maholm – 6 IP, 1 ER, 8 baserunners, 2 Ks. Try to say Maholm without yawning. You can’t. I saw a documentary about that by Errol Morris.
Joe Kelly – Left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury and is headed to the DL. Can I get a hashtag with Carlos Martinez’s name on it up in here, up in here?! Oh, wait, the Cards consider him a reliever and Tyler Lyons a starter. Dammit, that’s a total waste of a hashtag!
Jon Jay – 2-for-4 and a steal. Uh-oh, The Federalist has been stealing time from Bourjos and hasn’t made the Cards look stupid (homer on Tuesday, steal on Wednesday; three hits.) This doesn’t bode well for Bourjos since his hitting hasn’t been boding well for anyone.
Wily Peralta – 6 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 7 baserunners, 3 Ks, ERA down to 1.96. Obviously, he’s pitched great thus far. He’s still giving up homers (3 in 3 starts) and not getting Ks, considering how high his velocity is, which still leaves him as a streamer in shallower leagues. The Stream-o-Nator loves his next start, and rightfully so.
Aramis Ramirez – 3-for-4, 1 run, 1 RBI, hitting .377 on the year. Fun fact! His ordering in a Jewish deli always confuses the waitress when he pronounces multiple pastrami sandwiches like he’s saying his name. “I want PAH-STRAH-MISS!”