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Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight 4/17: Rockies’ Ubaldo Jimenez’s No-Hitter, Cardinals’ Jamie Garcia’s No-Hit Bid

Sun, Apr 18, 2010

Insiders Tonight

Image courtesy of: Serena A. Thaw

Saturday was the most exciting day of the 2010 baseball season thus far. Not only did Ubaldo Jimenez deliver a no-hitter against the Braves, but the the Mets and Cardinals played a 20-inning marathon; a game this Insider was lucky enough to score.

Game No. 13 & 14 – New York Mets vs. St. Louis Cardinals

Two dominant pitching performances by Johan Santana and Jamie Garcia were overshadowed by the 20-inning affair Saturday night at Busch Stadium.

In a game that lasted nearly seven hours, three players (Jose Reyes, Jeff Francoeur, and Jason Bay) went 0-for-7. Francoeur’s 0-for ended his 10-game hitting streak, and dropped his batting average from .457 to .381.

Yadier Molina was the only player to record three hits, raising his average to .225. 

Because he’s hit .304 and .293 in the last two seasons, the low average after two weeks isn’t a concern. In fact, Molina’s production this far has been quite encouraging, as the 27-year-old has two HRs and eight RBI, with half of his at-bats coming from the five hole behind Albert Pujols and Matt Holliday. The youngest Molina brother could be in line for a healthy dose of RBI opportunities this summer.

The story of the first seven innings of this game was Jamie Garcia, the Cardinals’ 24-year-old southpaw who took  a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He was lifted from the game after seven innings, having allowed one hit and two walks while fanning five.

After two starts (the other at Milwaukee), Garica has a 0.69 ERA and 0.77 WHIP, with 10 strikeouts and five walks in 13 innings. He’s now worth owning in 14-team leagues.

St. Louis’ second best prospect according to Baseball America, Garcia features a 12-to-6 curve and two fastballs; one an 88-92 mph four-seamer, the other a mid-80′s cutter.

The big question surrounding the Cardinals’ fifth starter is his durability, as both his 2007 and 2008 seasons ended prematurely due to elbow soreness, and he missed most of 2009 recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Game No. 15 – Houston Astros vs. Chicago Cubs

Roy Oswalt stole the headlines in an afternoon game at Wrigley, pitching seven shutout innings while allowing just five hits and zero walks. Despite his 1-2 record, the 32-year-old sports a 2.37 ERA and 1.11 WHIP with a 17:4 K:BB ratio through 19 innings.

Following his 2009 campaign (his first with an ERA higher than 3.54), the Astros’ ace (and under-valued fantasy commodity) appears primed for a bounce-back season.

Hard-throwing Matt Lindstrom pitched a perfect ninth to record his first save of the season. Pitching for one of baseball’s worst teams, Lindstrom will likely be one of the least valuable closers in 2010.

Other notes from around the league:

Hitter of the day: Rick Ankiel (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI)

Ankiel is the year’s first two-time “Hitter of the day” award winner, as he whacked two bombs at Target Field Saturday night against the Twins. Through 11 games, the converted pitcher is batting .308 (12-for-39) with six runs, three HR, nine RBI, and one steal.

Keep in mind Ankiel hit 25 HRs in just 120 games with the Cardinals in 2008. Given a full season batting fifth in the Royals lineup, the 30-year-old could be a decent source for cheap power.

Pitcher of the day: Ubaldo Jimenez (W, 9 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 6 BB, 7 K)

Jimenez solidified his status among the game’s elite young pitchers Saturday night, throwing the Rockies’ first no-hitter against the Atlanta Braves. Though he did walk six (all within the first five innings), the 26-year-old is now 3-0 with a 1.29 ERA and 1.19 WHIP with 20 strikeouts in 21 innings.

Since the 2009 All-Star Break, Jimenez is 12-3 with a 2.77 ERA and a 117:49 K:BB ratio in 123 1/3 innings. Although his walk rate (4.06 career, 3.51 in ’09) is a slight cause for concern, his 96 MPH fastball and career 51.9 percent ground ball rate make him an extremely valuable fantasy commodity.

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