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Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight 5/4: Is Yankees’ Pitcher A.J. Burnett Really This Good?

Wed, May 5, 2010

Insiders Tonight

Image courtesy of: Keith Lovett

Game No. 21 on the Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight 162-game journey featured a pitcher’s duel between two of the N.L.’s most potent lineups.

Game No. 21 – St. Louis Cardinals vs. Philadelphia Phillies

• Adam Wainwright was his usual dominant self Tuesday night against the Phillies, allowing just one run on four hits and two walks in eight innings. He also struck out six.

The 28-year-old is now 5-1 with a 1.96 ERA, 0.97 WHIP and a 36/10 K/BB ratio in 46 innings thus far. With his performance thus far, Wainwright is making a strong case to be considered a top-five fantasy pitcher.

• After allowing 10 runs in his two previous starts at Arizona and at San Francisco, Cole Hamels regained his 2008 form Tuesday night at home against the Cardinals. In eight-plus innings, the former World Series MVP allowed eight hits and one walk while fanning eight. The only run he allowed was on an RBI double off the bat of Yadier Molina with no outs in the ninth.

This was just his second quality start in six outings this season, and Hamels’ ERA is now 4.42. His K/BB (44/12), however, is an encouraging sign. Look for a Fantasy Baseball Insiders featured post later this week, analyzing Hamels’ chances at a bounce-back season in 2010.

• Brad Lidge relieved Hamels in the ninth, inheriting Molina on second base with the score tied 1-1. Lidge induced a ground out before intentionally walking pinch-hitter Colby Rasmus. He then retired the next two batters, registering his second scoreless inning in as many nights.

With Ryan Madson on the DL for the next two months, Lidge is the Phillies’ only ninth-inning option.

• The starting catchers in this game (Yadier Molina and Carlos Ruiz) accounted for five of the 14 hits recorded. Ruiz provided all of Philly’s offense for the night, scoring Raul Ibanez on a sac fly in the seventh before launching a walk-off HR in the tenth.

Other notes from around the league:

HITTERS

Hitter of the day: Ryan Sweeney (3-for-4, R, HR, 5 RBI)

• Athletics’ right fielder Ryan Sweeney went 3-for-4 with his first HR of the season and a whopping total of five RBI Tuesday night. Oakland’s number three hitter is now batting .303 with 16 runs and 16 RBI this season.

The 25-year-old left-handed hitter has hit for a high average (.284 career) in his two-plus seasons in the majors. His power stroke, however, has yet to develop. Until it does, Sweeney’s fantasy value remains limited.

• Alfonso Soriano went yard again Tuesday night, his fifth HR in the last four games. During this time, the 34-year-old has hit .533 (8-for-12) with seven runs and 11 RBI.

Soriano is no longer a buy-low candidate as I mentioned two weeks ago, but the last few games should remind fantasy managers what he’s still capable of. Recent history says he’ll miss a few weeks due to injury, but Soriano can really carry a team when he heats up like this. 25 HRs, 90 RBI and a .280 average is well within reach for the Cubs’ number six hitter.

• Brandon Phillips went 2-for-4 with his third HR of the season Tuesday night. Since being moved from fourth to second in the Reds’ lineup on April 27, Phillips is 10-for-32 (.312), raising his average from .208 to .248.

• Hanley Ramirez went 3-for-6 with two runs, a HR and three RBI Tuesday night. The Marlins’ shortstop has exactly three hits in each of his last three games, with four HRs and 10 RBI during that span. His status as the second-most valuable player in fantasy baseball remains in tact.

• Juan Pierre stole his major-league leading 12th and 13th bases of the season Tuesday night against the Royals. Despite this, the White Sox’s leadoff hitter is hitting a paltry .218, a number that is sure to rise.

Keep in mind Pierre is a career .299 hitter. If Pierre’s current owner is frustrated with his pedestrian batting clip, shoot him an offer and cross your fingers, as Pierre appears capable of 100 runs and 40 steals with regular playing time this season.

• Vladimir Guerreo went 2-for-4 with a HR and five RBI Tuesday night, raising his season average to .333. Guerrero, who should gain outfield eligibility in Yahoo! leagues within the next few days, now has three HRs, three steals and 18 RBI in 26 games.

Given 150 games in 2010, the 35-year-old remains capable of 25 HRs, 100 RBI and a .300 average.

• James Loney went 1-for-4 with a HR and four RBI Tuesday night, extending his four-game hitting streak which includes nine hits, two HRs and 10 RBI.

The Dodgers’ first baseman is now batting .330 with 16 runs, 2 HRs, 17 RBI and four steals. A career .297 hitter with 90 RBI in each of the last two seasons, Loney is a solid option at a cheap price. Just don’t expect more than 15 HRs.

PITCHERS

Pitcher of the day: A.J. Burnett (W, 7 1/3 IP, R, (0 ER), 2 BB, 8 K)

A.J. Burnett turned in his second consecutive impressive start Tuesday night (albeit both were against the Orioles), allowing one unearned run on five hits and two walks in 7 1/3 innings. He also struck out eight.The 33-year-old is now 4-0 with a 1.99 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and a 28/11 K/BB ratio in 40 2/3 innings this season.

While he’s always been a good source of high strikeout totals (career 8.31 K/9), the combination of pitching half his games in Yankees Stadium, and several others against the Red Sox and Rays suggest Burnett’s 2010 ERA will likely approach 4.00. He isn’t necessarily a sell-high candidate, but back-to-back starts against Baltimore can be very misleading; he’s not quite this good.

• Livan Hernandez continued to baffle the baseball world Tuesday night, allowing just two runs (one earned) in 5 1/3 innings against the Braves. Though he did allow five hits and five walks, the 35-year-old moved to 4-1 with a 0.99 ERA and 1.02 WHIP through five starts this season. (For more on Livan Hernandez’s unbelievable start, click here.)

• Tim Lincecum struck out a season-high 13 batters Tuesday night against the Giants, though he allowed three runs for the first time this season.

In seven innings, the two-time CY Young award winner allowed five hits and one walk, raising his ERA and WHIP to 1.70 and 0.83, respectively. He now leads the majors with 56 strikeouts in 42 1/3 innings thus far.

• Ian Kennedy turned in his most effective outing of the season Tuesday night against a pathetic Houston lineup. In 6 2/3 innings, the former Yankees farmhand allowed no runs on eight hits and two walks, lowering his ERA from 4.45 to 3.65, though his WHIP raised from 1.05 to 1.14.

Through 37 innings this season, the 25-year-old Kennedy sports a 30/10 K/BB ratio. His true test will come in his next scheduled start against Milwaukee on Sunday.

• James Shields turned in his second consecutive double-digit strikeout performance Tuesday night, as he fanned 10 Mariners en route to his fourth win of the season. In eight innings, Shields allowed two runs on eight hits and zero walks.

Through 40 innings (six starts) this season, Shields boasts a 3.15 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, and a surprising 43/10 K/BB ratio. He’s obviously not this good, but Shields is scheduled to face Oakland and Seattle for the second time each in his next two starts. Enjoy the ride.

RELIEVERS

• Octavio Dotel returned to the Pirates Tuesday after attending the birth of his child over the weekend. In his first appearance in nearly a week, the Pirates’ closer pitched a scoreless ninth against the Cubs to notch his fourth save of the season.

Despite his early struggles (Dotel had allowed a run in each of his previous six appearances) the 36-year-old remains Pittsburgh’s best ninth-inning option.

• Joba Chamberlain picked up his second save in as many days Tuesday night, filling in for Mariano Rivera, who has been sidelined with a stiff left side. Mo remains day-to-day, but Chamberlain is in line to pick up a few more saves should Rivera miss any more time.

Be sure to check back for more Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight updates all season long!

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