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Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight 5/5: Yankees’ Brett Gardner Increases Stolen Bases Pace to 84

Thu, May 6, 2010

Insiders Tonight

Image courtesy of: Michael G. Baron

Game No. 22 of 162 in the Fantasy Baseball Insiders Tonight summer-long journey featured one of this year’s biggest surprises and a bounce-back performance from one of Oakland’s young guns…

Game No. 22 – Texas Rangers vs. Oakland Athletics

• After surrendering eight runs (six earned) in five innings in his first start of the season last week, Trevor Cahill rebounded nicely Wednesday against the Rangers. In five innings, the 22-year-old allowed one unearned run on five hits and three walks in five innings.

Like most young pitchers, Cahill will experience many ups and downs this season. Unfortunately for fantasy managers, very few strikeouts will accompany the inconsistency, making him tough to own in shallow leagues.

• After fanning 10 batters in three of his previous four starts, and entering Wednesday’s game against the Athletics having retired the previous 22 batters he faced, the resurgent Colby Lewis allowed two RBI groundouts in the first inning. Adam Rosales then lead off the second inning with a single before Lewis retired nine consecutive batters.

Eric Patterson led off the fifth inning with an unexplainable HR on a curveball he golfed over the fence in right-center field, the last run Lewis allowed. The 30-year-old Lewis – who now leads the A.L. in strikeouts with 44 – completed six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and three walks. He also fanned six.

Apparently Lewis still thinks he’s pitching in Japan, because through six starts this season, he owns a 3.03 ERA and 1.14 WHIP. He should be owned in all leagues.

Other notes from around the league:

HITTERS

Hitter of the day: Miguel Cabrera (3-for-3, BB, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI)

• Miguel Cabrera went 3-for-3 with a walk and two solo HRs against the Twins on Wednesday.

The Tigers slugger is now batting .372 with seven HRs and 30 RBI through 29 games, putting him on a ridiculous 39-HR, 167-RBI pace this season. The RBI opportunities may subside as leadoff hitter Austin Jackson cools off, but a .330 average and 40 bombs isn’t out of the question, strengthening Cabrera’s case as a top-five fantasy contributor.

• Adam Lind busted out of his 0-for-16 slump on Wednesday, going 2-for-4 with a go-ahead (and eventual game-winning) two-run HR. Despite his .252 average and alarming 27.9 strikeout rate, the 26-year-old Lind still has 14 runs, five HRs and 16 RBI through 29 games.

Brett Gardner went 1-for-3 with a run and a stolen base Wednesday, extending his hit-streak to eight games.

Through 25 games this season, Gardner is hitting .346 with 22 runs and 13 steals. Now eligible in left and center field, the 26-year-old speedster appears primed for a breakout season. In a loaded Yankees lineup, 100 runs and 50 steals cannot be ruled out.

• Giants’ leadoff hitter Aaron Rowand homered for the second time in two nights in his third game since returning from the DL Wednesday night. In those three games, Rowand is 5-for-14 (.357) with the aforementioned two HRs and five RBI. Don’t expect the mini power surge to continue, but he’s worth owning in 14-team leagues.

• David Ortiz went 2-for-3 with his third HR in his last four games Wednesday night. Despite this, Big Papi now finds himself in a mini platoon at DH with Mike Lowell and Victor Martinez. 25 HRs may still be attainable, but a killer average is sure to follow. The 34-year-old’s days as a premier power-hitter are long gone.

• Carlos Lee went 1-for-4 with two RBI and his first HR of the season Wednesday night. Since teammate Lance Berkman returned to the Astros’ lineup on April 20, Lee has gone 15-for-52 (.288) with four multi-hit games and eight RBI. This obviously still isn’t the Carlos Lee we’re used to, but it’s a start. He remains an excellent buy-low candidate.

• Perhaps one of the most pleasant bounce-back performances thus far has come from Alex Rios, who went 2-for-3 with two runs, a HR and three RBI Wednesday night. The White Sox’ center fielder is now batting .309 with 12 runs, four HRs, 14 RBI and nine steals in 25 games this season.

Given a summer at U.S. Cellular Field and the potential in Chicago’s lineup possesses, Rios is likely to post 20 HRs and steals 30 bases, a combo that fantasy managers have been expecting for several years.

PITCHERS

Pithcer of the day: Kyle Kendrick (W, 7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K)

• Kyle Kendrick turned in a true head-scratcher on Wednesday, tossing seven six-hit shutout innings against the Cardinals, lowering his ERA and WHIP to 5.87 and 1.53, respectively. The 25-year-old should be used only sparingly in deep leagues as favorable matchups present themselves.

• Andy Pettitte lasted just five innings against the Orioles on Wednesday, his shortest outing of the season. He was removed after experiencing tightness in his left elbow, which the Yankees are calling “mild inflammation.”

The 37-year-old Pettitte moved to 4-0, allowing just one run on six hits and two walks. He’s expected to make his next scheduled start Tuesday against Detroit.

• Barry Zito tossed his sixth consecutive quality start to begin the season on Wednesday, allowing one run on seven hits and one walk against the Marlins. Zito, who turns 32 next week, is now 5-0 with a 1.49 ERA and 0.92 WHIP in 42 2/3 innings.

2009 proved he can still be serviceable, but this is ridiculous. Zito’s .228 BABIP and 82.1 percent strand rate, however, are simply unsustainable. If there’s anyone in your league who believes Zito’s early success will continue, flip him for a more consistent option and don’t look back.

• Cliff Lee’s line in his second start of the season looks worse than it actually was. Through seven innings Lee had allowed just two runs on six hits and zero walks. A few base hits and an error in an ill-advised eighth, however, left Lee with a line that reads: eight innings, ten hits, five runs (four earned), zero walks and five strikeouts.

Through 15 innings (all at home) against the Rangers and Rays this season, Lee has a 2.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP and a 13/0 K/BB ratio. His next start at Baltimore will an interesting one, but his real test should come during the May 14-16 series at Tampa Bay.

RELIEVERS

• Indians’ closer Chris Perez blew a two-run lead in the ninth against the Blue Jays on Wednesday without allowing an earned run. Perez induced two quick groundouts before allowing a double off the bat of Fred Lewis. The game appeared to be over as Aaron Hill hit a grounder to shortstop Luis Valbuena who bobbled the ball, allowing Lewis to score from second. Adam Lind took advantage of the error, slugging an opposite-field two-run blast to give Toronto the lead and Perez the tough-luck blown save.

Perez is expected to lose the Indians’ save opportunities once Kerry Wood returns from the DL in the next week or two. However, Perez should be owned until Wood proves he is healthy again and can handle the role.

• With both Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain unavailable on Wednesday, Alfredo Aceves picked up the one-out save against Baltimore. Yankees’ manager Joe Girardi said Mo could have pitched, but with an off day on Thursday, he elected to give the 40-year-old an extra two days off. Rivera should be available to close for the weekend series at Boston.

• Franklin Morales walked two batters without recording an out in a tie game Wednesday night before Manny Corpas came in to clean up the mess. Ian Stewart’s walk-off solo HR in the 12th gave Corpas, who pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings, his first win of the season.

In fairness to Morales, most of his recent struggles have come in tie games, as he hasn’t seen a save opportunity since April 22. Fair or not, Wednesday’s performance may have shut the door on Morales’ future save opportunities, though Huston Street’s expected return from the DL later next week would have done the trick as well. Nothing is official, but Corpas is probably the ninth-inning favorite until Street returns.

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

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