- Walking to the Cubs game yesterday, I knew it was going to be "one of those days." The stiff wind straight over my head in the bleachers spelled trouble for my boy Ted Lilly who is a notorious fly-ball pitcher (sub-1.00 GO/AO every year for his entire career - this year, its 0.53). No sooner did I take my seat in left field, the hits started coming and didn't stop. Lilly saved himself embarrassment of not having to leave mid-inning and finished the 3rd inning. In the end, he gave up 8 hits, 7 runs (only 4 earned), 2 HR, and struck out 3. He's had a few of these kind of outings this year, mostly in the beginning of the season, but with the Cubs posting the best record in baseball, remains a solid candidate to post a fair amount of W's for the long-haul. I'd like to see an improvement in QS% before feeling comfortable about having him in my rotation every 5th day (only 2 QS in 6 appearances in both April and in May).
- I continue to be a fan of Manny Parra's potential with the Brewers. I issued a 2-start pitcher recommendation last week (which turned out to be right for his first start against the Pirates, but terribly wrong against the Nationals - go figure). But Parra rebounded in yesterday's start, earning a QS and his 2nd W in the last two weeks. In his last four starts, even with the 6 ER blow-up, Parra is 2-0 with a 3.18 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, and 7.6 K/9. While the rookie's pitch count has only reached the 100-mark 3 times in 11 starts and has only pitched past the 6th inning once, he still holds plenty of upside and could make a bigger splash in fantasy leagues as the season wears on. His GO/AO of 39:27 mixed-in with a decent K rate makes him a guy I'm sticking by as an up-arrow candidate. He'll have his work cut-out for him against the Diamondbacks next week and in Houston against the Astros the following week.
- Talk about a fall-off. The Cardinals demoted Chris Duncan to Triple-A after season-long struggles at the plate and in the field. He's never really had a full season (yet), but in 280 AB in 2006, Duncan hit 22 HR for a HR/AB rate of 12.7. He also posted a 0.75 FPI that season. His 2006 saw a drop in production, with an increased # of AB's, but an overall drop in FPI. He hit 21 HR at a rate of 17.9 (still solid), but saw the FPI drop to 0.63. This season, he had just 4 dingers at a rate of 31.8 and an FPI of 0.55 before being optioned out of St. Louis and down to Triple-A Memphis. We'll see how long it take him to climb back to the big's, but obviously he has no active fantasy consideration at this time.
- Aaron Rowand didn't miss a beat on Friday after getting hit on the left hand in Wednesday's game. He only went 1-for-5 and with a SB, but his month of May has been fantastic. He's hitting .347 for the month with a .989 OPS and 0.85 FPI. His volume numbers include 5 HR, 19 RBI, 12 BB, and 2 SB. He kind of gets lost playing out in San Francisco, but we all know he has the potential to put up some big numbers. He hit .309 with the Phillies last year with 27 HR and 89 RBI. While the park in San Fran is the complete opposite than the one in Philly in terms of hitter friendliness, his HR/AB has not changed much with the move. Last year, he averaged a HR/AB of 22.7 while this year he is averaging 25.9. There's no reason to think he's not on a 25-HR pace once again.
- It just gets uglier and uglier for Mark Hendrickson. He only has 1 quality start in 6 outings in May with yesterday's performance being one of the worst of his career. He left after 3.2 IP and his pitching line closed at 10 ER, 7 hits, 1 K, 3 BB, and the loss. He has pitched past the 5th inning just once this month and seems to be cooling off like he did last year. In 2007, Hendrickson posted a 1.66 ERA in April, followed by miserable monthly ERA's May through September of 5.85, 3.77, 6.14, 7.59, and 5.73. This season looks to be taking a similar path: 2.56 ERA in April and a 7.20 in May. If you have trouble letting go, you can wait and see if he rebounds against the Braves in Week 10 and the Reds in Week 11, but I wouldn't give him much of a shot after that if he doesn't post a quality start.
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