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NL Player Notes - April 6, 2011

Joe Ribando

NL Quick Pitch: Andrew Cashner’s major league debut as a starter has Cub fans holding their breath as they await for the results on an MRI. Drew Stubbs is living up the hype while Drew Storen is not. With closers on the mind, Huston Street and Ryan Franklin both rebounded nicely on Tuesday after rough outings over the weekend. Jhoulys Chacin made fantasy owners forget Ubaldo for a night while Mike Leake forgot all about his rough spring in his 2011 debut. Matt Holliday’s stinkin’ appendix won’t put him on the DL and it will take more than a collision at homeplate to keep Brandon Phillips out of the lineup for Wednesday. Ian Desmond takes a trip down the Nats’ lineup to 7th in the order and in true Dusty Baker style, Jay Bruce inexplicably heads to the pine for a day-off 4 games into the season. I liked what I saw out of Chris R. Young on Tuesday night and Yovani Gallardo has been dominant despite a low K-rate through his first two games of the season.

Drew Stubbs (OF - Reds)
- Stubbs was one of those players this spring training who had a significant amount of hype behind him. Although its a small sample, he’s certainly living up to it to start the 2011 season. Through 4 games, Stubbs is hitting .438 with a .500 OBP, a HR, 2 SB, 3 XBH, and 3 RBI. We saw flashes of power and speed in 2010 with 22 HR and 30 SB and it looks like he’s picking up where he left off. With 30/30 potential this year, the hype is about to grow even more. If he can keep his K rates trending lower than last year (K/BB of 3.0 and a K% of 28.8%), I think we’ll see some awesome fantasy numbers by the end of the season.

Jhoulys Chacin (SP - Dodgers) - It took me three attempts to get the spelling on Chacin’s first name correct, but I have a feeling I’ll know it pretty quickly after last night’s performance. He dueled Clayton Kershaw and won. He hurled 7.0 shutout IP and scattered 5 hits while walking 2 (1 IBB) and striking out 4. The bullpen was strong and it earned him the first W of 2011. Some interesting things to point out from this game (aside from it being awesome to watch these two pitchers control the game like they did). One was that Chacin had complete control all game, throwing 59 of his 97 pitches for strikes. That induced 14 ground balls, 5 line drives, and just 1 flyball the entire game. With a little run support, by the end of the season, Chacin could be one of those game-changing fantasy buys from draft day.

Chris R. Young (SP - Mets) - I speculated in spring training that Chris Young could still have some fantasy value pitching in the cavernous park of Citi Field. It wasn’t an official QS, but he hurled 5.1 IP and allowed 1 ER, 5 H, 4 BB, and recorded 7 K’s to earn the W against the Phillies on the road. Young, who turns 32 in May, is coming off shoulder surgery that has kept him out of action since 2009. But he had a solid spring with a 1.78 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, and K/BB of 22/13 in 21.2 IP. NL-only consideration is a definite at this point, but he warrants a watch-list add in mixed leagues as well. His next start is a favorable one on Sunday against the Nationals at home.

Mike Leake (SP - Reds) - The Reds are stacked with starters (some of who are hurt right now), so its tough to know just how Mike Leake will fit into the Reds’ plans this season. After being shut down with shoulder fatigue last year and a horrible spring (7.29 ERA, 2.00 WHIP, 9 BB, 7 K’s, .379 OAVG), his status heading into 2011 is certainly up-in-the-air. But Leake took the mound on Tuesday and posted a QS with 6.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 K’s, 2 BB and the W against the Astros. I’m not sure if Houston is the best test for Leake’s fantsay value moving forward, but it certainly gave NL-only leagues a reason to take a deeper look at him for the upcoming Sunday start against the Diamondbacks. For now, I keep him on the bench for at least a few more starts.

Ian Desmond (SS - Nationals) - The Nationals are shuffling things up a bit, taking Ian Desmond out of the leadoff spot and moving him WAY down the lineup to 7th. Danny Espinosa will be taking over the leadoff duties for now, but it looks like the Nats will probably interchange them throughout the season. This could be a good temporary move for Desmond who is fighting his way out of an early-season slump. It could relieve some pressure for him to perform and wake his bat up a little. As I mentioned earlier in the week, he has SB potential (25+), but obviously needs to raise his OBP to get the opportunities. He’s a stretch option at SS until he gets things turned around.

Follow us on Twitter all year: @Fantistics and @jribando

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