One of the less talked about fantasy impacts this season has been the injury to Christian Guzman at SS for the Nationals. Normally this wouldn't mean much, but the injury has moved Lopez back over to SS before being able to acquire 2B eligibility in most formats. Lopez as a SS is pretty middle of the road, but as a 2B his steals potential can quickly move him up the charts at a thin position. It appears until Guzman is healthy Lopez will be the primary SS and will be prevented from obtaining the very valuable 2B eligibility in most formats. Lopez is off to a modest start this season getting on base and has surprisingly yet to attempt a SB. Much of Lopez's value this season will be derived from his ability to get on base and steal bases and so far we haven't seen it.
Some Braves fans had gotten on me about my prediction for them to finish 3rd in the division this year and so far they've got every right to get all over me. My lack of confidence in the back of the Braves rotation was challenged yesterday as Kyle Davies threw 6 2/3 very effective innings against the Mets limiting them to 2 ER. Davies struck out 8 and walked 3 while throwing 55% of his pitches for strikes. Davies control issues in his brief major league career (85 walks, in 157 innings) has been my primary concern along with a high HR rate but Davies showed promise in the minor leagues at limiting both the HR and the BB. If he can do that at the major league level and pitch an effective 6 innings, he'll garner plenty of attention pitching in front of a loaded Braves bullpen.
I should've alerted subscribers earlier in the week with regards to Capuano. Here's the thing on Capuano, he's really just a bit better than a league average starter who won't hurt you too much and offers some solid K potential (think 160-170 for the year). He doesn't walk a lot of batters and doesn't get lit up too often. He's safe and he's fine as a fantasy option, the problem is he gets drafted off of his 18 win season in 2005 and often is a bit overvalued for my taste. Regardless there is one thing you need to know about Chris Capuano, he OWNS the Cubs. Last year he posted 26 scoreless innings against the Cubs and this was the difference between a 4.50 ERA and the 4.00 ERA he ended up posting for the year. This is important because fantasy owners need to take advantage of every opportunity Capuano has pitching against the Cubs. Sunday was one of them and if it weren't for some shaky defense behind him He ended up going 5 1/3 innings and allowing 2 ER, just falling short of the quality start requirement and only allowed 5 base-runners while striking out 4. Against the rest of the league Capuano is pretty much a spot-starting option however his career record against the Cubs indicates he's a must start option anytime he faces them.
Hernandez returned to spacious RFK Stadium on Sunday afternoon and flirted with a no-hitter for 5 2/3 innings. Hernandez ended up giving up 3 hits and 3 walks in his 7 shutout innings and earned his first win of the season. Despite only striking out 1, Hernandez used the big ballpark to his advantage recording 12 fly ball outs. While this is a good start for Livan it may be more of an indictment of the Nationals lineup. At this point it appears quite clear they'll be offensively challenged throughout much of the year and have become the optimal spot-start for those that look to stream starting pitchers (Tim Hudson, Chuck James, and even Mark Redman should make suitable options this week.
More bad news for Carpenter as he had some increased swelling after a bullpen session on Saturday. Carpenter will now be sent for an MRI and won't be able to make his scheduled start on Saturday. We had warned previously about Carpenter's extended workload over the last two seasons (topping 250 innings in each season) and it appears some of that extended use may finally be wearing down his golden arm. This situation sounds extremely scary to me as inflammation in the elbow area can often be a precursor to something more significant. Keep Carpenter reserved from now and look for MRI results early in the week hopefully giving a better idea of what's going on in Carpenter's arm.