This is just a sample of our daily notes.
Tim Lincecum (SP-SF) - Maybe they will take the All-Star break and push him back to give him a bit more rest between starts than normal, but the Giants need to do something with Lincecum. Sunday, the ex-ace allowed six runs on seven hits over just 3.1 innings in an ugly loss to A.J. Burnett and the Braves. Burnett is now 10-2 while Lincecum sits at 3-10 on the season. After seven scoreless innings against a depleted LA lineup, Lincecum has allowed 13 runs in his last 6.2 innings. For the year, his ERA sits at 6.42 despite a solid 9.7 K/9. I really don't know how this gets solved, as he's lost his velocity, control (4.7 BB/9), and his intimidation factor. When he's not hitting his spots, Lincecum is getting killed, as he doesn't have the velocity and his secondary stuff has lost his bite. If I'm the Giants, I give him time on the DL and see how the arm reacts after a couple weeks off.
Neil Walker (2B-PIT) - I couldn't let the day go by without acknowledging Walker's performance Sunday. Against Tim Lincecum and the Giants, Walker was 5-for-5 with a double and his sixth home run of the season. The big day lifted Walker to a slash line of .291/.357/.417. He's now hit in each of his last 12 games and in eight July games, Walker is batting .500 with two homers and six doubles. He has the bat to be an above average offensive second baseman, and with seven steals, he's contributing with his legs as well. Walker has increased his BB% in each of the last two seasons, with that mark sitting at 9.3% so far in 2012. A solid guy to own in most formats.
Andrelton Simmons (SS-ATL) - Simmons has been diagnosed with a broken right pinkie, likely meaning he's going to have to go on the DL. Perhaps he could play with the pain, but it would hurt him each time he threw the ball and swung the bat, so giving him some time off for healing is likely. Simmons was batting .296/.336/.452. Simmons had a .129 ISO in Double-A prior to being recalled this year, so the increased power (.156 ISO) and solid AVG as a big leaguer have been nice surprises. He's stolen just one base for the Braves, but those will come once he moves up in the order. It's possible Tyler Pastornicky replaces Simmons at shortstop for the time being.
Ryan Dempster (SP-CHC) - Out since June 15 with a shoulder injury, Dempster returned with five scoreless innings Sunday in a win over the Mets. He threw an impressive 45 of his 63 pitches for strikes in walking none and striking out four to improve to 4-3 with a 1.99 ERA. The Cubs have to be elated, not only that they won the games, but that Dempster proved he's healthy to potential trade partners. Dempster has held opposing hitters to a .204 average while posting a solid 70:22 K:BB in 86 innings. Wherever he winds up (LA?), he'll likely continue to be a solid #2 type starter.
A.J. Burnett (SP-PIT) - Some guys are clearly best-suited for NL duty, and that appears to be the case with Burnett. He improved to 10-2 Sunday, holding the Giants to two runs on four hits over 6.1 solid innings. Burnett's first half consists of a 3.68 ERA and 79:33 K:BB in 93 innings. His 3.1 BB/9 would be his best walk rate since 2006 if it holds and he's elevated his GB% from last year's 49.2% to 56.6% entering Sunday's action. Fewer walks and more batted balls on the ground usually equates to success, and it has held true with Burnett.