Let’s take a look at some of the biggest stories from yesterday’s games:

American League:

  • Michael Brantley  – Cleveland Indians – He went 1-4 with one run, but the bigger thing to note was his stolen base, his second straight game with a steal. He’s taken over the leadoff duties and is playing virtually everyday, certainly making him worth stashing in five-outfielder formats. While he hasn’t shown off the speed much this season, he is just a year removed from a 50 SB campaign between Triple-A and the Majors.
  • Josh Bell – Baltimore Orioles – He has struggled since assuming regular third base duties, but he may be finally coming around. He went 1-3 with one RBI yesterday, giving him a modest three-game hitting streak. Still, it’s the strikeouts that are holding him back, currently with a strikeout rate of 37.9 percent (as well as a fly ball rate of just 16.7 percent). He’s better than this. These last few games could be the sign that he’s started adjusting to the Major Leagues. Just keep him stashed away for now.
  • Jacoby Ellsbury – Boston Red Sox – The ball was flying all over the field in Texas, with nine home runs being hit (including a pair for J.D. Drew), but the biggest story was Ellsbury being forced out early. He apparently was “re-injured in the first inning when he hit a slow grounder up the first-base line and collided with Texas starter Tommy Hunter, who raced to the bag to make the play. Ellsbury tumbled over Hunter,” according to Peter Abraham of the Boston Globe (click here for the post). He will have an MRI, but there appears to be concern that he aggravated the injury that kept him out earlier this season. At this point, all you can do is cross your fingers and hope for the best.
  • Ryan Raburn – Detroit Tigers – He went 3-4 with one HR, his second straight game with a HR and his fourth multi-hit game in his last five. He’s getting regular playing time now and is finally starting to look like the player who hit 16 HR in 261 AB a year ago. He’s a low-end option, but if you are in a daily league and need a short-term fix, you can plug him in there for a couple of days while he’s hot. There is a chance this hot streak extends, so everyone should monitor him for now.
  • Gregor Blanco – Kansas City Royals – He’s taken over the leadoff spot since being acquired from the Braves and showed why yesterday, stealing three bases while going 2-4. He has never proven to be able to hit for a good average, so consider him a low-end option, at best, unless he proves capable. If he can’t get on, the speed won’t matter.
  • Marc Rzepczynski – Toronto Blue Jays – Those who followed Rotoprofessor preseason know that I was high on him, but injuries and inability pulled the plug on that early on. Performances like this certainly put him back on the map. He showed an ability for strikeouts (six Ks in 7.0 innings). He didn’t walk a batter. Of his 21 outs, 12 were via groundball (and only three in the air). He allowed just two hits and should have earned himself another start. He has the potential to be a solid option in all formats, as the Blue Jays have become notorious for developing young pitchers of late.

National League:

  • Jay Bruce – Cincinnati Reds – He was overshadowed by Mike Stanton (3-4, two HR), the beating Josh Johnson (3.2 IP, six ER, 10 H, two BB, zero K) and the strong start from Edison Volquez (6.0 IP, one ER, eight hits, two BB, six K). Don’t ignore Bruce’s performance, as he went 2-4 with one HR, three RBI and one run himself. He has not lived up to preseason expectations at this point, but make no mistake, he has the potential and could produce big numbers over the final few weeks of the season. It was his first home run since June 30 and hopefully is just the start. While he’s not going to reach the preseason projections, he still should be a usable option down the stretch.
  • R.A. Dickey – New York Mets – The knuckleballer allowed just one-hit in a complete game shutout, and that came courtesy of Cole Hamels. That’s right, the pitcher had the only hit. Does anyone else believe in the curse of Nolan Ryan yet? The Mets may never get a no-hitter, but no one is complaining about Dickey’s performance. He proved here that you shouldn’t be concerned if he hits a bump in the road (he struggled in his previous start), he’s worth using in all formats. Yes, the Phillies did go without Chase Utley and Ryan Howard, but there are rumblings that both could be back as soon as next week.
  • Tim Hudson – Atlanta Braves – He was fantastic yet again, tossing 8.0 shutout innings, allowing three hits and one BB while striking out six. It’s hard to be worried about the results (2.13 ERA and 1.07 WHIP), but we’ve seen from guys like Josh Johnson and Ubaldo Jimenez that rough spots happen. Hudson has benefited from a .231 BABIP and 84.6 percent strand rate, so a turn in fortunes is certainly possible. I’m not suggesting not using him, but if your trade deadline hasn’t passed yet, selling high on him is worth exploring.
  • Jonathan Broxton – Los Angeles Dodgers – He found his name in the news, coming in to pitch the eighth inning last night. After a disastrous outing, he has “temporarily” been removed as the Dodgers closer, according to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times (click here for the article).  Hong-Chih Kuo will assume closing duties for the time being… really? Seems odd, considering the acquisition of Octavio Dotel and the presence of George Sherrill, but if you are desperate for saves grabbing Kuo will be worth it.
  • Jake Westbrook – St. Louis Cardinals – He picked up his first win for the Cardinals, allowing two ER on six hits and one walk, striking out three, over six innings. In three starts since the trade, he’s allowed seven ER on 16 hits and two walks, striking out 19, over 19 innings. Maybe the move to the NL will significantly help, but I would still consider him a low-end option and play matchups with him for now.
  • Evan Meek – Pittsburgh Pirates – Just when it looked like he could move into the closer’s role with a strong outing, Meek got bombed for four ER on five hits an one BB in just 0.1 innings. Not that the Pirates have been giving many save opportunities of late, but it looks like Joel Hanrahan should remain in the closer’s role for now.
  • Jorge De La Rosa – Colorado Rockies – We have to love the strikeout potential, but he’s a killer on the WHIP right now. Yesterday he went 5.2 innings allowing three ER on six hits and three BB, striking out five. He is sporting a 1.48 WHIP on the season. He does have a .317 BABIP and 65.3 percent strand rate, so there is some upside there.  If he can ever reduce his current 4.8 BB/9, he’ll really be something. He got hot down the stretch last season and remember, he is still recently off the DL. Keep him stashed for now, but I’d expect him to develop into a must use option before the year is out.

What are your thoughts from yesterday’s games?


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