Here’s another lesson on why you don’t draft pitchers for wins and why they are so difficult to project. Kevin Milwood had 13 wins last season with a 3.67 ERA, although the peripherals showed he was lucky as his Fielding Independent Pitching ERA was 4.80. Now, Milwood is winless with the Orioles, but he has pitched better than last season and is just unlucky right now when it comes to wins. The strikeout rate has gone from 5.57 K/9 to 7.41. The BB/9 has decreased from 3.22 to 2.12. Milwood has pitched well and should be traded at some point.
Current Orioles closer Alfredo Simon left yesterday’s game with a hamstring injury. Cla Meredith gave up a walk-off homer while not getting an out. He’s a candidate along with Will Ohman, who has pitched 14 2/3 scoreless innings with a 15/8 K/BB ratio, to close if Simon is out.
Jacoby Ellsbury returned from the disabled list on Saturday. He went 1-for-5 with two RBIs yesterday and should be back in all lineups.
If you need a short-term fill-in, consider Eric Hinske, who is eligible at first base, third base and outfield in many leagues. Hinske is hitting .405 with seven doubles, four home runs and 12 RBIs. He didn’t start yesterday against a lefthander, but he hit a pinch hit home run. With Melky Cabrera hitting just .213, Hinske should continue to see at-bats against righthanders.
Kris Medlen got a no-decision by going 5 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits, two runs, two walks and struck out two against the Pirates. If he can stay in the rotation, he will be fantasy relevant. Keep in mind that he began the season as a reliever, so he’s just starting to get his arm durable enough to be a starter. He threw 97 pitches yesterday.
Scott Rolen hit two more home runs and now has 10 with 27 RBIs and a .287 average and he likely didn’t cost much. Rolen has hit more than 11 home runs since 2007 when he knocked out 22. Injuries have been a factor, but playing in Cincinnati can boost home run totals. He had 475 at-bats last season between the Blue Jays and Reds and hit 11 home runs. Rolen won’t continue this home run pace. He has a FB/HR ratio of 19.6 percent and his career average is 11.3 percent. The third baseman could be a useful fantasy player, but it’s hard to envision him staying healthy all season.
Homer Bailey was beginning to show some promise again before being placed on the 15-day disabled list with inflammation in his right shoulder.
Kerry Wood picked up his first save of the season with a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit and striking out one. He’s still a candidate to be traded and I would hang on to Chris Perez in most leagues.
Josh Willingham isn’t a household name in fantasy circles, though you could do worse as one of your last outfielders. He’s a career .265 hitter, but he has eight home runs and 26 RBIs. He has cut down his strikeout rate to 20 %, improved his walk rate to 19 percent and his fly ball rate has increased to 49.5 %.
If Corey Hart is still available in your league, pick him up. He is coming on strong and hit his ninth homer yesterday. He struggled last season, but went 20-20 the two years before that.
Trevor Hoffman returned after missing a few days to work on his mechanics and pitched a scoreless eighth inning getting a strikeout, while throwing 10 pitches; nine for strikes. Carlos Villanueva, the temporary close, got the day off after throwing two innings Saturday. John Axford, a 27-year-old rookie, throws in the mid-90s, gets a lot of strikeouts, but has struggled with his control in the minors. He pitched an inning and allowed three hits, one walk, one run and struck out three for the save. Villanueva has the job for now, but if Hoffman can turn things around, he’ll regain the job.
If there was someone who needed to get off to a fast start upon returning from the disabled list it was Edwin Encarnacion and he certainly has done that with six home runs in six games. Jose Bautista hit his 14th homer and while I would sell high, he won’t be removed from the lineup while surging and Travis Snider, who began hitting before getting injured, is set to return next week. That could mean less playing time for Fred Lewis. Encarnacion isn’t great defensively, so he needs to hit. Encarnacion has always shown good power and should be picked up in all leagues while hot.
If you can still buy low on Jason Bay, do it. He hit just his second and third homers yesterday, but he is still capable of hitting 25.
The Nationals placed catcher Ivan Rodriguez on the 15-day disabled list with with a lower back strain. Will Nieves will get most of the starts in his place.
The Blue Jays designated Dana Eveland for assignment and recalled David Purcey, who will pitch out of the bullpen.
Carlos Guillen hit a home run in his second rehab game yesterday. It is his only hit in six at-bats so far. He could return later in the week and will play second base.
Lou Piniella said Carlos Zambrano won't return to the starting rotation until Chicago's next road trip, which begins May 31st.