Fantasy Notes: Pinstriper’s Pen Gets a Break
June 7, 2007 | | comment on this post
- If you’re seeking wins, Chien-Ming Wang could be worth a look. He won 19 times last year and with the Yankee offense starting to snap out of it lately, he’s about to start racking ’em up. Wednesday, Wang gave the overworked New York bullpen (first in the AL with 195 appearances and second in innings pitched) a break, tossing a five-hitter for the first nine-inning complete game for the Pinstripers since late July, when he two-hit Tampa. Give him three CGs for his career. Wang had an ugly start after beginning the season on the DL, but he looked very impressive in May, holding opponents to a .241 BAA and striking out 20 in 35 2/3 innings (which doesn’t sound like much, but is quite good for him). Now 5-4 with an ERA south of 4.00, Wang is exhibiting his usual superb control (15 walks in nine starts) and has actually upped his strikeout rate, making him somewhat less of a liability in 5×5 leagues. Just 27, Wang has room to grow, and with just three runs allowed in four of his last five starts, he’s settled in as the team’s most consistent starting pitcher. He survives his low strikeout rate with an array of deceptive pitches, forcing hitters to put the ball in play while rarely making solid contact. Wang definitely won’t hurt you in the long ball department.
- As mentioned, the Yanks are starting to hit and it’s leading to wins, as in six in their past eight games. After managing less than three runs per game during their five-game losing skid, they are racking up eight per contest during the current run. New York has 28 hits in the past two games and is now just a game and a half back of Toronto for second in the AL East, after which it will be looking up at just Boston. Summer must be around the corner.
- Johnny Damon’s recent resurgence has really helped spark the Yanks’ offense. With Jason Giambi on the DL, Damon has been acting as the DH and — unfettered from his defensive responsibilities — he’s continued to bounce back from a rough April in which he was slowed by back woes and hit just .229. He smacked two doubles and drove in a run Wednesday, giving him six hits in the last three games including five hits — three of them doubles — in the last two. Despite his unimpressive .264 BA, Johnny D continues to be a prime table setter at the top of the lineup with his .360 OBP.
- Javier Vazquez was back to his old tricks Wednesday, getting burned for seven hits and four runs in six innings despite fanning seven. After a poor May (0-3, 5.03) which resembled his rough 2006 season, Vazquez looked brilliant on Friday against the Jays, suggesting he was ready to heat up after a stretch of poor starts. Maybe not. Sure, as discussed, the Yanks are hitting again, but Vazquez is too inconsistent now to get a read on. He’s fallen to 3-4 despite improved hit rates (.240 BAA), but his command has slipped for the second straight year and he’s working harder this season than at any time since he was an Expo back in the day when such a thing existed. The Yanks certainly got a measure of revenge against Vazquez, 14-10 in New York in a disappointing 2004 season before he was dealt to Arizona.
- Another Yankee who is showing signs of life is Bobby Abreu. After hitting barely .200 in May, he’s been on fire in June, going 10-for-21 (.476) with at least one walk in every game this month. Last night, he homered for the first time in three weeks. It’s been a very unproductive season for Abreu, with an on-base percentage way down, and he’s especially struggled away from Yankee Stadium (.235 BA). But every game has been on the road so far in June, so if Abreu is really back, this isn’t a home cooking thing. If you believe in his track record, the window to buy low on Bobby may soon be shutting.
- Hideki Matsui began the season sluggishly and a stint on the DL for his hammy didn’t help as he barely hit over .200 in April. Since then, he’s been a bit more Godzilla-like, hitting .301 with four homers and 19 RBI in May and batting even higher in June, albeit without the pop so far. His eight-game hitting streak ended Wednesday, but he still produced a sac fly and drew his 20th walk in 44 games. It’s looking very safe to own Matsui again.
- So while the Yanks are hitting again, the ChiSox are doing anything but. They’ve dropped nine of the past 11 to fall to a season-worst three games under .500. This team has plenty of offense on paper — Paul Konerko, Jim Thome, Jermaine Dye, Tad Iguchi, Joe Crede, A.J. Pierzynski — but after being held to three runs or less for a 25th time on Wednesday, this is looking like a pop-gun offense. Speaking of gun offenses, Juan Uribe drove in the only ChiSox run last night and he’s actually batting .294 so far in June to raise his BA all the way to .219. Ugh. Remember when he broke through in 2004? Well, it’s been a non-stop regression for Uribe since. He’s striking out way too often, he’s not scoring in this weak offense and his pop is waning. Sure, Uribe is drawing some walks this year, but isn’t it time for the Sox to stop trotting him out there every day at short? Unfortunately, Alex Cintron offers an even weaker alternative. To make matters worse, Pedro Lopez regressed at Triple-A this year, and was lost on waivers to the Reds, leaving Tomas Perez to man short at Charlotte. Yes, that Tomas Perez. Uh, yeah. Things are even worse in Double-A, where SS Robert Valido is among the most offensively ineffectual players in the minors. In fact, the ChiSox don’t have anything resembling a shortstop who can hit that’s anywhere near the majors. Hell, manager Ozzie Guillen is probably the best option they have. Damn, didn’t this team want to rid itself of Uribe back in August? Are they afraid he’ll go postal if he loses his job? If this team plans to upgrade offensively at short, it will have to do so via the trade market. Get on the phone, Kenny.