Cubs Fantasy Report: Lilly Blooming
The Cubs got a much needed victory Saturday, just their third in nine games, when they hammered St. Louis 9-3 to pull within a half-game of the NL Central leading Cards. This sets up a huge rubber match Sunday night, as Chicago will seek to take over the division lead before traveling to Cincy for three games next week.
Noteworthy from a fantasy perspective:
- Ted Lilly turned in his third straight quality outing to earn the win. It definitely looks like the veteran southpaw has turned the corner, making him an attractive pick up after he was dumped early in the season following a horrendous start to the campaign. While Lilly yielded a pair of dingers Saturday, he walked just one – the first time since his season debut that he didn’t issue at least two walks in a start. He fanned four in seven innings, including the 1,000th strikeout of his career, and even pitched in at the plate with a double – just the second extra-base hit of his career. If you need starting pitching – and whoever doesn’t? – now is the time to snatch up Lilly.
- Kerry Wood is scuffling, with three blown saves in his last four tries, but manager Lou Piniella says he’s sticking with him. Wood really hasn’t pitched horribly, so I believe that he’ll keep the job for the foreseeable future, but if you drafted Carlos Marmol, you must be licking your chops. Not only has Marmol been absolutely filthy, but now he’s just a hop, skip and blown save away from having serious value. A word of caution: Marmol has been worked hard this year, and I’m a wee bit concerned how he’ll hold up over the course of the season at this rate, especially given his injury history.
- Okay, Mark DeRosa has been very productive, but doesn’t it seem like Mike Fontenot deserves more PT? The dude is riding a five-game hit streak, which isn’t easy given that he only gets one or two plate appearances per game. He’s on a 6-for-9 run with a double, homer, seven RBI and four walks during this stretch. Saturday, he smoked a three-run homer and drove in a career-high four runs. Fontenot has no fantasy value except in a seriously deep NL-only league, but damn, he needs to get his licks. If DeRosa suffers another injury this year, get ready to pounce on Fontenot.
- The Cubs’ offense keeps raking. They had 12 hits Saturday, and rank first in the NL in BA (.286), runs (186), OBP (.375) and OPS. The pitching, however, has been middling for the most part.
- Rich Hill’s wildness cost him his job, as he was sent back to the minors. This was quite a shock after Hill showed very fine development in 2007, but now he’ll have to get his act together at Triple-A. In his place, Sean Gallagher, who had his own bouts of wildness last year, has been recalled. But it will be Jon Lieber who takes over Hill’s rotation spot. Smart fantasy owners will make a bee-line for their wires and grab Lieber, who has been strong out of the pen so far this season. Lieber won’t get you many strikeouts, but he won’t hurt your WHIP, should post a decent ERA, and will get you Ws with that great Cub offense.
- Geovany Soto continues to live up to the hype in the early going. He stroked a two-run double Saturday to run his current hit streak to five games. Soto already has 17 extra-base hits and 23 RBI in just 27 games. After another pair of walks Saturday, he’s now drawn 17 free passes too. Power and OBP skills? Uh, yeah. Give him a 1044 OPS. That’ll do. In fact, I’d say only Ryan Doumit has been a more valuable fantasy catcher so far in 2008.