Ryan Flaherty was an unlikely hero Friday.
When we ranked Jimmy Rollins outside the top five among shortstops this winter, we suggested that the regression would continue. Well, that hasn’t necessarily been the case and we’ve got to give J-Roll some props here as he’s likely been the fourth most valuable shortstop in Fantasy baseball so far this season.
While he was hitless Friday, he still managed to draw a walk for the fourth straight game and steal a base for the second straight game, taking him up to 26 walks and 14 steals on the season.
The Phils may have been regretting re-signing Rollins after he got out of the gates so slowly (.235 BA, 554 OPS in April), but he’s gotten better and better since then and is having a huge run in June (20 runs, nine doubles, six homers, 16 RBI, 10 walks, four steals, 968 OPS).
The troubles he had early in the season, exacerbated by chasing too many pitches out of the strike zone, have been dealt with.
Really, since late-May, Rollins has been on a serious tear and with 45 runs in 76 games, he’s on pace for his best season in that department since 2009, which is a huge surprise given that mainstay Phillie boppers Ryan Howard and (until this week) Chase Utley haven’t been around to drive him in.
The recovery in Rollins’ power has also been pleasant for his owners as he’s already closing in on 30 extra-base hits. In recent years, he’s been a better second half player, so at this point, we recommend holding Rollins for the duration, unless you get an offer that simply can’t be ignored.
- We had a Ryan Flaherty sighting in Baltimore Friday night. Struggling offensively and pretty much stapled to the bench since Brian Roberts has come back, Flaherty has come through with hits in each of the past two games, including the go-ahead single in the seventh inning Friday to help the O’s bag a much needed win. Flaherty also walked and swiped his first base of the season, but the rookie super utility dude is still only worth looking at in extremely deep AL-only leagues, although that may change if Manager Buck Showalter keeps using him in right field.
- Another player that is starting to get our attention in single-league formats is Cubs starter Paul Maholm. We ranked him in the top 150 starting pitchers in the preseason, but in fairness, he’s been better – likely top 120. To call him inconsistent is generous, but man, he sure looked on his game Friday, earning his first win in seven weeks with 8 1/3 shutout frames. Maholm limited the Astros (yes, we know — not exactly known for their offense) to four hits while fanning six and walking just one. It was a stupendous performance from the veteran southpaw, who looked awful in April and really for most of June, but did actually look quite useful in May. Maholm’s first season with the Cubbies has featured an improved strikeout rate, but he hasn’t had the overall level of success he enjoyed in his final season with the Pirates. Still, if Maholm can put up performances anything like Friday’s on a regular basis, he’ll need to be grabbed in NL-only formats.
- Is Josh Johnson back? We ranked him as a top 30 starting pitcher heading into the season, but he really struggled out of the gate so overall has probably only been a top 75 hurler. Well, he’s definitely soaring up the charts these days, tossing another quality six innings Friday for his fifth win of the season. April was ugly for Johnson and May was only slightly better. But starting with his final outing of May, Johnson has been on a serious roll – reminding us what he’s capable of when healthy. In six starts since May 30, he’s given up just 31 hits, 10 runs, 13 walks and two homers in 40 2/3 IP while fanning 38. Johnson remains a good sell-high candidate because of his injury risk, but if you wanted to hold him to see how this plays out, we can’t say we blame you.
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