Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Everything's Gonna Be Alright

The Nationals aren't exactly an impressive club, but they're better than they looked through the first 11 games.  Now with back-to-back wins over division opponent Atlanta, the Nats are building a little confidence.  It didn't hurt that closer Joel Hanrahan lowered his ERA to just 6.43, and got his second save in a row despite allowing runners to reach 2nd and 3rd with nobody out.

I think perhaps it's the dynamic nature of baseball that makes it so interesting, not only from a viewing perspective, but also from the two angles that this site covers, fantasy sports and betting.  The Florida Marlins, after rattling off 11 wins in 12 games, rolled into PNC Park feeling dapper, and the Pirates slapped 'em around in two straight.  The aforementioned Nationals looked ready to lose 150 games, and have bested the Braves in each of the rain delayed contests.  It can make selecting a fantasy lineup exceedingly difficult, and generally, unless you have 4-5 hours a day to dedicate to mixing and matching, your best bet is to start your best 9.

The betting side might be the more relevant in this discussion, and it's just this unpredictability that makes an EXPLANATION so very, very important.  It's also why a great deal of sports bettors can get caught up in the madness, and continue betting on teams like the Marlins and Dodgers, even though a change of venue can sometimes make all the difference.  Here's hoping the Mariners can continue to play solid ball at home, since their venue DID NOT change.  That was the overarching logic behind today's pick.

On to the fantasy run-down!

Adam Laroche - Repetition is key.  Laroche picked up another RBI tonight.  He won't work wonders for your average, at least not yet, but AGAIN, the fact that he's comfortably in the mid/high .200's at this stage of the season bodes remarkably well.

Jose Contreras - Feel free to pour what's left of Jose through a colander, then dispose of chunks.

David DeJesus - Generally undrafted after a somewhat disappointing 2008.  If the Royals can score some runs, DeJesus will be doing the lions share of touching home.  As it stands, I'd give DeJesus a ranking of "Solid Injury Replacement" for your roster.  Don't pick up yet, but maybe soon?

Kurt Suzuki - Dropped by many after an extremely slow start, should make for a catcher with nice upside, and definitely can assist with making up lost starts if you're a Geovany Soto or Mike Napoli owner.  Need numbers to help?  Suzuki went 4-for-4 today in the A's road loss to the Yanks, and he's hitting .327.

Aaron Hill - I'm a believer.  After spending a few years in California's Central Valley, I thought perhaps I was brainwashed by pro-Hill propaganda, but he's wedged in a ridiculously good Toronto lineup, and even when his average drops a little (which it inevitably will from its current post at .365), he'll still have ample opportunities to drive 'em home and get driven in, himself.

Clayton Kershaw - A pitcher this young is bound to have an off day every once in a while.  I actually had a chance to watch this game, and to be perfectly frank, he wasn't pitching all that poorly; just got burned by some veteran hitters (named Tejada and Lee).  Kershaw was throwing strikes, trying to be efficient, but just wasn't changing speeds quite enough to keep the hitters off-balance.  He'll be okay, just consider the quality of the opponent when using young Clay.

Jarrod Washburn - Who saw this one coming?  Don't lie.  If any of you said so, you're nuts.  Once a 3rd starter barely worth his weight in mashed pertaters, Washburn is having something of a pitching renaissance.  Could also be that the Mariners seem to give a crap about winning.  Either way, I'm sold.  Gave up 2 runs in the first inning, then really settled in.  Washburn fanned NINE, though admittedly the Rays strike out more than your average squad.  Jarrod was also 11-3 career against Tampa Bay coming into this start, so you have to believe he had a little bonus confidence.

Sleeper Alert ERIC BYRNES - Hitting just a buck and a half thus far in '09 after a truly miserable 2008.  Another situation where I was lucky enough to meet Eric during his 2008 rehab assignment, and he couldn't even hit pitching in A-ball.  That being said, most people have forgotten just how versatile Byrnes was when he had his health.  A legitimate 30-30 candidate, even coming remotely close to those numbers again would make E.B. a starting outfielder on almost any fantasy team.  Keep your eyes FIRMLY fixed on Eric, because his timing could come back at any time.  That moment will probably coincide with Byrnes getting moved up in the D'backs lineup, and a few more scoring chances.

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