Josh Beckett didn't look great in his first outing with the Dodgers as he allowed seven hits and three walks in 5.2 innings at Colorado. Will things get better? Unfortunately for Beckett owners that was his his best outing in his last four trips to the hill. Beckett last won on July 15th, he's lost five of seven games since then, and his ERA on the year still sits at 5.21, a run an a quarter above his career 3.94 mark. He's certainly in a better environment than Boston now that he is with the Dodgers, he's away from the fish bowl of Boston and he's in a better pitching environment, but how much he will improve in 2012 though is an open question. It's not like he has shown a heck of a lot for most of this season.
Erik Bedard, in a highly unusual move, was released by the Pirates. Bedard has been a disappointment this season with 14 loses, tied for the most in baseball, and he also has a 5.01 ERA on the year. Things have been even worse than that for a long while as Bedard has a 6.35 ERA over his last 14 outings. He's still been a solid strikeout arm in that time with an 8.2 K/9 mark, and his season long mark is even higher at 8.5, that's not the problem. The issue is that he's walking too many batters (more than four per nine innings). He's also allowing a lot of big flies, his 1.00 mark per nine would tie his 2008 mark as a career worst. It's obviously not an over the top number by any means, it's pretty much league average, but it is a bit high for Bedard. The oddity with the number is that it comes despite the second lowest fly ball ratio of his career (33.2 percent). Part of the blame can also be left at the feet of a .314 BABIP, a 6-year high, a 23.4 percent line drive rate (a career worst – 20.2 is his “normal”), an a career worst 66.5 left on base percentage (72.2 is the norm there). This is not a pitcher bereft of skills, an it's surprising the club would let him go (someone will certainly take a shot at adding Bedard), but he's obviously not someone you can trust in any fantasy league at the moment, no matter how deep the league is or isn't.
Adrian Beltre is having yet another impressive season for the Rangers. On the year he's batting .315 with 25 long balls, 81 RBI and 74 runs scored putting him on pace for a third straight season of hitting .296 with 28 homers, 102 RBI and 82 runs scored. That doesn't tell the half of it though. Beltre has been tearing it up of late mashing pitches like he thinks he's Giancarlo Stanton (more on that below). Beltre, over his last seven games, has produced 15 hits to up his average .013 points. Over his last six games he's driven in 13 runners. Over his last six games he has also gone deep six times. It's pretty darn difficult to be much hotter than that. With all the ups and downs at third base this season, with players like A-Rod, Evan Longoria and Pablo Sandoval hurt, Beltre has gone out and done what he always does, and that is provide dependable production at the hot corner year after year.
Mark Trumbo has been a special player this year as he's gone deep 30 times and driven in 79 runs while qualifying at multiple positions. Given his low draft day cost he's been a wonderful fantasy asset this season. At the same time, that once proud batting average of his has tanked all the way down to .280. Entering the year is someone told you Trumbo would hit .280 you would have been plenty happy, after all he did hit only .254 last season, so there is certainly that. However, if you've owned Trumbo all year long, or worse added him in a trade around the All-Star break, you can't be happy with what he has offered of late. Over his last 40 games Trumbo has hit .234 with a mere .284 OBP (even his SLG is in the dumper at .392). Trumbo has been even worse in August as he's hit .202 with a .250 OBP. While certainly not a .202 hitter, I'm also not remotely convinced that Trumbo is a .280 hitter either. One of the main reasons for that continues to be his reluctance to take a walk (31 free passes) and his propensity to strike out (120 Ks). As I've been saying since he took off this year in the batting average category (he was hitting .348 on June 1st), there was just no way he was going to be able to hit .300 given his approach at the dish. The power is legit, his return on investment massive, but he's simply not the hitter we saw in the first half of the season.
BY THE NUMBERS.
.098: That nearly 100 point loss in SLG belongs to Adam Jones. In the first half Jones had a .534 SLG mark, a borderline elite number, but that number has dipped to .436 in the second half. Given that he owns a .449 career mark that second half number isn't unexpected, especially when you consider that his previous season best for SLG is just .466. His mark still rests at .502 this year.
.296: The batting average of Ike Davis in the month of August, light years above his .223 mark for the season. Davis also has 24 homers and 70 RBI on the year meaning he has a chance to hit 30 homers with 90 RBI this season an if he does so it will become just the second such season of 30-90 and less than a .230 batting average of the 21st century (Carlos Pena in 2009 hit .227 with 39 homers and 100 RBI).
.340: The batting average of Ryan Zimmerman since July 1st. Over those 49 games he has also gotten on base at a .414 clip while posting a .588 SLG. If we prorate his work over those 49 games to 150 games we'd end up with a third sacker who would hit .340 with 33 homers, 108 RBI and 117 runs scored. Yeah, that would be a pretty fair season wouldn't you say?
.400: The OBP of Miguel Montero over the last 30 days. A mighty impressive mark for any player, it is even more exciting given that Montero has hit just .260 in that time. That's a massive .140 point increase. The only catchers with better OBP marks the past 30 days are Yadier Molina (.449) and Buster Posey whose .491 OBP leads baseball. On the year Miguel is hitting .279 with a .386 OBP through 446 plate appearances.
0.98: The unexpected WHIP of Ervin Santana over his last five outings. During that stretch he's also posted a 3.58 ERA. That effort is diametrically opposed to his hideous work in July that included a 12.21 ERA and 2.29 WHIP. Oh yeah, his batting average against has also dropped
5: The number of homers that Omar Infante hit in his first 13 games this season. Over the last 102 games he has gone deep six times. The total of 11 homers is still the second best mark of his career, he went deep 16 times in 2004, the only other time that he has reached double-digits in the homer column. By the way Infante has hit .286 this season, right as should be expected for a guy who has hit at least .276 each of the past four years.
8: The number of homers that Giancarlo Stanton has hit in his last 11 games. Moreover, the guy has only 10 hits in that time. Ten. That's a pretty fair rate wouldn't you say? With 29 homers through 99 games Stanton is basically on a 45 homer pace, pretty much what everyone expected and he's even hitting .287. That average seems a bit elevated given all the K's and an inordinately high line drive rate for him (22.1 percent versus 16.4 percent his first two seasons), but it's been a welcomed bonus to the massive power he continues to display.
8: The number of consecutive seasons in which Mark Teixeira has hit at least 30 homers with 100 RBI. That run of success is potentially in danger as Teixeira suffered a Grade 1 strain of his calf, an injury that the club is saying could last 1-2 weeks. If the injury stretches more than that, or even if it is just that long, will Tex have enough time to hit seven more homers with 19 more RBI?
37.00: The league leading K/BB ratio of Cliff Lee in the month of August as he has struck out 37 batters and walked... one. Somehow he's been able to win just one game in five starts despite a number that no one has ever seen. This is just more of the same for Lee who has won all of three games this season in 23 starts despite a 3.67 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, a K per inning and better than six to one strikeout to walk ratio.
Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.