Philadelphia Phillies (58-49, 1st place)
*Look out Cal Ripken Jr., here comes Ryan Howard. Howard enters tonight's game with a 221 consecutive games-played streak which is the longest in the Bigs right now. Minnesota's Justin Morneau is second in line at 192.
*DYK: The Phillies are 46-0 when leading after eight innings this season. That's not the ‘did you know". Did you know that there are actually four other teams who are in the same category? Yes, Tampa Bay (56-0), New York Yankees (52-0), Minnesota (51-0), and San Francisco (38-0). What should you take from that? Solid bullpens.
*The ancient Jamie Moyer is the oldest player to make an appearance in the Major Leagues this year (45) and he is still efficient, allowing just three earned runs in each of his last nine starts. He is also 3-3 with a 2.67 ERA in that span.
*Phils closer Brad Lidge hasn't blown a save this season, a perfect 25-for-25. Dating back to last season, that's 28-for-28. He has 45 strikeouts over his last 30 innings and had allowed just one home run over his last 51 outings. Stud.
*The Flyin' Hawaiian Shane Victorino is RED HOT. He now has a ten-game hit streak (.372, 16-for-33, two doubles, a triple, four homers, nine RBI and three stolen bases). I doubt you'll be able to pry him away from his owner at this point as a major "man crush" is beginning to bloom in that fantasy clubhouse.
New York Mets (58-50, 2nd place, ½ GB)
*Let's get some medical updates on the Metropolitans, shall we? John Maine's MRI revealed a mild strain of his right rotator cuff. He is just day-to-day. Pedro Martinez will start Friday night at Houston. Angel Pagan underwent successful surgery to repair his labrum.
*The next few lines are dedicated to the unexplainable hot streak that Carlos Delgado has put together. He is hitting .367 (18-for-49) with seven jacks and 19 RBI in his last 13 games. He has 34 RBI in his last 28 games. He is crushing it in July: .372 (35-for-94) with 20 runs, eight doubles, nine homers and 24 RBI. During the 24 games played this month, he has a hit in 22 of them. NOTE: These numbers were prior to his 0-for-4 last night.
*Delgado isn't the only hot Met in July. Jose Reyes led the National League in hits this month with 39. He finished tied with Baltimore's Aubrey Huff for the Major League lead. He actually leads the NL with 136 hits this season.
*DYK: Another great one from the Elias Sports Bureau concerning triples. Reyes notched his 12th triple of the season last week. That gives him four seasons of 12 or more three-baggers. Since 1940, only three others have achieved that feat: Stan Musial, Lance Johnson and Juan Samuel.
*David Wright set a new club record by crossing the plate in 13 consecutive games on Tuesday. The streak ended last night as the Marlins kept him off the bases.
Florida Marlins (57-51, 3rd place, 1.5 GB)
*You'll soon realize that this blog isn't always about fantasy - and this is one of those instances. If you are wondering how the Florida Marlins are hanging in this thing, consider this: the Marlins are second in the Majors in walk-off wins with nine. They avoid the twin-killings as well. They have hit into just 60 this season, tied for the least in all of baseball.
*Kevin Gregg is finding his comfort zone again after eight straight saves, including last night, giving him 23 on the season.
*Facing atough opponent last night in the Mets, Josh Johnson fared well enough to get the win in his fourth start of the season since his return from the 60-day DL. The team is now 4-0 in his starts and save the Damion Easley three-run homer in the seventh inning, he has been pitching solid enough to warrant some attention.
*Anibal Sanchez is another returner from the DL and will start tomorrow when the Marlins return to action. He'll face the Rockies for the first time in his career and while I am always against starting a guy in his return from an injury, you should track his progress. He is 8-1 with a 2.08 ERA in ten career starts in South Florida. Put him on your radar.
*Another holds/bullpen alert – Matt Lindstrom has gone 11 strait appearances (11.1 IP) without allowing a run, has 12 strikeouts in that span and hasn't allowed a homer at the ML level since August 5th, 2007. It's been 57.1 innings since last surrendering a long fly.
*It seems these catchers are coming out of nowhere and the latest is Fish backstop Cody Ross. He had his career- best 17-game hit streak come to a halt July18th and has now hit in 29 of his last 36 games, hitting .309 (42-for-136) during that time. DYK: He has a career-high 16 homers this season and eight of those 16 have either tied or given them the lead? Clutch.
Atlanta Braves (49-58, 4th place, 9.0 GB)
*While the Braves have been left for dead, there are some intriguing fantasy storylines to follow with the team. First, let's take a look at the main component they received in return for Mark Teixeira. Casey Kotchman didn't impress in his debut last night, going 0-for-5 against the Cardinals. Kotchman is just 25 years old and is on pace to enjoy his best year: .287 average, 12 homers and 54 RBI. He was the hardest to strikeout (17.3 plate appearances in between whiffs) in the AL.
*What about the other guy in the deal? Steve Marek is a 24-year old relief pitcher with a 3.53 career minor-league ERA spanning four seasons. This year, he was 2-6 with a 3.66 ERA and .223 opponent's batting average in 34 relief appearances at Double-A. He was originally a 40th round draft pick.
*Here is a little information on Gregor Blanco as he bursts onto the scene. He has two, four-hit performances in the last week. He has hit safely in 19 of 28 games with ten multi-hit games and is showing improvement against left-handed pitching. After succeeding just seven times in his first 46 at-bats against the lefties, he is 14-for-35 since that rough start. Like Colorado's Willy Tavares, Blanco is an infield hit machine, recording 22 already this season.
*Jair Jurggens is no longer a surprise; he is a legit starting pitching in this league. He struggled a little last night with the Cardinals but he has 12 "quality starts" out of 21 and leads all NL rookies with 10 wins and a 3.06 ERA.
*Feel free to feast on the "one bad outing" guy. Another holds/relief pitcher who is worth a look is Will Ohman. Flash back to June 20th when he gave up five earned runs to the Mariners after retiring first two he faced. Now, take away that appearance and his ERA would be 1.83 this season. He has had 16 appearances since the debacle on the 6/20 and has allowed a run in just one of those (last Friday against Philly). Just so you know.
*The Braves should continue to plug Yunel Escobar in that lead-off or No. 2 spot in the lineup. Take a look at how he is performing when getting a chance early:
Leadoff = 34 times (39-for-143, .273, 3 homers)
No. 2 = 51 times (61-for-213, .286, 3 homers)
*Kelly Johnson ranks third in all of the major leagues with his .323 batting average against left-handed pitching. Teammate Brian McCann always has to one-up; he is ranked second in all of baseball with a .324 mark.
Washington Nationals (38-69, 5th place, 20.0 GB)
*After trading away closer Jon Rauch, there is a new contributor in what has been a solid bullpen of late. Steven Shell has worked 13.0 consecutive scoreless innings to match the longest streak of the season by a Nationals pitcher (Rauch).
*Speaking of the Rauch trade, if your wondering how Emilio Bonifacio if faring since coming over from the D-Backs. Here you go: With Triple-A Columbus he is hitting .458 (11-for-24) with a double, four RBI, 3 walks, 3 steals and a .519 on-base percentage in six games. While he isn't a household name just yet, he is viewed as one of the fastest runners in the game and this 23-year old switch-hitter should generate some hype around draft boards next year.
*When Tim Redding takes the mound, the Nationals are 15-8. When the others start, the team is 23-61. That can be blamed more on the fact that the offense supports Redding with 5.68 every time he starts more than Redding being a dominant force in the rotation (not that you needed me to tell you that.)
*Cheap catcher alert! Jesus Flores is hitting .361 with a triple, two homers and 11 RBI in his last 12 games. Why? Once again, one of the reasons is he is getting it done with RISP (.361, 22-for-61). I guess what I am trying to say is if you are in an NL-only or deep league and really need to reach for something, you could do worse.
*Ronnie Belliard had missed three games in a row with a bad thumb and coming into last night was just two for his last 22. He came back in the lineup and went 1-for-2 with a couple of walks. He has been a disappointment if you really expected anything from him.
*It appeared Willie Harris was coming back to earth and settling into obscurity again after hitting .459 with a couple doubles, three homers in a ten-game stretch from July 10-24 before going one-for-14 the last four games. Last night he pounded out three hits, including his eighth home run.
*Felipe Lopez is really struggling. He is hitless in his last 15 at-bats and just one for his last 20. He is hitting .132 with RISP over the last 63 games.