Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Bergmann Flirts With No-No

As I was helping one of my best friends move yesterday, I was keeping close tabs on the happenings around the diamond on my cellphone. It's pretty amazing what cellphones can do these days. As the evening progressed, the game between the Washington Nationals and Atlanta Braves caught my attention. Through three innings, the Nationals' Jason Bergmann was throwing no-hit ball... and this continued through the fourth, the fifth and into the sixth as the Nats held tightly to a 1-0 lead. Bergmann cruised through the 7th as well and the Nats added a run in the bottom of the frame for a 2-0 lead. Six outs away from the pitchers ultimate... and in one swing of the bat, the Braves' Brian McCann ended it... a solo homer to lead off the 8th inning took away both the no-hitter and the shutout. Bergmann retired the next three batters and was pulled in the 9th after giving up a pinch hit single to Matt Diaz. In addition to only allowing two hits, Bergmann also struck out 10 batters - he was thoroughly dominant. Jesus Colome got the final three outs for his first save and the Nationals won a league best fourth straight!

The only bad to come out of this is that I decided not to go with my gut instinct in a couple of my CBS Sportsline fantasy leagues this week. I needed a couple of two start pitchers, and in two leagues, the final decision came down to Bergmann and the Phillies' ageless wonder, Jamie Moyer... Yes, I picked Moyer in both leagues! Argh! I can only hope that Moyer recovers from his 5 earned run, 9 hit, 2 walks allowed performance (with only one strikeout!) in his outing this weekend... One solace I have is that I did manage to pick up Bergmann in a few of my less important leagues where I really needed some help. Ironically, in those leagues the guy I dropped for him was the now injured Shawn Hill...


It's time now for some Diamonds in the Rough... my weekly look at players who could be available in your fantasy league and should be able to help your fantasy teams!

1. Jack Cust (OF - OAK) 53 % owned in CBS Sportsline leagues - Last week, another Oakland A, Dan Johnson, was my #1 pick... and he's only gone from 35% owned to 74% owned after an amazing week... As great as Johnson's week was, Cust had an even better week, putting up 5 homers and 12 RBI's in the four games from May 10th through May 13th. Cust has ALWAYS had the ability to hit, but he's never gotten a chance to play full time. As he's toiled in the minor leagues for most of his professional career, the one thing that has happened is that he's become a more patient hitter. Last year, Cust drew 143 walks in Triple A ball (with an amazing .467 OBP) while hitting 30 homers in 441 at bats. The A's have a history of getting players that have been discarded by others and turning them into hidden gems - read Michael Lewis' Moneyball to get the lowdown on their philosophy. As for Cust, I see no reason why he can't become a 30 homer guy annually. Ryan Howard burst onto the scene with 57 homers last year... cust may be someone to follow in his footsteps.

2. Jason Bergmann (SP - WAS) 27 % owned - Well, I was planning on spotlighting Bergmann even before he pitched his gem last night... with that performance his ERA now stands at 2.76 and his WHIP at 1.00. Hitters are batting only .162 against him! With a 2:1 K/BB ratio, it looks like Bergmann is the real deal. Due to a lack of run support, his win yesterday was his first of the season. The Nats bats are finally starting to show some signs of life after lying dormant for over a month. Perhaps now they will start providing him some run support. If so, he might be good for another 12 wins or so the rest of the way.

3. Craig Monroe (OF - DET) 58 % owned - Is it just me, or is it every year that this guy just flys under the radar and posts very solid numbers??? 28 homers and 92 RBI's last year, 20 homers and 89 RBI's the year before... These numbers are pretty good for a 5th outfielder, yet he's just sitting there available in almost half of fantasy leagues at the moment. A very slow start in 2007 got people off his bandwagon this year almost as quickly as they got on, but Monroe has gotten hot of late, raising his average from .202 to .261 in a recent 12 for 25 stretch over the past week. While he never is going to help you in the batting average or speed department, guys that can get you 25 homers and 90 RBI's with a .265 or so batting average will do nothing to hurt you. At 30 years of age, Monroe is in the prime of his career, so I'd say there's an excellent chance he could reach both 30 homers and 100 RBI's for the first time if he remains healthy.

4. Wily Taveras (OF - COL) 47 % owned - Taveras has had some injury issues early on in the season, but those appear to be behind him now... With a .302 batting average, 22 runs scored and nine steals, he's done everything you could ask for from a leadoff guy. The only thing is that he has been caught stealing six times, but at least he's running! You have to figure that his luck will change and more of those caught stealings will turn into steals. With the red-hot Todd Helton and Matt Holliday hitting behind him, it's entirely possible Taveras could score another 80 runs while stealing 40 bases the rest of the way. In the thin air of Colorado, that .300 batting average he currently owns is likely to only get better!

5. Felipe Lopez (SS - WAS) 78 % owned - With the season-long slump of most of the Nationals players, people have been very inclined to jump ship on many of their better players - I even managed to get Ryan Zimmerman off the free agent wire in a very competitive league this week. Over his past two years, Lopez has produced 34 homers, stolen 59 bases, scored 195 runs with a .282 batting average... Needless to say, that's a lot of production from the shortstop position. Yes, Lopez currenly is in the midst of a 5 for 35 slump (.143)... but he's been too good the past couple of years to give up on now and we all know that law of averages! Look for him to get back on track as the Nationals finally are starting to play up to their potential.

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