A Happy Hanley is a Hittin' Hanley
Hanley Ramirez went 3-for-5 with an RBI on Monday, extending his hitting streak to 20 games. After spending six-and-a-half years in an abysmal Florida Marlins organization which had a winning record only twice while Ramirez was there, he finally seems interested again. Hanley often was labeled as a player whose mind was elsewhere, who didn’t want to be a leader, or who was otherwise somehow uninterested. Aside from making a ridiculous amount of money, what motivation did he have to be any of those things? Marlins owner Jeff Loria had traded away some of the most talented names in baseball without blinking an eye (Miguel Cabrera, Josh Beckett and “The D-Train” to name a few), and he has not shown a commitment to winning since Jim Leyland was aboard. So here we are in July, a now-healthy Hanley Ramirez is playing with the likes of Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp (DL) and rookie sensation Yasiel Puig, and he seems to be like a kid in a candy store. Hanley’s 7 HR, 21 RBI and 24 R seem pedestrian for July numbers, until you see that he’s hitting .419 and has done all of that damage in just 105 at-bats. I’ll admit, I was scared on draft day, too scared to throw any auction dollars up for him, but now I wish I had.
Pencil in Erasmo
Monday, the Mariners DFA’d Jeremy Bonderman after an underwhelming 38.1 innings pitched during which he posted a 4.93 ERA and 16/17 K/BB ratio. It was only a matter of time before the Mariners pulled the plug. The result: the Mariners youth movement continues. Yesterday, I had a glimmer of hope that stud-in-waiting Taijuan Walker would be the surprise candidate for the rotation vacancy. However, in a very fantasy-relevant move, the M’s have decided to give Erasmo Ramirez the first crack at the gig. Ramirez has made seven starts for Triple-A Tacoma, going 3-3 with a 3.09 ERA and a 42/14 K/BB ratio since returning from triceps soreness which forced him to start the year on the minor league DL. The 5'11" Nicaraguan right-hander stated eight games for the Mariners in 2012, going 1-3 with a 3.36 ERA with a 48/12 K/BB ratio over 59 IP. Erasmo may not be a dominating force for strikeouts, but he could be a serviceable number 4 or 5 fantasy starter in roto leagues. I’d suggest giving him a spot on your bench if you have the room, and then you'll be ahead of the game after seeing what transpires on Thursday.
Ramirez's Triple-A Tacoma teammate Taijuan Walker shouldn't be too far behind in terms of a callup to the big club. Walker had yet another impressive outing at Triple-A, going five innings and allowing just one run; he has a 2-0 record with a 0.56 ERA, a .186 opponent’s batting average and a 16/5 K/BB ratio since making the jump to the PCL. Baller Move: It’s time to stash Taijuan Walker in deeper mixed leagues and AL-Only leagues.
AL Hot Shots:
- White Sox rookie catcher Josh Phegley hit a homer in his second straight game. He should have no trouble supplanting Tyler Flowers as the starting catcher if he keeps hitting. Baller move: ADD NOW in two-catcher formats.
- Raul Ibanez hit home run number 22 as the M’s pummeled the Red Sox 11-4. He’s got eight homers in his last 11 games. Father Time is a must-start right now while he’s on a power bender. Still, I am labeling Rauuuul as a sell-high candidate.
- Bartolo Colon improved to 12-3 with seven strong innings of one-run ball on Monday. The stingy bullpen duo of Ryan Cook and Grant Balfour slammed the door on the win. Balfour, at the age of 35, has been become one of the best closers in baseball. On Monday he converted his 23rd save in as many chances this year, and now holds the Oakland record previously held by Dennis Eckersley with 41 consecutive dating back to April 2012.
- Felix Hernandez tossed seven innings allowing only two runs to defeat the Red Sox Monday, improving to 9-4. His ERA and WHIP are now 2.69 and 1.10 respectively.
- Shane Victorino (hamstring) and Jacoby Ellsbury (wrist) remained out of the Red Sox lineup on Monday; as a result, Daniel Nava played CF and was flanked by Jonny Gomes in left and Mike Carp in right. Ellsbury may be headed to the DL, which could open the door for a red-hot Jackie Bradley, Jr. to make another appearance in the Show. If Bradley comes back up, it could be for the long haul so here's another opportunity for a Baller Move: ADD Bradley Jr. NOW in deeper mixers and AL-Only formats.
- Aaron Hicks was 4-for-4 with two doubles and two runs scored on Monday. Hicks was a hot commodity on draft day after a sizzling spring, but he scuffled mightily to start the season. He’s back from a hamstring injury which may have given him time to slow the game down, and he's looking like a strong second-half buy-low candidate.
- Ian Kinsler drove in four in the Rangers defeat of the Orioles Monday. Kinsler has put all the “move-Kinsler-to-the-outfield-or-first-base-for-Jurickson Profar” talk to bed with his strong first half. Kinsler has 8 HR and 35 RBI with 36 R. He is, however, only 4-for-10 in stolen base attempts.
- Justin Smoak continues to rake since coming off the DL. He’s hitting .434 in July after his 3-for-5 performance Monday in which he doubled twice and knocked in two runs.
NL Hot Shots
- Matt Harvey got the no-decision after he allowed three runs over seven innings as the Mets and Giants would go on to play 16 innings before the Mets would eventually score the winning run on a throwing error. Harvey may miss his next start due to a blister issue so monitor the situation. Bobby Parnell was saved by Terry Collins and the move paid off as he would shut the door in the bottom of the 16th for his 16th save.
- Ben Revere was 3-for-5 with 2 runs scored and his 21st stolen base as the Phillies topped the Nationals Monday. Revere has been on fire at the plate, going 21-for-47 in his last 11 games, and he has his average up to .300 on the year.
- Eric Young, Jr. is batting .299 with 12 runs scored, 10 RBI and 6 SB since joining the Mets. He is a must-own in NL-only and deep mixed leagues for anyone wanting to add speed.
- Rafael Betancourt notched his first save since coming off the DL. He has been active since June 28, but this was the first opportunity the Rockies have presented to the veteran closer.
- Andre Ethier is about to receive every day at-bats now that Matt “Made of Glass” Kemp is back on the shelf. Ethier was 3-for-5 with an RBI Monday.
- Dave Sappelt was 4-for-5 with two RBI on Monday for the Cubs. With the departure of Scott Hairston and other options on the DL (Sweeney and Dejesus), Sappelt is likely to get the starts in center field when a lefty is on the mound. Julio Borbon could be a sleeper here as he should see more starts in CF as a left handed batter.
- Matt Garza allowed two runs (one earned) over seven frames as the Cubs took down the cross-town White Sox.
- Jonathan Lucroy has homered in three straight games. His two-run shot off of Homer Bailey lead the Brew-Crew to a W over the Reds. Lucroy now has 11 bombs on the season but needs to pick up his average to be a top 5 catching option.
- Justin Upton added three RBI in the Braves eventual win over the Marlins in 14 innings Monday. Upton still only has 15 homers after swatting 12 in April. He could heat up again, but May 1 was an awfully good time to deal Upton for a nice return.
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Follow Shawn Caswell on Twitter, or don’t: @CasKnowsRoto