Justin Verlander is having an amazing season, but the number one pitcher to have/trade for in fantasy baseball is Cliff Lee. The numbers speak for themselves.
- Three consecutive complete game shutouts.
- One earned run in the month of June (0.21 ERA!)
- A career best 32 consecutive shutout innings.
- Two two-hitters.
- In the three shutouts he has only struck out 12 batters.
Watching him pitch last night, any time the Red Sox made solid contact it seemed like an accomplishment. Marco Scutaro hit a line drive that was just foul down the right field line. Jacoby Ellsbury hit the ball sharply right at first and third base. The problem for the Red Sox was that even if all their line drives fell in the right places, they probably still wouldn’t have been able to score because Lee did not give up enough hard hit balls. That is why despite only getting 12 strikeouts over the last 27 innings, nothing about what Lee is doing seems like a fluke. Hitters can continue to put the ball in play, but the contact won’t translate to much success.
Lee is perpetually in the strike zone. As Jimmy Rollins pointed out, he’s fun to play behind and keeps the fielders awake because he is always attacking the hitters. Last night he was out of the first inning in just 5 pitches. Pitch counts really don’t matter at this point though. He has thrown 112 to 126 pitches over the shutout run, and although there was action in the Phillies bullpen last night, Charlie Manuel probably won’t take him out until he gives up a run.
- It sounds as if Jordan Walden isn’t going anywhere as the Angels closer despite three consecutive blown saves.
- After another tough outing yesterday, Ryan Franklin could be headed for the disabled list or designated for assignment. Tony La Russa called him healthy after the game, so the ladder seems more likely.
- Jonathan Broxton has been shut down for the next three weeks and it sounds as if the Dodgers won’t have him healthy in time for him to be traded by July 31st. Javy Guerra will be the closer in the meantime.
- Josh Johnson is going to have his injured shoulder looked at by Dr. James Andrew on Wednesday. Johnson’s agent is indicating that this is more of a precautionary move, but it appears the July 16th date that Johnson is eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list will come and go with Johnson off the mound.
- Evan Longoria believes his swing is getting better. He hit a walk-off home run last night and now has four home runs in his last five games. I would say his self-assessment is accurate.
- Jose Reyes was 4 for 4 with a walk last night and is now 9 for his last 10. With the Mets over .500, he is on the short list for NL MVP candidates. One executive thinks that Reyes will earn $150 million this off-season.
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