Jeff Niemann went the distance last night striking out 10 Red Sox batters while allowing only 2 runs on 3 hits and a walk. Niemann is probably the biggest “secret” in pitching out there. Not a household name by any means, he seems to have rediscovered and improved upon that stride we saw in 2009. He started this season off pretty average, a 4-4 record and a 4.53 ERA doesn’t exactly turn heads. Since the All Star break, he has been one of the best pitchers in baseball. His post break numbers: 4-0, 1.81 ERA, WHIP 0.89. He has over a strikeout an inning, and has 7.14 K/9 for the season. Yahoo! Fantasy Sports has him ranked as the 25th best player over the last 30 days, and he is only owned in 51% of their leagues.
So where is the success coming from? Niemann is posting career highs and lows in all the right categories. Hitters are swinging at pitches outside the zone more, swinging at pitches in the zone less, and getting first pitch strikes at his best rate yet. This is likely a direct result of a completely opposite method of attacking hitters compared to years prior. He is throwing more curves and less fast balls, leading to the swings and misses and guys going after pitches outside the zone. When hitters do make contact they’re getting it up in the air less, leading to a decrease in HR’s, and he is stranding more runners on base. He’s in this 3rd year of MLB experience and at 28 it seems he’s got it figured out. There is still some room for improvement from him, and I think he could be looked at as a top 20 pitcher going into next season. We’re talking now though, and being only 51% owned there’s a chance he is available in your league. So go pick him up already!
- Jose Bautista – After going through a painful 5-for-37 stretch, he is now 6-for-10 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 5 R in his last 3 games.
- Brett Lawrie is still rewarding those who stashed him all summer since getting called up. Last night he was 3-for-4 with 2 R and an RBI. He’s batting .385 in his 11 games so far with 3 HR, 9 RBI, 7 R and has been moved from 9th to 7th in the Jay’s lineup.
- Cameron Maybin hit his 8th HR of the year continuing his post break tear. Have you all added him yet?
- For as good as Niemann’s been over the last 30 days, Yovani Gallardo has been better. The 13th ranked player over that span tossed 8 innings last night fanning 9 and giving up 1 ER on 4 hits.
- Carlos Marmol gave up a grand slam to blow the save and pick up the loss last night in Houston. His third of an inning led to a WHIP of 12.00 and an ERA of 108.00! On a serious note he did lose the closing gig a little bit there, but has been solid over his last 10 appearances. This was a hiccup. Nothing to see here folks, move along…
- Albert Pujols hit his 30th HR last night, giving him 11 seasons of 30+ HR ball. There is still enough time in the season for him to get to 40 so are people still calling this a down year? Yes, but only because he is hitting 40 points lower than his career average. Man, we’re such jerks…
- Justin Verlander notched win number 18 this year. He has my vote for Cy Young if I had a vote. I’m sure Schruender has one…
- Jose Tabata was back in the Pirates lineup, batting leadoff, after missing months of play due to a quad strain. The Bucko’s sent Pedro Alvarez back down to AAA. The 2nd overall pick in the 2008 draft battled injury this year, but even when healthy didn’t show off that bat that endeared him to us and coddled our hearts in September last year. Hopefully he can figure it out on the farm and contribute in a full time capacity next year.
- Jair Jurrjens is making his first start off the DL tonight against the Giants. I would think even with DL rust he is a safe start tonight against that offense.
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