Well if you haven’t heard the news yet, Cardinals’ first baseman Albert Pujols has been diagnosed with a mild left hamstring injury according to Joe Strauss on Twitter, which is not the way Pujols owners wanted to start there week and Phillies closer Jose Contreras has been put on the 15 day DL (retro to Friday) with a right flexor pronator strain.
The Pujols injury isn’t all that bad, but there is a slight chance he could wind up missing the entire series against Houston starting this Tuesday, so keep your eye on his updates as the week progresses. The Cardinals will probably give Lance Berkman some additional playing time—another nice turn of events for Berkman owners—and they also might give prospect Mark Hamilton a look, which should spark you to track his progress on your watch list.
Contreras, however, is quite a different story.
His injury is located on the right flexor pronator strain inside of his pitching elbow, which is a concern. Team officials and MLB.com say he is headed back to Philly for further examination. Contreras could wind up missing more than 15 days with rehab and all, so you might want to run out now and replace him.
If you are interested in an internal solution then the obvious choice is Ryan Madson. Madson is actually a safe bet here, and should fill-in rather nicely. Through 9 IP he is 2-0 with 2 saves, a 1.00 ERA, an even better .89 WHIP and 10 strikes—he’s a must own in all formats.
Also, keep an eye on Phillies prospect Michael Stutes, whose contract the Phillies just recently purchased from Triple-A Lehigh Valley. In 10 innings of play this spring, Stutes impressed with a 2-1 record, a 1.80 ERA and a 9:1 K:BB ratio. He’ll work out of middle relief while Contreras is out.
Let’s take a look at some other hot trending bats:
|Humberto Quintero – C – Astros: He’s off to a great start—.313 and four ribbies in 14 games—and is currently NOT on anyone’s radar with an average 1% ownership rating. Catchers seem to be dropping like flies, so Quintero is just one of many replacement catchers to consider.|
|Lance Berkman – 1B, OF – Cardinals: Aside from potentially getting more playing time—again—Berkman is still keeping hot no matter how much activity he sees. Berkman was on base six times in the two games with four walks and two hits and is sporting a .339 average, a team-leading 15 runs batted in and he’s slugging .695. If you own him, give him the nod this week against his former team.|
|Michael Cuddyer – 1B, 2B, 3B, OF – Twins: Twins manager Ron Gardenhire says he may stick with Cuddyer as his regular second baseman while Tsuyoshi Nishioka is out with a broken leg. This comes as great news for anyone looking for a player who can qualify at nearly every position AND contribute to their fantasy team. Cuddyer is hitting .240 with two solo shots, 6 runs scored and three RBI along with three doubles. His ownership is climbing, so grab him while you can.|
|Daisuke Matsuzaka – SP – Red Sox: At 2-2 with a 4.09 ERA Dice-K is beginning to finally settle in after a career-worst stretch of seven straight winless starts. He allowed one and struck out nine in his last outing against the Angels and that was after him and Boston’s 9-1 win last week. Dice-K should keep things rolling against a very weak Mariners lineup Friday, and could be a nice pluck off the waiver wire. Dice-K is sporting a 17% average ownership in most leagues.|
|Carlos Gomez – OF – Brewers: After previously going 4 for 22 with a single RBI, Gomez has posted a near 25 fantasy baseball points (Yahoo! H2H leagues) in his last four games. In the past week, Gomez has recorded 11 hits, a solo homer, four RBI and eight runs scored. This may be temporary, but at an average 4% ownership, why not ride the wave while you can, right?|
The transition from hot to cold is rather easy in the early goings, with most of the frigid bats being ancillary players at best. Still, it’s information you should be aware of—especially you newbies out there looking to establish yourself in your league.
Players such as Gordon Beckham, Brad Hawpe and Jorge Cantu are all players hitting a dismal .091 or LOWER! So suffice to say, stay as far away from them as possible.
But there are a few other players who are swinging icicles that some of you may not know about:
Raul Ibanez – OF – Phillies: Ibanez is hitting .187 with a single home run, 10 RBI and one SB on the season. Ibanez will heat up eventually, but it will be more of a streaky warming trend rather than a permanent one. It’s safe to drop him.
Reid Brignac – SS – Rays: After hitting .417 this spring Brignac has failed to live up to much of the hype made about him earlier this season. Through 49 AB, Brignac is hitting .245 with zero home runs, and just four RBI. It’s still only April so you might want to extend a hopeful hand to the rookie, but don’t reach too far on the kid.
Alex Rios – OF – White Sox: As if the White Sox aren’t frustrated enough, right? Rios is off to one of his worst starts in his career hitting .160 in 81 AB. This is a guy who averages a near 20 homers and 24 SB in any given season, so take the slow start with a grain of salt, but keep him benched until further notice.