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Sunday, April 28, 2013

MLB Weekly Walk-Off

Wild on Sports
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MLB Weekly Walk-Off
By Wild on Sports Analyst Kyle Kargel

Past Week in Review
The MLB seems to have evened itself out up to this point in the season. No one is running away with anything, especially in the AL Central where the division is still separated by three games. Only a few teams seem to have already given up on the season. The Marlins, Padres and Astros have only managed 18 wins between the three of them thus far, and it looks like these teams will be in the cellar for the majority of the year. Surprisingly enough, the A’s still have the best offense in the MLB with the most runs scored up until this point even with Yoenis Cespedes on the DL for the past two weeks. He will be activated in the coming week. In fact, the A’s have scored more than double the runs the Marlins have scored thus far. After a big home sweep of the Tigers last weekend the Angels appeared to have shaken off their beginning season slump, but proceeded to lose three of the next four games. Braves outfielder, Justin Upton was the first to hit double digit homeruns after him and his brother, B.J, hit back-to-back homeruns against the Rockies last Tuesday night. He’s only six homeruns shy of his season total from last year. In a surprise series of events, the Tigers called up Jose Valverde from their Single-A affiliate to close games for the big boys. Valverde wasn’t signed by anyone in the off-season after becoming a free agent and the Tigers were in need of a closer after hopeful Bruce Rondon didn’t work out as they had hoped. As the weather heats up, so should Valverde’s pitching.

Studs of the Past Week
1. Nelson Cruz OF Tex- After Hamilton’s departure in the off-season, Cruz knew he would have to fill the gap the best he could, and he finally looks to have gotten his big bet going this season. He has 12 RBI since Apr. 21 along with three homeruns. If he can keep steady around the .300 average mark, it can prove fantasy dividends for owners of him. Also, Cruz would like to keep his strikeouts down from the inflated 140 Ks he had last year. Cruz is capable of 25 homeruns and a high average if he only strikes out around 100 times this season.

2. Jason Grilli CP Pitt- Grilli converted all four of his save opportunities the past week and hasn’t blown one all year yet. Grilli also has eight strikeouts in those four saves last week. He’s only allowed three hits and four walks all year. The setup man turned closer has been a saving grace for the Pirates who let former Pirate closer Joel Hanrahan go to the Red Sox over the offseason. The Pirates are looking to contend for a division title this year and if Grilli can keep pitching like this, he is on the verge of a 30-35 save season.

3. Matt Kemp OF LAD- After Kemp was on the duds list last week, he finally got the wheels turning this past week as expected. He upped his average from .174 to .266, hit his first homerun and stole three bases last week. Another upside to this is that a majority of the Dodgers’ games last week were on the road. Hopefully Kemp can keep up this trend and not fall back on the trend he was on to start the year. Kemp is still a 20-20 threat, and barring any injuries should still be the main source of the Dodgers offense.

Duds of the Past Week

1. Carlos Gonzalez OF Col- Essentially flip-flopping spots with Matt Kemp from last week, Gonzalez has found himself in a funk after only going two for his past 24 with only three RBIs. The Rockies have lost three of their last four as a result of Gonzalez being himself. Let’s see if skipper Clint Hurddle juggles the lineup a bit and moves Gonzalez from the third spot in the batting order. He just might need a day off or two to set his mind straight.

2. B.J. Upton OF Atl- Aside from hitting a homerun early in the week, Upton only has two hits to his name over the past week, both singles. Upton has seen his average plummet to .150 for the season and has had an average above .200 all year. Upton has batted everywhere in the batting order, but manager Freddi Gonzalez seemed to have liked Upton batting second, but that might change quick if Upton continues to struggle. Hopefully, Upton can get that average above .200 and keep batting second in the lineup. He’s still a threat to hit 15-20 homeruns, but don’t hold your breath.

3. Cliff Lee SP Phi- After a surging start in which Lee allowed two earned runs in 16.2 innings and a 2-0 start, he allowed eight earned runs in his past two starts going 0-1. His ERA jumped from 1.08 to 3.03 after those starts. His past starts were against the Pirates and Cardinals, legitimate playoff threats. If the Phillies expect Lee to be one of their prime pitchers for the rest of the season he better start producing more quality starts against good teams or else Lee could end the season being under .500, just like last season.

Sleepers for Next Week

1. Nate McLouth OF Bal- He didn’t begin the season as a starter, but that has changed over the past week as McLouth has compiled eight runs scored and four steals. He’s hitting leadoff and playing left field for the Orioles, and should continue to accumulate at-bats as long as he stays consistent hitting leadoff. He has yet to homer, but is a threat to steal 25 bases this season and hit 10-15 homeruns. Pretty good for a guy overlooked in many leagues still.

2. Peter Bourjos OF LAA- Bourjos was supposed to be the Angels big leadoff threat last season, but a sub .200 average to start the year led Bourjos to the bench and the world got a chance to meet Mike Trout. Had Bourjos hit like he has this year thus far, we might have had to wait to see Trout play. Now there’s room for both in the outfield. He’s considered one of, if not, the fastest player today and is a threat to steal a base from anywhere on the paths. He’s riding a seven game hitting streak upping his average from .250 to .313.

3. Edinson Volquez SP SD- I bet many are questioning why Volquez is on the sleeper list when he was drafted in pretty much every fantasy baseball league. Truth is he was most likely dropped by those managers after his horrific start going 0-3 and an ERA that climbed to 11.68. Over his past couple starts though, Volquez has settled down dropping his ERA to 6.39 and allowing only two earned runs over his past 13 innings pitched. This could be a major steal if you’re in need of a starting pitcher. Patience is the key when dealing with a pitcher like Volquez. He will have ups and downs, but while he’s up, snag him while you can.

Best Upcoming Match-ups of the Week

Nationals vs. Braves- This matchup is between the best that the NL East has to offer except the Nats are only 11-11. They were projected to win the division so a road series win here will quiet critics for the time being

LA Angels vs. A’s- The Angels are still trying to reach the .500 mark and this tough road series in Oakland may produce even more of a set back because the A’s still have the best offense in the league and Cespedes is expected back before next week.

Chicago White Sox vs. Royals- The Royals are sitting atop the AL Central for the moment, literally as the division could have a new leader after any given day. It would be a statement though if the Royals can get a series win versus the White Sox, a team expected to contend with the Tigers for the division crown.

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