MLB In Full Bloom - Justin Verlander Gets Back On Track - 6/23/2014

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On Saturday afternoon, vintage Justin Verlander returned and gave fantasy owners the opportunity breathe a little easier until the next start. Verlander rebounded with one of his strongest efforts of the season against the Indians on Saturday, permitting only two runs (one earned) on four hits and a walk with eight strikeouts over seven innings. A solo home run by Carlos Santana in the fourth inning was Verlander's lone mistake on the night. Otherwise, the veteran right-hander looked sharp with eight strikeouts and tied a season low with one walk. Verlander will look to build off this performance with a road start at Houston on Friday. He left the game in line for the win but ultimately came away with a no decision. Nobody knows, but expect Verlander to be more like himself as the season continues to move into the second half of the season.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Johnny Cueto gave up three runs, but just one earned while striking out eight over eight innings in Sunday's 4-3 victory over the Blue Jays. Cueto gave up seven hits, walked one batter and hit another. He threw 120 pitches in the outing and suffered a hamstring cramp while running the bases, but he gutted it out to lower his ERA to a league-best 1.86. He'll look to keep it going in his next start in San Francisco.
  • Madison Bumgarner pitched a gem Sunday that included seven strikeouts and two hits allowed and no earned runs in a winning effort against the Diamondbacks. Bumgarner improved his record to an impressive 9-4. He's gone at least seven innings in his last six starts while going 4-1 during that same stretch. Bumgarner is providing quality starts for the Giants and his fantasy owners on a regular basis.
  • Michael Wacha (shoulder) will end up on the disabled list with a shoulder injury that caused him to miss Sunday's start. Wacha had his start skipped apparently to preserve his arm. The Cardinals could be losing two pitchers to the disabled list in the next few days, as Jaime Garcia is also dealing with a shoulder injury. Carlos Martinez filled in for Wacha yesterday and earned the win and will likely stay in the rotation to fill one of the spots, but who will take the other turn is unclear at this point.
  • Joe Smith allowed a home run to Brad Snyder in the ninth inning of Sunday's win over the Rangers. But he struck out two of the other three batters he faced to protect the Angels' late lead. It was a non-save situation, but Smith appears to be the next in line to get a chance to be the Angels closer. He is currently in a committee at closer with Ernesto Frieri, Mike Morin, and maybe a few others.
  • The San Diego Padres fired executive vice president/general manager Josh Byrnes on Sunday morning. Byrnes took over as GM of the Padres in October 2011 when then-GM Jed Hoyer left for the position of GM with the Cubs. Before that, Byrnes had been VP of baseball operations for the Padres for a year. The Padres entered Sunday with a 32-43 record, 12.5 games out in the NL West. Many players on the roster are under performing offensively and it just has not happened for Byrnes.
  • Alex Torres of the San Diego Padres made history in his relief appearance Saturday night against the Giants, becoming the first major league pitcher to wear a padded cap in a regular-season game. The hat looks ridiculous, but Torres said that it does feel different than the regular hat. The hat is manufactured by isoBlox and approved by MLB and they are available to any player who wants one.
  • Angels batting coach Don Baylor could return to the Angels bench by the end of the month. Baylor broke his leg on Opening Day when he participated in the first pitch ceremony with Vladimir Guerrero. Baylor has a doctor's appointment on Tuesday to decide if he is ready to to travel with the Angels.

MLB In Full Bloom - Zack Wheeler Steels Spotlight - 6/20/2014

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On Thursday night, Miami Marlins rookie left-hander Andrew Heaney commanded most of the attention from fantasy owners for his major league debut against the New York Mets, but it was his opponent Zack Wheeler who delivered the gem. One year and one day removed from his major league debut, Wheeler threw his first career shutout in a 1-0 victory over the Marlins in Miami. Wheeler allowed just three hits and one walk while striking out eight batters. He faced one batter over the minimum with the help of three double-play grounders and needed 111 pitches to finish off the gem. His final pitch was clocked at 96 mph. The Mets spoiled Heaney's MLB debut, but the best left-handed prospect in baseball was impressive for the Marlins. He held the Mets to a run on four hits, walked one and struck out three. His only mistake came in the first inning when he gave up a David Wright homer to center.

MLB NEWS & NOTESĀ 

  • Chris Archer held the Astros scoreless over 6 2/3 innings on Thursday night in a rare Rays win. Archer rebounded nicely after allowing six runs (only one earned) in Saturday's start, also against the Astros. Last night, Archer allowed just three hits and two walks while striking out eight. Archer now owns a 3.14 ERA in 86 innings and is quietly putting together a solid season. Archer will take on the Pirates at home in his next start.
  • Scott Kazmir turned in another gem Thursday night against the Red Sox as he held them to two runs on four hits and no walks over seven innings, while striking out eight. He improved to 9-2 on the season with the victory. Kazmir was cruising until the sixth inning, when he allowed Dustin Pedroia's two-run homer.
  • Jesse Hahn allowed only one unearned run over seven innings as the Padres defeated the Mariners 4-1 on Thursday to earn his second major league victory. Hahn turned in his second consecutive dominant outing. He gave up the one unearned run in the fifth inning after issuing a walk to Brad Miller and then advanced on a throwing error by Everth Cabrera. Hahn will take a 2.16 ERA into next week's start against the Giants in San Francisco.
  • Chris Johnson went 2-for-4 with three RBI in Thursday's win over the Nationals. Johnson knocked in two runs with a single in the fourth inning and another with a single in the eighth. It was more than enough for Gavin Floyd and the bullpen. Johnson has had multiple hits in seven of his last 11 games, and is now owns a .278 BA with 20 RBI.
  • Alex Wood may soon be called up to join the Atlanta rotation after Gavin Floyd suffered a fracture in his throwing elbow last night in the Braves victory in Washington against the Nationals. Once Floyd is officially placed on the disabled list, the Braves will recall Wood who was already ready to rejoin the Braves rotation before Floyd got hurt last night. Fantasy owners should expect to see Wood pitch Wednesday night in Houston.
  • Baseball America's Ben Badler reports that Cuban outfielder Yasmani Tomas has defected from his native country in order to pursue a contract with a major league team. Badler says Tomas "was arguably one of the top 10 or so players left in Cuba in terms of major league potential" and that he his raw power is impressive. It's unlikely Tomas will sign with an MLB club before the end of the season, but he figures to be one of the bigger free agents over the winter.
  • San Rafael Pacifics of the Independent League will be wearing pink dresses for their game on June 27th to honor breast cancer survivors. They are women's baseball uniforms much like the ones worn in the movie A League of Their Own.

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