MLB In Full Bloom – You Can Spell Pineda – PINE – 4/24/2014

MLB In Full Bloom is featured on Buehler’s Day Off on Team 1010 KXPS in Palm Desert, CA.

Michael Pineda admitted to using pine tar on the baseball during the second inning of Wednesday’s 5-1 loss to the Red Sox at Fenway Park, but said he did it not to cheat, rather he did it to ensure he did not hit anyone with an errant pitch. Pineda was ejected by home plate umpire and crew chief Gerry Davis after Red Sox manager John Farrell came out to complain about the shiny blotch on the right side of Pineda’s neck, which was clearly visible to television cameras broadcasting the game. The strong possibility that Pineda will be suspended puts the already pitching-depleted Yankees in a further bind. This week, they lost Ivan Nova to a torn elbow ligament that is likely to require Tommy John surgery. The Yankees will use Vidal Nuno into the rotation in his place. The loss of Pineda, even for a start or two, would force Yankees manager Joe Girardi to find another starting pitcher on short notice.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

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MLB In Full Bloom – Albert Pujols Reaches 500 Home Run Club – 4/23/2014

MLB In Full Bloom is featured on Buehler’s Day Off on Team 1010 KXPS in Palm Desert, CA.

Albert Pujols was pretty sure he would reach the magical 500 home run mark at some point during the 2014 season. That moment came in the fifth inning on Tuesday night when Pujols hit his second homer of the game to reach 500 for his career. He also drove in five runs as the Angels beat the Washington Nationals 7-2. Pujols is the first player to hit his 499th and 500th homers in the same game and he is just three months past his 34th birthday, which makes him the third-youngest to get to 500 – Alex Rodriguez cheated his way to 500 at the age of 32 and Jimmy Foxx naturally got to 500 at the same age. Pujols now has 45 homers as an Angel and 455 as a St. Louis Cardinal. Next on the list for Pujols to pass is Eddie Murray (504) and Gary Sheffield (509). Congratulations Albert Pujols and thank you for doing it the right way! Let’s not forget in the steroid era that Pujols has never tested positive on any PED test. Sure, he has declined steadily since back-to-back MVP seasons in 2008-09. But let’s not forget that Pujols went 30-100 in his last healthy season, which was just two years ago. He’s off to a great start as he looks to reach those totals again.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Adam Wainwright (knee) suffered a hyperextended right knee during Tuesday’s game against the Mets. Wainwright sailed through the first seven innings on a mere 79 pitches, but was swapped out with Kevin Siegrist in the bottom of the eighth. While the severity of the injury is uncertain, the Cardinals will likely provide an update after Tuesday’s game.
  • Dee Gordon (head) left Tuesday’s game after hitting his head on Jayson Nix’s knee when Gordon was sliding head-first into third base on a steal. Gordon did undergo concussion tests after the game and did pass the test, but fantasy owners should still consider him day-to-day for now, but if he has to miss significant time, the Dodgers may have a diamond in the rough waiting in Triple-A in Alex Guerrero, who is currently slashing .407 through eight games.
  • Shin-Soo Choo (ankle) MRI offered good news Tuesday, as he does not have a high ankle sprain, and he will be treated as day-to-day for now. It appears Choo will be able to avoid a stint on the disabled list, and his fantasy owners shouldn’t be without him for much longer. He will miss Wednesday’s game and with Thursday being an off day, he’ll be evaluated Friday. Michael Choice took Choo’s place in left field and in the leadoff spot Tuesday, a trend that could continue for as long as Choo remains out.
  • Jose Fernandez matched his career high with 14 strikeouts in eight innings and combined with Steve Cishek on a three-hitter as the Marlins won 1-0 over the Braves on Tuesday. Fernandez was dealing in this one as he gave up just three singles and no walks over his eight shutout innings. Fernandez struck out Justin Upton, Dan Uggla and Evan Gattis three times apiece while getting Jason Heyward and Freddie Freeman twice each. The victory moved him to 3-1 with a 1.99 ERA this April. He’ll have a shot at this same Braves lineup when the teams meet again next Tuesday.
  • Jhoulys Chacin (shoulder) could rejoin the Rockies’ rotation as soon as April 29th. The Rockies indicated Monday that Chacin would likely need two more rehab starts, but now they’re thinking just one could be enough. He’ll start for Triple-A Colorado Springs on Thursday before being re-evaluated. Chacin has been out since the beginning of spring training with a strained shoulder.
  • Mike Olt hit his fourth home run of the season on Tuesday as the Cubs won back-to-back games for the first time this season. Olt’s a three-run shot was an opposite field shot into a strong wind, which was most impressive. It’s been mostly feast or famine for Olt this season, as he’s hitting just .195 but has a .512 slugging percentage. The three-run homer gave him nine RBI in 41 at-bats this season and after the game Cubs manager Rick Renteria indicated after the game that Olt will be given more playing time at third base going forward.
  • Brandon Cumpton is expected to start on Thursday against the Reds in place of the injured Wandy Rodriguez. The Pirates have not officially made the announcement that Cumpton will be the starter, but they tipped their hand when they scratched him from Wednesday’s start at Triple-A Indianapolis. Cumpton posted a surprising 2.05 ERA in six appearances for the Pirates last season and holds a 1.42 mark over his first three Triple-A outings this year. He should be owned in NL-Only leagues.
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MLB In Full Bloom – When Will Kershaw Return? – 4/22/2014

MLB In Full Bloom is featured on Buehler’s Day Off on Team 1010 KXPS in Palm Desert, CA.

Clayton Kershaw (back) is on track to begin a rehab assignment on Friday. Kershaw declared after a 50-pitch simulated game Sunday that he was ready for a rehab assignment, but the Dodgers will make him throw one more bullpen session on Tuesday. Kershaw came away feeling good after Sunday’s simulated game and assuming he gets through that bullpen session with no issues, he’ll then be assigned to a minor league affiliate. Kershaw should rejoin the Dodgers’ rotation in mid-May if everything continues to go well. It’s unclear where that start will take place, but Kershaw is expected to take the ball twice on his rehab assignment before rejoining the Dodgers’ rotation.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Cliff Lee scattered four hits over eight innings and struck out 10 and retired 21 of his last 22 batters to lead the Philadelphia Phillies to a 7-0 victory over the Dodgers on Monday night. Lee had a least one strikeout in every inning and did not walk a batter. Lee has 38 strikeouts and two walks through his first five starts and he has pitched at least seven innings and allowed no more than three earned runs in any of his eight regular season starts against the Dodgers. He’ll face the Diamondbacks in his next start.
  • Chris Sale (arm) was placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a flexor muscle strain in his left arm. White Sox GM Rick Hahn only expects the lefty to be out for the minimum 15 days. The good news is that Sale has no ligament damage in his elbow, but a flexor strain is still something that could cause a lengthy absence. Charlie Leesman will replace Sale in Chicago’s rotation.
  • Raul Ibanez delivered a tie-breaking three-run as a pinch hitter in the eighth inning as the Angels rallied to win in Washington against the Nationals. The focus going into the game was Mike Trout and Bryce Harper, but they went a combined 2-for-8 with zero runs or RBI. Ibanez has not hit very much this year, but he has a knack for driving in runs. He now has 15 RBI and three home runs despite his .161 batting average in his first year in Los Angeles.
  • Matt Dominguez went 2-for-3 with a double, a home run, a walk and three RBI Monday against the Mariners. Dominguez’s fifth inning blast off the Mariners’ Felix Hernandez was his third of the season. Dominguez has shown signs of life at the plate recently, hitting safely in nine of his last 10 games.
  • Desmond Jennings (groin) is expected to return to the Rays’ starting lineup Tuesday night. After a groin injury limited him to just one at-bat over the last three games, Jennings is expected to return to the Rays’ starting lineup for tonight’s series opener versus the Twins. Jennings has had a fairly solid start to the 2014 campaign, posting a .264 BA with one homer and six doubles over 17 games.
  • Shin-Soo Choo (ankle) was pulled from Monday’s game in the seventh inning due to a sore left ankle in Oakland. Choo was taken out for the bottom of the seventh inning, but he went 1-for-3 with a leadoff home run and a walk. It’s very possible that Choo will miss the remainder of the series against the Athletics.
  • Yoenis Cespedes (heel) entered Monday’s game as a pinch-hitter and was hitless in two at-bats. He left Sunday’s game with a bruised left heel and was not in the starting lineup Monday, but he entered the bottom of the seventh inning and played the rest of the game in left field. It’s a good bet he’s back in the lineup Tuesday.
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MLB In Full Bloom – Is Ivan Nova Done for 2014? – 4/21/2014

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Another day, another serious elbow injury to a major league pitcher. On Sunday, it was Ivan Nova who received the bad news. Nova left Saturday’s start against the Rays with elbow pain, and Sunday the Yankees placed him on the 15-day disabled list with a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. Nova will be examined by the team doctor on Monday, and he’ll likely make a decision on whether to have season-ending surgery on the elbow in the next few days. Tommy John surgery is the usual outcome for these types of injuries. It’s a devastating blow for Nova and the Yankees, as the team was looking for the 27-year-old to take a step forward after posting a 3.10 ERA in 139 1/3 innings last season. Instead, the Yankees will likely turn to Vidal Nuno who held the Rays scoreless over five innings in a start Sunday.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Ryan Howard went 4-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in Sunday’s 10-9 win over the Rockies. Howard hit a two-run homer in the third inning before legging out his first triple of the season in the sixth inning. He finished with three runs scored in the game. It was Howard’s first four-hit game since July 30, 2011.
  • Justin Morneau went 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBI in Sunday’s loss to the Phillies. Morneau got it done by singling in a run in the first inning, an RBI ground out in the third and lifting a sacrifice fly in the fifth before blasting a two-run homer in the seventh. He’s been on an absolute tear lately, mashing three home runs and collecting 12 RBI during a five-game hitting streak. He’s up to .344 with a .981 OPS for the season.
  • David Wright went 4-for-6 with an RBI and a run scored in the Mets’ 4-3, 14-inning win over the Braves on Sunday. All four hits were singles and the entire Mets line-up didn’t register an extra-base hit in the marathon win. Wright has an 11-game hitting streak and is 12-for-24 (.500) in the past few days and is now the proud owner of a .316 batting average.
  • Carlos Gonzalez (knee) left Sunday’s game against the Phillies with left knee tendinitis. Gonzalez, who evidently tweaked his knee after running out a grounder to end the sixth inning Sunday, is considered day-to-day at this stage. Gonzalez was 1-for-4 with an RBI and two runs before leaving the game.
  • J.J. Hardy (hamstring) was not in Monday’s starting lineup after leaving Sunday’s game early due to a hamstring issue.  Hardy was not in the Orioles’ starting lineup for today’s Patriot’s Day game in Boston. Ryan Flaherty replaced him at shortstop today and could see a few more starts if Hardy needs more time. Hardy could be back as soon as Tuesday, but fantasy owners should be on the lookout for updates on his status.
  • Carlos Quentin (knee) will head to the team’s extended spring training facility on Thursday or Friday this week. Quentin will begin to do more baseball activities and is still a few weeks away from returning the Padres lineup.
  • David Freese (quadriceps) went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his return to action Sunday. Freese missed a couple of games with a minor quadriceps injury. Freese is batting just .143 on the season and could be in danger of losing his starting third base job to Ian Stewart.
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MLB In Full Bloom – Peralta Looks Promising – 4/17/2014

MLB In Full Bloom is featured on Buehler’s Day Off on Team 1010 KXPS in Palm Desert, CA.

Wily Peralta held the division-rival Cardinals to one earned run over 6 1/3 innings to help Milwaukee avoid a three-game sweep and remain atop the National League Central standings with a surprising 11-4 record. Peralta used both his off-speed pitches (splitter & slider) to induce 11 ground outs from the dangerous Cardinals lineup and he wound up fanning three batters in the Brewers’ 5-1 win. Peralta is now 2-0 with a 1.96 ERA through three starts this season and he has an attractive fantasy match-up next week against the Padres. His past control issues could derail the progress, but Peralta should be owned in all standard fantasy leagues for the time being.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Masahiro Tanaka made his best start in the first half of Wednesday’s day-night doubleheader with the Cubs. Tanaka gave up just two hits and one walk over eight scoreless innings while striking out 10 batters in New York’s 3-0 win. Tanaka is now 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA over his first 22 big-league frames and will face the Red Sox in his next outing, which will obviously be significantly more difficult than what he faced Wednesday against the Cubs.
  • Julio Teheran dominated the Phillies’ lineup on Wednesday’s night, shutting them out in a complete game effort to earn the win. Teheran allowed three hits (all singles), walked none, and struck out four. The Phillies made very weak contact against him all night long. Teheran has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his first four starts of the season, picking up where he left off in 2013. He’ll face the Marlins next.
  • Cliff Lee was dominant in Wednesday’s start against the Braves, but earned a loss despite allowing one run in a complete game on Wednesday. Lee’s only mistake was an Evan Gattis solo home run in the fourth inning. Lee struck out 13, allowed 11 hits, and walked one and finished the game having thrown a career-high 128 pitches. He’ll face the Dodgers in his next start.
  • Jose Fernandez bounced back from a rough outing by striking out 10 Nationals and posted a quality start on Wednesday, but he went without a decision after allowing three runs on four hits over seven innings. He left the game with the score tied 3-3 only to watch the bullpen let the game slip away. Fernandez cruised through the first five frames before Jayson Werth touched him up for a game-tying three-run shot. He’ll face the Braves on the road in his next start.
  • Hanley Ramirez was not in the Dodgers lineup today against the Giants. This comes as no surprise after Ramirez was after being struck on the hand by a pitch in Wednesday’s game. X-rays taken on his hand came back negative, but the extent of the setback remains uncertain, so he could miss additional time moving forward. Justin Turner got the start at shortstop in Ramirez’s place. Fantasy owners need to continue to monitor Ramirez’s status and be ready to get him out of your lineup this weekend. Stay tuned….
  • Chase Headley is day-to-day with a mild right biceps strain. He was scratched from the Padres’ lineup Wednesday, and now we know why. Yonder Alonso was seen taking grounders at third base before the game, but Alexi Amarista started at third base on Wednesday.
  • Clayton Kershaw (back) threw a successful 35-pitch bullpen session on Thursday afternoon. He should begin facing live hitters by early next week and is on track to rejoin the Dodgers around mid-May.
  • Joe Kelly (hamstring) was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a left hamstring strain. Kelly suffered the injury Wednesday afternoon at Miller Park while trying to leg out a ground ball to first base in the top of the fifth inning. He was sent back to St. Louis for an MRI and we should know the results of that test soon.
  • Jose Reyes (hamstring) is expected to rejoin the Blue Jays on Saturday in Cleveland. The weather does not look good for Friday’s series-opener with the Indians, and the Jays don’t want to risk Reyes returning to a cold and muddy infield.
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MLB In Full Bloom – Astros Recall George Springer – 4/16/2014

MLB In Full Bloom is featured on Buehler’s Day Off on Team 1010 KXPS in Palm Desert, CA.

There was speculation that the Houston Astros would recall George Springer from Triple-A Oklahoma City on Tuesday night and they made it official this morning when they purchased Springer’s contract. The Astros top prospect has hit .353 with three homers, nine RBI and four stolen bases in his first 13 contests for Oklahoma City this season after batting .303 with 37 home runs and 45 steals last year. In what turned out to be his final game for the Triple-A RedHawks, Springer homered for a second straight game and went 3-for-4 with a grand slam and scored four runs. He’ll play every day most likely in right field and needs to be owned in all fantasy formats.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Nick Franklin was recalled by the Seattle Mariners and activated today and could be in the lineup tonight in Texas. Franklin could see some playing time in the outfield as Logan Morrison (hamstring) could be headed to the disabled list. Franklin earned the promotion after a .395 batting average to start with four homers and 13 RBI over his first 11 Triple-A contests this season. Franklin should be owned in all fantasy formats.
  • Brandon Belt collected three hits, including a double and an RBI in Tuesday’s win over the Dodgers. Belt has really cooled off over the past week after going on a power surge to start the season. He has started to look a little bit more like the patient, doubles-power Belt we were familiar with over his past five games.
  • Kole Calhoun (ankle) is heading for the 15-day disabled list. Calhoun joins Josh Hamilton on the disabled list after painfully rolling his ankle running through first base in the 11st inning. Calhoun went 3-for-6 with a two-run homer and a key ninth-inning double as the Angels suffered back-to-back losses to their division rivals. He went 7-for-15 in his last three games. Matt Long and Brennan Boesch are two candidates to get called up.
  • Aroldis Chapman (head) could throw live batting practice before the end of the Reds upcoming road trip which ends on April 27th according to Reds manager Bryan Price. Chapman threw his first bullpen session since surgery on Monday and came out of it feeling great.  While Chapman’s rehab is going well, he still isn’t expected back until mid-to-late May.
  • Bronson Arroyo was lit up by the Mets for nine runs on 10 hits over 3 1/3 innings of a 9-0 loss on Tuesday. Arroyo now owns a 9.95 ERA, while the Diamondbacks staff as a whole has posted a 7.71 ERA. The Diamondbacks are off to a 4-13 record, and 1-10 at the launching pad known as Chase Field. GM Kevin Towers must be feeling buyer’s remorse three starts into Arroyo’s career in Arizona and it will be interesting to see how Towers fixes the starting rotation. Arroyo faces the Cubs in his next scheduled start, but don’t go anywhere near him.
  • Mike Napoli (finger) has been diagnosed with a dislocated left ring finger after a head-first slide, but X-rays were negative. Luckily it’s not broken, which would have put him on the disabled list. He’ll likely be out a few days before returning to the Red Sox lineup.
  • Taijuan Walker (shoulder) was scratched from his minor league rehab start Tuesday with shoulder stiffness. The Mariners top prospect moved up to Triple-A Tacoma for Tuesday’s start, which lead to speculation that he could return to the Mariners as soon as Sunday. Since Walker was unable to get loose due to the tight shoulder he will be re-evaluated Wednesday, and that exam should shed light on the severity of this setback.
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MLB In Full Bloom – Jackie Robinson Day – 4/15/2014

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The 67th anniversary of the day Jackie Robinson played his first game for the Brooklyn Dodgers will be celebrated as usual throughout baseball today with ceremonies proceeding each game today. The main event will be in the Bronx prior to an Inter league game tonight between the Cubs and the Yankees. Robinson’s wife, Rachel, daughter Sharon, Commissioner Bud Selig and members of the Steinbrenner family are scheduled to be in attendance. Robinson played in his first major league game for the Dodgers on April 15th, 1947 and went 0-for-3. Despite not getting a hit, Robinson did score the deciding run in a 5-3 victory over the Boston Braves in Brooklyn. He was the first black player to appear in the majors since 1884.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Ernesto Frieri blew his first save of the season by coughing up John Jaso’s two-run ninth-inning homer in Monday’s 3-2 loss to the A’s. Angels fans are calling for Frieri’s head already, but they should keep in mind that he was 37-for-41 in save opportunities last year. If Angels manager Mike Scioscia could turn to Joe Smith, but the safer bet is Frieri continues as the closer.
  • Albert Pujols went 2-for-4 with a solo homer and two RBI in Monday’s 3-2 loss to the A’s. Pujols is officially heating up and he’s now hit a homer in four of his last six games. In those games, he’s racked up eight RBI and did I mention he’s riding a 10-game hitting streak?
  • Huston Street collected his fourth save of the season by throwing a perfect ninth inning in San Diego’s 5-4 victory over Colorado on Monday. We’re only two weeks into the first month of a long baseball season, but Street has been one of the game’s best fantasy closers. He’s now 4-for-4 in save opportunities and hasn’t allowed a run in five appearances.
  • Matt Moore (elbow) will undergo Tommy John surgery next week and will miss the remainder of the 2014 season. Moore was hoping to avoid the surgery, but it’s seemed inevitable for the last few days. He apparently made a final decision Monday night after feeling discomfort in his elbow while throwing earlier in the day. Moore can be ruled out for 2014, and it will be a challenge for him to be ready by Opening Day 2015. Moore’s surgery will be performed by Dr. James Andrews on April 22.
  • Bryce Harper (quad) left Monday’s game against the Marlins with quad tightness, but he expects to play tonight. It’s not being viewed as a serious injury, as the Nationals were likely just playing it safe since they had a big lead.
  • Craig Kimbrel is dealing with a sore shoulder and was not available Monday night to close out the Braves’ 9-6 victory over the Phillies. Kimbrel said that the sore shoulder is no big deal and he’ll be ready to go in a few days. It’s never a good thing to hear a sore shoulder or believe what a player is telling us. David Carpenter picked up the save Monday night and should be added immediately in case there is more to Kimbrel’s sore shoulder.
  • The Pittsburgh Pirates and Cincinnati Reds combined to hit ten home runs and all the fireworks came in the first six innings. The game was suspended prior to the beginning of the 7th inning due to rain and the game was picked up today at 2:30pm local time. The Pirates hit six home runs, on three sets of back-to-backers, and the Reds hit four homers. Todd Frazier, Ryan Ludwick and Joey Votto hit two-run shots and Devin Mesoraco hit a solo shot for the Reds.
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MLB In Full Bloom – Long Gon Homers Again – 4/14/2014

MLB In Full Bloom is featured on Buehler’s Day Off on Team 1010 KXPS in Palm Desert, CA.

Adrian Gonzalez did it again on Sunday, going 2-for-5 with a home run and three RBI in the Dodgers’ 8-6 win over the Diamondbacks. Gonzalez hit a three-run home run off Trevor Cahill in the third inning, and he also had a double. Gonzalez has a nine-game hitting streak and has homered in four straight. After a slow start, Gonzalez leads the National League in runs scored, he’s second in home runs and third in RBI through two weeks of play. He now has 59 RBI in 59 games played at Chase Field in Phoenix. Gonzalez is a lineup that will provide him RBI opportunities all season long.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Mark Buehrle turned in seven strong innings on Sunday as he gave up just one run on five hits while striking out two Orioles. Buehrle is now 3-0 three starts into the campaign, Buehrle has been simply dominant over the first couple of weeks of 2014. He has a 0.86 ERA through 21 innings of work to this point. He seems to have a lot left in the tank, but fantasy owners have to wonder how long he will keep it up. Enjoy the ride while it lasts.
  • Devin Mesoraco blasted a three-run homer and drove in four runs in Sunday’s win over the Tampa Bay Rays. Mesoraco has two homers in his first four games this season and is the proud owner of a .500 BA (7-for-14) since coming off the disabled list.
  • Aaron Harang turned in another strong start as he allowed just one run on five hits with five strikeouts over six innings of work against the Nationals. Harang improved his record to 2-1 after his first three starts of the campaign. Harang signed with the Braves about a week before the regular season began and has performed brilliantly here so far this season. He has a 0.96 ERA while holding the opposition to a .145 average over 18.2 innings.
  • Alex Cobb (oblique) was placed on the 15-day disabled list and could be out 4-to-6 weeks with a strained oblique injury. The typical timetable for an injury like Cobb’s is 6-to-8 weeks, so this is good news for the Rays. The injury comes at a tough time for Cobb, who was starting to get on a roll on the mound. He is currently working on a scoreless streak of 15.1 innings.
  • Adrian Beltre (quad) was placed on the 15-day disabled list with a strained left quad injury. The move is retroactive to April 9, making Beltre eligible to return April 24 if the injury subsides over the next two weeks. It is a Grade 1 strain, which is the least severe so Beltre should be able to return when he is eligible.
  • Kenley Jansen worked a scoreless ninth inning, allowing no hits and recording two strikeouts to pick up the save versus the Diamondbacks Sunday afternoon. He allowed runs in two consecutive outings earlier in the week, and fantasy owners were already expressing concern about the right-hander. Looks like Jansen is back on track.
  • Joe Blanton has retired from professional baseball. Blanton, 33 years old, was released by the Angels at the end of spring training and had been pitching for the A’s Triple-A affiliate. He finishes with a career 85-89 record and a 4.51 ERA.
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MLB In Full Bloom – Strasburg Spectacular In Nats Victory – 4/11/2014

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Stephen Strasburg was spectacular in Thursday afternoon’s victory over the Marlins, but his success didn’t come as a result of an overpowering fastball. Strasburg held the Marlins to just three hits and one run over 6 2/3 innings, striking out 12 in the victory. We know Strasburg possesses a high-velocity fastball, but his domination Thursday was a result resulted of his devastating changeup. Strasburg’s name has lost some of its luster in recent years as he’s dealt with injuries and the burden of high expectations, but Thursday was a good reminder of how high his ceiling really is for a 25-year old that has not yet reached his prime. He’s still got the ability to be the best pitcher in baseball on a given day and, if he can put it all together, in a given year.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

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MLB In Full Bloom – Will Jim Johnson Continue to Close? – 4/10/2014

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Jim Johnson ran into more trouble Wednesday at Minnesota’s Target Field as he gave up two runs on two hits and two walks to blow a 4-2 ninth-inning lead for the Athletics. Oakland rallied in extra innings to pull out a 7-4 victory over the host Twins. After the latest poor outing by Johnson, A’s manager Bob Melvin has removed him from the closer role. Johnson was acquired this winter from the Orioles for second base prospect Jemile Weeks and has been downright horrendous. Johnson has given up nine hits, six walks, and seven earned runs in 3 1/3 innings with the A’s. Ryan Cook was activated from the disabled list and should be owned in AL-Only leagues and deep mixed fantasy leagues. Cook owns a respectable 2.53 ERA and 156 strikeouts in 149 1/3 career major league innings. Luke Gregerson could also get some save opportunities as well.

MLB NEWS & NOTES

  • Josh Hamilton (thumb) was placed on the 15-day disabled list Wednesday and will have surgery on his left thumb. Hamilton is expected to need 6-to-8 weeks to recover. J.B. Shuck was recalled from Triple-A Salt Lake to take Hamilton’s spot on the active roster. Shuck batted .293 last year and put together a solid spring training, yet the Angels still demoted the outfielder to the minors. Over the next few months while Hamilton is out the disabled list, Shuck should get platoon with Collin Cowgill in left field.
  • Jayson Werth went 1-for-5 on Wednesday night against the Miami Marlins. However, Werth’s one hit was perfectly timed as his go-ahead grand slam in the eighth inning pushed the Nationals to victory over the Marlins. The Nationals were trailing 7-6, but Carlos Marmol wasn’t effective and Werth took Marmol deep with the home run. Werth finished with five RBI on the night, having also driven in a run on a ground out earlier in the game. He is now hitting .345 this season.
  • Taijuan Walker (shoulder) struck out 10 hitters over five scoreless innings in a rehab start with Double-A Jackson on Wednesday. Walker needed 84 pitches to get through five innings as he gave up just three hits and a walk. Since James Paxton is hitting the shelf due to a strained left lat, this may have been Walker’s last rehab start before rejoining the Mariners.
  • Ervin Santana was brilliant in his Braves debut on Wednesday night as he shut out the New York Mets over eight innings and earned the victory. Santana allowed only three hits, struck out six, and walked none. If he can continue pitching like he did in 2013, when he finished with a 3.24 ERA, the Braves may be able to overcome their health problems.
  • Josh Collmenter was credited with a save against the Giants Wednesday night. The save was of the rare four inning variety. Collmenter came in in the sixth inning and pitched four scoreless innings while striking out four batters as the Diamondbacks intend to put him into the starting rotation in the near future. Trevor Cahill or Randall Delgado are both candidates to lose their spot in the rotation and move to the bullpen. Both Cahill and Delgado are scheduled to make their next start before a decision is made by manager Kirk Gibson.
  • Joe Nathan allowed three earned runs to the Dodgers Wednesday in route to his second blown save and second win of the season. Nathan is off to a horrible start to this year. Along with the two blown saves, he also has a 12.27 ERA. Nathan told the media after the game that  he had “dead arm” before Wednesday’s game. Nathan’s job is safe despite the struggles so far this year.
  • Rex Brothers picked up the win on Wednesday in relief over the White Sox. Brothers closed out the top of the eighth with two quick outs, the Rockies responded with six runs in the bottom of the inning to give the reliever an easy victory. Although the win was fluky, it at least helped out fantasy owners holding on to Brothers in anticipation of him landing the closing gig from LaTroy Hawkins falters, which will most certainly happen this season.
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