Roto Rush: Executive Power
The team might not win a lot of games, but it sure is fun watching the Washington Nationals hit.
In yesterday's 8-3 win against Milwaukee, the Nationals received dingers from Christian Guzman, Adam Dunn, and Ryan Zimmerman. The round-tripper was Guzman's fifth of the year. Seeing Dunn and Zimmerman display some power is nothing new for Nationals fans; in fact, the pair has hit homers in the same game four times in August and the seventh time this season. The round-tripper was Guzman's fifth of the year.
We've been waiting for Dunn's average to fall off a cliff, but not only has that not happened, he's actually been increasing his average. Yeah, Adam Dunn -- who knew? After hitting .319 in July, the Washington first-baseman has posted a .359 average, .512 OPS and .781 slugging percentage in August, racking up seven HRs, 15 RBIs, and 15 runs along the way. His .288 average is the highest it has been since mid-May. At this point, it's fair to say that an average dropoff might not be coming this season.
Zimmerman's 2-for-4 day sets his average at .384 for the month, and he's also contributed six HRs, 18 RBIs, and 19 runs in August. He's hit a career-high 26 HRs this year, and with that kind of power combined with a .300 batting average, it won't be surprising if Zimmerman is a top-25 player heading into next season. Right now he's as hot as he's been all season, peaking at just the right time for fantasy owners.
Also in the game, Brewers rookie Alcides Escobar hit the first home run of his career. With a .321 average since being called up, he's making everyone forget about J.J. Hardy.
Bits From the Box Scores:
• There were several dominant pitching performances Sunday, but perhaps none stand out more than John Smoltz's inaugural game with the Cardinals. As I'm sure you remember, Smoltz's ratios were awful in Boston despite a very good K/BB ratio. It had seemed his stuff had become too hittable. Against the Padres, he had no such problems, striking out nine batters in five innings while allowing no runs on three hits. Don't be afraid to scoop Smoltz up, as he should be much better back in the NL. Albert Pujols smacked his 40th homer in Smoltz's win.
• Who are you, and what have you done with Fausto Carmona? After being knocked around earlier in the season, Carmona has posted quality starts in three of his five games since returning to the big leagues. His latest gem was a seven-inning performance in which he struck out eight, allowing just a Ken Griffey Jr.-home run while securing a win. I'd continue to remain cautios with Carmona -- let's see how he does on the road.
• The ball was flying out of Fenway last night, as four Yankee hitters combined for five home runs in a 8-4 Yankee win against Boston. Two belonged to Hideki Matsui, who posted his third multi-HR game of August. Alex Rodriguez (22rd), Robinson Cano (19th), and Derek Jeter (16th) all got in on the longball fest as well. As a result, Josh Beckett gave up a whopping eight runs in eight innings.
• Other double-homer days: Against Philly, Angel Pagan hit two HRs, one your garden-variety over-the-fence type and the other an inside-the-park job. After 118 homerless at-bats in May and July, Pagan has hit five homers in August, posting a .616 slugging percentage for the month. Michael Cuddyer, starting at first base for Justin Morneau, also hit two bombs.
• All Scott Feldman does is win. Despite a pedestrian K-rate and mediocre numbers overall, Feldman entered Sunday with a 12-4 record and a 4.06 ERA. After striking out 11 Rays and allowing no runs in seven innings, the Texas righty is now 13-4 with a 3.87 ERA. He's 4-0 in August and striking out over a batter per inning, a feat that seemed impossible when looking at his previous performance.
• Going into the season, I figured we'd seen the last of Luis Castillo as a fantasy-relevant player. Yesterday he stole his 14th and 15th bases of the season, and he's hitting an unbelievable .321 on the season. He hasn't posted an average that high since his 2000 season with the Marlins. It's even more impressive when you consider the cast of castoffs that the Mets have been running out to play offense.
• Tim Lincecum might have been the big name in the San Francisco-Colorado matchup, Ubaldo Jimenez was the better pitcher. The Rockies' ace held the Giants to two runs in eight innings while striking out nine batters. This marked the ninth consecutive quality start for Jimenez, who is 5-0 in five August starts. It's likely his home park scares off fantasy owners again in 2010 drafts -- don't be that person.
The Afflicted: The uber-scorching Carlos Gonzalez cut himself while depositing dishes into his sink yesterday, as per The Denver Post. Get him out of your lineups immediately. Scott Downs should be back with the Blue Jays today, although there are no plans to insert him directly into the closer role. According to The Baltimore Sun, Adam Jones suffered "mild mid-back spasms" while swing the bat in the first inning of yesterday's game; he's day-to-day for now. FanHouse's own Ed Price reported that Aaron Harang is lost for the year.
Lineup Lock Time: We're up against a 1:10 PM ET start today, ladies and gents.