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Article:Beyond the Boxscore--MLB Fantasy News and Notes 4/6/08

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Oft-injured Brewers' ace Ben Sheets has been showing what he can do when he is healthy.  After an impressive first start, Sheets did one better today throwing a complete game shutout against the Triple-A San Francisco Giants.  Big Ben now has not allowed a run in 15+ innings in 2008 with 15 Ks to boot.  However, Sheets' health is as reliable as rumors in the National Enquirer.  Now is the time to try to move Sheets if you own him.  Unfortunately, it is most likely just a matter of time before Sheets ends up on the DL.  If you can make a trade for a pitcher who spends more time on the mound than Sheets, definitely pull the trigger.

At the other end of the spectrum (and that game) is the Giants' Barry Zito.  I don't know how necessary it is to continue to pile on Zito.  I think by now everyone pretty much has the same opinion on Zito.  If he is on your team it is time to cut ties with him.  His ERA is high, his team doesn't score runs, and he doesn't strike many batters out.  He brings next to nothing to your team at this point in his career.

A few pitchers who might be available in your league pitched well on Sunday.  Another great young arm for the Reds, Edinson Volquez, made his season debut today, and was just as sharp as he was in the Spring.  Volquez went 5.1 innings, gave up just one run, and fanned eight.  I expect the Reds to be better than anticipated this season (especially if these young arms pan out), and if you can find room for Volquez he is worth the add.  Cleveland's Cliff Lee made his first start today, and gave fantasy players flashbacks to 2004-2006 when he won 46 games in those three years.  After being shipped to the minors last year, Lee was quoted this spring as saying he never wanted to go to AAA again.  A guy with that kind of motivation may be worthy of a spot on your team, but Lee has never been a big strikeout guy, and I would wait to see if he could make it two good starts.  Another member of the scrap heap picked up by the Cardinals in recent years, Kyle Lohse had an impressive start today, as the improbable start for St. Louis continued.  Lohse threw seven shut out innings on Sunday, and hasn't given up a run in 12 innings in '08.  Has pitching coach Dave Duncan revived another career?  Not a bad performance for a guy that didn't have a contract a month ago.  I wouldn't go running to the waiver wire for Lohse just yet, but monitor his next performance.

Are we seeing the end of a legend?  Trevor Hoffman took his second loss of the young season today, and now has an ERA over 12.  He has converted two save attempts already, but has blown the game twice as well.  After so many years of hearing "Hells Bells" and starting toward the exits, Padres' fans are starting to move towards the edge of their seats when Hoffman comes in.

In his first start after coming off the DL, John Smoltz shut down the Mets for five innings, giving up just two hits and striking out six.  After having some tightness in his shoulder this Spring, Smoltz looked like he had no problems as he gave up just a double to Santana and a single to Delgado.  You keep thinking that Father Time has to catch up at some point, but Smoltz just keeps on pitching.

Is this the year we crown King Felix?  He came into the league with incredible hype, but has yet to fulfill the prophecy.  After his 9-3 second half last year, many expected this to be the year of the King.  Well, after start number one, it looks like 2008 could be when we see what Hernandez is capable of.  Felix threw eight shutout innings, while striking out six, and would've gotten the win if it was not blown by substitute closer Mark Lowe.  King Felix could definitely perform as well as any of the top five starters this year, and if it is possible try to get him on your team before he starts again.

Enough about pitching, let's cover some hitters.  Is Nate McLouth still available in your league?  If so, he is probably the hottest guy to add in the young season.  After a 3-5 game today, McLouth is hitting .439 with five doubles, a homer, seven ribeyes, and two steals.  His minor league numbers suggest he can't keep this up, but he is certainly off to a good season and is worth a roster spot if nothing else than for some trade bait.

Can anyone stop Rick Ankiel?  Ankiel hit his third homer of the season on Sunday, and has been one of the more impressive hitters in this young season.  Even though he struggled at the end of 2007, his impressive numbers since completing the transition to a full time position player suggests that this is no fluke, and you should consider Ankiel a legitimate top 20 outfielder.

Were you concerned about Ryan Braun?  After getting off to a little bit of a cold start, Braun homered for the second straight day on Sunday, and was just a triple short of the cycle.  He was worth a late first round pick as I expect him to replicate last year's numbers over the course of the entire season in 2008.  Remember he played just over 110 games in 2007.

Buy Low: Matt Holliday.  Not saying he will come overly cheap, but some owners might be frustrated that I guy they spent a first round pick on just finally hit his first homer and drove in his first run as he is hitting just .182. 
Sell High: Derrek Lee.  He is off to an incredible start hitting .400 with 3 HRs and 4 RBI.  I still believe the injury bug will find him again, as he hasn't been very effective the last couple seasons.  Find a taker while his numbers are still pretty inflated.

As always, your questions (adds, drops, trades, etc) and comments are welcome at fightingchancefantasy@gmail.com. I guarantee a response within 18 hours.

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