The Nationals stink, and the only fever they are likely to induce is one accompanied by vomiting. They are 11-21 on the year, the worst record in baseball, but that doesn’t mean that they don’t have some intriguing stories from a fantasy perspective. Here are a few of those players and my thoughts on what to look for from each guy.
Nick Johnson is healthy, and he is once again productive. He had four hits on Wednesday to give him six hits the past two games against the Giants to boost his average up to .333. Johnson also knocked in seven runs in those two games. Dude can seriously swing it, but he has only one 500 at-bat season in his six “healthy” seasons. Still, per 162 games in his career, Johnson has produced an average line of .271-20-81-87-6, so he certainly should have some corner infield value in mixed leagues with health, especially when you consider that his average is up to .287 since the start of the 2005 campaign.
Cristian Guzman had three hits on Wednesday to boost his average to, get this .390, .033 points better than teammate Ryan Zimmerman who has been getting all the publicity for his 30-game hitting streak which he lost after going 0-for-3 on Wednesday. As for Guzman, he hasn’t walked a single time this season through 21 games, which makes his average even more impressive. In his last 10 appearances he has produced at least two hits eight times. Wow. Dating back to the start of the 2007 season Guzman has hit, sit down before you get dizzy reading this number, .327 in 853 at-bats. He certainly doesn’t do it the way you like to see eschewing plate discipline in his pursuit of hits, but he has somehow found a way to take his game to a whole other level despite the fact that he owns a mere .273 career batting average in almost 1,200 major league games.
In the “it just goes to show you that numbers aren’t the only answer to a question,” Shairon Martis improved to 5-0 on Wednesday as he held the Giants to one run in seven innings (that’s right, he has 45% of the team’s victories). He allowed only two hits relying on his fastball/change-up combination, but at the same time he continued to tempt fate with four walks and only two strikeouts. I wrote in The Chopping Block earlier this week the following: “Mixed leaguers would be best served to stay away from Martis unless he undergoes a drastic shift in his pitching style, which as we all know is unlikely to happen.” Still not going to change my mind there, but those in NL-only leagues who continue to run him out there have to be feeling really good about a end game grab who is now 5-0.
On to the bullpen where we find a total mess at the end of the game. Kip Wells actually appears to be the top option in the ninth at the moment, and he has two saves on the year to go along with a 4.40 ERA and a 1.00 K/BB mark. No major league team should be relying on Kip Wells to play a role of value – it’s not 2003 mind you. Of course, he is a better option than Julian Tavarez who has allowed six runs over his last 4.2 innings to basically torpedo any shot he had at saves. Joe Beimel? Uh, no. Since returning from the DL he has allowed a run in three of five appearances for a total of five earned runs in four innings. The best option the team has is to just go back to Joel Hanrahan who owns a 10.43 K/9 mark along with a strong 3.40 K/BB mark. He has blown three of six saves chances, but he has the stuff to do it and is certainly a better long-term option than the rest of this motley crew.
Oh, and Barry Zito pitched pretty well yet again despite falling to 1-3 as he left the game only to see the bullpen allow two runners to score leaving him with four runs allowed in 6.1 innings. Still, through seven starts he owns a 3.89 ERA and the team has to be happy with that level of production from their fourth starter.
By Ray Flowers