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Fantasy Baseball: Maholm Alone

Braves starter Paul Maholm twirled a gem Monday, his second quality start and second win of the season. Granted, the Marlins don’t exactly provide the stiffest of competition but seven innings of one-hit ball with seven strikeouts s fantastic regardless of the opponent. Maholm did issue three walks, but two were to Marlins’ slugger Giancarlo Stanton. Through 12.2 innings pitched this season, Maholm is yet to allow an earned run, and if we factor in the the lefty’s final 17 starts of 2012 when he posted a stellar 2.53 ERA and 1.09 WHIP, Maholm is a pitcher who has been throwing at a Cy Young caliber lever for quite some time.

The Braves provide perfect situation for the lefty hurler who is now supported by a dynamic offense to go along with top-shelf defensive play behind him. Maholm also managed to nudge his strikeout rate in the second half of 2012 to a useful 7.3 K/9 and though the sample size is small, Paul has struck out over a batter per inning through two starts in 2012.

Owned in just 50% of standard leagues, Maholm is widely available as spot starter, but given the depth of lineup behind him and the patty-cake offenses in the NL East, expect Maholm to continue to rack up the quality starts and wins. Maholm, currently the No. 3 pitcher in Yahoo leagues, is a must add even in 10-team mixers.

Around the League

  • Mets’ hurler Matt Harvey dominated the Phillies on Monday, striking out nine over seven innings of one-run ball. Harvey boasts 89 strikeouts over his first 73 major league innings and is quickly becoming a fantasy stud. He walked just two batters in the game and if he continues to show improvement there, Harvey will look to make the leap into the top-20 amongst fantasy starters.
  • Phillies’ starter Roy Halladay, on the other hand, is moving in the wrong direction. Halladya was beat around once again, allowing seven runs over 4.0 innings pitched versus the mets. He struck out three and walked three while looking nothing like the dominate ace he was just two seasons ago. Halladay’s velocity is down, but more concerning is the fact that his pitches are flat. There is something rotten here and it’s nearing time to bail on Halladay. If you drafted him, however, we’d recommend standing strong for another couple starts (whiloe perhaps moving Halladay to the bench) because at the moment you are unlikely to recoup much value via trade.
  • Clay Buccholz struck out eight batter over 7.0 scoreless innings pitched. He di walk four, but allowed just three hits while putting together his second quality start in a row. Buccholz has been wildly inconsistent in the past, has  a non-existent strikeout rate and shaky peripherals have use leaving Clay as little more than a spot starter.
  • Ryan Braun returned to the Brewers lineup and promptly returned to being the most consistent player in baseball. Braun rapped three hits in four at-bats including a pair of doubles while scoring a run and driving in one.
  • Brewers reliever Jim Henderson picked up his first save of the year, striking out two in a scoreless ninth. Henderson is yet to get the official nod from management, but John Axford has just been bruta. It is Henderson’s job to lose in the short term and if he’s able to throw like he did last season (3.52 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 13.2 /9 in 30. 2IP), there is a solid chance that Axford never sniffs the role again this year.
  • Feeling the affect of an injured digit on his throwing hand, Hiroki Kuroda was wild in the early going on Monday, allowing three first-inning runs. He managed to make it through five innings, yielding five hits and four walks with six strikeouts. Kuroda lacked his signature control in the outing, but still managed to collect a win, thanks in large part to his second baseman.
  • That second baseman we speak of, is Robinson Cano, of course. Robby drilled a pair of home runs, scored four times, drove in two, went 3-for-4 on the evening with a walk.
  • The Kansas City bullpen may look like a mess with Greg Holland struggling a bit out of the gates (Kelvin Herrara notched and ugly save on Sunday and Aaron Crow nabbed one on Monday), but it’s apparently business as usual. Holland is expected to get another couple of opportunities so we wouldn’t go out dumping him quite yet. Monday’s game was interesting because both Holland and Herrera were unavailable but Herrera is cleary next in line.
  • Ervin Santana hurled 8.0 stellar innings pitched, striking out sven batter while allowing just eight hits and no walks. He’s been studly in the past and if we throw out last year’s disastrous season, we find a pitcher who put up a solid 3.84 RA and 1.26 WHIP with a useable K-rate from 2008-2011. There is some talent here and Big Erv immediately warrants consideration as a spot starter in all leagues.
  • Rangers first baseman Mitch Moreland went 3-for-3 and slugged his second home run of the season. Perhaps his platoon splits will be exposed with more regular playing time, but the additional at-bats will still boost the counting stats and he has 20+ homer power.
  • Pirates first baseman Garret Jones also had a nice day at the dish, clobbering his first home run of the season. We mention Jones (34% owned) and Moreland (4% owned) together as two of the top replacement options at first base if you just sent Freddie Freeman (oblique) to the DL.
  • Joe Saunders held the punchless Astros’ scoreless over 6.1 strong innings. He allowed six hits and one walk with five strikeouts. Saunders turned the game over to his bullpen that twirled 2.2 scoreless innings, capped by Tom Wilhelmsen‘s third save of the year. Many shied away from the Mariners’ stopper early in the year due to the teams’ overall ineptitude,  but Seattle actually boasts a much improved offense and should provide plenty of save chances in 2013. The plethora of young arms in the Seattle ‘pen (Carter Capps, Steven Pryor) has us doubting Wilhelmsen’s long-term job security and as Michael Pichan (@FantasyNomad) likes to point out, he hasn’t exactly been light out so far (1:4 K/BB ratio ), but he’s locked into the role as long as he keeps converting those saves.

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