Its easy to lose focus on the Houston Astros on draft week, especially when they stand at 24-39. That's pretty irrelevant. Even when Bud Norris nearly tossed a no-hitter last night, it barely registered on the nation's consciousness.
Once again the Astros were their worst enemy in the opener against the Cardinals, stranding a hoard of baserunners, while Brett Myers served up a 3-run double to Jake Westbrook, the man with eight major league hits. You could question the wisdom of throwing a first pitch slider in that situation, and the manner of Myers start after a great outing against the Cubs could be seen as a setback. His 2011 ERA stands at 5.02, and he has allowed an NL leading 16 home runs. And this was the guy who was supposed to be leading this pitching staff.
Fantasy owners meanwhile continue to stay away from Bud Norris, and I wonder if this will change after last night's start. There is the small matter of the start being against the Cardinals, someone the 26-year-old definitely has the hoodoo over, improving to 6-2 against the Redbirds with a 2.45 ERA.
This interesting nugget talks about pitchers who throw sliders a high percentage of the time might be more likely to experience arm injuries, and Norris fits into that category, relying on his slider 34.7% of the time. Something to keep an eye on.
Meanwhile the week's biggest surprise has been Carlos Lee, who has drawn eight walks in the last seven games. This is vaguely interesting because he managed nine in the previous 52 games. Better late than never Carlos. Exclude the shambles that was April and his numbers are actually pretty good.
If you are really struggling for a plug in the outfield, then Lee might not be too bad a shout. His HR total is disappointing, but the RBIs and BA should compensate for that. His slash line since May 1st reads at a competent .328/.374/479.
More after the jump.
It is important however not to go overboard. Even with his recent 'success', as of last night his season's OPS still stood at .715, the same as Michael Bourn.
Hunter Pence meanwhile continues to rake, reaching 20 games on his hitting streak. On the fantasy hitting categories over that span he has 3 HR, 14 RBI, 16 runs, a .388 BA and a solitary steal. Is he a sell-high candidate right now? I'd think so. He's probably going to cool down soon, and the hitting streak might cause some to overvalue him and trade you back something good.
You can still find pitching depth on the waiver wire, especially if you get ahead of your rivals when players are called up. Arizona's Josh Collmenter, who was recently transferred to the rotation, threw five scoreless innings last night and could be a good grab if he's still available.
The Dodgers' Dee Gordon is available in most leagues, as is the Padres Anthony Rizzo.
Jason Bourgeois may have come off the DL, but has struggled to get playing time so far with Lee doing well in June, and Keppinger reinstalled at second base. Whether he gets enough playing time to nab enough steals to make him worth having on your fantasy roster is up in the air.
Wandy Rodriguez meanwhile is available in a third of all ESPN leagues, and is a good pickup for next week. He will return to the team on Monday for the series finale with the Braves. He pitched four innings giving up one run for the Corpus Christi Hooks, and sounded pleased with his outing.
You can follow the league's progress on twitter at #astrostwitterleague. Wallace's Tomballers still own a massive nine point lead, and while my Minute Maiders have been languishing mid-table I did pass Native_Astro last night. Winning.