On top of the world

Some weeks, it seems like no matter what you do, every decision works out exactly the way you intended it to. The pitchers you sit down due to poor match-ups get lit up, while anyone you actually start pitches like Cy Young. Your offense seems to be rolling every night and racking up counting stats exactly the way you intended them to when you pieced the team together on draft day. For me, week 12 was one of those weeks.

On the offensive side of the spectrum we were led again by recent free agent Michael Morse. On the week, Morse hit .375 with nine runs scored, three home runs and seven RBI. He’s been exactly the boost that our offense needed to get rolling. Not to be outdone, his teammate Danny Espinosa had quite a week himself, hitting .444 with five runs, three home runs, eight RBI and a pair of steals. When we went into the draft, our plan was to keep passing on the second base position until the later rounds, and then nab Espinosa. Other than the batting average, that decision has paid off swimmingly.

Ryan Howard continues to plod along and do his thing. The average is low as expected, but he homered twice again this week and drove home five runs. Our targeted shortstop, Elvis Andrus, continues to shine, scoring five runs and stealing two bases this week. Ty Wigginton was forced into action this week due to Justin Morneau’s injury, and he responded by hitting .368 with six runs, a homer and a steal.

Knowing Vladimir Guerrero wasn’t going to play over the weekend due to the Orioles playing without a DH in a National League park, we slid Will Venable back into the lineup hoping he’d get a couple of at-bats. Even he contributed, with four hits, a run, and an RBI, and even stole a base.

We finished the week hitting all our weekly goals on offense. Our team hit .308 for the week, bringing our yearly total up to .255. That’s still too low, but is at least trending in the right direction. We scored 43 runs on the week and drove home 48 which bests our target in both categories. We also managed to blast 12 home runs and steal eight bases.

The only downside to our offensive week (besides the 0-15 from Nick Hundley), was losing our first-round pick Carl Crawford to a hamstring injury. As bad as the first month of his season was, he had at least been a fairly productive player for us over the past six weeks. Losing him makes our already weak outfield corps that much worse. I want to publicly wish him a very speedy recovery.

As good as our hitting was for the week, our pitching was on another planet. Justin Verlander led the way, showing everyone what an ace truly is. Two complete games, one earned run, a 0.389 WHIP and 17 Ks. Studly.

Scott Baker threw eight shutout innings, struck out 10 and won his game. Nick Blackburn threw eight shutout innings and won his game. Josh Outman threw seven shutout innings and won his game as well. Michael Pineda wasn’t as good, allowing a run in his six innings of work, but he won also. That gave us six victories on the week, which was as welcome a sight as you can possibly imagine.

Chris Carpenter and Ryan Vogelsong didn’t win their starts, but neither pitched poorly either. They also combined for 13 strikeouts. Drew Storen allowed an earned run, but also recorded two saves. Not to be outdone by his bullpen counterpart, Joel Hanrahan racked up three saves of his own.

We had decided to start Blackburn and Outman over Matt Garza and James McDonald, who we left on the pine. Though both of our bench pitchers also won their starts, their combined ERA ended up being 6.17. We’ll just go ahead and pat ourselves on the back for that one.

For the week, our staff pitched a total of 66.2 innings. We allowed a grand total of nine earned runs. Nine. That computes to an ERA of 1.21. Our WHIP was equally as sparkling at 0.780. With 50 strikeouts, six wins and five saves. Life sure is good sometimes.

All of this firepower on both sides of the ball allowed us to finish second overall in the NFBC for the weekly period. We also moved into second place in our league, closing in on the first place team. And if that wasn’t enough of a good week for me, I also finished first overall for the week in CDM’s diamond challenge. Like I said, sometimes things just align perfectly.

As for this week, we had a lot of decisions to make and reasons to believe that this week won’t be a repeat of the last. For starters, we have to replace our first-round pick, which is never an easy task. With nothing but slim pickings on the waiver wire in the outfield, we secured the services of Josh Reddick for $2. I hope he can grab a couple of starts in Crawford’s absence and contribute something to our counting stats.

We also have to deal with Guerrero sitting for the first half of the week in another NL park. Between that and having Morneau and Brandon Belt still on the DL, it leaves our offense painfully thin. Wigginton will continue to man our corner infield slot for the time being. If he can repeat what he did this week, I’d be more than thrilled. Justin Turner remains as our middle infielder, and I hope he’ll continue to hit second and score runs for the Mets. Ryan Raburn still has to play full time for us, and is now our fourth outfielder. At least he has started to warm up somewhat, and is playing on an almost daily basis.

Our fifth outfielder and utility spots have to go to Reddick and Venable, since we don’t have any other choices. I’m hoping that one of them hits their way into regular playing time, and will continue to play through the weekend.

On the pitching side of things, we don’t have any double starters this week, leaving us with only seven starts. This also has me worried as we stand to lose more ground in wins, and may also come up short of our strikeout target. Obviously the two closers are in. Verlander, Pineda, Baker, Blackburn and Vogelsong have all pitched far too well to sit down. Chris Carpenter has to win his second game eventually, and I just don’t have the heart to sit him down just yet.

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This leaves our final spot between Jake Peavy versus the Cubs, Garza at the White Sox or McDonald vs. Baltimore. Garza hasn’t pitched well since coming off the DL, and scares the hell out of me pitching in that bandbox in Chicago. McDonald is very inconsistent, but has a decent shot at a win. Peavy has been lights out when he’s been healthy, but that is obviously a huge concern. This one could go down to the wire, but as of now I’m leaning Peavy.

Well, here’s to hoping that week 13 can somehow carry over the tremendous momentum that my teams enjoyed in week 12. Regardless, I’m soaking in this moment, and even if it’s only for a week it’s sure nice to be on top. Best of luck to all of you in week 13!

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