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Saturday 16th Dec 2017

One of the downsides of playing in multiple leagues is that the likelihood of having opposing players face off in any given game seems to increase in a corresponding manner with the number of leagues played.

I don’t know about you, but in any major league game I have watched in the last 20 years or so, the subplot is the same. It is clearly defined by the players on my fantasy rosters who are participating.

Take Memorial Day. It is not only a day of reflection and thanks to those who have served our country in military roles, but a day to spend relaxing with family and friends. The baseball part of my holiday did not end as comfortably as I had hoped, however. More on that in a moment.

At least in my book, Memorial Day serves as the unofficial start of summer. For both real baseball and fantasy, it also signals the end of the first third of the season.

Like Albert Pujols’ unexplainable slump, after two months, it is time to stop making excuses, hoping for the best, and accept reality. Take that hard look at your fantasy teams and either redouble your efforts or in some keeper formats, make the decision to rebuild for the future.

Anyway, back to my Memorial Day.

One of my unheralded stars of the first third of the 2011 has been Kyle McClellan of the St. Louis Cardinals. In his first eight weeks in the rotation, the former reliever had accumulated a 6-1 record and a 3.11 ERA.

This spring, fresh from seeing McClellan in March action in Florida, I paid $4 for him in National League Tout Wars. In early April, I then added him in the reserve rounds of the XFL, Xperts Fantasy League as a backfill for his real-life, out-for-the season teammate Adam Wainwright.

Facing World Champion San Francisco and Madison Bumgarner on the holiday, McClellan went into the fourth with a 2-2 score. A few minutes later, Giants’ centerfielder and leadoff man Andres Torres stepped in with the bases loaded.

Playing in only his 25th game of the season because of a long disabled list stint, Torres is another of my two-team fantasy players – and a very important one.

I drafted Torres for $16 in Tout, believing his total of 26 stolen bases in 2010 was not a fluke. He also found his way onto my local team roster, where bragging rights over my oldest son and my brother-in-law are paramount.

I have never felt as conflicted as I did when my two-team pitcher, McClellan, served up a fat pitch that my two-team hitter, Torres, deposited into the Busch Stadium seats for a grand slam.

There were too many variables involved to do an immediate damage-benefit assessment based on that one play across three different leagues. As fate would have it, the one league where the two intersect is the one that is most important to me, Tout.

Shortly afterward, McClellan went onto the disabled list due to a hip flexor strain. It was not disclosed if he was injured during his violent spin turning to watch Torres’ ball leave the yard.

It is going to be a long, anxious summer, I am afraid.

Garcia sophomore slump lasts one game

A pitcher I was high on last year, Cardinals left-hander Jaime Garcia, is the latest to suffer through what appeared to be a fluke outing at Coors Field. Humidor or not, it still seems to happen.

While I had eventually bowed out of the bidding for Garcia this year in Tout at just $10, I fully expected him to continue his standout 2010 rookie season in 2011. He had been a $4 draft addition for me in Tout last season.

Well, my confidence was firm until spring training anyway. In March action in Florida, opposing hitters batted .392 against Garcia and his ERA as 6.36. My resolve was temporarily and unjustifiably shaken.

Once the bell rang, the old Garcia was back. Through ten starts, Garcia went 5-0 with four other likely wins having been torched by St. Louis’ inconsistent pen.

It wasn’t Garcia’s day in Denver on May 28, however, as he yielded seven runs in the first two innings, yet was inexplicably kept in the game to give up five more in the fourth. 11 runs were earned, shooting his ERA up to 3.28. Garcia later admitted he had nothing after the first inning. It took him 94 pitches to secure 10 outs.

If you were considering a buy-low deal for Garcia based on his Coors debacle, your window of opportunity lasted just six days.

This week, manager Tony La Russa and pitching coach Dave Duncan gave Garcia an extra day of rest. It worked brilliantly as on Friday night the lefty needed just 94 pitches in eight innings to master the visiting Cubs. Garcia allowed one earned run on four hits. He fanned eight and walked just one.

It wasn’t a career-worst to career-best game-to-game transformation, though. Back on May 6 against Milwaukee, Garcia went 7 1/3 perfect innings on the way to a two-hit shutout.

Looking ahead, workload should be the only potential issue as Garcia had been on pace for a 200-inning season after throwing 163 in his first year back after recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Garcia now has yielded just two earned runs in 39 innings at Busch Stadium this season and is 10-4 with a 1.35 ERA there since the start of 2010. In other words, Garcia is about the most dependable home starter going today.

And just remember how worthless spring training stats really are. My Tout opponent knew that when he bid $10 and I did not answer by saying “$11.” My loss is his gain.

Brian Walton was the 2009 National League Tout Wars champion, scoring the most points in the league’s 13-year history. He is a 2009 NFBC league winner and finished in the top 25 nationally in both the NFBC and NFFC that season. His work can also be found daily at TheCardinalNation.com and thecardinalnationblog.com. Follow Brian on Twitter.

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