- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Cincinnati Reds left-hander Travis Wood made a terrific major league debut at Wrigley Field on Thursday, allowing two hits and two runs over seven innings, although he got a no-decision. He's enticing, but the pending return of Edinson Volquez could soon threaten his rotation spot.
Cleveland Indians slugger Matt LaPorta homered for the third consecutive day Thursday. There's little doubt LaPorta's power is legitimate, but it's worth noting the home runs accounted for his only hits and runs in the three games. He could hit 20 home runs this season, and he's available in 95.2 percent of leagues.
A pair of readily available Oakland Athletics had four hits in five at-bats Thursday. Outfielder Ryan Sweeney raised his batting average to .303, but with one home run and one stolen base all year, it's easy to see why he's being ignored in fantasy. Shortstop Cliff Pennington, owned in 13.9 percent of leagues, stole his 12th base of the season after one of his four hits. Despite a .259 batting average, his speed and position make him more valuable.
Colorado Rockies outfielder Dexter Fowler, leading off after a month at Triple-A, went hitless in eight at-bats in the first two games of the series against the San Diego Padres. Then on Thursday he singled twice, tripled, stole two bases and scored a pair of runs. It remains to be seen if Fowler will keep playing when Brad Hawpe returns to health.
Who thought we'd still be discussing Washington Nationals right-hander Livan Hernandez in July? Hernandez allowed one run Thursday, matching Johan Santana for seven innings, and lowering his season ERA to 2.98. It sure doesn't look like Hernandez, owned in 40.3 percent of leagues and sporting a 1.75 home ERA, is an awful investment anymore.
It would have been understandable for Pittsburgh Pirates manager John Russell to bench rookie third baseman Pedro Alvarez against left-handed pitching. Instead, Alvarez batted second against Phillies southpaw Cole Hamels on Thursday, and he delivered an RBI double. It was Alvarez's lone hit but a strong sign of confidence from the manager.
Eric Karabell takes a closer look at performances from Travis Wood, Matt LaPorta and Livan Hernandez.