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Insider

Bits: Johnny Cueto returns with a gem

5/9/2011

&#8226 Cincinnati Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto tossed six scoreless innings in his season debut Sunday to beat the Chicago Cubs. Cueto, just off the DL (biceps), scattered five singles in six innings, walking one and striking out four. He's yet to deliver a top fantasy season, but he should be owned even in standard leagues.

&#8226 Pittsburgh Pirates right-hander James McDonald threw six scoreless innings of his own Sunday, his third consecutive quality start, to lower his ERA to 5.65. McDonald fanned eight. After a rough start to the season, he has allowed two runs over his past three outings. This might be your last chance to buy low on him.

&#8226 Detroit Tigers outfielder Austin Jackson, who leads the majors in strikeouts (among hitters), homered Sunday and had six hits combined on Saturday and Sunday. The sophomore center fielder, still on pace for more than 200 strikeouts, is hitting .224, and frustrating fantasy owners with just two stolen bases. And the BABIP that fueled his rookie campaign (.396) is still above the league average (.322) now. Don't buy low here.

&#8226 Carl Pavano's struggles continued Sunday; he permitted seven runs at Fenway Park, the fourth time in seven starts he has allowed at least six runs. His ERA is 6.64, and he hasn't struck out a single batter in his past two outings. For now it's best to leave Pavano unowned while he and the Minnesota Twins struggle.

&#8226 Atlanta Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman included a homer among his career-high three hits in Philadelphia on Sunday, though he's still hitting a reserved .241. The lefty-hitting Freeman homered off lefty Cole Hamels, and hit the ball hard to left field a few other times. The numbers don't suggest this, but Freeman is ownable in standard leagues.

&#8226 Cleveland Indians outfielder Grady Sizemore homered among his three hits Sunday, raising his batting average to .288 in 17 games. Sizemore isn't likely to hit for a high average; his career mark is .273. What is promising is the fact that he played all three weekend games. He's healthy and has power. Just be wary that he might hit .250 and not steal many bases.