Updated: June 30, 2008, 11:06 AM ET

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William Perlman/US Presswire

Oliver Perez likes to play to the level of his competition, as seen in his success against the Yankees.

Down with OP?
Oliver Perez might be a maddening, frustrating, aggravating pitcher to own in fantasy. But if there's one thing he does consistently, it's manhandle the New York Yankees lineup.

In four starts against the Yankees in 2007 and this season -- Sunday's included -- he's a perfect 4-0 with a 1.52 ERA, 0.78 WHIP and 23 K's in 29 2/3 innings.

In other words, enjoy this standout effort by Perez, but don't count on more of the same looking ahead. He's so terribly inconsistent with his command and so off-and-on from start to start. "Trust" and Oliver Perez are words that need to be kept about as far apart from each other as Shawn Chacon and Ed Wade.

Need proof? Here's a quick fact for you: Sunday's performance represented the first time in 17 starts all season that he did not walk a batter. He also threw 67.9 percent of his pitches for strikes (72 of 106 pitches); in his first 16 turns, that number was 59.4 percent.

Perez's command ratios tell the story of how unpredictable he has been in 2008. Even with Sunday's start added to his tally, he's averaging 5.18 walks per nine innings, 7.57 K's per nine and 1.59 homers allowed per nine. Compare that to his 2007 numbers, when those numbers were 4.02, 8.85 and 1.12, leading many a person to think he was on the way back to his 2004-breakout-year-like respectability, and it's clear Perez has taken a noticeable step backwards. It's like he has totally regressed.

Best yet: For the season, Perez has five quality starts out of 17. Five! And amazingly, look at his opponents in those: Rangers, Marlins, Yankees (twice) and Reds. Those represent MLB's second-, ninth-, 11th- and 21st-best offenses (in terms of runs per game), meaning that four of Perez's best outings all year have come against great-hitting teams. In fact, the Elias Sports Bureau notes that Perez plays to his competition; he's 50 with 3.09 ERA in nine starts against teams with a winning record, and 15 with a 7.97 ERA in eight starts against teams with a losing record.

Does that not support Perez's case as baseball's most unpredictable starter?

Not that all is lost for Perez. He's working with a new pitching coach, Dan Warthen, who could by all rights get him back on track with time. Perez's command was remarkably good when working out of the windup on Sunday, and if he and Warthen can work on developing that level of consistency looking forward, better things could be expected. Still, that's a lot of "ifs," and most people regarded Warthen's predecessor, Rick Peterson, as a pretty strong teacher himself. And if Peterson couldn't straighten the lefty out, one has to wonder whether there's any hope for Perez.

He'll next pitch in Philly, against another elite offense, so he could dominate again, just like he did against the Rangers, Marlins or Yankees. Or, he could get obliterated, like he has on many occasions all year. It's enough to make a fantasy owner scream.


Past editions: 6/29: Weaver's sorta no-no | 6/28: Delgado believe!? | 6/27: Garza-riffic

Box Score Bits
A.J. Burnett pitched seven dominating innings of shutout, four-hit baseball against the Braves, notching his eighth win of the season. It's his second straight dominant effort -- he limited the Reds to one run on four hits in eight innings this past Tuesday -- and be aware, he was 14-9 with a 3.75 ERA and 1.26 WHIP in 27 starts from July 1 on in his first two seasons with the Blue Jays. Buy low, my friends, buy low, if you still can. ... Jo-Jo Reyes was the hard-luck loser to Burnett, going seven innings, but allowing a run. He has four consecutive standout road starts, all against pretty decent offenses, during which time he has a 1.55 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. He'll need more consistency to be a trusted option outside of NL-only formats, but the potential is there for matchups status at least. ... It's not enough to panic over, but Brandon Lyon blew his third save of the season, allowing two runs on three hits, including Hanley Ramirez's 18th home run, while getting one out. That he has imploded twice in his past five appearances, both within a 12-day span, is a bit troublesome, but it'd take a few more before his job security might be threatened. The most likely benefactor should Lyon slump further? Probably Tony Pena, who, in his past 18 appearances, has a 1.50 ERA and 1.00 WHIP. ... Luke Scott belted yet another home run on Sunday, giving him eight to go along with a .333 batting average in 24 games in June. Keep riding that hot streak! ... Jason Isringhausen, who had been battling a strained right knee, returned to action by tossing 1 2/3 innings, striking out four, but allowing a run on two hits and a walk. He'll dodge the DL, but he's clearly not pitching at 100 percent, plus he was relegated to sixth- and seventh-inning work on Sunday. With those limitations, it seems he's further away than ever from reclaiming his usual closer's role. ... By the way, same game: Ryan Franklin tossed 1 2/3 shutout innings for his 11th save, bouncing back from a blown save in his past outing this past Thursday. He's safe for now, probably at least through the All-Star break. ... Kevin Slowey tossed a brilliant three-hit shutout to beat Ben Sheets and the Brewers, his fourth consecutive quality start. Two of those came against the Nationals and Padres, but outings like this continue to bolster his case as an underappreciated, productive fantasy option. Slowey's most encouraging statistical indicator: He has allowed 10 home runs in 72 2/3 frames this year (1.24 per 9), a vast improvement upon 2007's 16 in 66 2/3 innings (2.16 per 9). ... Jonathan Sanchez dominated the Athletics, an anemic offense against left-handers (.659 team OPS), so normally we shouldn't get too excited. But with it he's 6-2 with a 3.02 ERA and 1.27 WHIP in his past nine starts, eight of those quality starts. Plus, not once has he walked more than three batters, a very encouraging sign. ... In his first start since missing a turn with back spasms, Erik Bedard held the Padres to one run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Let's not read too much into that, as he faced the Padres and didn't last particularly long, but at least it's nice to see him back in action. He'll get the Tigers at home on Friday, and that'll be a much better indicator of his true health. ... For a second straight day, the Angels couldn't muster much on offense, but they did just enough, scoring one run, to help John Lackey to his sixth win in nine starts. He has a 1.44 ERA and 0.89 WHIP, incredible rates for a pitcher who began the year with some serious questions regarding his elbow. He sure looks A-OK today! ... If you haven't yet and are in an AL-only, deep-mixed or keeper league, hop on the Chris Davis bandwagon. He belted his second home run, and if he can continue tearing up right-handers like this, the Rangers will probably find a way to keep him around even after Hank Blalock returns from the DL (that is, if he ever does).



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Standing Out

Joe Blanton, A's
Blanton is now tied with former teammate Barry Zito for the major-league lead in losses with 11. The Giants tagged Blanton for seven runs and eight hits over four innings.
News and Notes

Dan Uggla, who sat out Sunday's game with a sprained left ankle, might miss the rest of the Marlins' homestand, according to the team's official Web site. "We'll probably stay away from him for a couple of days; hopefully, he could play the road trip," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "He's just got to ice the [heck] out of it today. He's got to get that whole swelling down and get some treatment on that." If Uggla suffers a turn for the worse and hits the DL, the Marlins would be smart to give Dallas McPherson, who has 28 home runs for Triple-A Albuquerque, a look, shifting Jorge Cantu to second base. ... Chipper Jones told the Braves' official Web site that there is a "distinct" possibility that he'll land on the DL and miss most of the next two weeks. "I'm the only one in here who knows how I feel," he said. "I can do the fast-twitch stuff -- I can hit and I can even field -- but I just can't run." With shortstop Yunel Escobar and utilityman Omar Infante also nicked up, the Braves have been using Ruben Gotay and Brent Lillibridge to fill in. ... The Cardinals are considering working Chris Carpenter, who is coming off Tommy John surgery, back into the mix as a reliever late this season, according to the team's official Web site. He's currently on a throwing program in Jupiter, Fla., facing hitters approximately once a week, putting his timetable to begin a rehabilitation assignment around the beginning of August. With Carpenter seemingly only having a chance at September relief work, it's looking increasingly unlikely he'll be of much use to fantasy owners in 2008. Still, general manager John Mozeliak compared it to Matt Morris' return from the same surgery in 2000, noting that Morris had a career year the very next season. Could that bode well for Carpenter's 2009? ... Dodgers manager Joe Torre told the team's official Web site that when Andruw Jones returns from the DL after the All-Star break, he'll reclaim his starting role in center field. Juan Pierre will remain in left field, while Andre Ethier and Matt Kemp will split the right-field chores, though not in a straight platoon. "More likely, it would be who's playing well or who has a hot bat or who seems to have more life in their body, or something like that," Torre said. "It's going to be more a feel thing than just a platoon thing." Hardly the kind of thing Ethier's or Kemp's owners want to hear. ... Speaking of Pierre, he left during Sunday's game after grabbing his left knee after stealing a base in the fifth inning. He'll undergo an MRI exam on Monday, and if he needs to miss considerable time, the Dodgers' official Web site says Jason Repko, a .277 hitter with six home runs for Triple-A Las Vegas, would be recalled in his place. ... Carlos Zambrano threw 60 pitches in the bullpen without incident, and proclaimed himself ready to pitch on Friday against the Cardinals, according to the Cubs' official Web site. "I guess 'Z' is back. I'm ready to rock and roll, and get back to doing my job," he said. Zambrano will bump Sean Marshall from the rotation.

• The Brewers activated Eric Gagne from the DL and optioned Mark DiFelice to Triple-A Nashville following Sunday's game. The team's official Web site notes that Gagne will work in a set-up role initially, an indication that he'll need to mount a decent-length hot streak to have any chance at unseating current closer Salomon Torres.

Magglio Ordonez landed on the DL with a strained oblique, with Matt Joyce recalled from Triple-A Toledo to replace him. Clete Thomas got the start in Ordonez's place on Sunday against a right-hander, a sign he's Jim Leyland's preferred choice ahead of Joyce. Marcus Thames benefits most as a result of Ordonez's injury, as he'll now play every day in left field, with Thomas and Ryan Raburn platooning in right field.

• The Twins officially placed Michael Cuddyer on the DL with a strained tendon in his left index finger, recalling Denard Span from Triple-A Rochester. It's good news for Craig Monroe, who should see an increase in at-bats, but great news for Jason Kubel, who will virtually never sit the next two weeks.

Ryan Church was activated from the DL, batted sixth and went 2-for-4 against the Yankees. He replaced Trot Nixon, who landed on the DL himself, and is well worth activating in all fantasy leagues right away.

On the Farm

• Blast from the past: Former Diamondbacks prospect Dustin Nippert tossed the first no-hitter in Triple-A Oklahoma's history, going seven strong innings and striking out five hitters. He's 6-2 with a 3.98 ERA in 12 games (10 starts) for the Rangers' top farm club after failing miserably as a reliever for them to begin the season. With a few more outings like this, though, perhaps he'll get a look as a starter later in the season.

Jonathan Van Every blasted three home runs for Triple-A Pawtucket, and June, he's batting .323 with 12 home runs and 24 RBIs in 26 games. He saw brief time as a Red Sox reserve earlier in the year, and at 28 years old, a reserve role is probably his long-term outlook. Still, with performances like these, Van Every should be the first man summoned should the big club need outfield help.

• Same game: Jed Lowrie belted two home runs and drove in four runs. He's hitting .304 with four homers and 21 RBIs in 28 games for Pawtucket, but unlike Van Every, his long-term ceiling is considerably higher (for one thing, he's only 24). Lowrie should be the first man recalled should any of the Red Sox's current infielders go down, and if that happens, he'd warrant an immediate pickup in AL-only or deep-mixed formats.

• Gio Gonzalez sure seems like the Oliver Perez of the Triple-A level, with maddeningly inconsistent outings from start to start. He went six innings strong on Sunday, allowing one run, but walked four batters. For the season, he has a 5.24 ERA in 17 games (16 starts) for Sacramento, but more troubling, he has averaged 4.72 walks per nine innings. One key difference between Gonzalez and Perez: Such inconsistency doesn't generally earn a Triple-A pitcher a promotion, to where they'd be of help in fantasy.