While those who don’t follow the game as closely as we do think the baseball season can be too long and arduous, I’m sure many of you can agree with me when I say how crazy it seems that the first half of the season has already passed us by. This is the final week before the All Star break and before you know it, September will be here and your fight for a championship turns into a one-month sprint after a five-month long grueling marathon. The break is probably a welcomed sight for a lot of you, especially those of you whose players are currently dealing with an array of minor injuries – not DL-type stuff, but enough to keep you out of the lineup for a few games. Even though it’s just a few days off, that can be a huge break for those limping out of this half.
But finishing strong is always important and while you may be relishing your upcoming mini-vacation, your detailed attention is still paramount here. There are a number of injuries to contend with, some personnel changes to note, and with the Monday games not starting until at least 7:00 pm (ET), many of you have the whole day to scour the waiver wire and make some roster adjustments. We’re going to hit a few news items from Sunday that have significant importance and then we’ll hit the fantasy highlights from the day.
With Ryan Howard hitting the DL on Sunday, the Phillies called up outfield prospect Darin Ruf to handle most of the duties over at first base. Ruf’s minor league numbers this year -- .266-7-46 – aren’t quite the numbers fantasy dreams are built on, but he showed amazing power potential when he belted 38 home runs at Double-A in 2012. He is definitely worth picking up right now, especially when we’re still awaiting the results from Howard’s MRI. There have been rumblings of knee surgery, so if he needs to go under the knife, Ruf’s stay could be longer than expected.
If you’re a prospect hound, then the A’s Grant Green is also someone who has likely been on your radar for a few seasons. If not, then you should pay attention here as the team is expected to bring the second baseman up from Triple-A Sacramento on Monday. He’s currently batting .318 with 11 home runs, 49 RBI and four stolen bases here in his second year in the Pacific Coast League and has the talent to run away with the starting second base job this season. He’ll likely platoon with Eric Sogard to start, but should be getting full-time at-bats sooner than later.
The Nationals made a small deal Sunday when they traded a minor league pitcher to the Cubs for veteran fourth outfielder Scott Hairston to build up their depth. Hairston will resume his role with his new team, but could actually see a little more time than he did in Chicago as the Nats could really use a right-handed bat off the bench. His fantasy value remains pretty limited though.
The Rangers continue to search for ways to keep Jurickson Profar in the lineup and Sunday saw the uber-prospect play all nine innings at the hot corner while Adrian Beltre worked as the DH. Profar has now played second base, shortstop, third base and the outfield, so they’re doing plenty to keep him in the mix. The problem is that he’s just 2-for-17 over his last five games and after batting just .227 throughout June, he is hitting just .111 through this early part of July.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before – Roy Oswalt posts some real nice peripheral and strong strikeout totals, but the ERA could use a little work. The problem is that he’s not going to be able to complete that work as he tweaked a hamstring and is now likely headed for the disabled list. What? You’ve heard this? Every year for the past five years? Oh, ok. Let’s move along then, shall we?
If someone in your league dropped Tom Wilhelmsen when he was removed from the closer’s role and hasn’t been paying attention since, then this is your chance to swoop in and get some saves help. The Bartender is now 2-for-2 in save opportunities since being re-instated as the Mariners closer and should continue to hold down the job the rest of the way.
And finally, it’s time to get some catching help again as Yasmani Grandal is likely out for the remainder of the season with damage to both his ACL and MCL in his knee. He was just put on the 60-day DL and season-ending surgery is likely, so start scouring that waiver wire. Nick Hundley should benefit here and return to the number one spot, but you might want to check and see if White Sox catcher Josh Phegley is available. He’s eating into Tyler Flowers’ playing time and could take over as the primary if he continues to hit well. Popped his first big league home run Sunday.
Now let’s hit the fantasy highlights…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Michael Brantley, OF CLE||3-4, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI|
Often overlooked due to a lack of real power, Michael Brantley still has the ability to put one over the fence, maybe even two, right? The two home runs hit Sunday gave him seven on the year which matches a career-high for him. He’ll likely top out around a dozen for the year, but if he can do that while maintaining his pace for 15 steals, he’ll post a solid return value for where he was drafted, if he was drafted, in most leagues.
|Miguel Cabrera, 3B DET||4-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB, SB|
|Rajai Davis, OF TOR||2-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, BB, SB|
|Bryce Harper, OF WAS||3-4, 2 R, RBI, BB, 2 SB|
|Patrick Corbin, SP ARI||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 10 K|
|David Price, SP TB||W, CG, 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 5 K|
I love when I get to include someone like Miguel Cabrera here, because it actually cuts down on my writing. Miggy’s numbers do the talking for him and with a .368 average with 28 home runs and 90….yes, 90 RBI, those numbers are speaking loud and clear.
Rajai Davis continues to prove his value in fantasy leagues and every so often you get a bonus night from him when he hits for a bit of power. His 22 stolen bases total is where the meat of his value lies, but his .296 average is also kicking in some help. He’s still not an everyday player, but he’s been in the lineup more often lately and has more steals than a whole lot of full-timers. If you’re in need of stolen bases and he’s out there on your waiver wire, you should be making a claim right now.
It would appear that neither Bryce Harper nor the Nationals are too concerned with his knee right now as he swipes a couple of bags on Sunday to give him three over his last four games and five on the season. Obviously, speed is not his game, but it’s nice to see him kick in with a little help every now and again. As a Harper owner, myself, I’d actually prefer him to sit out the All Star Game and take a few days off just to make sure he’s rested and healthy, so here’s hoping Bruce Bochy takes him out after the first couple of innings.
It looks like the seventh time is the charm for Diamondbacks pitcher Patrick Corbin. It took him that many starts to finally notch his 10th win of the season after being stuck on nine wins since June 2. Though his win total stalled and he had a few hiccups over the past month or so, he’s still maintained extraordinary numbers and is now sitting on a 2.40 ERA, a 0.98 WHIP and a 99:31 K:BB over 123.2 innings this season. Look for him to finish the half strong with an outing against a banged up Milwaukee team this week.
And finally……finally! All systems are again normal as David Price has looked like a beast since returning from the disabled list last week. In his two starts this month, Price has given up just one run over 16 innings (0.56 ERA) and has 15 strikeouts with zero walks. For those who were smart enough to withstand all those lowball offers you received throughout the first half, congratulations. You’re in for quite the tasty second half.
|Mike Carp, OF BOS||0-4, 4 K|
|Michael Bourn, OF CLE||0-5, 3 K|
|Juan Uribe, 3B LAD||0-4, 3 K|
|Luis Mendoza, SP KC||L, 27.00 ERA, 4.20 WHIP, 1 K|
|Robbie Erlin, SP SD||L, 20.25 ERA, 2.50 WHIP, 3 K|
Always a bummer to see Michael Bourn in this section as I’ve remained a fan despite not owning him in any league since he moved to Cleveland. But Mike Carp is a guy who should see plenty of time in this section as he’s going to rack up a huge number of whiffs over the remainder of the year. Tough break for Robbie Erlin who just doesn’t look like he’s ready for the show yet, and the Royals are probably staring at the clock waiting for Danny Duffy to be ready for promotion as Luis Mendoza has continued to disappoint in the rotation lately.
Shane Victorino, OF BOS – hamstring (day to day)
Brian Bogusevic, OF CHC – hamstring (day to day)
Xavier Paul, OF CIN – shoulder (day to day)
Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL – finger (day to day)
Roy Oswalt, SP COL – hamstring (day to day; likely headed for 155-day DL)
Omar Infante, 2B DET – shin (day to day)
Matt Kemp, OF LAD – shoulder (day to day)
Aramis Ramirez, 3B MIL – knee (day to day)
Oswaldo Arcia, OF MIN – hand (day to day)
Neil Walker, 2B PIT – side (day to day)
Yasmani Grandal, C SD – knee (60-day DL; likely out for season)
Yadier Molina, C STL – knee (day to day)
Lance Berkman, 1B TEX – back (15-day DL)
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. You can find his personal musings on RotobuzzGuy.com and for questions, thoughts or comments, you can follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or email him at email@example.com.
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