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A little extra flavor never hurts. Especially when puttin’ together a fantasy squad.
When I’m in the kitchen I make moves. If something aint selling, I take it off the menu. If a staff member isn’t doing their job, they’re gone. That’s how I run my fantasy teams.
Each week I will hit you with the players moving up the rankings that you NEED to know about. I don’t care if it is the No. 8 hitter on the Cubs or the No. 4 starter for the Astros. If they are producing, you’re gonna know about it.
With only four full weeks left in the regular season, moves made now until the end of the season are going to have a serious impact on where you end up in the standings before the playoffs begin. Whether being repeats from earlier, or a few players coming back from injury, every move counts from this point on. However, a good fantasy owner knows when to hold’em and knows when to fold’em, and now is the time to start making changes for the stretch run.
Jorge Soler, OF (CHC)--After his first two games in the big leagues, Soler has already given patient Cubs fans something to talk about, going 4-for-8 with two extra-base hits (1 HR) and three RBI since his promotion on Tuesday. Prior to his move to the Cubs outfield, Soler slashed .340/.432/.700 with 15 home runs and 57 RBI over 200 at-bats between three levels of the organization’s farm system, with his last landing point being for Triple-A Iowa where he smacked eight home runs over 110 at-bats. The Cubs now have just one of their top hitting prospects left to make their big league debut in Kris Bryant as future of the organization appears to be promising to say the least. Like most young hitters, Soler has struggled in the strikeout category in the minor leagues, owning a 24.0 percent strikeout rate before his promotion and has already whiffed three times in his first eight at-bats. However, there is still plenty of upside to be had in this young Cuban as we are just days away from the final month of the season, making him a solid pickup in all but the shallowest of leagues moving forward.
Steve Pearce, 1B, OF (BAL)--After slumping through late-July and early August, Pearce has since rediscovered his power stroke, as he has now gone yard four times over his last eight games. Now slashing .290/.355/.534 with 16 home runs and 37 RBI through 283 at-bats, Pearce has made himself quite the asset to both the Orioles and fantasy teams alike when receiving regular at-bats. Although hitting in the two-hole isn’t going to give him much RBI-upside, his high on-base percentage and great slugging percentage have driven his fantasy value to must-own status as we reach the home stretch of the season. With Manny Machado out for the season, the Orioles were forced to move struggling Chris Davis to the hot corner, which has Pearce in the everyday lineup at first base. Playing your home games in Baltimore certainly has its advantages, and Pearce has proven that, but surprisingly his home/road splits are almost identical in both home runs and RBI at this point in the season proving that is career-year may not be a fluke after all.
Nick Castellanos, 3B, OF (DET)--Castellanos has picked up the pace of late, going 10-for-29 (.345 BA) with two extra-base hits, six RBI and four runs scored over his last seven games as he tries to finish his first full season in the big leagues on a high note. He has flashed signs of what made him a top prospect in the Tigers organization, but has lacked consistency which has made him expendable at times in 2014. However, August has been a very good month for the Tigers young third baseman, as he has now totals three home runs and 15 RBI, making this current month his best of the season. Considering the lack of depth at the hot corner Castellanos makes for a solid add down the stretch, especially knowing that some of the best hitters in all of baseball at sitting ahead of him in the Tigers lineup (Miguel Cabrera and Victor Martinez), which should lead to solid RBI production. Unless you are sitting in a 10-team or smaller league Castellanos needs to be owned while swinging a hot bat as the end of the regular season nears.
Justin Turner, 3B, 2B, SS (LAD)--He certainly isn’t the sexiest pickup off the waiver wire, but Tuner has been everything and more for the Dodgers since receiving almost regular playing time. He is now slashing .321/.392/.444 with four home runs and 31 RBI though 234 at-bats while manager Don Mattingly takes full advantage of his versatility, moving him all around the diamond up to this point in the season. While it is unlikely he finishes the season hitting over .300, considering he is a .273 career hitter, as long as he keep producing, it will be difficult to remove him from his everyday duties. However, Juan Uribe is expected to return from the disabled list on Sunday which could lead to less at-bats if the team decides to split the playing time at the hot corner between the two players. Either way until it is known how he is going to be used down the stretch he is worth adding now considering he qualifies at three different positions in most league formats.
Yusmeiro Petit, SP (SF)--The Giants have finally had enough of former Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum and have decided to turn to Petit to take over his turn in the starting rotation. It didn’t take long to prove the Giants made the right move as he worked through six innings allowing just one run while striking out nine batters on Thursday in a record-setting day. In Thursday’s dominating performance, Petit set the single-season mark by retiring 46 consecutive batters, combined with his previous six relief appearances. Although that doesn’t necessarily translate to fantasy success, it does show that he has full command of all his pitches and now has the confidence to go along with it. The Giants have clawed their way back into playoff contention and with the help of Petit, could find themselves in the running for a wild card spot come October. Unless his recent success falls of drastically over his new couple starts he will remain in the Giants starting rotation and continue to be a solid add in all but the shallowest of formats moving forward.
Dan Haren, SP (LAD)--After a rough stretch that almost cost him his spot in the starting rotation earlier in the summer, Haren has since bounce back in a big way allowing two runs or less in three of his last four stats. He is now sitting 11-10 with a 4.44 ERA and 1.27 WHIP through 26 starts while owning a decent 115:32 K:BB rate over 150.0 innings. Although he isn’t going to help make big improvements in either of the two ratio categories, his recent production is enough to provide amble fantasy value across the board as we head into the final month of the season. Unless he falls completely off the map over his next couple starts, he is someone that should be picked up in deep league formats for the stretch run.
Sergio Romo, RP (SF)--After losing the closer role over a month ago, the Giants have decided to give him another shot, this time in a closer-by-committee approach. In the month of August, Romo has yet to allow an earned run while owning a 13:1 K:BB rate over 8.2 innings. Although it is unknown who will get the save chances on a given day, with his past experience and recent production, it may only take a few good outings back in the closer role to move him back into the ninth inning on a permanent basis. Those who are in desperate need of saves will want to give Romo a chance as we reach the stretch run, considering Santiago Casilla has allowed four runs over his last eight appearances out of the Giants’ bullpen.
Eric O’Flaherty, RP (OAK)--With Sean Doolittle on the disabled list, the Athletics have decided to turn to O’Flaherty to take over the reign in the ninth inning. Since making his season debut back in July, the A’s lefty has been very impressive, owning a 1.76 ERA and 0.98 WHIP through 15.1 innings while maintaining a solid 12:4 K:BB rate. The move to turn to a pitching with just 15.1 innings under his belt in 2014 came at somewhat of a surprise to the fantasy world, considering the success of Luke Gregerson up to this point, but the team did not want to take him out of his eighth inning role if it was only for short-term purposes. It is unlikely Doolittle will miss more than the minimum 15 days, but until we receive word on his progression O’Flaherty makes for a solid pickup in most league formats.