'Washington Nationals second baseman Danny Espinosa (18)' photo (c) 2011, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ Monday each week I take a look at the fantasy baseball game breaking down players who have produced noteworthy performances of late – not just positive outings mind you, but I'll also delve into some of the players that have been sucking wind of late. Can you use this information to your benefit over at DailyJoust?

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Danny Espinosa (+13, $81K in DailyJoust Salary) With Ian Desmond looking like he could miss a month or more of playing time with his oblique issue, Steve Lombardozzi will handle second base duties full time with Espinosa moving over to shortstop for the Nats. Espy already has six starts at shortstop, and given that most leagues have no more than a 10 game limit for in-season positional qualification, he's about ready to become one interesting option up the middle. In addition, have you noticed that he's actually started to hit as well? The past three weeks the only two second sackers who have been more valuable than Espy are Neil Walker and Brandon Phillips. Espinosa is hitting .359 with two homers, eight RBIs, 11 runs scored and four thefts in that time frame. Get on the Espy train as it's about to fill up quickly.

Adrian Gonzalez (+12, $126K) I keep getting questions about this guy as it seems that people haven't noticed that all of a sudden AGone is just killing it. Hitting .406 in July with 15 RBIs in 16 games, Gonzalez is batting an even .400 over his last 90 at-bats to push his season long mark up to .297. 'What about the nine homers in 94 games Ray?' What were you expecting? Fenway Park isn't a great place for home run hitters if you're a lefty. I tried to explain just that on January 6th, 2011 in ADP Riser: Adrian Gonzalez. That's right, over a year an a half ago. No one listened. He went out and hit 27 homers last year. People still didn't listen and thought a return to 35+ homers was happening this year. It hasn't as he has nine. That's 36 homers in 253 games with the Sox. He averaged 36 homers a season his last two years at Petco. One final note. In 133 career games at Fenway AGone is hitting .333 with 17 homers.

Joe Kelly (+72, $267K) He's taken the hill seven times for the Cards and he's allowed more than two earned runs only one time (the Royals produced three). Kelly has also gone exactly six innings in each of his last five starts, all of them “quality.” Still not remotely sold on him. His 5.72 K/9 mark is poor. His 1.79 K/BB ratio is really bad. His ERA of 2.75 should be a run and a half higher given his skill set (no way he holds on to that 80 percent left on base mark, and that 23 percent line drive rate is pretty high as well). He's a solid arm who generates a lot of grounders, but it's not likely that he keeps that ERA under three (it's 2.75) and that 1.40 WHIP is already worse than the league average.

Jason Kubel (+21, $121K) Someone ate their Wheaties. Four homers, seven RBIs and five runs scored in two games, and six homers, 11 RBIs, eight runs in his last seven contests. Out of control anyone? Going back a bit further Kubel has been doing his best Josh Hamilton impersonation for a long while as he's hit .304 with 17 homers and 48 RBIs over his last 39 games. Hell, the guy is even hitting .296 against left handed pitching this year (career .247). Ride the gravy train until it runs out, but some perspective. There's zero chance he sustains his line drive rate (it's 24 percent but has been under 20 percent three of four years). There's zero chance he sustains his HR/F ratio (it's 20 percent after being 11 percent the past two years). He's striking out more than ever before (25.4 percent K-rate versus 19.4 for his career). It's all going right for Kubel, and the ballpark in Arizona is certainly helping, but we know all good things must come to an end, right?


Justin Masterson (-102, $276K) Even though he tossed seven shutout innings against the Blue Jays on July 13th Masterson has still allowed 12 earned runs over his last 15.1 innings. Yeah, not good. Not just that, he has also walked 12 batters in those three starts including seven the last time he took the hill. That doesn't sound like someone who has any idea what's going on right now (Justin walked nine batters in his previous seven starts). On the year a lot is going as expected with Masterson, but he simply has to cut down on the free passes (his 3.93 per nine mark is more than a batter above the level he flashed last season in his breakout effort).

Angel Pagan (-32, $57K) Pagan killed it in May hitting .375 with eight steals. Not so much since then though. Over his last 41 games he's gone deep once, stolen just seven bases and hit a mere .235. The result is a slash line of .281/.326/.398, not exactly impressive for a guy who is on pace to fall well short of 10 homers and 65 RBIs. The 17 thefts are nice, but Pagan's just not a very dynamic option. In search of offense, it's possible the Giants might even make a trade to bring in another outfield bat in which case Pagan may not be looked at as an every day starter.

Wandy Rodriguez (-59, $234K) A two-time starter this week, Wandy really needs to show something so that the Astros can move him for peak value before the trade deadline. After allowing nine runs in his last two starts, two loses, his ERA sits at 3.75 for the season. It was 2.49 on June 1st. Wandy has also seen his K-rate plummet this year to 5.99, a horrible mark for a guy who has posted a mark of at least 7.78 each of the past five years. He's offset the loss of punchouts with a career best walk rate that has led to a 2.86 K/BB ratio which would be a three year high, but that doesn't help out his fantasy value where we need punchouts (he's also generating more grounders than ever before at 52 percent of batted balls).

Drew Stubbs (-29, $57K) Terribly disappointing. That could be the name on the back of Stubbs jersey. At the same time, could it be expectations were too high? The last two years Stubbs averaged 154 games played. Right now he has 77 games played. Multiply 77 by two and you get – 154 games. Therefore, let's simply double Stubb's numbers this season and compare them to his 2011 effort.

2011: .243-15-44-92-40 with a .686 OPS 2012: .217-18-48-88-36 with a .644 OPS

Certainly he's off the pace from last season a wee bit, but honestly, nothing in that 2012 pace would have been thought of as an unreasonable outlook for Stubbs in 2012 given his efforts last season. Maybe the batting average is a bit low, but a hot three weeks could get him back up to .240 and then he'd be right on the same pace as he almost always is (people over at Fleaflicker seem to have mixed feelings about the outfielder). Just some food for thought.


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By Ray Flowers


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About Ray Flowers

The co-host of The Drive on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio (Sirius 210, XM 87: Mon-Fri 7-10 PM EDT), Ray also hosts his own show Sunday night (7-10 PM EDT). Ray has spent years squirreled away studying the inner workings of the fantasy game to the detriment of his personal life. Specializing in baseball, football and hockey, some consider him an expert in all three.

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