'Pedro Alvarez' photo (c) 2012, Keith Allison - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0/ On 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?

GAINERS OF THE WEEK

Pedro Alvarez (+13, $108,000 in DailyJoust Salary) Who leads NL third basemen in homers? Pedro Alvarez with 27. He's also knocked in 74 runners, scored 56 times and, somewhat surprisingly, has posted a .250 batting average to this point of the season. That's not a number to throw a party for, but after hitting .191 last year in a lost season of 235 at-bats, its a pretty impressive mark (he's actually hitting .280 with a .888 OPS over his last 45 games). Alvarez is currently on one of his patented hot streaks as he's racked up 14 hits in his last eight games while going deep four times with eight RBIs over his last five contests.

Derek Holland (+41, $341K) Winner of his last three starts, Holland has allowed a total of eight runs over those 20 innings (3.60 ERA). Holland has also done a very good job limiting the free passes the past six times he has taken the bump walking a total of eight batters. Moreover, only once in 10 outings has he waked more than two batters. His WHIP is a solid 1.21, reflecting the lack of walks, but his ERA is still mighty elevated at 4.79. The main reason is the long ball. After being taken deep 22 times last year in 32 starts he's allowed 25 homers in just 23 outings this season including 13 in his last nine starts. Once he starts keeping the ball in the yard his performance could take off.

Ricky Nolasco (+130, $285K) I have an unhealthy connection with Nolasco, just like you did with that significant other in college who was all wrong for you even though kept going back because the “special time” (wink, wink) you spent together was enough to cover over the crazy (I kinda miss those days actually. Wait, did I just type that? Bad Ray.). I want to turn away from Nolasco, one of the more frustrating pitchers in the game to own, because his skills always say he should be better than the results. Just look at his last four starts: 2 ER, 5 ER, 5 ER, 0 ER (the last effort a nine inning shutout of the Nationals). Still, I have to put my bias aside and offer this note of caution – yes he looked spectacular last time out, but he's also allowed four earned runs or more in seven of his last nine outings. How close to that fire can you get before your eyebrows are singed off?

Rickie Weeks (+17, $89K) About frickin' time Rickie. The older Weeks' brother has 10 hits in his last four games as he's also scored an amazing nine times. Over his last 30 contests he's swiped five bags, scored 26 times and hit .295. That's about as hot as most players ever get. Weeks certainly has more talent than about 90 percent of the players in the game, but maddening inconsistency is the phrase of the day when it comes to describing his production. Through 472 at-bats this season he's hit .227 but he's somehow still on the cusp of a 15/15 season (14/12) with 85 runs a definite possibility (he's scored 68 times).

LOSERS OF THE WEEK

Carlos Gonzalez (-29, $86K) I've received a handful of queries from people wondering what they should do with CarGo. My advice, the same as always is – you play him. I know he hit .222 with one homer and two steals in 23 games in August, but you still play him everyday. Come on folks, the guys is hitting .309 with a .903 OPS on the year. He's just four steals from a 20/20 effort for a third straight season. A strong finish could also net him 100 RBIs and 100 runs (83 and 82 right now). Yes it's been uneven, but overall Carlos has been the superstar he has been the past two years.

James McDonald (-113, $195K) I've finally had it myself with McDonald. Look, if you had told me five months ago that James would have 12 wins, a 3.90 ERA, 1.21 WHIP and 147 Ks in 161.2 innings this year I would have sign 'sign me up for that.' Overall he's been a fantastic waiver-wire add in mixed leagues. At the same time, he's been abysmal of late. In two of his last four outings he didn't allow a single earned run, but in seven of the other eight outings in his last 10 appearances he's allowed at least four earned runs and five or more runs five times. The result is a second half ERA of 7.14 an a WHIP of 1.70 over 10 starts. That seems an awful lot more than just a minor hiccup, doesn't it?

Anthony Rizzo (-31, $70K) Rizzo has done a fine job adapting to big league pitching this season after last year's disaster (.141 in 128 at-bats). Rizzo is hitting a solid .287 with 10 homers, 31 RBIs and 27 runs scored over 60 games (that's a 150 game pace for 25 homers, 78 RBIs). However, he's hit .169 with a .526 OPS against left handed pitching, he batted only .252 in August with a sickly .642 OPS, and he's gone deep just two times in his last 32 games. He's young and will certainly figure it out, but he's struggling right now.

Jason Vargas (-42, $340K) Just like with McDonald, five months ago a 13 win, 3.90 ERA, 1.18 WHIP effort would have been a strong season for Vargas (career 4.38 ERA, 1.31 WHIP with 10 victories being a season-high). However his last two outings have been disastrous as he's allowed five homers, 11 earned runs (12 total) and last just 8.2 innings. A pathetic couple of outings or the start of an awful finish to the season? Given his career performance, and his skill set, some further regression is still quite possible.

DAILY JOUST CONTESTS

I’ve spent this article talking about baseball, which obviously isn’t at all odd given that this is BaseballGuys.com, but I’ve got a way that you can, in addition to playing fantasy baseball, also play some fantasy football. How can you do that? You can head over to DailyJoust and sign up for any of the myriad of games they have to offer. For those of you who are hardcore baseball fans like me they are still running daily fantasy games for you, well, daily. For those of you who are read to take on the gridiron, there are three pretty exciting games they have to offer. You can find a report on each at the following links (scroll down to the bottom of the articles for the explanations).

NFL FREE ROLLS (Sign up for free, win cash)

CRUSADER LEAGUES (New team each week all season)

GLADIATOR LEAGUES (Eliminator Tournament)

To sign up for any game with DailyJoust simply click on the link just provided.

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.

Ray Flowers on Twitter

ORACLE REPORT - for @FantasyAlarm - Farnsworth, KRod, McAlister, Mejia, Richards, Danks, Sale http://t.co/Gwhmv1po8P

ORACLE REPORT - for @FantasyAlarm - Chris Davis, Khris Davis, Sizemore, Taveras, Fielder & Granderson - http://t.co/jh9TVfdOqD

RT @RickWolf1: Thanks. MT @JasonWalkerRoto: This is a clinic, literally, on starting a fantasy website/business. http://t.co/hOFozZk68E

RT @dgoold: Game is still going, so severity of Wainwright's hyperextension isn't available. Will update as soon as possible

RT @jjcoop36: Astros 1B Jonathan Singleton hit his 8th HR of the season today for Triple-A OKC. Astros MLB 1B are hitting .183/.256/.338.