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Tim Lincecum is a thoroughbred, make no mistake about that. All year long he's been stuck against the rail in the middle of the pack searching for an opening to burst through and challenge for the lead, and he might have just found his daylight. Winner of his last two starts and three of four outings, Lincecum has allowed two or fewer earned runs in four of five starts since the All-Star break. Moreover, he's punched out 35 batters in 32.2 innings, held batters to a .231 average, and posted ratios that look way more like the Lincecum we expected with a 2.48 ERA and 1.22 WHIP. It's far too late for him to salvage his season, the guy has a 6-11 record with a 5.43 ERA and 1.49 WHIP, but that doesn't mean that from this point forward that it's impossible to think that he will continue to be the elite level performer we have grown to expect. As I say frequently, never doubt greatness. So much for Manny Banuelos making an appearance in the big leagues this year. The Yankees uber pitching prospect has been shut down for the season. Out since May after making only six outings, the club has said they will take no chances with that bone bruise in his left elbow that has kept him out of action virtually all year. Surgery is not indicated, an in fact the club hopes he will be able to pitch in winter ball this season. Due to the setback it appears almost certain that he will have to spend a good portion of next season at the Triple-A level, so don't go all crazy with the bidding process at the AL-only table next year. The Dodgers, clearly not intent on leaving any stone unturned in their attempt to win the NL West this season, have designated Tony Gwynn Jr. for assignment. A solid 4th outfielder type with an impressive glove and stolen base skills, he really can't hit as evidenced by his .570 OPS through 259 at-bats. The Dodgers will attempt to trade him before losing him for nothing. In his place the Dodgers have recalled power hitter Jerry Sands, the anti Gwynn if you will. He's not great on defense, and has little stolen base speed, but he can rip it pretty well as evidenced by his .931 OPS at Triple-A this season. Given that the Dodgers have Victorino-Kemp-Ethier in the outfield they clearly have no need for a starter there, so Sands figures to spell that trio from time to time (maybe against lefties), and he might also see some time at first base considering that James Loney is doing his normal nothing (.257 with two homers and 29 RBIs in 296 at-bats). Sands is a must add in NL-only leagues, but mixed leaguers have no reason to run to the wire to add him. Let's check in on Jacoby Ellsbury and Carl Crawford. Ellsbury has appeared in 29 games this season and he's hit .259 with one homer and three steals. That's pretty dreadful work for a guy who hit .321 with 32 homers and 39 steals last year. Of course he missed so much time with his shoulder injury, and it's just 29 games which isn't exactly a large sample size, but it needs to be pointed out that what Ellsbury did last year included things we've never seen him do before. After hitting 20 homers in his first 349 big league games he hit those 32 bombs last year. Add it all up and he has hit 32 homers in 158 games last year and has just 21 homers in his other 378 big league games. After averaging 60 steals a season in 2008-09 he has also stolen “only” 49 bases in his last 205 games. Just some food for thought. Crawford has appeared in just 18 games this season and the results have actually been better than those of Ellsbury. CC has hit three homers and stolen three bases in that time, and he's also knocked in 10 runners while he's scored 14 times, pretty impressive given his poor .319 OBP. There's the dark cloud of Tommy John surgery lingering, but while he's been on the field there's no denying that Crawford has been productive. Jaime Garcia is closing in on a return to the big leagues. Out since June 6th with a shoulder issue, Garcia left behind a poor 4.48 ERA and 1.46 WHIP, well south of his career rates that include a 3.45 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. There's no date yet established for his return but it appears extremely likely to occur well before the end of this month. At the time, what will the Cardinals do with their rotation? Obviously Garcia will become a starter which means that either Lance Lynn or Joe Kelly will be removed. It seems obvious that the loser here would be Kelly given how well that Lynn has pitched, but those innings are an issue. Lynn has thrown 127 innings this season, this a year after he tossed 109.2. Are the Cards going to be comfortable with him exceeding that mark by 80 or more innings this year? That's a fair question. Todd Helton is done for the season after the Rockies announced that he would have to undergo surgery on his hip. With a recovery time of about six months he should be fine for the start of the 2013 season, but it's an open question just what the 39 year old has left. A career .320 hitter who is 21st all-time in doubles (570) and tied with Robin Yount for 44th all-time in extra base hits (960), Helton hit a measly .238 this season for the Rockies and was a massive disappointment in NL-only leagues. Can the former superstar summon one final season of glory in the final year of his contract? The Rockies activated Chris Nelson and though he is hitting only .256 with five homers in 168 at-bats Nelson does hold some value in NL-only leagues because of his qualification at second and third base, though with Jordan Pacheco hitting .300 at third base Nelson won't see regular work. Speaking of the Rockies, they have all kinds of injuries including big ones to Troy Tulowitzki and Michael Cuddyer. The upshot of all of this is that Eric Young Jr. will likely see a lot more playing time. About as speedy a base runner as you're going to find, EYJ has swiped 60 bags in his career, one that has accumulated 547 a mere at-bats. If Eric qualifies at second base in your league, and he does in some, and you need some help in the steals category, he profiles as an excellent pick up right now. Ray Flowers can be heard daily on Sirius/XM Radio on The Fantasy Drive on Sirius 210 and XM 87 from 7-10 PM EDT, Monday through Friday. Ray's baseball analysis can be found at BaseballGuys.com and his minute to minute musings can be located at the BaseballGuys' Twitter account.