It’s like the calm before the storm. The trade storm, that is. We had some rumblings early in the week with the Francisco Rodriguez trade but everything else since has just been talk. Until now, maybe, as word has it that Alfonso Soriano boarded a red-eye to New York Thursday night in anticipation of being dealt. On top of that, talks have heated up between the Braves and Astros as Bud Norris is expected to find a new home soon. The Braves just lost both Tim Hudson and Paul Maholm and while they’ve got Brandon Beachy and Alex Wood but are going to be in need of a more veteran presence on the mound as they make plans for the playoffs. And then finally, the Royals have jumped into trade discussions with a few teams as Ervin Santana is currently on the block. Apparently, the Royals are looking for a bigger return than the Cubs got for Matt Garza, so we’ll have to wait and see who bites on that. They’re looking for an upgrade at either second base or right field.
In other news…
Junior Lake has been one of the hottest waiver wire pick-ups over the last two weeks. In addition to the deliciousness of a seven-game hit streak where he is hitting .484 with two home runs, five RBI, three runs and a stolen base, he is currently playing in the outfield but is also qualified for shortstop and/or third base in both Yahoo and ESPN leagues. Obviously we’re looking at a real small sample size, and in the minors he showed just average power and above-average speed, but when a guy starts out as hot as he has, you have to make a move on him. Yes, regression will happen, but why not get a quick boost while you can? I’m not saying you drop a full-time, quality major leaguer for him, but if you can add a commodity who qualifies in both the infield and the outfield, then you ride that wave until it starts to fizzle out.
Brian Wilson had another successful throwing session in front of scouts Thursday and is apparently drawing interest from the Giants, Diamondbacks, A’s, Pirates, Phillies, Rangers, Cardinals and Rockies. His fastball was clocked as high as 93 mph and one scout said he looked “real close” to being major-league ready. Should Wilson sign somewhere soon, he’ll likely start out in a limited set-up role but, depending on his landing spot, could find his way into the mix for saves.
Holding out hope for a Cory Luebke return? Bag it. Not happening. All that time stashed away on your DL has been a sad waste.
Wishing Lance Berkman would come back and hit you a bunch of home runs because he’s in Texas and should be healthy all year as their primary DH (did you catch the sarcasm there?)? Well, he’s now contemplating a shut-down for the rest of the season followed by a retirement that should have already happened.
And finally, those hoping that their quick stash of Alex Rodriguez would pan out are now forced to deal with even more delays and drama as the much-maligned third baseman is likely to be fined and disciplined for getting a second opinion on his leg from a doctor who was not on the MLB-approved list. This is getting more and more ridiculous by the day. Whether it’s actually true or not, it’s blatantly obvious that A-Rod feels like the Yankees are trying to thwart any semblance of a comeback with the hope of voiding his contract and ultimately parting ways. The Yanks are obviously denying any such accusations. But the bottom line here is that fantasy owners should probably forget about any sort of a comeback this year and free up that roster spot he’s currently clogging.
Now for the stat highlights…
Fantasy Beast of the Day
|Mark Buehrle, TOR||9.0||1||2||0||0||2||9||0.00||0.44|
You’ve got to love the old-school shout out here for Mark Buehrle after a two-hit shutout of the Astros on Thursday. Not only did he completely shut them down (yeah, yeah…not a tough feat given it’s Houston, but still…) but he also struck out nine along the way, the most he’s had since 2005. That’s some stretch of mediocre strikeout numbers. The 34-year old lefty has now thrown back-to-back quality starts to open the second half and while I really can’t condone him being a regular in your starting rotation, I do like his next match-up against the A’s in Oakland. He’s got a 2.45 ERA over his last five starts against them with an 18:5 K:BB over 36.1 innings.
|Yuniesky Betancourt, 2B MIL||4-5, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI|
|Bryce Harper, OF WAS||3-5, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI|
|Josh Harrison, 2B PIT||3-5, R, HR, 4 RBI|
|Hisashi Iwakuma, SP SEA||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 9 K|
|Juan Nicasio, SP COL||W, 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP, 9 K|
Hey look…a Yuniesky Betancourt sighting! Gross, isn’t it? I don’t care what the state of the Brewers is. This game is an aberration and he’s not going to be playing regularly. No, you should not pick him up. Move along. Nothing left to see here…
I’d much rather talk about Bryce Harper breaking out of this recent funk he’s been in. Yes, he’s hit safely in six of his last seven games, but the home run was his first since July 1 and the RBI were his first in 12 games. It’s been a rough road for the young superstar this season. He came out of the gate white hot and people were freaking out, but then he slumped in May, got hurt in June and has been slow to come back here in July. The All-Star break was a nice series of moments for him, but fantasy owners want results and he hasn’t come through for them. We’ll see if he can use the momentum of his first career game-winning walk-off home run to finish these next two months as strongly as he started the year.
I wouldn’t get too excited about Josh Harrison’s big night as he is still nothing more than an occasional fill-in for the Pirates. With Neil Walker back from injury, Jordy Mercer moving around the infield and a promise from the higher-ups that Clint Barmes has earned more playing time moving forward, there’s little or no room for Harrison which means that there’s really no use for him in fantasy.
Maybe Hisahi Iwakuma wasn’t a sell-high candidate after all? He had a rough stretch to close the first half of the season, but he’s now thrown two consecutive quality starts to open the second half and has done so with a 1.38 ERA and a 16:3 K:BB over 13 innings of work. You may have to watch him closely come late September, but for now, he should be a fixture in your rotation.
Granted, it was against the Marlins, but Juan Nicasio looked as if he was just starting to find his groove with this dominant performance. He’s just thrown three consecutive quality starts, allowing just one run over 19 innings and has a 15:4 K:BB over that span. The upcoming match-up against the Braves isn’t exactly ideal, and his numbers against them – three starts with a 7.53 ERA – are less than spectacular, but he’s still worth a look if the match-up is right.
|Chris Davis, 1B BAL||0-4, 4 K|
|Alejandro De Aza, OF CHW||0-4, 3 K|
|Trevor Plouffe, 3B MIN||0-4, 3 K|
|Kevin Correia, SP MIN||L, 32.40 ERA, 4.80 WHIP|
|Yovani Gallardo, SP MIL||L, 14.73 ERA, 3.00 WHIP, 4 K|
Here comes the anti-Chris Davis chatter – he’s now 0-for-7 with five strikeouts over his last two games and hasn’t hit a home run here in the second half. All the naysayers are readying their “I told you so’s” and several fantasy owners are going to start to panic. Personally, I think he’ll be just fine. He won’t hit another 37 bombs, but he’s more than capable of another 15 to 20 dingers before the year is out.
Another poor outing for Yovani Gallardo who has now failed to throw a quality start in four of his last six and of the two he did throw, one was real close to not being one had it not been for some surprisingly slick defense by the Brewers. Again, I’m not a fan of his and won’t recommend you holding or acquiring him as your league trade deadline rapidly approaches. There was a time when he was somewhat trustworthy but he was really just a good strikeout pitcher whose ratios sat on the mediocre side. Now that he doesn’t have the strong K-rate, what’s the point?
Miguel Montero, C ARI – back (day to day)
Gordon Beckham, 2B CHW – wrist (day to day)
Zack Cozart, SS CIN – hip (day to day)
Corey Kluber, SP CLE – hip (questionable for July 26 start)
Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL – finger (day to day)
Miguel Cabrera, 3B DET – hip (day to day)
Torii Hunter, OF DET – Achilles (day to day)
Marcell Ozuna, OF MIA – thumb (15-day DL, likely out for season)
Eric Young, OF NYM – knee (day to day)
John Jaso, C OAK – concussion (7-day DL)
Domonic Brown, OF PHI – concussion (7-day DL)
Jose Tabata, OF PIT – forearm (day to day)
Mike Zunino, C SEA – hand (day to day)
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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