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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 six 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.   

The Hackers

Kendrys Morales, 1B (SEA)--After signing with the Twins in the beginning of June, Morales finished his run in the Twin Cities with just one home run and 18 RBI over 154 at-bats, and was later sent packing to Seattle were he reunited with his previous employer. Although he is only hitting .206 through his first 68 at-bats in Seattle, he has recently started to display the power he showed after back-to-back 20 home runs seasons. He is not going to hit 20 home runs this year, now sitting with three on the year, but if his recent power surge can hold up there is a chance he could provide prospective fantasy owners with a good return down the stretch.

Jedd Gyorko, 2B, 3B (SD)--Despite sitting under the Mendoza line through his first 265 at-bats (.196 BA), Gyorko has started to turn the corner of late, logging four extra-base hits, six RBI in the month of August. In fact, he has now recorded multi-hit games in three of his last five contests as he tries to salvage what it left of a lost season. Clearly the Padres aren’t playing for anything at this point in the season, but base on his production a season ago (23 HR and 63 RBI), a turnaround over the last six weeks could be in store for this Padres slugger, although he will need to make improvements in his amount of fly balls to have a chance at more home runs (0.79 GB/FB Rate).

Michael Cuddyer, OF (COL)--The Rockies may have lost one of their outfielders for the remainder of the season (Carlos Gonzalez), but they will be welcoming back a familiar face as early as this weekend. Cuddyer has been out of action since suffering a shoulder injury in the beginning of June, but was slashing .317/.366/.500 with five home runs and 16 RBI through 120 at-bats prior to the injury. Although the sample size is small due to a couple injuries, he was clearly on his way to having another solid season before getting sidetracked. He is currently owned in less than 25 percent of fantasy leagues throughout the major providers but should be snatched up as soon as possible to beat the rush that will follow his activation. 

David Peralta, OF (ARI)--As far as the Diamondbacks outfield is concerned, there is very little to be happy about outside of their current starting left fielder. Peralta is off to a good start in his MLB debut, slashing .297/.329/.467 with five home runs, 30 RBI and 30 runs scored through 229 at-bats while only striking out only 16.6 percent of his at-bats. For a rookie that is pretty darn good and well worth an investment for the final stretch of the season.  At this point in the year the Diamondbacks have no reason to give his at-bats to any other outfielder on the team, so there are no playing time issues to worry about here.  Not to mention he has recently been penciled in the three-hole, where he will have more opportunities to drive in runs down the stretch. Like Cuddyer he is owned in less than 25 percent of leagues and should be picked up if in need of depth at the outfield position.

The Hurlers

Mike Fiers, SP (MIL)--For those of you who didn’t read the column last week, I decided to once again feature Fiers after going 2-0 with a 19:2 K:BB rate over his last two starts. For those of you who missed yesterday’s performance, it was truly something special. Not only did Fiers strikeout 14 batters over six innings, but was able to strikeout 10 consecutive batters over a 3.1 inning stretch. Prior to his recent run, Fiers was expected to only be in the starting rotation while Matt Garza (oblique) was sidelined, but if his hot start continues it is going to be hard to send him back to Triple-A. For now ride him while he is hot, especially if in need of help in the strikeout department.

Michael Pineda, SP (NYY)--After missing more than seven months of action with a shoulder ailment, Pineda made his return to the mound Wednesday and picked up right where he left off. Despite not factoring into the decision, Pineda allowed just one run on two hits and no walks while striking out four batters over five innings as he was on a strict pitch count. He though just 67 pitches on the night with 48 going over for strikes as he displayed great command of all his pitches. Now that his first start back is out of the way, the Yankees will likely give him more leeway in the near future.  Keep in mind, Pineda has made just five starts since the 2011 season, after almost three full seasons out with injuries so there are certainly red flags around him, but still a good investment regardless as long as he stay healthy.

Phil Hughes, SP (MIN)--After a rough first start back from the All-Star break( 5 ER on July 19), it has been smooth sailing for the Twins ace, having allowed two runs or less in three of his last four starts while owning a 25:3 K:BB rate in that stretch (22.0 IP). His recent efforts have allowed him to improve to 12-8 with a 3.88 ERA and 1.22 WHIP through 24 starts, but it is control (15 BB) and solid strikeout rate (8.00 K/9) that makes him a fantasy asset down the stretch.  As long as he continues to have solid control over all his pitches and keeps the ball in the yard like he has already this season, his success should continue in the final six weeks of the season. He is currently owned in less than 40 percent of leagues throughout the major providers so jump aboard now while you can.

Jeurys Familia, RP (NYM)--With closer Jenrry Mejia nursing both a calf injury and a hernia, the Mets have recently turned to Familia to handle to workload in the ninth inning. Despite allowing runs in each of his last two games, he has managed to convert both save chances that have fallen his way this week and is going to continue to get the nod while Mejia is sidelined. Through 60.1 innings this season, Familia is sitting on a 2.09 ERA and 1.21 WHIP while owning a 50:26 K:BB over that stretch. Although his stint in the closer role is going to be short-lived unless Mejia’s health takes a turn for the worst, but he is still worth an investment in a desperate situation.

Until next time, study hard and eat plenty!

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