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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 five 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

Allen Craig, 1B, OF (BOS)--After playing only one game with the Red Sox before being placed on the disabled list with a foot injury, Craig made his return to the team on Thursday but did not record a hit. In his rehab sting, Craig went 1-for-5 with two RBI over two games and was able to play five innings without suffering any setbacks in right field. Although he struggled prior to being dealt to the Red Sox, slashing .237/.291/.346 with seven home runs and 44 RBI through 237 at-bats, he will now get a second chance at making things right in the final five weeks of the season. Let’s not forget, Craig sported a batting average above the .300-mark from 2011-2013 while providing great power at the plate, smacking 46 home runs while driving in 229 RBI over that stretch. At the age of 25, he still has plenty he can provide fantasy owners as long as he is able to return and stay healthy the rest of the way. 

Oswaldo Arcia, OF (MIN)--Despite hitting a mere.247 through 89 second half at-bats, Arcia has provided much of the Twins power in that stretch, blasting eight home runs while driving in 18 RBI, with five of those long balls coming over his last eight games. With a lot of his struggles early on due to lingering injuries, it appears he is finally ready to be a consistent fantasy asset as we have now reached the stretch run. Like a lot of power hitters, Arcia does struggle in the strikeout department, striking out 33.9 percent of his at-bats in 2014, while was a common trend throughout his career since being promoted to the big leagues each of the last two seasons.  As of Thursday, Arcia is owned in less than 20 percent of leagues throughout the major providers, most likely based on his inconsistency throughout the season, but if he is able to at least produce half of the fantasy output he has been giving lately, he makes for a nice pickup for those in deep leagues.

Jon Jay, OF (STL)--After starting the season in a platoon situation with Peter Bourjos, an increase in production from Jay has landed him the starting gig in center field on a more consistent basis. Over his last seven games Jay has been incredible, going 11-for-19 (.579 BA) with six RBI and eight runs scored while taking two walks batting in either the two hole or down in the bottom third of the Cardinals lineup. His recent production has him slashing .313/.385/.407 with three home runs, 36 RBI and 41 runs scored over 300 at-bats, with the majority of his production coming in the second half of the season (.397 BA over last 73 AB). Outside of the batting average category, Jay doesn’t stand out in any given category, but a 53:20 K:BB rate will certainly help his case to remain in the starting lineup down the stretch. Unless you are in a shallow league format, Jay makes for a solid complimentary piece to any outfield situation, so jump on board now before he becomes a hot commodity.

Travis Snider, OF (PIT)--Although Snider has yet to live up to the lofty expectations placed on his while maturing in the Blue Jays farm system, he has found himself in a nice situation with the Pirates in 2014. Since returning from the All-Star break, Snider is slashing .349/.400/.651 with six home runs, 18 RBI and 15 runs scores over his last 83 at-bats, making it difficult for the Pirates not to work him into the everyday starting lineup.  Like some other average players performing above their heads (Josh Harrison), Snider has always had the pedigree but was never able to fully click, but at the age of 26, both the Pirates and prospective fantasy owners can hold onto hope that this recent run is for real. He is currently owned in less than 15 percent of leagues throughout the major providers, despite hitting .440 over his last seven games so unless he crashed hard back down to earth, he is well worth the investment while swinging a hot bat.

The Hurlers

Carlos Carrasco, SP (CLE)--After stat off the season 0-3 through his first four starts of the season, the Indians moved Carrasco to the bullpen where he found a new home as a successful relief pitcher. However after producing in the bullpen the Indians decided to move Carrasco back to the starting rotation and after three starts he has looked very good. He is now 2-0 since rejoining the starters, having allowed only three earned runs while owning a 14:1 K:BB rate over 16.0 innings. His recent resurgence has him sitting on a 5-4 record with a 3.27 ERA and 1.05 WHIP through 77.0 innings while maintaining an impressive 71:18 K:BB rate over that stretch. Whether or not he will be able to keep up the pace in anyone’s guess, but I have really like what I have seen from him thus far, especially while having full control of all his pitches. Currently Carrasco is owned in less than 10 percent of leagues throughout the major providers and will get a shot against Brad Peacock and the Astros on Friday, which could lead to a high number of strikeouts as we have seen from pitchers facing Houston this season.

Shane Greene, SP (NYY)--Since being promoted from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Greene has managed to solidify himself as a solid starting pitcher, not only for the Yankees but in terms of fantasy as well. Through his first seven big league starts, Greene is sitting 3-1 with a 2.91 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and a 39:14 K:BB rate over 43.1 innings. As mentioned in previous write-ups, including one of my most recent Chef’s Table columns, he has a great slider that has kept batters guessing since joining the Yankees starting rotation back in July. To add to his great slider he has a deceptive delivery that allows him to hind the ball from his opposition until right before it leaves his glove. Considering he has allowed more than three earned runs in a start just once in seven tries, whatever he is doing is certainly working, but is still not owned in nearly enough leagues throughout the major providers. Although he doesn’t standout in any given category, Greene is the type of addition that could really make an impact down the stretch as he continues to mature into a starter in the big leagues.

Tsuyoshi Wada, SP (CHC)--The Cubs are clearly in a rebuilding stage, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t fantasy value to be found on Chicago. Since making his big league debut back in early July, Wada has gone 2-1 with a 2.75 ERA and 1.17 WHIP through seven starts while maintaining a solid 33:10 K:BB rate over 39.1 innings. Of his first seven big league starts, the Cubs 33-year-old hurler has allowed more than two earned runs only once, with the same result in the walk category. To add to his recent success, if the Cubs are able to finish off the win in which Wada started on Tuesday night, he would then gain another win with the conclusion of a suspended game. Despite his recent success Wada is only owned in 10 percent or less of leagues throughout the major providers, which is hard to believe considering how well he has thrown the ball since making his MLB debut. Those in need of help in both ERA and WHIP will want to give him a look as we approach the stretch run.

Kevin Quackenbush, RP (SD)--With Joaquin Benoit unavailable out of the Padres bullpen on Wednesday night, the team turned to Quackenbush to finish out the ninth inning to record his first career save at the big league level. Quackenbush has had a successful season up to this point, owning a 2.29 ERA and 0.97 WHIP through 39.1 innings while maintaining a 37:13 K:BB rate in that stretch. Although Dale Thayer would have been the likely candidate many would have guessed to see used as the closer, based on his past experience in the role, it appears Quackenbush will be the answer if the team is forced to place Benoit on the disabled list with a cranky shoulder. Those in deep leagues will want to monitor this situation closely over the next few days because if he gains the ninth inning role he could make a big impact as we reach the final five weeks of the regular season.

Until next time, study hard and eat plenty!

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