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Wednesday 18th Oct 2017

Who are the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball leagues? Can you trust them on your fantasy baseball teams?

Felix Doubront, SP, Boston Red Sox

  • Last 5: 4-1, 2.40 ERA, .212 BAA, 3.33 BB/9, 10.20 K/9 in 30 IP

Some teammates, coaches and scouts have long praised Doubront's nasty stuff and expressed high hopes for him if he could command it. He finally appears to be headed down that path. His peripheral marks this season look a lot like those from his last handful of starts.

Doubront isn't a stranger to moderate injuries and may peter out later this season. The AL East will be tough to navigate successfully on multiple trips through it, too. The 24-year-old is a talent worth riding to see how far he goes, though, despite his latest hiccup versus the Washing Nationals.

Dexter Fowler, OF, Colorado Rockies

  • Last 11: .450 BA, 15 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI, 3 SB in 48 PA

Even those in the shallowest of leagues are catching on to Fowler, although they should take note that he's cooled off in June. Once the shine wears off, it'll become a debate for those in 10-team mixed leagues: Hang on or cut him loose?

Fowler has become more confident at the dish, as noted last week, but the reduced temperature coincides with the beginning of his club's recent road trip. If he's really in the midst of a breakthrough, he'll continue to hit well at home, but in very shallow leagues, he may frustrate.

Gordon Beckham, 2B, Chicago White Sox

  • Last 10: .318 BA, 8 R, 3 HR, 8 RBI in 44 AB

Where did this come from? It's been in there all along, as most roto vets will recall. The encouraging thing here is intangible: Beckham is known for being very hard on himself, which isn't a proven method for handling adversity; he's told interviewers that he's handling the everyday tribulations with more of a level head nowadays.

Will it last this time? Impossible to say. Mental roadblocks can be difficult to overcome. In his last 20 contests, the maligned MI has batted .273 with six bombs and 13 RBIs, so perhaps this is the start of his maturation.

Justin Smoak, 1B, Seattle Mariners

  • Last 24: .295 BA, 11 R, 7 HR, 19 RBI, 1 SB in 104 PA

It appears that those in shallow leagues have remained skeptical of Smoak's production from the past few weeks. His 2011 marks (.234/.323/.396) and sketchy BB/K (0.35) make that understandable.

The 25-year-old switch-hitter's strikeout rate is in line with that of previous years, but he's swinging and missing less often. Smoak is picking the ball up better, too. He may not be the stud some projected him to be when he was in the Texas Rangers' organization, but he's an accomplished batsman.

Paul Goldschmidt, 1B, Arizona Diamondbacks

  • Last 16: .414, 12 R, 5 HR, 9 RBI, 1 SB in 67 PA

Those in shallow leagues didn't have the patience for Goldy, either, but boy has he picked it up. He's brought his average up to .288, and most of his power production has come in this period.

The 24-year-old slugger doesn't have the profile to keep up this kind of BA, but his environment (home park, lineup, etc.) makes him more enticing that Smoak, frankly. Now that he's gotten going, he may keep pounding them out.

Ernesto Frieri, RP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  • Last 14: 4 SV, 0.00 ERA, .023 BAA, 6.90 BB/9, 18.84 K/9 in 14 1/3 IP

Frieri hasn't given up a run and has served up only one knock since he's joined the Halos. He's been receiving more save opportunities (and delivering, obviously). He may be sharing that role with Scott Downs, but Frieri is in the more attractive matchup seat.

So here's the thing: No one is making him pay for all the walks he issues. And here's what's nuts: He throws strikes more than three-fifths of the time. What a tough SOB to hit, and check out those K's. Might finish with Kenley Jansen-Aroldis Chapman figures.

Quintin Berry, OF, Detroit Tigers

  • Last 15: .306 BA, 14 R, 0 HR, 7 SB in 69 PA

The Tigers are thrilled with what this Austin Jackson fill-in has given them. They've already talked about keeping him around while Andy Dirks (strained Achilles' tendon) is sidelined.

The problem with his long-term outlook is that he strikes out much too often to keep this up, and he's a .267 hitter in the minors. A-Jax will be back from his strained oblique within a couple of days, and Dirks is already feeling better. Don't hesitate to jump ship.

Michael Saunders, OF, Seattle Mariners

  • Last 9: .487 BA, 9 R, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 2 SB in 41 PA

With five multi-hit games in the span of a week and a half, Saunders jacked up his average from .224 to .277. He's cut down on the strikeout rate this year, especially lately.

This hot streak has coincided with Eric Wedge's lineup shakeup, which removed Saunders from the two-hole and closer to the bottom of the order. The unusual offseason hitting routine Saunders developed continues to pay off. He may have roto utility all season: When Franklin Gutierrez (plantar fasciitis) comes back in a couple of weeks, Saunders isn't the likeliest to lose out.

Garrett Richards, SP, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim

  • Last 2: 1-0, 1.13 ERA, .143 BAA, 2.25 BB/9, 9.00 K/9 in 8 IP

Those in deep leagues are all over this right-hander, who was stellar in his first start of the season (seven innings, four hits, one run, two walks, eight strikeouts). One of the club's top pitching prospects almost won the fifth spot in ST, so he's legit.

The replacement for Jered Weaver (back discomfort) has really struggled with his control this season in the minors, as he did last year in the bigs. Weaver shouldn't be out for long, either. Consider the opponent - the Seattle Mariners - in Richards' first start and the likely length of his stay before committing. He'll be back up at some point; perhaps then it'll be to stay.

Drew Hutchison, SP, Toronto Blue Jays

  • Last 5: 4-1, 2.70 ERA, .207 BAA, 3.60 BB/9, 7.20 K/9 in 30 IP

Another hot hurler in deep leagues, and this one has a little more staying power. This span of his last handful of starts includes a four-inning, six-run blowup at the hands of the Tampa Bay Rays, too.

Fantasy owners are going to have to accept this: Hutchison, 21, is going to be unpredictable. The right-hander is very talented, but he has no experience at the Triple-A level - although that's partly because the Jays prefer to develop their most promising arms at Class AA, and they fast-tracked him.

His farm record and batted-ball profile indicate that he may continue to reduce his rate of free passes and HR/9, but he won't necessarily continue to post big totals in K's. There's some definite long-term interest, but not yet enough to carry him to shallow formats.

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