We are indeed screaming to the All-Star break it seems and though no marquee names were pulled to the Show this past cycle, there are certainly some sticks worthy of attention, starting with the Giants' spare backstop, Andrew Susac.
Susac has seen some time of late when San Francisco faces lefties, allowing Buster Posey to play first, and sit Brandon Belt, who has a tougher time against southpaws. With Nori Aoki down, however, playing time is loosening up per Bruce Bochy, allowing the team to play Belt in the outfield, Posey at first, putting Susac in the squat. And, over the past two weeks, over nine games, Susac has hit .458-1-5.
Similarly, across the bay, Josh Phegley has received more playing time, allowing incumbent Stephen Vogt to play some first and rest his battered bones. Last week, Phegley hit .333-2-5 and over the past month has knocked the pill to the tune of .286-4-9 with a .359 OBP. Both guys are good plays in deep AL and NL contests, and both are cheap plays in DFS formats.
It is crazy enough that the blast of rookie pitchers has been dominant on the hill, but what is this with Mets first start hurler Steven Matz going 3-for-3 with four RBI at the dish his first game? That is a record for rookie pitchers, and Matz comported himself well with 7 2/3 innings over which he whiffed six and allowed a pair of runs. A second-round high school pick in 2009, Matz has a tidy 380 whiffs over 365 2/3 frames, with an excellent 1.160 WHIP and just 14 dingers allowed, meaning he does keep the ball down. I think that means "endorsement."
I had some high hopes for Deolis Guerra, who scored well on my Top 250 prospect list in 2009, after going 12-11, 4.89 over 149 innings split between Ft. Myers and New Britain as a 20-year-old. But, it has been a long row to hoe for the 6'5", 245 pounder, now with the Bucs. Guerra had a fine 2015 at Indianapolis, going 2-1, 1.23 with four saves and 37 strikeouts over 36 2/3 innings, with an 0.797 WHIP. Guerra likely won't help you too much this year, but if you need to plug a pitching staff hole benignly, he is a good gamble.
Speaking of big, the Tigers recalled monster (6'3", 275 pounds) Bruce Rondon, who has 267 whiffs over 238 1/3 innings, to go with 80 saves and a 2.64 ERA and a 1.255 WHIP. Rondon missed all of last year after blowing out his arm, and his minor league time this year looks spotty (2-2, 7.11, with a 1.737 WHIP), but three of his first five outs since the call-up were whiffs, and I would not be surprised to see Rondon in the closer job by the end of 2015.
Finishing the pitchers, the Angels brought back Andrew Heaney, their first rounder in 2012, and he responded with six solid frames (one run, five whiffs, a walk, and four hits) and along with the rest of the rookie pitchers who are jerking around batters this year, Heaney makes a good addition and gamble in just about any format these days.
The hitters of interest this week are all sort of retreads, starting with Cole Gillespie, a 31-year-old former third rounder of the Brewers in 2006, who has also toiled for the Giants, Diamondbacks, Cubs, Mariners, Blue Jays, and now Marlins, logging 271 plate appearances since 2009. At one time, I considered Gillespie a promising prospect, but no more. Pass.
Similarly, the Phils brought back Darin Ruf, he of the .317-38-104 line at Reading in 2012. Since then, not much, and as a 25-year-old at Double-A at the time, it should have been clearer that Ruf's success was largely rooted in age and experience.
However, the Astros have been pushing all the right buttons this year, and they called back Jon Singleton, who was hitting .280-17-66 at Fresno, with a solid 47 walks to 63 strikeouts (.387 OBP). Singleton is a gamble I would take in just about any format, including tracking for starting DFS time as the first baseman works into the lineup.
DFS Watch: OK, we are willing to adjust to the fun market of Daily Games. In fact, you know we play FantasyScore and participate in the FanDuel Tout Wars contest, so let's add to our daily MastersDaily coverage and simply pick a couple of series/games/starts this week that look good.
Pitchers to Watch: The week begins with some pretty crappy pitching Monday, but keep an eye on Marco Estrada, who starts the week against the Red Sox, and finishes against the Astros, who hit long balls, but also fan excessively. Estrada has regained form, and is 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA his last three starts to go with 19 strikeouts over 20 1/3 innings.
Series to Watch: Starting the week, I have to like the Phils against Taylor Jungmann no matter how well the junk baller pitched his first start and also like the Cubs mashers, especially with Jorge Soler due back, against the Mets and Jon Niese on Monday. Towards the holiday weekend, the Jays and Red Sox could put up some hitting numbers between them (especially on the Jays side) and the Cardinals will have some nice interleague contests with the Royals, like Jeremy Guthrie (Saturday), so exploit accordingly.