Let’s take a quick tour of the Senior Circuit, fantasy style.
ARIZONA DIAMONDBACKS: Time to drop Brandon Webb. It was mentioned before in this report but is worth repeating and that is Brandon Allen may see some September at bats if Adam LaRoche can be moved in a waiver deal. You could do worse than speculate on Sam Demel for some saves down the stretch.
ATLANTA BRAVES: Troy Glaus has been placed on the disabled list following the acquistion of Derrek Lee. Assuming he comes back in September, there is no way he would be asked to help fill in for Chipper Jones. Throughout his Minor-League career, albeit a short one, Mike Minor always fanned more than a batter an inning as well as whiffing more than three times the number he walked. His raw stuff does not appear strong enough to carry that over to the Bigs, but it should translate well enough to boost a fantasy team down the stretch.
CHICAGO CUBS: Look for Micah Hoffpauir to return as soon as his 10 days back on the farm are over to see some at bats after the Derrek Lee deal. Jeff Baker and Darwin Barney will pick up the at bats vacated by the trade of Mike Fontenot to San Francisco. Barney has a little speed but no pop that makes decent contact. You have to be in a really deep league, but if you are, he may chip in with a handful of steals down the stretch.
CINCINNATI REDS: You are no doubt familiar with Murphy’s Law – whatever can go wrong will. Well, I would like to now coin the fantasy baseball equivalent, Arroyo’s Law. This is defined by having a pitcher on reserve that throws a gem, only to have him get lit up the next time when you have him active. As expected, in order to limit the innings of Mike Leake, along with the fact he has been skaky lately, Leake has been shifted to the bullpen. Travis Wood assumes the open spot in the rotation.
COLORADO ROCKIES: It is only mid-August, but many are already speculating that Carlos Gonzales could be a top-5 pick next spring and the first outfielder off the board. Get used to my saying make sure you pay for 2011 expected stats and not 2010 final stats. I like Gonzalez, but I will still take Ryan Braun and Matt Kemp before him.
FLORIDA MARLINS: Ricky Nolasco is making it very difficult to argue against the notion of first half/second half players. It is looking like you could have won a few sheckles if you bet someone in the spring that Mike Stanton would hit more homers than Jason Heyward.
HOUSTON ASTROS: Chris Johnson sure looks good, but beware a K:BB of 40:9 in 185 at bats suggests a batting average correction is right around the corner. For those fishing for saves, Wilton Lopez is worth a look. Most have Brandon Lyon pegged as the fill-in for Matt Lindstrom, but Lopez picked up the save Tuesday night. With a K:BB of 39:5 in 49 innings, he has the skills to do the job if Tuesday’s success leads to more opportunities.
LOS ANGELES DODGERS: Look for Jonathan Broxton to return to his old role sooner than later, likely the next time Joe Torre needs a save. On the one hand, Rafael Furcal has already given his owners their money’s worth this season. On the other, some of us are greedy bastards and really need you to get back!!!!
MILWAUKEE BREWERS: Long-time readers might know I put less credence into manager’s tendencies than some of my fellow pundits. However, I am now willing to submit to the fact stolen bases and Ken Macha are like oil and vinegar. Just ask Lorenzo Cain. Look for Trevor Hoffman to pick up 3 more “easy” saves to reach the 600 plateau.
NEW YORK METS: Expect Jenrry Mejia to be called up after rosters expand and be given a month long audition as a starter. He can help those in deep leagues and perhaps be spotted in mixed formats. Hisanori Takahashi will get the bulk of the saves but while others speculate on Bobby Parnell, do not forget about Pedro Feliciano, as he is very likely to vulture a handful of southpaw matchup chances and has a strikeout rate worthy of being used if you normally deploy middle relievers.
PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: For those waiting for Jimmy Rollins to run, your patience may be rewarded as he has 3 pilfers the past week. If you dropped Ryan Madson thinking Brad Lidge is safe and need the roster spot to speculate on saves, that is understandable. Just make sure you realize Madson has fanned 9 over his last 4 innings and is still a decent middle reliever for ration protection.
PITTSBURGH PIRATES: James McDonald is impressing, fanning 12 while walking only 3 over his last 2 starts, spanning 11 2/3rds. If you are in a keeper league, he is the sort you try to get as a “throw-in” in a keeper league. That is, make it look like you are targeting someone else and also ask for McDonald. If McDonald keeps up this pace, look for him to be a fixture on “sleeper” lists next spring, meaning it may be cheaper to acquire him now than next season.
SAN DIEGO PADRES: Kevin Correia has bounced back nicely but was probably an example of the Arroyo Law for some of you. If you were a regular reader and Platinum subscriber in the spring, there is a very good chance you have enjoyed the breakout campaign of Mat Latos. Fortunately, I practice what I preach and own the tattooed hurler in a plethora of leagues. Except in the one I need him the most: NL Tout Wars. If the Friars are able to maintain the 5+ game lead in the NL West, they will likely pick and choose spots to limit Latos’ innings, keeping him available for the post season.
SAN FRANCISCO GIANTS: Pat Burrell’s return to the Senior Circuit has been met with great favor. But my gut says ACHIASS (anything can happen in a small sample). Man, I’m just full of new ones today. Pablo Sandoval’s power is finally emerging as 4 of his last 6 hits have gone for extra bases.
ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: Allen Craig is being given a chance to earn some at bats at the hot corner as Felipe Lopez is struggling, but he is not taking advantage has he is 0 for his last 11. One of the mantras we like to preach early in the season is the team that is consistently the 3rd or 4th best in their fantasy league every month has a cool nickname come October: Champ. Do you know what they call the pitcher that is the 3rd or 4th best in the league every month? They call him the Cy Young winner, also known as Adam Wainwright.
WASHINGTON NATIONALS: Bye bye Josh Willingham, welcome back Nyjer Morgan. The Nationals took a page from the WWE and found a great way to limit Stephen Strasburg’s innings. Wrestling fans are no doubt familiar with the tactic of having twin wrestlers replace each other when the referee is not looking. Apparently, Washington found a body-double for Strasburg and have been using him since the start previous to his DL stint. This way, the “real” Strasburg protects his valuable right wing while fans still pay to see the twin Strasburg pitch. Obviously, the DL stay was just a means to work with the twin to help duplicate his motion after struggling in his initial appearance subbing for the phenom. How else can you explain 10 runs over his previous 15 innings?