Back we are, a few days prior to roster expansion which means a lot of changes for the majors and your team. It also means we will really focus a lot on those September call-ups, so this time let's take a look at some guys who are having late surges. And that translates into you want to grab the playes now, and even consider them for 2011.
Let's start with the Tiger's Ryan Raburn of the Tigers. I have actually been disappointed with Raburn (I got him in Tout Wars) until the last month, where he has gone .322-8-21 including a pair of taters on Sunday. Raburn has the nice advantage of position flexibility, qualifying at both second and in the outfield, and in a deep mixed format, like the NFBC, he could well be available.
Though not likely in the free agent pool, Stephen Drew has still likely disappointed owners this year who thought the shortstop was ready for a breakout season that would establish him among the best at his position. When you consider that just a couple of years ago Drew hit .291-21-67 as a 25-year old, his .267-11-47 totals are truly disappointing. However, over the last two weeks, Drew is .306-3-6 with five doubles, good for a .636 SLG and .966 OPS. The Dbacks are out of the pennant hunt, but, Drew is worth a look in any format at this point.
Marcus Thames pretty much seemed like spare parts for the Yankees, but, somehow the Bombers are able to milk players like Thames, and somehow or other guys like Thames have their streaks. And, now the flychaser is doing just that hitting .380-6-11 over the past month, raising his season numbers to .320-9-25. Thames is getting the platoon at-bats against righties, and have torrid streaks like the one currently possessing him. Grab him.
Perhaps no player's season defines sophomore jinx better than Detroit's Rick Porcello. Last year as a 21-year old rookie, Porcello went 14-9, 3.96 over 170.2 innings, and all looked rosy for 2010, but what has resulted is a 6-11, 5.43 season (thru 8/29) and a demotion to Triple-A. Porcello has, going into Sunday, August 29. Sunday, though, Porcello completed his second straight seven inning performance which resulted in his second straight win, which means over his last two starts, the right-hander has gone 2-0, 0.64 over 14 innings, with just five hits allowed, eight strikeouts, and no walks.
Perhaps no closer job this season has been more of a revolving door than that of the Orioles this season, but former Japanese star Koji Uehara has assumed the position now, and he converted his fourth win on Sunday, putting his season totals at 1-0, 1.91, over 28.1 innings, with 31 strikeouts to just five walks with 27 hits allowed. If you have been watching, Baltimore's starting pitching has done well these past weeks, so if you are in an AL only format, he is the guy to grab.
If you are looking for a National League counterpart Drew Storen, who at 22, 13 years younger that Uehara, is just beginning his major league career. Storen earned his third save for the Nationals Sunday, pushing his season--and career--numbers at 3-2, 3.35 with 37 strikeouts over 43 innings. Storen is prone to wildness (17 walks) so he will have his ups and downs, but again, the Nats are making an effort to rebuild with prospects and the young closer looks to be one of the principles in that effort. (Of course you want etiher of these guys in a mixed format at this point).
Looking at a couple of more starters, it seems like forever since Bruce Chen was a promising prospect with Atlanta. Chen was drafted by the Braves in 1993, and made it to the majors in 1998, and since then he has played for ten teams, assembling a mark of 44-50, 4.73. Chen won his ninth game for the Royals Sunday, putting his season totals at 9-7, 4.76, going 2-2, 5.32 for the month. So, those are not great numbers, but, in a deep AL format, starting pitching can be hard to find, and though Chen is not a dominant guy, he could help with some innings and runs, depending upon your totals. So, this is not so much a recommendation as it is a nod in the direction of a potential arm to help out of a tough spot, or as a crap shoot for a title.
Perhaps a better alternative is the Yankees Ivan Nova, who won his first game Sunday, pushing his major league mark to 1-0, 1.93. Sunday Nova whiffed seven White Sox over 5.2 innings, allowing just a walk. The 23-year old went 12-3, 2.86 at Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes/Barre this season prior to the call-up, with 115 whiffs over 145 innings (135 hits, 48 walks). Nova has better stuff and a better team than Chen, but he is indeed a rookie, so those ups and downs could follow and make the youngster's final month as interesting as Chen's. Of the two, I would go with Nova, but, well, this is baseball. If you need the wins and an arm, trust your instincts (meaning if you want to run from both, that is what to do).
And that brings us to Logan Ondrusek, a reliever in Cincinnati, who logged his fourth win for the penant chasing Reds Sunday, putting his season totals to 4-0, 4.53. The 13th round selection of the Reds in 2005 has 30 whiffs over 43.2 innings, with 16 walks and 40 hits allowed. Ondrusek was 17-31, 4.09 as a minor leaguer, but he seems to have the ability to sniff out a win in the majors, and that is a good skill. Cincy is driving to post-season, so Ondrusek will get his chances, so he makes the safe bet of the last three hurlers noted.