The Wire Troll: Get Me to the Church on Time!
Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers, SP: Since being recalled July 22 and that first rocky start against Colorado, Kershaw has now reeled off a string of three very solid starts, allowing just one earned run in his last 19 IP, while striking out 17 to go along with a pair of wins. Kershaw has three starts in the next couple weeks against both Philadelphia and Milwaukee, but after that the schedule, it gets noticeably easier. The Dodgers have only two series outside of their division and the Nationals and Pirates are not offensive jauggernauts. Kershaw is still available in 32 per cent of CBS leagues, so give the waiver wire a quick look and if he’s sitting there in your league, grab him quick before he’s gone.
Matt Capps, Pittsburgh, RP: Capps is currently rehabbing in the Gulf Coast League and has pitched two innings, striking out two and allowing only two hits. He’s currently ahead of schedule to return from bursitis in his pitching shoulder that has sidelined him since the beginning of July. A late August return looks to be in the works and if some last minute saves are an important part of your plan, picking him off the waiver wire a bit early could be a prudent decision.
Garrett Mock, Washington, SP: The Nationals have Garrett Mock and the 25-year-old righthander is scheduled to start Monday against the Brewers. He’s enjoying a very solid campaign at Triple-A Columbus, with a 3.01 ERA in 104 2/3 IP and a very solid 96/25 K/BB ratio, making him a good acquisition in NL-only leagues.
Lastings Milledge, Washington, OF: It’s very hard to believe that Milledge is still just 23 years old. Touted as a five category star in the making seemingly forever, he is finally starting to demonstrate some of that potential. Over his past ten games, Milledge is batting .349 with four homers and nine RBI. Toss in those 15 thefts on the year, and he should be owned in more than just the current 39 per cent of teams playing in CBS leagues. He’s a must own in NL-only and deep mixed formats.
Chris Perez, St. Louis, RP: The Cardinal bullpen is currently a mess. Jason Isringhausen and Ryan Franklin have both been very inconsistent and are struggling. Closer of the future Perez is probably not ready in Manager Tony LaRussa’s opinion, but until Plan C, which would be Adam Wainwright returning from the DL, Perez could be a decent option for saves in St. Louis. The kid can pitch, and is a solid pickup in all leagues counting holds, deep keeper formats and NL-only leagues.
Cesar Izturis, St. Louis, SS/3B: Izturis is very quietly having a very solid start to August. In his past ten games, he is batting .419 with six runs scored and four stolen bases. The fact that he qualifies at both shortstop and third base is a nice bonus, so Izturisis a decent add for those looking for some stolen base help, deep leagues that use a middle-infield position and NL-only leagues.
Jason Kubel, Minnesota, OF: Kubel is surprisingly owned by a mere 35 per cent of all teams playing in CBS leagues. He’s having a year many of us thought he was capable of with 16 homers and 58 RBI, and has particularly heated up in his last ten games, with three homers and ten RBI. Michael Cuddyer has now broken a bone in his foot while rehabbing the finger injury that originally sent him to the DL, so playing time should not be an issue moving forward. Kubel has been moved up to the fifth slot in the Twin batting order and hitting behind both Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau should guarantee good RBI opportunities down the stretch. Kubel is a solid acquisition in all formats at this time.
Brad Penny, Los Angeles Dodgers, SP: In his first start since coming off the DL with right shoulder tendinitis, Penny allowed only one run and one hit over five innings in gaining the victory over the Giants. The Phillies are his next opponent and this will be a much better test than the Giants. Remember, the Dodgers do have a relatively weak schedule, so keep Penny on your bench against the Phillies and move forward from there. He is a two-start pitcher the following week, and should be a good acquisition in all formats.
Victor Martinez, Cleveland, C: V-Mart is looking at heading out on a rehab assignment in the next week or so, with a tentative return date towards the end of the month. Kelly Shoppach has done a very commendable job behind the plate and it looks like Martinez will be seeing most of his at bats, especially early on, as the designated hitter. Surely he can’t go 0-for-the-season in the home run department, right? If he’s out there in your league, and you have the bench space, grabbing him early and having him ready to go is a solid decision.
Jensen Lewis, Cleveland, RP: Let’s add one more relief pitcher into the mix for the Indians. Both Rafael Betancourt and Masa Kobayashi have failed to step up into the closer’s role, and Manager Eric Wedge seems to prefer leaving Rafael Perez in more of set-up and situational role. Now entering into the mix is Lewis, who picked up the save Friday against the Jays. He walks too many, with 22 in 45 1/3 IP, but with the relatively few innings he is going to pitch it shouldn’t do that much damage to your team’s WHIP at this stage of the year. If your fantasy squad is in the market for saves heading into the stretch run, Lewis is a decent gamble.
Jeremy Reed, Seattle, OF: Reed is another name from the past that has stepped up his game considerably since the beginning of August. In his past ten games, he’s batting .400 with six RBI and six runs scored. Playing time moving forward should not be an issue with the hamstring injury suffered by Willie Bloomquist and Jose Vidro being designated for assignment last week. Reed is a solid grab for AL-only leagues and he should be on the radar in deeper mixed formats.
Brad Ziegler, Oakland, RP: What a great story this one is. James’s buddy Ziegler is now up to 37 scoreless innings pitched and counting this season. Friday, he earned his first save of the year against the Tigers, and with Huston Street struggling, there could be more save opportunities as the season unfolds. Remember that Ziegler was the closer for Triple-A Sacramento, and was very successful in the role. An interesting tidbit here: Ziegler has now pitched 61 1/3 innings this year between the big leagues and minors and has allowed only one earned run. That’s truly amazing, and makes him a solid add in all formats.
Darin Erstad, Houston, OF: The broken left pinkie finger suffered by Carlos Lee Saturday has opened up a window of opportunity for Erstad. On the season, Erstad has two homers, 19 RBI, and a decent .279 BA. It looks like he will get the chance to pick up some of the slack due to the Lee injury, making him a solid addition in NL-only formats.
Ryan Church, New York Mets, OF: Church had a rather impressive batting practice session Saturday and is expected to head to Port St. Lucie this week. He is tentatively looking at a return during the next Met homestand on August 19. New York is being very careful with Church here, as it should be. Post-concussion syndrome ended the career of Corey Koskie, and the Mets will probably ease Church back into the lineup with an emphasis on caution. Church has been given medical clearance to resume baseball activities and can be a big asset to your fantasy squad down the stretch. Monitor the rehab very closely, and don’t miss the opportunity, as he should be owned in all formats upon activation from the DL.