The Wire Troll: Miner Matters
Zach Miner, Detroit, SP/RP: Since July 21 when he was inserted into the rotation, Miner has been on a roll. The 26-year-old righthander has allowed one earned run or less in four of his five starts and managed to garner three wins in the process. The key to this recent success has been his improved control with just five walks issued over these five games. Miner should be owned in all AL-only formats and on the radar in deeper mixed formats.
Chris Dickerson, Cincinnati. OF: The trade of Adam Dunn to the Diamondbacks has opened a window of opportunity for Dickerson. The 26-year-old accumulated 11 homers, 53 RBI and 26 stolen bases with the Triple-A Louisville Bats prior to his promotion. He also managed the whopping total of 102 strikeouts at Louisville, so it would appear that strike zone judgment might not be his forte (of course, doesn’t that just make him the perfect candidate to replace Dunn, he of the prodigious K totals?). Just what the Reds needed, two potential Corey Pattersons in the same outfield. The opportunites for playing time will be there in Cincinnati over the last six weeks of the season. If you can live with his potential low batting average, and are in need of stolen bases, Dickerson could contribute in that category for your fantasy squad.
Jed Lowrie, Boston, SS/3B: Is Julio Lugo going to be on the bench when he does eventually return from that strained quadriceps injury he suffered back in July? Lowrie is certainly doing everything he can to see this is a very real possibility, something RotoRob pointed out earlier this week. Since the beginning of August, he is batting a very robust .353 and has contributed 18 RBI. Lowrie is another of those no power, no speed middle-infield types, but the strong average and RBI opportunities in a powerful Boston lineup make him a solid play in AL-only leagues and deeper formats that require middle and corner infield slots.
Omar Infante, Atlanta, 2B/SS/3B/OF: Infante falls into the category of super-sub, as he qualifies all over the place. Playing on an Atlanta team that has had more than its fair share of injuries, Infante is certainly taking advantage of his opportunities. Infante is yet another no power, no speed middle infielder that, when he’s going right — which he currently is — gives you batting average and some RBI potential. In his past ten games, Infante is batting a solid .309, with eight RBI and eight runs scored. He’s a solid acquisition in NL-only leagues and deeper mixed formats that use corner and middle infield slots.
Ryan Feierabend, Seattle, SP: Feierabend is looking at a promotion from Triple-A Tacoma and is scheduled to pitch Sunday. The 22-year-old southpaw has put together a fine season at Tacoma with a 7-1 record and a great 2.04 ERA in 75 IP. He has limited the opposition to only 15 walks and a meagre .232 BA thus far in 2008. The Mariners are going to be looking ahead to 2009, and with the failure of R.A. Dickey, they should give be giving Feierabend a decent audition. He’s a solid acquisition in AL-only formats and deep keeper formats.
Shin-Soo Choo, Cleveland, OF: Every time I see the name Shin-Soo Choo, it brings me back to that unbelievable 2004 season at Double-A San Antonio. Choo managed 15 homers, 84 RBI, and 40 — yes, 40 – stolen bases as a 21-year-old at Double-A. Injuries over the past three seasons have certainly taken their toll, but it seems that now that he is finally healthy, he’s starting to demonstrate the skills that had most of us fantasy players salivating in days gone by. Since the beginning of August, Choo is batting a solid .306, with six RBI and ten runs scored. He should garner plenty of playing time down the stretch and is a solid acquisition in AL-only leagues, and should be on the radar in mixed formats.
Erick Aybar, Los Angeles Angels, 2B/SS: The injury to Maicer Izturis (a torn ligament in his left thumb that will leave him sidelined over the balance of the year) has the Halos are turning to the 24-year-old Aybar to fill in at shortstop over the remainder of 2008. Aybar is not a bad option for the Angels, as he is currently sporting a fine .306 BA, three homers, 30 RBI, and six stolen bases. That catch falling backwards into the outfield Saturday afternoon that robbed the Indians of a scoring opportunity was very impressive. Aybar is a solid addition in AL-only leagues, and deeper formats requiring middle and corner infielders.
Jesse Litsch, Toronto, SP: Why did he get sent down to Triple-A in the first place? Litsch was 8-7 with a 4.46 ERA at the time of his demotion to Syracuse on July 24. This is just another in a series of befuddling moves made by J.P. Ricciardi and Company in 2008. In his first start since being recalled August 12, Litsch pitched seven innings of four-hit ball against the Tigers. He is an innings eater type that fits in very nicely as a fourth or fifth starter and should be owned in AL-only formats and on the radar in deep mixed formats.
Adam LaRoche, Pittsburgh, 1B: LaRoche has just this past week returned to the Pirate lineup and if one is looking for a late-season power boost, he could be a solid acquisition. He has accumulated 15 homers and 52 RBI thus far and is currently rostered in only 48 per cent of CBS leagues. LaRoche makes a solid acquisition in all formats at this time.
Grant Balfour/Dan Wheeler, Tampa Bay, RP: In what would have to be termed a shocking development, Troy Percival has found his way back to the DL with more knee woes, so it’s back to the closer-by-committee strategy for the Rays. The last time Percival was on the DL, the saves were split fairly evenly, so moving forward I’d give the slight edge right now to Balfour and that high heat. The Rays are in tight in that battle in the AL East and are playing very solid baseball so the opportunities will be there. Roll the dice and grab one or both and hope for the best if saves are a need down the stretch.
Jesus Flores, Washington, C: Now here is a guy that simply is getting no respect. Flores is currently ranked seventh among all major league catchers with 52 RBI, and is owned by only 28 per cent of all teams playing in CBS Leagues. Why? The 23-year-old currently is sporting a .268 BA and has eight homers, to boot. It has to be the fact that he plays for the under-the-radar Nats that is contributing to the relative lack of respect. Grab him quick in all NL-only leagues and two catcher formats before the rest of your league figures this one out.
Hideki Matsui, New York Yankees, OF: Matsui is currently on the rehab tour down in Tampa and is rumoured to be coming off the DL this coming week. Prior to the knee woes, he was hitting to the tune of a .323 BA, with seven homers and 34 RBI. I don’t expect him to resume playing in the outfield any time soon, but will probably be in the lineup facing righthanded pitching as a DH for now. That knee is very fragile, so one should be a bit conservative in the expectations, but if homers and RBI are needs on your fantasy squad, Godzilla has the potential to provide relief in those categories heading into September.
Brett Gardner, New York Yankees, OF: The Yankees finally tired of Melky Cabrera and that .242 BA and shipped him off to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. The benefactor in this move is Gardner, who was recalled to patrol centrefield for the Yankees. The Yankees have stated that Gardner was recalled with the intent of playing full-time and Saturday he took immediate advantage, going 3-for-5, driving in the winning run in the bottom of the 13th. There is little doubt that he can run, with 37 thefts at Triple-A in 2008, so for those in need of stolen bases late in the season, Gardner is a solid option.