As we approach the middle of the Fantasy baseball season, many managers have begun to re-evaluate their teams and gear up for a playoff run. As with life in general, being as adaptable as possible in Fantasy baseball will benefit you in the long run. If your team currently has a hole in its roster, make sure to examine all the possibilities such as trading or digging through the waiver wire to maximize your winning potential. Since the vast majority of top prospects in baseball have been promoted, don’t count on many others being called up who will have a significant impact on the 2013 season.
Below, I’ve recommended some folks to consider adding to help your team succeed, along with some two-start pitchers who you can stream this upcoming week. As always, if you ever need a hand with trade analysis or roster management, feel free to send me an e-mail or message on Twitter and I’ll be happy to help! Without further ado, let’s get started!
Waiver wire pickups
(Indicates percentage owned in ESPN, CBS, and Yahoo! Leagues)
Rickie Weeks – (56.2%, 77%, 63%) With the Milwaukee Brewers demoting Scooter Gennett back to the minor leagues in the middle of last week, Weeks no longer has any competition to push him for playing time at second base. Since splitting time, he has picked it up at the plate in a major way over the past ten games, hitting over .400 while smacking four home runs. His average still sits at a terrible .233, but it’s on the rise and Weeks is widely known as someone who turns it on in the second half of the season. He offers an intriguing combination of power and speed at a thin position, so if managers can stomach his streaky hitting (especially in head-to-head leagues) he’s definitely worth an immediate pickup.
Raul Ibanez – (59.7%, 44%, 30%) Yes, I really typed Raul Ibanez. And no, it wasn’t because I lost a bet with someone else or was double-dog-dared. The old-timer (41, to be exact) is putting up solid numbers so far this season, even though he plays on a team that is sub-par offensively and in a platoon situation in the outfield/DH. Ibanez recently hit his 18th homerun of the season, and he has 44 RBI. If you are in a league in which you are desperate for power and don’t mind a slight hit in the batting average category, then you may wish to look his way. Make sure if you add him that you monitor the Seattle Mariners daily lineup, since they provide him with plenty of rest days due to his age.
Tony Cingrani – (16.3%, 71%, 35) Cingrani makes this list because Johnny Cueto was recently placed on the DL with a lat muscle strain for the third time this season. The Cincinnati Reds need to be extremely careful with Cueto, since they would obviously prefer this injury to stop happening. So don’t be surprised if he sits for multiple weeks before even attempting a throwing program. Cingrani has pitched relatively well each time he has been given the opportunity, so perhaps this time he is able to stick in the rotation. He owns a 3.42 ERA and 1.12 WHIP on the season and is striking out well over a batter per inning. I’d recommend adding him immediately if you can.
Joaquin Benoit – (90.5%, 57%, 59%) The latest person to jump aboard the “closer carousel”, Benoit replaced an extremely ineffective Jose Valverde this past week and has already begun to pile up saves. The Detroit Tigers opened the season with Bruce Rondon as their closer, but demoted him due to early season rookie jitters/struggles. Rondon was promoted back to the ballclub on Friday, after being lights out in the minors, meaning that Benoit may not have the longest leash to work with. As long as the Tigers continue to hand him the ball he is certainly worth owning, though. Ride out Benoit until he struggles, then feel free to add Rondon.
Pitchers to stream in Week 8
Jeff Locke – (100%, 92%, 77%) In my prior “Market Watch” column I suggested that Locke has been pitching way over his head based upon the peripherals that we have to work with, such as BABIP and xFIP. Both of these statistics suggest that Locke’s ERA should be significantly higher than it actually is at the moment. With that said, he’s still sitting on an absolutely absurd 2.06 ERA and 1.11 WHIP and is facing a subpar offense this week with the Chicago Cubs on 7/7. You might as well stay on the ride until it comes off the rails, folks.
Bronson Arroyo – (28.9%, 74%, 42%) Arroyo is another pitcher who is flying under the radar and seems to be vastly under-appreciated in Fantasy leagues. He is an extremely consistent player whose strikeout numbers aren’t necessarily flashy, but his 3.61 ERA and 1.21 WHIP are definitely enough to give a second glance to. It can be safely assumed since he pitches for the Cincinnati Reds that he’ll have enough offensive run support to give him a shot at two wins. Arroyo is taking on the Seattle Mariners on 7/6.
Phil Hughes – ( 16.2%, 55%,32%) I’m pretty sure that I could fill up the rest of my article with a caveat about starting Hughes this week, but for the brevity’s sake, here is all you need to know. Hughes is either REALLY good, or REALLY bad. He’s the exact opposite of Arroyo. With that being said, he’s coming off of a stellar outing against the Texas Rangers who are one of the best hitting ballclubs in baseball. He takes on the Baltimore Orioles on 7/7. The Orioles scare me a little bit, but Hughes did pitch well the last time he faced them back on 5/21 (6.0 IP, 2 ER 5 Ks). For a desperation play, you could do much worse.
Kyle Gibson- (SP, Minnesota Twins) Gibson was recently called up by the Twinkies and made his major league debut this past Saturday against the Kansas City Royals. After pitching six strong innings where he scattered eight hits and struck out five, he picked up the win. Gibson is by no means in the same class as some of the other pitching prospects who were already called up this season (Kevin Gausman, Zack Wheeler, Tyler Skaggs) but he is definitely talented, and is the best pitcher that Minnesota has called up in quite some time. The Twins have already stated that they want to limit the amount of work that he has this season since he’s still coming back from Tommy John surgery, so temper your expectations here. The young rookie benefits from throwing in a pitcher-friendly home ballpark. If you are in AL-only leagues and he is still available I would strongly encourage picking him up, and adding him to your “watch list” in mixed leagues would be a good idea. There is plenty of upside here, especially in keeper leagues.
Daily Moves “Tip of the Week”
It may seem obvious, but make sure that you are aware of your leagues rules and specific settings. I’ve been in plenty of leagues where I was able to take advantage of the way that the commissioner set things up in order to maximize win potential. Since every league is different and so many settings can be changed prior to the start of the season, keep an eye on things like innings pitched requirements, trade deadlines, maximum waiver wire additions, etc. As an example, I’m participating in a league where the innings pitched requirement for each week is only seven innings. Instead of wasting mid to late round picks on middling pitchers, I drafted a solid core of middle relievers and closers who are able to basically guarantee that I win both ERA and WHIP each week, in addition to saves. Since I’m not chasing wins, I’m able to take three of five categories each week from the outset.