Justin Upton left in the eighth inning of Thursday’s game after sliding into third base and injuring a hamstring muscle. The injury was described as minor and Upton is considered day-to-day for the time being.
Rafael Furcal, who managed to play nine games this season, will have season ending surgery to remove scar tissue from his ailing hamstring.
Michael Cuddyer is raking on his rehab assignment, so far batting .500 (13 for 26), and he’s on track to be activated from the DL on Saturday. Cuddyer will likely play right field on a regular basis. He’s got 40 games left to play for his next contract and is definitely worth adding in any league in which he was left for dead on the waiver wire. The Rockies also announced that Carlos Gonzalez is scheduled to have surgery on his ailing knee on Monday. The team has not yet decided whether CarGo will return before the end of the season, but the recovery from any procedure will likely take at least a month, so at best he may play during the final week or two of the season. The smart money will be on him being finished.
Andrew Cashner will make his final rehab start on Monday, so look for him to take the mound for the Padres sometime next weekend.
Jed Lowrie ended up on the DL after all, as he was unable to play through the hairline fracture on his fingertip. The move leaves the A’s with Eric Sogard and Alberto Callaspo as the only healthy middle infielders on the roster. Sogard is actually hitting pretty well since the All Star break, with a .291/.409/.400 line, 14 runs scored and three stolen bases. He’s also drawn 11 walks while only striking out six times during that span.
The Rays are set to activate Wil Myers off the DL, probably next Tuesday when the team begins a series against the Tigers. Myers has been out since late May with a broken wrist. So far, he is 4 for 9 with a home run in three rehab games. He will start playing in the outfield during his next start and play back to back games over the weekend.
You have to go all the way back to June 25 to find a game that Zack Wheeler lost, and since then he’s shaved nearly a full run off his ERA, going from 4.45 to 3.53. His ERA during those last eight starts is a stellar 1.93 with a 1.25 WHIP and a .224 BAA. However, be forewarned that there are some red flags among the numbers that point to an end for this nice streak of his. First of all, he’s issued seven walks in his last 12.2 innings, and even during his streak his overall K:BB ratio is 44:21, which is not impressive at all. The second red flag is home runs. Wheeler allowed six homers over his first 89 IP this season, but he’s allowed five in his last 41, one each in five of his last eight starts. Finally, he pitched 168 innings in total last year and has 140 already this season. He’s just 23 years old, so the Mets will likely cap him around 180 innings (if they’re smart). Given that he’s already showing signs of fatigue (the HRs and walks being the evidence of that), you’d be smart to sell high on Wheeler to pick up another player for help elsewhere on your Fantasy team.
At this point in the season, many Fantasy managers will turn to just about any pitcher looking for a good streaming candidate. Hector Noesi may be someone you’re looking at now given how sharp he’s been recently. Over his last two starts, a total of 14.1 IP, Noesi has allowed just one earned run with a 10:4 K:BB ratio and a 0.95 WHIP. But you should be aware that Noesi hasn’t pieced together three solid outings in a row all season. Indeed, some of his better starts this year have been followed by ratio killing disasters. In fact, the entire month of July was horrendous for Noesi, with a record of 3-3, a 5.50 ERA, a 1.44 WHIP and a 24:18 K:BB ratio in 36 IP. So, if you find yourself tempted to insert Noesi for a streaming start, don’t say I didn’t warn you against it.
Now Mike Fiers, there’s a streaming candidate. He shredded the Cubbies yesterday, allowing just three hits and a walk over six shutout innings and striking out 14 batters, including four whiffs of uber prospect Javier Baez. That’s two strong starts in a row for Fiers. So, now you’re probably thinking – why does two strong starts give me a green light for Fiers but not Noesi? Funny you should ask. The answer is easy; he’s done this before. The wonderful thing about skill based assessments is that it operates under the assumption (and correctly so) that once a player displays a bona fide baseball skill, they own it and can display it again at any time. In 2012, after a rocky first five starts, Fiers put together a run of nine strong outings in which he compiled 62 innings with a 1.02 ERA with a 0.87 WHIP and a 63:14 K:BB ratio with opposing batters only hitting .188 against him. He was, in a word, untouchable. He fell apart after that and was never the same for the rest of the 2012 season and all of 2013. However, he was just as dominant in the minors this year before his promotion to the majors and I’m inclined to think he’s rediscovered the stuff that made his terrific run in 2012 possible. Jump all over him in your league if it’s not too late.
Dustin Pedroia is heating up after another so-so season from the former MVP and 2007 Rookie of the Year. With just five home runs, Pedroia is in the midst of his second straight season with greatly diminished power, but he’s again finding the stroke that made him the Red Sox offensive spark plug in their World Series winning years. He’s had 11 multi-hit games in his last 17 starts with a triple slash of .375/.408/.486. In that span he’s scored 13 runs and stole three bases. He’s struck out just 15 times in his last 159 plate appearances with a .358 OBP. If you’re looking for middle infield help via trade for the stretch run, Pedroia is an excellent target, as he always plays with a chip on his shoulder and is perfectly capable of keeping this up for the rest of the season.
Sticking with the Red Sox, Brock Holt extended his hit streak to eight games with a 2 for 4 effort yesterday. He’s hit safely in all but one of 12 August games. Holt is slashing .297/.346/.411 with 52 runs scored. He’s eligible at third base and outfield in all leagues, plus first and second base in other leagues, and there is no doubt he will continue to play and bat leadoff as he has since late May. He’s another good player to target for the stretch run for runs scored and OBP
John Axford used up another one of his nine lives yesterday. The Indians traded him to the Pirates in a waiver deal. Axford began the season as the Indians closer, saving 9 of 11 games, but he lost the job when the walks became too much for manager Terry Francona to stomach. Overall, Axford is 2-3 with a 3.92 ERA and a 51:30 K:BB ratio over 42.2 innings pitched. The Pirates won’t need Axford to close games, as Mark Melancon is firmly entrenched in that role, so Axford won’t have any Fantasy value outside of the occasional hold for leagues that use that statistic.
Cris Carter Fails Ice Bucket Challenge
There is a terrific GIF over on Deadspin.com featuring Cris Carter and Chris Berman doing the ice bucket challenge. If you’ve been living in a cave for the past couple of days, the ice bucket challenge was started by former Boston College baseball player Pete Frates to raise money for ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) research. Basically, you either dump ice over your head or make a donation to ALS (often both) and then challenge up to three others to do the same. A bunch of celebrities have taken the ice bucket challenge, including a number of ESPN employees. Carter tosses the ice and water combination completely over his head and all over Chris Berman. I guess we now know why Carter wasn’t a quarterback.