Recap: A sore knee soured the Domonic Brown recommendation, but he’s here for the long haul… Soon, I’m confident, his miniscule home run rate will rise, and his line drives should keep his average from becoming a liability.. Adam Ottavino didn’t vulture any wins, but he pitched five innings over the week and was particularly effective in three home frames versus the potent Dodgers lineup… Ottavino and Rex Brothers should tally a few more wins apiece in the bloody pitching mess in Colorado…
And now, a moment of silence for the September fantasy potential of Billy Hamilton, who isn’t likely to be appearing in Cincinnati to flash his piss-your-pants speed…Jedd Gyorko, meanwhile, is pressing as a promotion looms; he struck out in seven of his 27 at-bats this week, but still managed nine runs driven home…Can’t love him thanks to that park, but he should be a mixed-league worthy asset…Collin McHugh will be back up in early September and is worth a long, intense look after his startling debut….
Meanwhile, the big news of the week was the Jerry Sands—er, Adrian Gonzalez—blockbuster trade; Sands is technically a PTBNL, but should he make his way successfully to Pawtucket in the next few weeks, he’d be an asset splitting time between left field and first base….Joe Saunders was sent into the heat of the exciting AL East race, so Tyler Skaggs’ rotation spot is safe—that is, unless he continues to display such erratic control…A 2.92 ERA will play, but it’s mostly a mirage with his seven walks in less than 13 innings (two hit batsmen) and two home runs allowed… His fly ball tendencies displayed so far aren’t going to play well at Chase Field, especially when he catches so much of the plate on his fastballs (though Justin Ruggiano and Bronson Arroyo aren’t complaining) so if you must start him, do so when he adventures out of Arizona…
Sure enough, Gregor Blanco is being spelled by the far inferior Francisco Peguero… Javier Lopez is getting some burn in save situations on the fascinating Giants, as was promised by me…Brett Jackson is the latest all-or-nothing slugger to make way onto the fantasy radar; the prototype is often valuable in moderation, and hell, one month is defined as moderation… I’m buying… And finally, Eric Stults! A week after I teased him for pitching too much to contact, he struck out nine in 13 innings, a marked improvement from his previous four over two starts…If you’re keeping track at home, Stults is once again worthy of your attention, particularly when he takes to the always lovely PETCO.
Ronald Belisario | Dodgers | RP | 10 percent Yahoo ownership | 2.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 2.75 ERA / 1.01 WHIP / 8.08 K/9
ZIPS ROS: 3.60 ERA / 1.30 WHIP / 8.10 K/9
Probably long gone and probably in for a short run, Belisario nonetheless gets the proper and precedented treatment for those passing through the closer carousel; pick him up for a hot minute and enjoy a couple of saves. You know the drill… But why him and not Brandon League? Plain and simple, his repertoire is better than League’s (faster fastball, superior slider) and he generates ground balls like his bullpen colleague used to a few years back (which is to say he generates a ton of groundballs). That he got the first opportunity when Kenley Jansen was unavailable is telling of Manager Don Mattingly’s trust in him; plus, Jansen is hardly guaranteed a swift return.
Recommendation: To summarize, Belisario is a skilled bullpen arm with the tools to survive, but will face off, one presumes, with a former All-Star closer and an unknown time frame for the interim. Buy into the admittedly sticky situation, but don’t stake anyone who isn’t expendable. Score one for some obvious logic!
John Mayberry Jr. | Phillies | 1B-OF | 6 percent Yahoo ownership | 6.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .240 / .282 / .401
ZIPS ROS: .244 / .298 / .407
My man crush on Mayberry is well-documented and hardly explicable, but it shocked me, in case you hadn’t heard, that Charlie Manuel promised the kid full-time at-bats after a scorching second half of 2011 and failed to deliver on that promise. Once Manuel started benching Mayberry, the kid seemed to press even more, sacrificing plate discipline for the chance of a home run he so craved. When the Phillies cleaned house with their outfielders, they finally put Mayberry in charge of left-field for good. No surprise to this author that as he’s started a dozen games in a row, he’s responded positively (hitting .355 over the span). Three homers later, and he should be on your fantasy squad—no questions asked. Fine, fine, I’ll field one question. You in the red. What did Mayberry do last August-September, you ask? Nine home runs, 23 runs batted in, a couple of steals and a .301 batting average.
Recommendation: Like I said, ditch injured dead weight (Emilio Bonifacio, Matt Joyce, Peter Bourjos, David Ortiz), a struggling or demoted pitcher (Lance Lynn, perhaps), or one of those streaky teases (Colby Rasmus, Jeff Francoeur), and hope Manuel will continue to let the car drive.
Casey Kelly | Padres | SP | 1 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.4 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: 0.00 ERA / 0.83 WHIP / 6.00 K/9 (one start)
ZIPS ROS: 5.14 ERA / 1.64 WHIP / 5.79 K/9
I’ve never cared much for Kelly as a prospect, but his skill set is well tailored to his home park: most of the balls let in play are grounders, and the fly balls are likely to be swallowed up by the spacious outfield and warning track. While he’s not “a huge velocity guy,” his “smooth, efficient delivery” should help him thrive in select environments. For what it’s worth, I’d always viewed Kelly as an underperformer in the minors—his strikeout totals were often hovering at or below the seven per nine range—but this year is a different story. His major league equivalent in four starts between Double-A and Triple-A: 2.48 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, and an uncharacteristic 10.2 strikeout per nine innings ratio. My mind has been changed.
Recommendation: Any Padres pitcher can be fashioned into an asset. Kelly, someone who’s always generated at least some praise from scouts, can rise above that, ever. He’s worth grabbing despite the potential growing pains.
Jimmy Paredes | Astros | 3B | 0 percent Yahoo ownership | 0.1 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .318 / .348 / .477 (Triple-A)
ZIPS ROS: .250 / .274 / .363
Oliver believes in Paredes’ speed, so why shouldn’t you? His 34 steals in 120 Pacific Coast League games translate to a rate of 46 per full season, or .283 per game. While I wouldn’t expect any batting average help out of Paredes, a former third baseman deftly converted into a future center fielder (and current right fielder) by Jeff Luhnow and company, he’ll run on an Astros team that craves speed. If your fantasy squad is anything like the Astros in that quality (and that quality alone), Paredes is your man.
Recommendation: Despite his shortcomings, Paredes’ prowess for snagging a base will outweigh what could be an ugly average. Though he certainly lit up the PCL (hardly a major accomplishment), the hits are simply an added bonus to his main event: speed.
Yasmani Grandal | Padres | C | 9 percent Yahoo ownership | 1.5 percent ESPN ownership
YTD: .283 / .369 / .519
ZIPS ROS: .242 / .338 / .387
Got a black hole at catcher? Is Mayberry, most highly recommended source of power likely to be found, already claimed? Check if Yasmani Grandal is there for the taking. He is like any other sane hitter in his affinity for Coors Field, where he slugged two homers in a late June game; and—would you know it!—he starts a three game set there today. Three more games to come apiece in Arizona and Milwaukee make Grandal a keep-around guy in September for that rare, fleeting power from a catcher.
Recommendation: If you own Kurt Suzuki, Michael McKenry, Carlos Ruiz (for whatever reason) or Russell Martin, I’d quickly make the switch. He’s better than a number of big name backstops out there.