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Wait, What? It’s Still Baseball Season?

It’s only natural, right? Septembers approaching, there’s football games on TV. Your favorite head-to-head team has slipped off of the playoff bubble… oh my, I take that back, I love all my wonderful fantasy teams equally! But anyway, the invites have been sent. The debates begin. I’ll admit it. We are guilty too. As August approaches, the collective mind of the fantasy community shift to one thing and one thing only: football. Yes, it’s the unavoidable lull as the summer wears on and the head-to-head playoffs approach. More and more owners check out of their baseball leagues, jump into a mock draft frenzy, obsess over rankings and comb over their cheatsheets.

It’s times like these. however, that baseball championships are won and lost. The waiver wire is ripe with streaking talent. Throw out you season long projections, we are now down to a six-week season. In May, we preach small sample size… don’t get caught up in the numbers, this guy is getting lucky, that guy is turning things around. Well with so few games left, you are going to need a little bit of luck. But a bit patience and a little time investment can help too.

Not only is this one of my favorite time of year as a fantasy sports fan, it’s also the most critical time of year in both baseball and football. Chasing down that championship ring is goal number one and even if you think you are down and out come September 1, alot can happen in a few short weeks. Aside from immediate goals, players emerge and performances shift down the stretch that will go largely unnoticed in the draft room next March.

To guide you through, we’re tossing out the fancy format… it’s nothing but bullets from here on out.

Around the League

  • Closer News:  Late word last night out of Colorado indicates that closer Rafael Betancourt may have have torn ligaments in his elbow. It would go a ways towards explaining his awful performance against the Phillies in recent days, blowing back-to-back saves.  Rafael Betancourt has been pretty awful, blowing back to back saves against the Phillies, Rex Brother will take over the closer… Edward Mujica is having some issues with his back. The injury is apparently not serious, but Trevor Rosenthal is a decent stash in the meantime.
  • Giancarlo Stanton is getting hot. Like red-hot. He’s working a nine-game hitting streak, mashed three home runs in the last six nights and had posted three straight multi-hit efforts before getting “just” a double against Clayton Kershaw Thursday afternoon. He bottomed out with a .237/.350/.435 slash line just last week, and now looks capable of making a run at his third-straight 30-homer season. And yes, that would be 14 bombs over the last six weeks, he’s fully capable of that.
  • Martin Prado… too little too late. A guy who I was all over in the preseason, offering a little bit of everything for you fantasy lineup, did just about everything to crush owners during the first three months of the season. At the end of June, he held a pitiful .246/.296/.348 slash line with just 32 runs scored and 26 RBI in his first 78 games. He also had just six home runs and a single steal in 305 at-bats. Since, Prado is a .351/.406/.540 hitter with six home runs and a pair of steals in 43 games played. Basically, he’s matched his production in hits, doubles, home runs, walks and steals from the first 78 games, in the past 43 games. Prado’s 5×5 line is creeping back up towards respectability and despite the fact that he’s come nowhere close to the 17 steals he had in 2012, Prado’s average and power should be right back to where we expected.It’s a bit too late for a couple of my head-to-head teams that carried Prado’s dead bat for the first three months of these season, but the bad taste he’s left in many owner’s mouths will only help him back on my team for another go-round in 2014.
  • Jason Heyward, another preseason target of mine, will miss all of the remaining regular season schedule after breaking his jaw earlier this week. He had surgery Wednesday to correct the issue with the hopes that he would be available in time for the Braves playoff run. Fantasy owners heading into the draft next season will likely fixate on the .253-60-13-37-2 line that Heyward has posted in 2013 and ignore the blistering .345/.418/.586 performance he’s put up in his last 23 games since being moved to the top of the order. The talent remains for Heyward to contribute top-10 numbers in the outfield, but he likely won’t cost that much next year.

Working the Wire

It’s an abridged waiver wire Friday this week and whether your looking to replace an injured Joe Mauer or just looking for some extra pop to fill out your lineup, it’s all about production at this point in the season. Ride ’em while they’re hot!

Bats

  • Wilson Ramos (WAS) 18% owned: .317 average in his past 10 games, with eight homers and an .806 OPS in 46 games this year.
  • Justin Maxwell (KC) 7% owned: Maxwell has put up a sizzling .389/.450/.778 slash line in 15 games since joining the red-hot Royals.
  • Donnie Murphy (CHC) 18% owned: Murph has brought a hot bat to the hot corner in Chicago and after last night’s bomb, he’s got eight home runs in 16 games this year. Ride that streak.
  • Will Venable (SD) 39% owned: A sizzling .348/.381/.625 slash since the all-star break to go along with six homers and five steal ahs made Venable one of the most valuable outfielders over the past month. Unfortunately, he does’t see many at-bats (and can’t really hit) left-handed pitching so his true value is limited to those with deep benches. Still, if you can afford to mix and match, the Pads’outfielder can help you.
  • Nate Schierholtz (CHC) 39% owned: Like Venable, Nate is a platoon bat at best, and really loses value in leagues with shallow benches. Hard to argue witha .274-49-18-58-6 5×5 line over 361 at-bats though.
  • Khris Davis (Mil) 11%owned: Apparently the other Khris Davis can mash too with a .648 SLG over 71 at-bats.
  • Emilio Bonifacio (KC) 16% owned: Six steals in his past eight games with the Royals… argh, I’m back in!

Arms

  • Jonothan Niese (NYM) 36% owned: Back to back games with nine strikeouts giving him 18:4 K/BB with 2 ER in his last 13 IP. Next three: vs. PHI, @WSH, @ CLE.
  • Mark Buerhle (CHW) 20% owned: Five QS in his last seven turns. Next three: @ HOU, vs. KC, @MIN.
  • Alex Wood (ATL) 40% owned: One of fewer earned runs in his lastfour starts with 6+ IP in each. 23:5 K/BB over that span. Next three: vs. CLE, vs. MIA, @ PHI.
  • Kelvin Herrera (KC) 5% owned: Electric setup man can help trim your ratios and holds a 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIP with 26 K in 20 IP since the break.

News & Notes

Ryan Howard is not expected expected to return this season. The Big Dog would do himself well to take some time to get completely healthy… Wandy Rodriguez is slated for a visit with Dr. James Andews… Brandon Beachy, scratched from his next start, is also slated for a visit with Dr. Andrews in the coming days… Catcher Kurt Suzuki is headed back west after being traded back to Oakland on Thursday.

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