Before we get to the players you should consider adding, let’s throw a big name out there that deserve to be served his walking papers in your league: Justin Morneau. While he dealt with extended time on the DL in 2010, he at least mashed while in the lineup, with a .345 average and 18 HRs in 296 at-bats. This year he’s kept the injury woes but sprinkled in the batting line of a defensive-minded shortstop: .227/.285/.333 with just four HRs in 264 at-bats. Lately, concussion symptoms are keeping him benched, and it’s past time thinking he can contribute in a positive way. He’s still owned in two-thirds of Yahoo leagues, but it’s time to cut your losses.
Shallow Leagues (41-50% Owned)
Peter Bourjos hasn’t been hitting much lately, but he still offers a great blend of power and speed that could put you over the top in several categories. Ditto for Danny Espinosa, who had just four HRs and four SBs in July and August combined after recording five of each in June. On the flip side, Dustin Ackley actually is hitting, bringing his average up to .304 thanks to a ten-game hitting streak. Edwin Encarnacion makes for a great Morneau replacement as a corner infielder. At catcher, J.P. Arencibia has collected 20 HRs this year with a low average; the new Mike Napoli?
Javier Vazquez is right on the cusp of availability, jobless in 50 percent of Yahoo leagues. He just made the Mets look silly for two straight starts and looks like a great buy low heading into next season. Josh Collmenter has allowed two runs or less in six straight starts. I don’t know what’s gotten into Doug Fister, but I’m buying; strange to see a pitcher do better after he leaves Seattle. Mark Melancon and Frank Francisco are still out there collecting saves and available in far too many leagues.
Standard Leagues (21-40% Owned)
Jemile Weeks is up to 21 SBs and a .295 average in 332 at-bats. Even with no power, that’s a solid profile — it’s everything fantasy owners wanted Chone Figgins to be over the last few year. Seth Smith is coming off a seven-HR August and is hitting .355 over the last two weeks. David Murphy has gone absolutely bonkers with the bat, ranking as the second-best player over the last two weeks. He’s a great short-term option until he cools. Dexter Fowler hit his first HR of the season on August 30, and he’s followed it up with three more in the last week. Derrek Lee has come off the DL en fuego. Cliff Pennington may be rediscovering his speed, stealing bases in three straight games last week.
Rafael Betancourt should be your first pitcher target of the week, as he’s been so dominant that the Rockies can’t take him out of the closer role. He hasn’t walked a batter since July 22, and he’s only given up five hits over that span. You want this guy on your team. Brandon McCarthy is pitching better than you think — he has 20 Ks, eight hits and one walk over 17 innings in his last two starts. I cut him briefly in my main league to add Weeks’ speed for my final regular season matchup, and was ecstatic I was able to re-add him over the weekend. Mike Minor is another starting pitcher doing very well; with his age and former prospect status, you would think more people would be in on the young Brave. Bobby Parnell is having a rough time as the Mets closer, but the team should stick with him.
Deep Leagues (1-20% Owned)
Lucas Duda is doing his best Ike Davis impression, with a .281 average and nine HRs in 249 at-bats. More importantly, he has the h0rt seal of approval. Nyjer Morgan is maintaining a high average and stealing bags here and there. He even hit a homer earlier this week, so he’s capable of helping multiple areas in fantasy. Jarrod Saltalamacchia is on a power binge, with two taters in his last three games. Jon Jay has HRs in back-to-back days, giving him double-digit power and an average over .300. Pretty good for a guy available in over 90 percent of leagues. Deeper leagues should be looking at Scott Sizemore (two HRs in last four games), Trevor Plouffe (MI playing solidly) and Nick Evans (.293 with four HRs in 92 at-bats).
Jason Motte has scary-good numbers and is now getting saves, so he’s definitely worth adding for the stretch run. I’d rank him just behind Rafael Betancourt and just ahead of Sergio Romo on the “RPs you need to add” list. At SP, James McDonald has four straight quality starts, though he’s still walking too many guys. Luke Hochevar has a 3.51 ERA, 1.11 WHIP and 56:19 K:BB ratio since the All-Star break. In deeper leagues, Kenley Jansen could earn a couple saves over the last month while helping your ratios and K total.
R.J. White is the head editor at the Cafe, writes for FanDuel and Razzball and has previously written for FanHouse. Catch up with him in the forums under the name daullaz. Follow him on Twitter; don't follow him in real life.
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