This week’s Bench/Start article implores fantasy owners to take a look at Phillies’ second baseman Chase Utley. With David Bell possibly out for the season, Philadelphia finally has a spot for their young stud. While we are greeting Utley with open arms, it’s time to say farewell to Mets’ outfielder Cliff Floyd and Blue Jays’ reliever Cliff Politte. Check out the Bench/Start lineup for August 18 – August 24.
Bench: Todd Walker, 2B, Red Sox (OAK, SEA) – Manager Grady Little plans to start platooning Damian Jackson with Walker at second base, as Damian is a better fielder than Todd. Of course, the fact that Walker is hitting .185 since July 1 probably factors into the move as well. We’d expect Todd to sit at least a couple times this week, if not more, and that batting average should have him on your bench regardless.
Bench: Cliff Floyd, OF, Mets (@SD, @LA) – It appears as though we were a week early in calling out Floyd, so we’re running his name two articles in a row. Floyd decided that Monday would be his last game of the 2003 season, and he will undergo surgery on his ailing right Achilles’ tendon. See you next year, Cliff.
Bench: Mark Redman, SP, Marlins (@COL, @SF) – Redman’s only start this week comes in Colorado, where pitchers usually go to get shelled. The Rockies hit .302 at home, bat .306 against lefties (both home and away), and hold a 41-19 home record (third best in the majors). Add that all together and we foresee a rough outing for the Marlins’ lefty.
Bench: Joel Piniero, SP, Mariners (@TOR, @BOS) – Piniero makes his one start this week in Boston, where the Red Sox hit a ridiculous .323. Yes, you read that right, .323! When Piniero is not attempting to shut down the potent Boston lineup, he’ll be watching his batters face Pedro Martinez. Good luck, Joel.
Bench: Cliff Politte, RP, Blue Jays (SEA, OAK) – In case you missed the news, Politte’s days at the Blue Jays’ closer are over. Manager Carlos Tosca feels that using Scritti in the sixth through eighth innings is the perfect way to go. Seeing as how Cliff has a 5.80 ERA and has allowed 11 homers in 40.1 innings, it’s hard to argue with this move.
Start: Chase Utley, 2B, Phillies (@MIL, @STL) – The Phillies called up Utley on August 14, and he might be their everyday second baseman for the rest of the season. Chase was hitting .323 with 18 homers and 77 RBI at Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and he batted well in limited time with the big club earlier this season. If those are the kind of numbers you like out of a second baseman, we suggest grabbing Utley as soon as possible.
Start: Adrian Beltre, 3B, Dodgers (MON, NYM) – Beltre’s bat is starting to heat up (.267, four homers, 14 RBI in August), and he has traditionally hit well against Montreal (.345 lifetime). The Mets have been quite a bit harsher on Adrian (.243 lifetime), but Beltre will not have to face Tom Glavine (.217 lifetime) or Al Leiter (.222 lifetime) this week. We expect Adrian to carry his hot hitting through this homestand.
Start: Aaron Sele, SP, Angels (@CWS, @DET) – Sele is still a shell of his former self and he rarely goes more than five innings these days, but his fastball is finally starting to pick up some zip (91 mph) after offseason shoulder surgery. It won’t take much for Aaron to post six innings of good work and pick up a win this week, as he’s facing the Tigers in Detroit.
Start: Zach Day, SP, Expos (SF, @LA, @SD) – Day throws in Los Angeles this week, which is a nice park for pitchers but a tough place to pick up a win. Luckily for Day, however, he won’t have to face one of the Dodgers’ big four (Nomo, Brown, Perez, Ishii). Zach has allowed two or less runs in three straight starts, and we like Day’s odds against probable starter Wilson Alvarez.
Start: Aquilino Lopez, RP, Blue Jays (SEA, OAK) – With Cliff Politte’s official demotion, we can finally transition the closer’s tag to Lopez. Aquilino is splitting the job with Trever Miller, but Miller will only be called upon to get out the tough lefties. As such, Lopez will receive most of the opportunities. Fantasy owners should be able to use him as a third or fourth closer.