- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy smacked a grand slam and knocked in seven runs Thursday, although his team still lost at Wrigley Field. Lucroy, the No. 9 catcher on the Player Rater yet available in more than half of ESPN's standard leagues, has continued to hit (.309 in August) since returning in July from a hand injury.
Brewers teammate Rickie Weeks went 5-for-5 with a pair of doubles and four runs Thursday, raising his lowly batting average from .213 to .222. Weeks has had a miserable season and isn't even a top-20 second baseman on the Rater, but he is hitting .280 in August and can provide modest power.
Washington Nationals right-hander Edwin Jackson struck out 10 St. Louis Cardinals over eight innings Thursday, allowing one unearned run and lowering his ERA to 3.53. Jackson has pitched better than his 8-9 record this year with a 1.16 WHIP and pace for 173 strikeouts, but he remains available in more than a quarter of ESPN leagues. Jackson has 29 strikeouts over three starts.
Baltimore Orioles left-hander Zach Britton won his third consecutive start Thursday, permitting one run over eight innings against the Chicago White Sox. Britton fanned 10 and didn't walk anyone, and lowered his ERA to 4.80. That's still way too high, but in his past three outings covering 21 2/3 innings, his ERA is 1.24. Britton was sent to Triple-A after the game but will start next week against Toronto, and isn't a bad option.
Boston Red Sox first baseman James Loney hit his first American League home run Thursday, a solo shot off the Los Angeles Angels' Zack Greinke. Loney was 3-for-4, and while we can mock his place as the team's cleanup hitter, he has knocked in runs in four of his five Red Sox games and should continue to do so if used this way. He's not Adrian Gonzalez, but those in AL-only formats or deep leagues can gain value here.
Toronto Blue Jays right-hander Carlos Villanueva continues to be a valuable pickup in deep leagues; he tossed six shutout innings against the Tampa Bay Rays Thursday to earn his first win in six August outings, but his numbers for the month were fine (3.71 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 36 K's in 37 innings). Villanueva is readily available and also worth spot-starting.
Have a great holiday weekend!