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Insider

Jonathan Lucroy vastly underowned

8/21/2012

Milwaukee Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy smacked two home runs and knocked in four Monday, raising his surprising batting average to .328. Lucroy was hitting .345 when he broke his hand and missed nearly two months, and has slowed over the past three weeks. However, he enters Tuesday a top-10 catcher, yet owned in barely 20 percent of ESPN standard leagues.

Similarly, Seattle Mariners outfielder Michael Saunders homered twice and knocked in four Monday, but there's a big difference between him and Lucroy. Saunders is hitting .248, though he has raised that mark 11 points in four days. Saunders is on pace for 17 home runs and 22 steals, and is just outside the top-50 outfielders for the season on the Player Rater. He's owned in 6.2 percent of leagues.

Oakland Athletics right-hander Brandon McCarthy seemed a wise fantasy option at home Monday against the Minnesota Twins, but 10 hits and six runs later, his ERA rose from 2.68 to 3.16. McCarthy had been notably stellar in home games, but told reporters he had nothing in the first inning; assuming health, which is dangerous with him, his next outing is scheduled at Tampa Bay, and he's still worth using.

Texas Rangers right-hander Ryan Dempster bounced back with his best outing in the American League, holding the Baltimore Orioles to one run in eight innings. Dempster permitted four hits and fanned six after his start was pushed back a few days due to personal reasons. Dempster remains a bit risky for fantasy owners, so don't be surprised if his next outing against the surprisingly offensive-minded Twins is a step back.

Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Juan Pierre had three hits, three runs scored and stole two bases Monday, and continues to be vastly overlooked. Pierre has stolen 31 bases this season, the 11th time in his career he's reached 30, and he's two off the NL lead. He's also hitting .312 and showing no signs of slowing down, yet is owned in 17.9 percent of leagues. Add Pierre if you need batting average and steals help.

And finally, San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy summoned lefty Javier Lopez for Monday's one-out save. Lopez induced an Andre Ethier ground out after Hanley Ramirez homered off right-hander Sergio Romo. Don't expect Bochy to rely on any one pitcher for the bulk of saves with Santiago Casilla out.