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Insider

Teixeira returns; Cobb finishes strong

10/2/2012

New York Yankees first baseman Mark Teixeira returned to the lineup Monday and hammered his 24th home run. Teixeira, who played in one game during the past month as he dealt with a calf strain, is no longer a terrific fantasy option, not with annual low batting averages, but get him active the final few days and expect a return to 30 home runs next year.

Tampa Bay Rays right-hander Alex Cobb shut down the Baltimore Orioles Monday, allowing two hits and a run in seven innings. Cobb doesn't get the attention of other Rays rotation members, but he won seven games after the All-Star break with a 3.40 ERA, and the 24-year-old has strikeout growth left. Consider Cobb a 2013 sleeper.

Chicago White Sox lefty Hector Santiago finished his interesting rookie season by tossing seven shutout innings in Cleveland Monday, allowing one hit and striking out 10. Santiago, 24, is probably more organizational arm than future star, but he started the year closing games in the big leagues and clearly can miss bats. Think of him in deeper leagues in 2013.

• Quick, name the lone double-digit winner on the lowly Houston Astros: It's right-hander Lucas Harrell, who closed strong Monday with six shutout innings of two-hit ball at Wrigley Field. Harrell's first full season was a success, with a 3.76 ERA and 140 strikeouts in 32 starts. Things should get tougher as the Astros move to the AL West next season, but if Harrell, 27, cuts down on the walks, there's upside left.

Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte homered and tripled Monday, raising his batting average to .253 in 45 games. The rookie has walked only eight times versus 47 strikeouts, helping to explain the low batting average, but he brings a nice power/speed combination, drawing comparisons with Tampa Bay's Desmond Jennings. Marte, 23, might be a bit overrated next season, but there's no denying he can make an impact in fantasy.

Milwaukee Brewers outfielder Norichika Aoki, technically a rookie himself at 30, hit three singles and stole his 29th base Monday. Aoki barely played in April but since then has been a top-30 outfielder, offering modest power and speed. Look for Aoki to continue his success next year, when he'll likely slip well outside the top 30 outfielders on draft day.