- Eric Karabell, ESPN.com Senior Writer
Most of us tend to look only at the pitching matchups heading into any given weekend as a way of discussing a series, but there's much more than that. Sure, I can't wait to see what Daisuke Matsuzaka and John Lackey do to the poor Seattle Mariners this weekend -- can you imagine, after the way these guys have been recently, if both got lit up? -- and there are number of other pitchers I'm keeping closer than normal tabs on (Ted Lilly, Joel Pineiro and New York Yankees right-handers A.J. Burnett and Ivan Nova among them), but here are some hitters to watch as well.
Rajai Davis, OF, Toronto Blue Jays: The speedster ESPN Fantasy projected to end up tied for the fifth-most stolen bases in baseball was activated off the 15-day DL Friday, after missing a few weeks with a sprained ankle. He's owned in fewer than half of ESPN's standard leagues. See what I'm getting at? A potential 50-steal guy might be sitting there on free agency in your league? Don't wait! Go check now, and then of course come back to finish reading this blog. (OK, are you back?) Davis is presumably starting instead of stopgap Corey Patterson in center field immediately, but I also want to see how the DH situation is handled with Travis Snider being unceremoniously demoted -- seems awfully quick to me -- and David Cooper getting the call after hitting .395 at Triple-A Las Vegas. The point is, if Davis swipes a few bases this weekend, by Monday it's too late to add him.
Rene Tosoni, OF, Minnesota Twins: Hey, when desperation sets in, try anything, right? The offensively challenged Twins are already missing Joe Mauer and Delmon Young, and Jim Thome might be joining them on the DL with an oblique injury. Tosoni, recalled Wednesday, gets a chance, and he did hit 15 home runs at Double-A New Britain in 2009. Stranger things have happened. Those in deeper leagues are always looking for lightning in a bottle, and Tosoni, a lefty hitter who played both ends of Thursday's twinbill, could be it. I mean, when Denard Span was recalled, after looking pretty much average in the minor leagues, did you have expectations there? I'm also watching first baseman Justin Morneau, because if he if he keeps hitting only singles (no homers this season, one double since April 14), the Twins might sit him down as well and protect the investment.
All San Francisco Giants outfielders except Terry Whitfield: Look, hot prospect Brandon Belt might have gotten a raw deal being shipped back to Triple-A Fresno, and he is hitting well there (.429 batting average, 1.579 OPS in five games) while also playing both corner outfield spots capably. As for current Giants, Cody Ross has a .415 OPS since coming off the DL (Belt was doing better), Pat Burrell seems one 2-for-25 streak away from losing all his playing time, and Aaron Rowand's recent strong play kind of defines sell-high. Plus, Andres Torres is on the DL and is guaranteed nothing upon his return, since his 2010 was such a monumental surprise. I'm just saying nobody is safe, and Belt has more offensive upside than any of these fellows, and the 12-12 Giants could panic/do the right thing. In a league with 12 or more teams and especially an NL-only format, Belt should remain owned on your bench for his inevitable return.
As for pitchers, we're always watching them. Cleveland Indians right-hander Justin Masterson has won all five of his starts and is scheduled to meet the Detroit Tigers on Sunday. What if he gets lit? How quickly will his considerable ownership run away? Probably as fast as the Kyle Lohse, Josh Tomlin and Bartolo Colon owners would. As for closers, let's just say I added Vicente Padilla in a deep league, and actually feel OK about it. Those were words I had never typed before.
Have a great weekend!