Monday, August 26, 2013
Bits: Brewers sleepers emerging; Tulo sits
By Eric Karabell
The Milwaukee Brewers certainly aren't playoff-bound, but it hasn't stopped several of their more unheralded players from becoming interesting in fantasy baseball. Right-hander Marco Estrada dominated the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday, allowing one hit over seven shutout innings and striking out nine, while outfielder Khris Davis and second baseman Scooter Gennett made important contributions as the Brewers took the weekend series.
Estrada has had quite the August so far, posting a 1.87 ERA over four starts and striking out 21 in 24 innings. He was a popular deep-league sleeper this season after finishing 2012 with a 3.64 ERA, 1.14 WHIP and 143 strikeouts in 138 1/3 innings, but he was terrible in April and likely dumped in most leagues. His ERA at the All-Star break was 5.32, then he missed July with back and hamstring injuries. He's clearly fine now, though. Estrada has been someone worth buying for weeks, with an xFIP a full run below his ERA and a track record for accruing strikeouts. He's a fly ball pitcher who has been a bit unlucky in terms of home runs allowed, and after beating the Reds, he shouldn't be overwhelmed by the Los Angeles Angels or Chicago Cubs his next few outings. Consider him a spot starter in 10- and 12-team leagues and a worthy add in 14-team formats.
[+]Enlarge AP Photo/Al Behrman Khris Davis has a 1.253 OPS in the month of August.
Davis is the most added player in ESPN standard leagues, as the modest power he exhibited in the minor leagues has so far translated well in the big leagues. Davis cracked a pair of two-run home runs Friday night and has hit .392 with six home runs in August, after hitting .255 with 13 home runs in 69 games for Triple-A Nashville. OK, so he's due for some regression, but he has decent plate discipline and Ryan Braun isn't coming back anytime soon to take his job, so add Davis while he's hot.
I think some people are drawn to Gennett because they want to add a guy named Scooter. It's fun, right? Well, he's not a speed demon, despite the moniker, but he does have some pop in his bat. Gennett homered Friday and has five blasts in his first 100 at-bats with the big club, with a .317 batting average (.415 in August). He won't continue to hit like this for long, but he could stick as the leadoff hitter and run a bit, and hey, what's your team's middle infielder doing? Gennett certainly isn't overwhelmed by big league pitching, and he has close to the same Player Rater value as fellow Brewer Jean Segura over the past month.
Box score bits (NL): Awesome Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki missed Sunday's game because of oblique soreness. Uh oh. For now, don't assume a DL stint is pending, but this is not a durable player, either. Philadelphia Phillies right-hander Roy Halladay returned after shoulder surgery and was reasonably effective against the Arizona Diamondbacks on Sunday, allowing two runs and four hits over six innings. Halladay's velocity remains low, however, so be careful about activating him for his next outing at Wrigley Field. Reds lefty Tony Cingrani was placed on the disabled list Sunday with lower back pain, and Greg Reynolds replaced him. You don't want Reynolds. Cingrani doesn't figure to miss much time, and he should return before colleague Johnny Cueto, so keep him around for the head-to-head playoffs. New York Mets catcher Travis d'Arnaud blasted his first big league home run Sunday, a two-run shot off Detroit Tigers right-hander Rick Porcello. The rookie isn't getting many hits, but given his plate discipline, the best is yet to come, though I wouldn't call him a top-10 catcher the rest of the way. Those owning Mets closer LaTroy Hawkins can't be pleased by Sunday's outing in a non-save situation; he permitted five runs and retired just one hitter. Still, he's the saves guy there. Miami Marlins outfielder Justin Ruggiano, who recently ended an 0-for-42 skid, homered and stole a base Sunday. It's a shame Ruggiano struggled so much in July; he now has 15 home runs and 13 steals. Only 10 big leaguers have more of each. San Francisco Giants right-hander Ryan Vogelsong allowed a mere two singles over eight shutout innings in beating the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. Vogelsong has ghastly season numbers, but three of his four outings since coming off the DL for a broken hand have been good. He can help in deeper formats.
[+]Enlarge AP Photo/Ted S. WarrenScott Kazmir ranks 96th among starting pitchers on the ESPN Player Rater for 2013.
Box score bits (AL):Cleveland Indians lefty Scott Kazmir rebounded from two rough outings with six innings of one-run ball against the Minnesota Twins on Sunday. Kazmir struck out eight. Perhaps the extra rest was all he needed. Still, he does not come recommended. Oakland Athletics third baseman Josh Donaldson delivered the rare combo meal (for him) of a home run and a steal Sunday, a first for him. Donaldson, who hadn't stolen a base since April, seems back on track after slumping the first half of August; he has 10 RBIs in his past eight games. A's outfielder Josh Reddick says it's 50-50 that he might need a DL stint for a wrist problem that forced him to leave Sunday's game. Daric Barton could see time at first base, with Brandon Moss moving to right field, but watch for Nate Freiman. He has pop and can take a walk, though he hasn't played much in August. Chicago White Sox lefty John Danks beat the Texas Rangers on Sunday, allowing two runs over six innings. Earlier in the week, Danks beat the Kansas City Royals. In his first 16 starts, he won twice. Danks isn't a top-60 starting pitcher, but his ERA was a solid 3.14 in six August starts. Houston Astros right-hander Chia-Jen Lo blew his second save Sunday, allowing a hit and three walks against the Toronto Blue Jays. The situation remains fluid, but look for Josh Fields to get a save chance soon. Really, fantasy owners should ignore the Houston bullpen.