|ESPN.com: Eric Karabell||[Print without images]|
Fantasy owners certainly can’t complain about Boston Red Sox outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury's production this season. Ellsbury leads the big leagues in stolen bases with 52, and he’s sprinkled in a .299 batting average, eight home runs and 89 runs scored. He's also fifth on the ESPN Fantasy Player Rater. However, like St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Allen Craig just days before, Ellsbury might be done helping fantasy owners thanks to the weekend news of a compression fracture in his right foot.
|Jacoby Ellsbury owners are not happy with news of his foot injury.|
The lack of clarity might frustrate fantasy owners the most. What if he isn’t actually done? What if he comes back in two weeks and runs wild? The Red Sox, of course, can’t say for sure, but with a large AL East lead, one would think Ellsbury wouldn’t be pushed hard. The Red Sox called up prospect Jackie Bradley Jr., the fantasy wunderkind from early April who quickly became a dropped dud, and he singled in four at-bats Saturday and singled in two at-bats Sunday, drawing a walk in each game. He doesn’t possess much power or stolen-base potential, though. Ellsbury was dealing with a sore thumb last week, had three hits and a stolen base Thursday, but hurt his foot during the game. Originally reported as inflammation, it’s obviously something worse. But Bradley is capable of getting on base and defending well, and his play might help determine when Ellsbury returns.
It’s possible that both Ellsbury and Craig, hitting .315 and sitting on 97 RBIs but hampered by a left foot sprain, return this month. But if you need the bench space immediately, you have to move on from these guys, whether it’s a head-to-head format or roto. Frankly, with so many fantasy owners moving on to football, free agency isn’t lacking for power or speed helpers. For speed, there’s always Cincinnati Reds phenom Billy Hamilton, the greatest pinch runner since Herb Washington in the 1970s. Hamilton has yet to bat in a big league game, but he’s been helpful in steals and runs, and it’s not like he’s hurting your batting average.
I’d prefer Kansas City Royals outfielder Jarrod Dyson, hitting .318 with seven steals, five runs and four RBIs in the past two weeks alone. He’s readily available in ESPN standard leagues, as are Atlanta Braves outfielder Jordan Schafer, Minnesota Twins shortstop Pedro Florimon, Miami Marlins outfielder Christian Yelich, Colorado Rockies second baseman DJ LeMahieu and Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Adam Eaton.
Box score bits (AL): Speaking of speed, Chicago White Sox shortstop Alexei Ramirez has been running all season, even while hitting in the No. 3 lineup spot. Ramirez stole his 30th base Sunday. He has six steals in 119 at-bats in the third spot. … Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer hit his 16th home run Sunday, and singled twice. His .302 batting average is the highest it has been since the first week of the season. This is definitely a top-10 first baseman for 2014 drafts. … Underrated Royals lefty Bruce Chen handled the Detroit Tigers on Sunday, permitting two runs over seven innings for his seventh win in nine decisions. Chen is barely 10 percent owned, but his ERA is 2.79 over 100 innings. … Toronto Blue Jays erratic swingman Esmil Rogers won both his starts this week without allowing a run; on Sunday he permitted three hits over 7 2/3 innings in Minnesota. Earlier in the week the Diamondbacks earned one hit off him in 6 1/3 innings. Rogers isn’t safe to own and activate, but keep an eye on him in deeper formats. … Forget about New York Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter in standard leagues. The Captain is still having ankle problems and is hitting .190. … Give Tampa Bay Rays first baseman James Loney credit; few thought the .315 batting average he amassed prior to the All-Star break would stick. Well, with his three hits Sunday he’s hitting .288 since then. Not exactly Adam Dunn. … Los Angeles Angels outfielder Kole Calhoun homered Sunday, his sixth in 38 games. He also has knocked in a run in 11 of 12 starts. Has your worst outfielder done this?
Box score bits (NL): Philadelphia Phillies first baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf had the winning hit Sunday, an eighth-inning home run, his 13th of the year. Say what you will about Ruf’s long-term future, but his 11 home runs since August began are eclipsed only by Yankees outfielder Alfonso Soriano. … Milwaukee Brewers right-hander Yovani Gallardo delivered his fifth consecutive quality start Sunday, permitting one run over seven innings at Wrigley Field. Gallardo is available in roughly a third of ESPN standard leagues, and he boasts a 1.35 ERA since returning from the disabled list in mid-August. … In case you missed it, San Francisco Giants right-hander Yusmeiro Petit, a journeyman with a career ERA on the wrong side of 5, nearly tossed a perfect game Friday night against the Diamondbacks. An Eric Chavez single with two outs in the ninth broke it up. Petit has pitched well in his brief 2013 time in the majors, and comes mildly recommended for his next outing, at home against the Rockies. … Pittsburgh Pirates outfielder Starling Marte returned from his DL stint this weekend but did not play. Marte’s injured finger remains a problem at the plate, and the Pirates might use him the way the Reds have employed Hamilton. … Pirates right-hander Charlie Morton entered Sunday having allowed no more than two runs in any of his past six outings, winning four. Then the Cardinals clubbed him for five earned runs before the second inning ended. The Pirates say Morton left with foot discomfort. It’s dangerous to trust him even if he makes his next start.