Pedro Alvarez, 3B, Pirates - Alvarez hit three home runs and knocked in eight over his last four games; and since the calendar turned to August, Alvarez has posted a 1.162 OPS. However, his home/away splits mean fantasy owners should still consider benching him when he the Pirates hit the road. Alvarez is batting .289 with nine homers at home as opposed to just a .178 average with one home run on the road. Still, his recent power surge has boosted his value and the road numbers may pick up soon; so take a look at him if you need some third base help.
Gavin Floyd, P, White Sox - Floyd has been doing a nice Josh Johnson impersonation lately, giving up two earned runs or fewer in each of his last 12 starts. Couple that with an 11 game homerless streak (86 innings) and you have a pitcher that is dominating. Floyd is historically a slow starter – he has not posted an ERA below 5.52 in April or May the last two seasons – but has righted the ship both years, this year in spectacular fashion.
Mike Minor, P, Braves - Minor will be called up for Monday’s contest at Houston and could be in line for two starts this scoring period if things go well on Monday. He posted an 11.3 K/9 rate at Double-A before a promotion to Triple-A, where he had a 9.99 K/9 rate and only gave up one home run over 33.1 innings. The lefty has the opportunity to lock down a spot in the Braves rotation for years to come if he can carry over his success to the majors.
Dan Johnson, 1B, Rays and Kila Kaaihue, 1B, Royals - I grouped these two guys together since they’re pretty similar in my mind. Both were dominating at Triple-A and making enough noise to get their respective team’s attention. Johnson connected for his first home run on Saturday after hitting 30 in the minors with Triple-A Durham, in what is known as a pitcher’s park. He batted second on Saturday, cleanup on Sunday and could get a chance to be a regular even after Carlos Pena comes off the DL. Kaaihue was batting .322 with 24 homers before his call-up and has also been batting cleanup with the Royals. Now is the time to get these guys if you need first base help.
Jeremy Hellickson, P, Rays - Both Jeff Niemann and Wade Davis are battling shoulder problems and I’m guessing at least one of them hits the DL. Hellickson was dominant in his one major league start against the Twins, and there’s an argument that he’s a better option than Davis already. Hellickson could see the mound as early as Tuesday considering he was held out of his start on Sunday for Durham. There’s been no official word yet but I’d be proactive if you need starting pitching help.
Drew Stubbs, OF, Reds - When Mark emailed me to ask me to do this column on Saturday, I instantly thought I was going to downgrade Stubbs. It was a pretty easy call, especially with rumors swirling that he was going to get sent down to the minors. When you get benched for five games in the middle of a 1-for-37 slump you’re not endearing yourself to fantasy owners. Then Stubbs decided to use the Cubs as his whipping boy once again, going 3-for-4 and hitting his 14th home run of the season on Saturday. The problem is the Reds have a glut of outfielders and Chris Dickerson (batting .442 with six SBs and three home runs over 43 Triple-A at-bats) is set to come off his rehab assignment. I think it’s tough to see Stubbs getting sent down since he’s a solid defender, has great speed, and has more upside than Jonny Gomes or Laynce Nix. Watch and see how Dusty Baker handles his roster over the next week.
Alex Rodriguez, 3B, Yankees - Lance Berkman finally gets a hit (in batting practice) and it accidentally finds Rodriguez’s leg. As a result Rodriguez was scratched from the Yanks game on Saturday and underwent X-rays, which fortunately came back negative. He’s day-to-day for now but should be monitored to see if the injury has any effect on his swing.
J.P. Arencibia, C, Blue Jays - Jonathan Paul made a splash of a debut Saturday with hits in each of his first four at-bats, including two home runs. Unfortunately this earned him the day off on Sunday in favor of Jose Molina. Many would think that Arencibia deserves be an upgrade, especially for those in leagues that start two catchers. The problem is that the Jays have said he’ll be sent down when John Buck returns from the DL. Basically you can roll the dice with Arencibia for a week. Arencibia is going to strike out a lot (over 20% at Triple-A this year) but he’s lowered that number by over four percent from last year. While he played his Triple-A ball in the PCL, 31 home runs in 379 at-bats suggests he might have some power. Oh, did I mention he tied Alex Rodriguez’s home run record in high school?
Jeff Niemann, P and Wade Davis, P, Rays - Niemann was scratched from Sunday’s start with shoulder soreness. He complained of pain in the area after Tuesday’s start and still felt soreness after playing catch on Saturday. Davis was also sent to see the team’s doctor, but the Rays are calling it a precautionary move because Davis’ velocity was down in the upper 80s in his last start instead of his typical mid-90s range.
Kevin Youkilis, 1B, Red Sox, Kris Medlen, P, Braves, Chris Coghlan, OF, Marlins, Russell Martin, C, Dodgers, and Carlos Santana, C, Indians - All are done for the season and can be safely dropped in one-year leagues. Mark has not hidden his love for Santana, and now is the perfect opportunity to try and acquire him for next season in keeper/dynasty leagues.
Jose Valverde, P, Tigers - Valverde has been terrible since the All-Star break, sporting an 11.00 ERA and giving up three home runs in only nine innings. He’s been scored upon in each of his last four outings, and his 2.06 ERA is a bit lucky considering his xFIP is 3.54. He isn’t in danger of losing his job but certainly is not helping the ratios of those who own him.
Joel Hanrahan, P, Pirates - I touted Hanrahan pretty heavily since the week before the trade deadline and picked him up in a few leagues while Octavio Dotel was on the roster. Things went according to plan; Dotel got traded and the Pirates turned to Hanrahan to close out games. Unfortunately Hanrahan got only five outs over the weekend and allowed five runs in the process. Hanrahan’s recent performance almost guarantees Evan Meek will get the next chance when a save opportunity comes along.
Bobby Jenks, P, White Sox - Jenks blew his third save of the season on Thursday, giving up a three-run home run with two outs in the ninth. After Jenks received words of encouragement from manager Ozzie Guillen on Friday, Chicago turned to J.J. Putz to get the save on Saturday. Jenks has also been dealing with a balky back, which may have been the reason Putz was called upon. The White Sox will likely give Jenks another shot but for now I don’t trust him with his back issues and arguably three better options sitting in the bullpen.
Leo Nunez, P, Marlins - I’m beginning to realize I’ve got a closer theme going here in the downgrades section. Nunez has blown both of his last two save chances (Josh Johnson owners are thrilled with him after Saturday’s debacle) and has given up four earned runs over his last three innings pitched. There is actual talk of going to a committee here with other options like Clay Hensley and Brian Sanches waiting in the wings.