Troy Tulowitzki, SS, Rockies - There isnít a hotter player in the league right now than Tulowitzki. After batting .417 during August, Tulowitzki has hit .467 with eight home runs over his last nine games. The scary thing about him is the fact that he has not reached his full potential yet at the age of 25. Only the presence of Hanley Ramirez prevents Tulowitzki from being the top fantasy option at shortstop.
Jorge De La Rosa, P, Rockies - Sticking with the Rockies (I could have put Huston Street here too), JDLR has been nothing short of filthy lately. He has a 3.11 ERA over his last 10 starts and is averaging a strikeout per inning. He is a big reason why the Rockies are again making a late-season push for the playoffs.
Brett Anderson, P, Athletics Ė At the beginning of August, if you would have been given the choice of either Anderson or Cliff Lee the rest of the way, Lee would have been the obvious answer. With valuable 20/20 hindsight, Anderson has actually proven to be the better option. He appears to be over his early-season injury woes and has strung together a solid six weeks and eight starts. Over that time, Andersonís ERA is 2.71, and he has a 37:13 K:BB ratio. Itís scary to think how good he could be if he stays healthy for an entire season.
Jeremy Guthrie, P, Orioles - One of the more under-the-radar pitchers in the league, Guthrie has been one of the leagueís more effective starters over the second-half. After throwing seven shutout innings on Saturday, en route to his 10th win, Guthrie now holds a 2.29 ERA since the All-Star break. He is not going to strike out a ton of batters but is a serviceable option for the stretch run.
Carlos Marmol, P, Cubs - Marmol successfully closed out his sixth straight game on Saturday night, lowering his ERA to 2.93. He now has 119 strikeouts over 67.2 innings (a 15.83 K/9 rate), making him even more valuable in fantasy circles. I went back and checked out his advanced stats because I seemed to remember fluke hits and ground balls finding holes during the few saves heís blown. For once I was right; his ERA should be even better considering his .346 BABIP is 85 points higher than his career average. With the ridiculous strikeout rate and an inflated BABIP, I canít think of a reason not to treat him as a top-3 closer next year.
Matt Thornton, P, White Sox - Bobby Jenks is out for an undetermined amount of time with an injury, which elevates Thornton into the closer for time being. Thornton will get the chance to accumulate saves, but his peripheral numbers also help his value. If you need saves, plug him into your lineup for the upcoming scoring period.
B.J. Upton, OF, Rays - Itís easy to call Upton a bust this season when his .238 batting average jumps out at you. However, everything outside of that stat screams fantasy stud. He has flashed some power at the plate lately with four home runs over his last six games, which gives him 17 for the year. Throw in 39 stolen bases and 80 runs scored as well. The average will likely always be a concern given Uptonís 30 percent strikeout rate, but itís hard to find many players with 30/40 potential.
Rick Porcello, P, Tigers - Porcello tweaked a tendon in his index finger last Thursday, putting his next start in jeopardy. If Porcello was not dinged up, I may have upgraded him this week. The fact is he has made big strides during the season. Porcello posted an ugly 6.14 ERA before the break, but he has dropped that number to 4.09 since mid-July. Itís easy to forget that the kid turned 21 last December and has an excellent pedigree. He is definitely a guy you will want to consider hanging onto in keeper leagues.
Joel Hanrahan, P, Pirates - Hanrahan has been given the opportunity to claim the closerís role for Pittsburgh, but he has done nothing to indicate heís ready to handle the pressure that comes with taking the mound in the ninth. Hanrahan is only 4-for-8 in save opportunities and had a 5.73 ERA during August. Still, the Pirates arenít playing for anything, so his leash likely still has some length to it. Just remember that Evan Meek is securely tied to the other end of that leash.
Josh Johnson, P, Marlins - Word is that Johnson will miss his scheduled start on Wednesday and could be shut down for the season with the Marlins playing for nothing. Something hasnít been right for a while with Johnson, as indicated by his 4.46 August ERA in six starts. Maybe it is his balky back thatís hindered him, or maybe heís losing faith in the bullpen that routinely blows games for him, but it is too bad heís slowed down lately because he was a candidate for the NL Cy Young Award. If Johnson is healthy next season thereís no reason not to put him among the top 5 starting pitchers.
Johan Santana, P, Mets - Santana will require season-ending surgery on a torn anterior capsule in his shoulder. After having control issues early in the season, Santana has turned things around nicely. Santana walked 2.90 batters per nine over the first half and has reduced that to 1.75 batters per nine over the second half, in part because he has been more effective with his changeup. That being said, shoulder surgery is never good for a pitcher on the wrong side of 30, and he will have to come at a big discount to make it on any of my teams next year.
Josh Hamilton, OF, Rangers - Hamilton was in the MVP discussion before crashing into an outfield wall and injuring his ribs. He has missed seven games since, and it is unclear when he will play again. It looks like a return next weekend would be the earliest he will come back, which makes him a bench player during the upcoming week. It is also never certain that this rib injury wonít affect his swing when he does return.
C.J. Wilson, P, Rangers - Since the beginning of the year, Iíve been calling for Wilsonís downfall over the second half. Nothing against the guy, itís just that it is difficult to throw a lot of quality innings after transitioning into a starting role. Wilson has struggled over his last two starts, giving up 10 earned runs over 8.1 innings Ė good for a 10.80 ERA. Wilson has now thrown 180 innings this year after logging 188.1 over his past three seasons combined. Taking this into account, Iím wary of starting him over the final weeks.
Justin Masterson, P, Indians - Masterson has been moved to the bullpen in order to keep a limit on his innings this year. The Indians have received criticism regarding the use of their young players this year, but this is one of their smarter moves. Masterson will have little value from here on out but has a huge ceiling for years to come. After struggling to start the year, Masterson posted a 2.95 ERA over his last seven starts. With most people looking at his overall stats heading into next season, remember the improvement when itís your turn to draft.