The first of two short weeks treated me pretty darn well. Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout continued their runs at the MVP and the Nationals pitching staff chipped in very well for a short five game week. Add in Ryan Braun and Mark Trumbo with very solid tallies in only five games and I am near for my league lead with a couple games left Sunday night (well, plus the All Star Game stats).
As we discussed last week, with almost every team having 5 games only due to the All Star Break, last week's strategy was really more about getting the best players under the cap in rather than the schedule, which is usually our focus in most weeks. This week will be the same as due to the Head2Head Wednesday – Tuesday schedule since the All Star Break will erase all the games on Wednesday and Thursday. The only games item to make sure to note this week is which teams have four games and to avoid them accordingly. The four gamers this week are the Braves, Cubs, Mets, A's, Giants and Rangers. The other schedule note is that of the five gamers, the Rockies and Yankees each have a full slate of home games. I imagine with another week of low games, I will keep my successful lineup fairly similar.
Catcher: It amazes me that Carlos Ruiz just keeps hitting, but I think it is a perfect week to jump on board and play him. He has been the hottest catcher in baseball the last three weeks (well, really all season) and now gets three of his five games at Coors. Of course, he is also very cheap which adds to his appeal. The only other option I would strongly consider this week is Wilin Rosario if I was looking to save even more cap at catcher. Rosario gets all five games at home and has continued to provide a nice value at his cap number.
First Base: Mark Trumbo put up a very solid 20 points in this past short week and is one of the best values in the whole game. With a trip to Yankee Stadium this week, I will certainly leave Trumbo where he is, as I see no reason to go away from him at this point. I would not argue with anyone going with the red-hot Paul Goldschmidt, but I would rather play him when the D-Backs are at home. Prince Fielder appears to be warming up with the weather and I would put him and David Ortiz on the short list of considerations if you wanted to play someone more expensive at 1B.
Second Base: It is tough to argue with what Aaron Hill has done recently, but with the Yankees being home for all five games, I am going to have to find a way to slide Robinson Cano in for this week. Cano has been scalding the last three weeks hitting .360 with eight homers in that span. Hill has been a beast, but with five road games, it seems like a good time to move in a different direction. The other strong consideration for this week would be Neil Walker. Walker has been swinging the bat very well and ends his week with two games at Coors.
Third Base: Brett Lawrie has been my one real down spot this week and he is a little banged up right now with a sore back and missed both games over the weekend. Edwin Encarnacion continues to be one of the big surprise stories of the year. He has been on fire the last three weeks and with three homes game and two games in Yankee Stadium this week, I love saving some cap and going with Ency this week. On the pricier end, Ryan Zimmerman has finally started to heat up and Miguel Cabrera is always an excellent option if you can afford him. If you wanted to go a little bit outside of the box this week at 3B, both Aramis Ramirez and Alex Rodriguez have full weeks at home. A-Ram in particular has finally started to warm as he usually does each summer.
Shortstop: Asdrubal Cabrera has not done a lot this week, but continues to be a solid play at SS. The best SS in baseball by far the last few weeks is Ian Desmond. Desmond has hit over .365 with seven homers the last three weeks, just dominating a weak position. The other option to consider this week is Jimmy Rollins who has broken out of his early season slump and gets the always-lovely weekend series in Coors. If you wanted to really go against the field, one could consider Yuniesky Betancourt with five home games for the Royals. Betancourt's average is always an issue, but he has been driving in a ton of runs lately.
Outfield: With games played being the same, it is really tough to argue with my current OF group of Ryan Braun, Andrew McCutchen and Mike Trout. Braun is expensive, but racks up the points to be worthy of his salary. McCutchen is hitting an utterly ridiculous .474 the last three weeks with power. Just to sweeten the pot a little bit, Cutch also gets a couple of games at Coors this week. Trout is about the biggest slam-dunk there is when you factor in his price. He is performing like a Top 5 players for a very non-top-5 player price. He will certainly stay in my lineup this week. My 4th OF this week was Jose Bautista. He has not had a great week, but he has been so good over the last month with the homer barrage that I assumed I would try and keep him in with three home games and then a trip to Yankee Stadium. However, with the Rockies home all week, I had to swap Joey Bats out for Carlos Gonzalez
The Colby Rasmus breakout just keeps happening. If you do not like the five outfielders mentioned already, Rasmus is an excellent option this week with the Toronto schedule already noted. Another guy to consider is Shin-Soo Choo, who has finally gotten hot for the first time since about 2010. Choo has been over .400 for the last three weeks and is also finding his power stroke. With a trip to Toronto for the weekend, the schedule looks good on paper, but do note the left-handed Choo does face three lefties in his five games. Speaking of finally breaking out, how about Alex Rios? The maddeningly inconsistent, but talented OF, is on fire right now and might be finally having that season we have all been waiting for him for years. He makes for a nice play this week too, although I would like him a little more if he were at US Cellular instead of on the road. Two other guys who have been very valuable lately are Jason Kubel and Matt Holliday. If you have some extra cap, Holliday has been mashing lately and gets a trip to Great American Ballpark over the weekend, which is usually a very nice place to hit. If you want go a little cheaper, Kubel has been fantastic lately, although as noted above with Goldschmidt, the D-Backs are on the road this week, which lowers my excitement for him this week.
Pitching Staff: The Nationals did the trick this week with 50+ points in the short week. With another short week this week, we will have no two-start pitchers to break down, so again, we will look at schedule and look for a solid and deep rotation. The Nationals remain an excellent play with their staff of young strikeout artists and their affordable price tag. The Nats have four games in spacious new Marlins Park, which became even more appealing with the injury to Giancarlo Stanton. The Dodgers are another team that is a nice play this week as they get the weak-hitting Padres for a weekend series. The Dodgers' pitching has been solid even as their hitting has gone south with the injuries to Matt Kemp and Andre Ethier. Clayton Kershaw has been a little off lately, but a little off to Kershaw still puts him top 10 in the NL in ERA. I don't trust Chad Billingsley and Aaron Harang, but it's amazing what facing the Padres can do to pitchers. Coming out of the break, there are not many other staffs that jump out to me. The Diamondbacks could work with a trip to Wrigley in the mix, but I do not totally trust their staff and they also travel to Cincinnati. The team with the best schedule is the Astros with trips to San Francisco and San Diego, but no way can I trust their staff enough to play them here. After staring at all the teams, I think it really comes down to the Nats and the Dodgers and I decided to just stick with Washington and not fix something that is not broken.
Short week with very few changes, but here is where I ended up. A bit under the cap, but I like the options I have in the lineup.
C: Carlos Ruiz ($6.9)
1B: Mark Trumbo ($6.1)
2B: Robinson Cano ($9.5)
3B: Edwin Encarnacion ($6.8)
SS: Ian Desmond ($7.3)
OF: Ryan Braun ($12.0)
OF: Andrew McCutchen ($10.3)
OF: Mike Trout ($7.0)
Flex: Carlos Gonzalez
P: Washington Nationals ($19.2)