I often preach to make sure to check your lineup very near the deadline just to make sure no late injuries pop up. Well, I failed to heed my own advice this week. After hitting the submit button after writing this article, I failed to check it again and as a result, I ate a whole week of zeroes from Davis Ortiz. Mistakes like that just cannot happen, especially in a league where overall points are very significant. Luckily for me, some of our other plays have paid off well and I am still winning my matchup and near the top of my Head2Head league, but any other player in Ortizís spot at his salary and I am smoking the league this week. Frustrating to say the least considering it was entirely avoidable.
Oh well, I have to move on from that one and letís see what went well this week. The brightest spot has been Ryan Zimmerman, a bit of an outside the box call who has a ridiculous 40 points with two games still remaining. The Nationals pitching staff has been solid again with 40 points and Mike Trout (shocker), Buster Posey and Aaron Hill have all chipped in with very strong weeks. On the flip side, my two pricey outfielders, Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen have been horrible and combined for 13 points. I suppose Cutch was overdue for a quiet week and he has done a lot more good for us than bad.
Looking at Week 17, there are fewer seven-game weeks this week compared to last week. Twelve teams have seven-game weeks with the best schedules looking like Arizona and Toronto, who get five home games each. The Brewers also look like a nice play this week with six of their seven games at Miller Park. The Tigers could also be interesting this week with seven games and road trips to Cleveland, Toronto and Boston. The Rockies and Phillies are the only two teams with five games, so make sure to get anyone on those two teams out of your lineup.
Catcher: The high-end catchers are finally getting their revenge on the rest of the field. Joe Mauer, Brian McCann and Buster Posey have been the three best catchers this month and even Carlos Santana looks like he might finally be getting hot. All of these guys are viable plays this week, but all of them only have six games. Miguel Montero is a nice schedule play this week, but he has been struggling recently, hitting under .230 so far in July. If you are looking for a slightly cheaper alternative, JP Arencibia has been hot recently and has a nice schedule. He appears to be the best cheaper play this week. If you wanted to get really cheap at catcher, Salvador Perez has been very solid for the Royals since returning form injury, but he does only have six games on the schedule this week.
First Base: Looks like second-half Mark Teixeira has fully arrived as Teix is hitting .345 in July with six HR. He has six games this week, but with five of those six at home, I could see him being a play this week. Albert Pujols and Mark Trumbo continue to be good options and although they only have six games also, they do get a couple games in Texas to close out the week, which is always a nice bonus. Among the seven game options, Price Fielder looks like the best high-end option as he has been hot recently and faces six righties this week with no pitchers I am really afraid of. On the cheaper side with seven games, Paul Goldschmidt remains a nice play although he has cooled a bit with only one HR and six RBI in 16 July games.
Second Base: Somehow, Neil Walker just continues to rake. Walker is hitting .420 in July and leads all second baseman with four home runs in the month. He has seven games this week and gets to face the Astros and Cubs this week. He is a very strong play. Ben Zobrist has come around a little bit this month, but is still hitting for a low average. However, he has tossed in five stolen bases and somehow has 14 walks, which have been padding his point totals. He has seven games this week also, but I donít love his matchups going to Anaheim and Oakland. Aaron Hill continues to hit well and has a nice schedule this week with five of his seven games at home. Among the six gamers, I would consider Brandon Phillips with a trip to Coors Field over the weekend and Robinson Cano with five of his six in Yankee Stadium.
Third Base: For the last month, this position has been Ryan Zimmerman, Miguel Cabrera and then everyone else. In July, Zimm is hitting .409 and nine bombs and Miggy is at .397 with seven bombs. I canít argue against anyone who wants to stick with Zimm after how well he has treated us this week, but I think I will swap over to Miggy for the extra game if I can afford him. If you wanted to go cheaper, both the Blue Jays guys are solid plays this week. Edwin Encarnacion has been a lot hotter than Brett Lawrie, but both of them are in play for a seven game week. In fact, I may consider using one of them at Flex this week and play two 3B. One additional interesting out-of-left-field possible play is Pedro Alvarez. His average will never be good, but luckily, we can overcome that in Head2Head, and his power just continues to be solid this year.
Shortstop: This position just keeps getting worse with word now that Ian Desmond is out a minimum of two weeks and has landed on the DL. It is incredible looking at how low the total production is at SS in comparison to any other position. Desmond was the best SS so far in July, but he is clearly not an option this week. Looking over the best stats at SS for the last 3-4 weeks, it really is tough with guys like Alcides Escobar and Jhonny Peralta in the mix among Jimmy Rollins and Jose Reyes. I think it probably makes sense to just go cheap at SS since even the more expensive guys are not producing enough to be worth the tag. If I going to get a guy who doesnít produce a lot, he better at least be cheap. I think for this week, I am just picking the guy who has been pretty solid recently and has seven games this week and that is Peralta.
Outfield: This could be a boring week for me in the OF. With Ryan Braun and Andrew McCutchen playing seven games this week, I am leaning towards keeping them in and playing them for nice rebounds this week. And everyone knows how I feel about taking Mike Trout out. If you are looking for a cheap OF, Jason Kubel just has to be that guy this week (and he is REALLY cheap). The D-Backs have seven games this week and Kubel has been flat out mashing. He has ten home runs already in July, including a three-homer game over the weekend. Kubel is a great play for the price this week. Another cheaper guy who could be a play this week is Austin Jackson with seven games. Also on the cheaper side, one has to consider my Oaktown boys, Yoenis Cespedes and Josh Reddick. Cespedes has been on fire recently and Reddick has displayed great power for his price all year. I really like that they get out of The Coliseum for a majority of their week. And yes, I am excited about the Aís recent run; great play combined with young great guys is a fun thing to have as a fan. A couple other names to take a close look at this week with seven games are B.J. Upton who has been coming around a little bit and Colby Rasmus who has broken out this year, but has struggled mightily in July. There really are a lot of nice cheap options this week! After filing in the rest of my lineup with Prince and Miggy Cabrera, I decided to save some cap in the outfield and played Jason Kubel in McCutchenís spot.
Pitching: The Nationals had a few ups and downs this week, but continue to be rock solid for the price. They only have six this week, but the upside is that you get two starts from Stephen Strasburg. I do love the Nats, but I would like to find a nice seven-game option. The Pirates are a surprising 2012 contender and could be a play this week. They face Houston four times and the Cubs twice. In addition, you get two starts from AJ Burnett this week (who ever thought that would be a positive thing?). The Dodgers could also be a play this week as they get a weekend series in San Francisco and then get Arizona in Dodger Stadium. The two starts weeks are Aaron Harang, who is inconsistent, but also from the very solid and surprising Chris Capuano.
Moving to the AL, the Rays look like a possible play with an all-road week at Baltimore, Anaheim and Oakland. The real bonus is that you get two starts from David Price and James Shields, although Shields has not anywhere near the same guy this year as he was in 2011. The Angels can no doubt put up some runs, but the Rays look like a solid option. The Tigers schedule is not good with games at Toronto and at Boston, but you do get two starts from Justin Verlander. I would consider the Aís rotation (unreal how good their team ERA is), but I would prefer more games at home. This is really a tough pitching week as I ultimately decided between the Rays and Pirates. I went with the Rays, but if you wanted to ramp up the offense even further, the Pirates could be an excellent option to save you some much-needed cash.
Here is where I ended up for Week 17 (and if anyone gets hurt, hopefully I will take them out this time!):
C: Miguel Montero ($8.3)
1B: Prince Fielder ($11.0)
2B: Aaron Hill ($7.2)
3B: Miguel Cabrera ($12.0)
SS: Jhonny Peralta ($7.1)
OF: Ryan Braun ($12.0)
OF: Jason Kubel ($6.2)
OF: Mike Trout ($7.0)
Flex: Yoenis Cespedes ($7.6)
P: Tampa Bay Rays ($21.3)