Derek Holland P, TEX - Holland delivered one of his stronger starts of the season on Thursday night allowing just one run on two hits in eight innings of work while striking out 11. A 4.59 ERA is not what owners were expecting from the young left-hander, but a 4.12 xFIP might be a better evaluator of his future performance considering he has improved his walk rate from 3.05 BB/9 to 2.66 BB/9 and increased his strikeout rate from 7.36 K/9 to 7.55 K/9. Holland has been burdened by a 14.6 percent HR/FB ratio and a 66.6 percent strand rate. Some might argue that his .251 BABIP has helped to negate some of those affects, but his 15.6 percent line drive rate indicates his BABIP is not been heavily influenced by luck.
Rob Brantly C, MIA - The 23 year-old left-handed hitting catcher acquired in the Anibal Sanchez/Omar Infante trade has been the everyday catcher for the club since being called up a month ago, and has done a solid job hitting .265/.357/.469 with two home runs in 56 plate appearances. He has displayed a strong eye at the plate with a 12.7 percent walk rate (chase rate of 35.7 percent needs to improve), and has only struck out in 17.9 percent of his plate appearances so far. The power is there, .204 ISO, and he has even held his own against left-handed pitching, producing a .747 OPS against them. Owners in keeper leagues should start planning ahead, as he could be a early front runner for rookie of the year in 2013 and he will continue to have an impact down the stretch in 2012.
Dan Straily P, OAK - Because of Brandon McCarthy's horrific injury and subsequent brain surgery, Straily will be put back into the rotation as the number five starter. He put up decent numbers earlier in the year with a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings pitched with a 6.35 K/9. In 151 innings pitched in the minors this season, Straily had produced a strikeout rate greater than 11.00 K/9 and he should be able to help some owners in down the stretch in that category. He features a fastball that average 91.5 mph along with a strong change-up, good slider and slower curveball. I would be a little worried about his 52 percent fly ball rate in his three big league starts, but it is a small sample size and his home park should be able to neutralize that disadvantage.
Kendrys Morales 1B/DH, LAA - Morales went 2-for-4 with two doubles and a RBI on Saturday night to improve his line to .283/.331/470 to go along with his 18 home runs and 64 RBI. While this season is nowhere near the type he produced in 2009 before his injury in 2010, owners who drafted Morales as a utility or bat off the bench should be quite pleased with his production this season. His HR/FB ratio of 19.6 percent is the second best rate of his career, and has produced a .822 OPS against right-handed pitchers. His 28.6 percent fly ball rate is an issue heading into 2013, but there is hope that number could improve as he has another offseason to strengthen his leg. Owners in daily leagues should continue to start him against any right-handed pitcher.
Tyler Skaggs P, ARI - Skaggs had a rough outing against the Padres on Friday night allowing five runs on five hits, one home run and a walk on three innings of work. He did strike out five, but his ERA increased to 4.43 in 20.1 innings pitched this season. For owners looking for strikeouts down the stretch, Skaggs is another solid option (9.8 percent swinging strike rate). However, the Diamondbacks will be monitoring his workload closely and will not be allowed to work deep in games. There are some matchups in his favor, but his control has not been strong as his minor league numbers suggest and his fastball command has been inconsistent. There is no doubt Skaggs has a bright future ahead, but I don't think he will have much of an impact over the next few weeks.
Chris Parmelee OF/1B, MIN - Parmelee has been given the starting right-fielder job after he was called up at the end of August, and has done well hitting three home runs in 39 plate appearances with a .364/.383/.636 line. He is a cheap alternative for owners looking for some home runs and RBI down the stretch, and his 12.4 percent career walk rate in the minors indicates his patience should improve. His strikeout rate is a little high at 22.9 percent (8.9 percent swinging strike), but I like the fact that he has been able to hit fly balls at a consistent rate during his brief career (46.1 percent) along with a 11 percent HR/FB ratio. Again those playing in daily leagues should look to start him away from Target Field where he has a .853 OPS (.590 on the road).
Brandon League/Ronald Belisario P, LAD - League earned his eleventh save of the season on Saturday afternoon (second with the Dodgers), and has been closing games with Ronald Belisario for the Dodgers with Kenley Jansen unavailable due to his irregular heart beat issue. Jansen is set to return to the club on September 17 when he is finished with his treatment of blood thinners, but it looks like the two of them will continue to work as a tandem to finish games until then. Owners should continue to hold on to each until Jansen sees his first action, but even then it is not a guarantee that Jansen will return until he sees game action. I'm not going to pretend that I am a cardiologist, and it is unknown whether this issue will up again before September 17th. For those playing in daily draft leagues, I would avoid this situation all together.
Marco Scutaro 2B, SF - When the Giants acquired Scutaro close at the end of July, I figured he would be another spare part who Bruce Bochy would mix and match with for the rest of the season. However, I have been pleasantly surprised that Bochy has decided to make Scutaro the starting second baseman in favor of Ryan Theriot. He has hit .333/.360/.451 with two home runs since being acquired by the Giants, and now has six home runs, eight stolen bases and a .289/.334/.388 line for the year. Scutaro is the toughest hitter to strikeout in the majors with a 7.7 percent strikeout rate and 1.8 percent swinging strike rate, and his .304 BABIP should be even higher considering his career best 25.3 percent line drive rate.
Stephen Strasburg P, WAS - Despite reports that Strasburg was going to earn another start for the Nationals before being shut down, but Davey Johnson announced to the media on Saturday that Strasburg's start on Friday would be his last. He finishes the season with a 3.16 ERA, 2.84 FIP, 2.83 xFIP and 11.13 K/9 in 159.1 innings pitched along with a 15-6 record. In terms of his future, it could not look any brighter as I would expect his velocity to increase 2013 with another year under his belt from the UCL surgery. John Lannan will take Strasburg's place in the rotation for the rest of the month, but he holds very little value in standard leagues.
Curtis Granderson CF, NYY - Granderson is dealing with a little bit of a hamstring problem, and has seen his numbers plummet downward over the last month of the season. He is currently hitting .230/.321/.471 with 34 home runs (only eight stolen bases) in 587 plate appearances, and his current strikeout rate of 28.6 percent is the worst of his career. Granderson has been somewhat unlucky considering his .268 BABIP is the worst of his career, and that his 24.4 percent line drive rate is the best of his career. The veteran center fielder still has time to put together one last hot streak for the end of the year, but he is worth putting on the bench as of this moment as he as looked completely lost over the last week striking out in half of his plate appearances.
Jeff Samardzjia P, CHC - The Cubs also announced earlier this week that Samardzjia will be shut down for the season, and that Saturday night's start was his last for 2012. In his first full season as a starter, Samardzjia excelled producing a 3.81 ERA, 3.57 FIP, 3.39 xFIP and 9.27 K/9 while maintaining a fastball average of 95 mph. His 12 percent swinging strike rate ranks fifth best among qualified starting pitchers, and he was able to reign in his suspect control producing a career best walk rate of 2.89 BB/9. I recommended Samardzjia right before the season started, as solid starter who would finish the season with a 3.75 - 4.00 ERA. I'll have to admit that he exceeded my expectations, and that he has a bright future ahead for owners if he is able to repeat his walk rate in 2013.
Ryan Lavarnway C, BOS - Lavarnway has gotten plenty of plate appearances over the last month and a half whether as the DH or the catcher. He has been unimpressive so far in 89 plate appearances hitting just one home run, and producing a weak .163/.236/.238 line. Lavarnway has been striking out way too often at 22.6 percent, and he has not been able to hit the ball well when he has made contact. His 13.6 percent line drive is below average, and 18 percent of his fly balls have stayed within the infield. While he could be an impact bat at the position for 2013, owners should stay away from him for the rest of 2012.