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MLB Barometer: Give Them a Hand

Howard Bender

Howard Bender

Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over a decade on a variety of web sites. For more from him, you can find his personal musings on his blog RotobuzzGuy.com or follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy. For questions, thoughts or comments you can email him at rotobuzzguy@gmail.com.


This can be such a tough time of year for those who are fighting for a championship right now. The injuries are piling up and as you continue to rifle through teams' depth charts, there really isn't a whole lot out there that screams "difference-maker," is there? It could be that, if you have a hole in your lineup that needs filling, you keep an eye on the short-run and not worry about finding someone who can last the whole season. With just three weeks to go, you may just have to mix and match and play the hot bat or the hot arm, using them for a week and then changing things up. It's not the way you like to play the season, but here at the end, desperate times call for desperate measures.

Let's take a look at whose stock is rising this week and whose is on the decline.

Rising

Leury Garcia, 2B CHW - While he is only batting .150 with one RBI and two stolen bases over 20 sporadic at-bats since coming over from Texas in the Alex Rios trade, Garcia is apparently headed for more regular playing time, according to White Sox manager Robin Ventura. He probably only has second base eligibility right now, having played 16 games at the position this season, but he's also notched a few games at shortstop, third base and even a couple in the outfield. He hardly hits for power and the average is probably middle-of-the-road, at best, but Garcia has shown tremendous skills on the base paths down in the minors and should be able to provide you with some cheap steals over the next few weeks.

Justin Turner, 2B NYM - With David Wright still nursing a sore hamstring and Wilmer Flores likely to be shut down with his ankle issue, Turner is lined up for a big increase in playing time over the next couple of weeks. He's not known for his power but he does have two home runs now in his last four games, so while he's facing some of these younger, less-experienced pitchers, he should be able to do a little better than his usual numbers. He's coming off of a fairly solid August for himself, and is another guy who qualifies at multiple positions. He's logged at least a dozen games at every position in the infield, so his versatility should be a nice help.

Jackie Bradley Jr., OF BOS - With news that Jacoby Ellsbury is dealing with a compression fracture in his foot, it would appear that Bradley is due to log some serious time in the Boston outfield here in September. He didn't fare too well in his first go-around with the big club, but stayed positive and continued to work at getting better while playing for Triple-A Pawtucket. He posted a .275/.374/.469 slash line with 26 doubles, three triples, seven home runs and seven stolen bases upon his demotion and will look to build off that here in his second stint with the team. Think about his spring and the hype he originally came into the season with. He could actually deliver this time.

Tanner Roark, SP WAS - After pitching well out of the Nationals bullpen since his call-up in early August, Roark has been rewarded with a spot in the rotation and had himself a strong debut on Saturday. Granted, the opponent was the Miami Marlins, but he still went six scoreless innings and allowed just four hits with no walks and four strikeouts. The 26-year old is a solid ground-ball pitcher (50.7 percent ground ball rate) but he has also shown the ability to notch the strikeouts, as evidenced by his 7.22 K/9 over a total of 28.2 innings. He faces a very depleted Mets team this coming week, so you'll want to give him a shot if you're streaming starters.

Matt Adams, 1B STL - When the Cardinals lost Allen Craig to a foot injury, they barely missed a beat as Adams stepped in and immediately jacked two home runs during Tuesday's game. Now it's a few days later and Craig just lost the walking boot, but there has still been no discussion as to a return timetable. That should put Adams in line for more starts this week and considering his current .196 ISO and .200-plus ISO numbers down in the minors, he is likely to be an excellent source of power moving forward. He was showing some steady improvement with regard to his plate discipline but took a step back in August. With some decent playing time coming, he could prove that last month's drop was more a bump in the road than anything else.

Falling

Carlos Gonzalez, OF COL - As said in the introduction, the injuries are piling up and the worst kind are the ones like CarGo's finger that continue to linger and inhibit performance at the plate. Gonzalez says that he is in pain every time he swings a bat and the swelling is causing some serious issues. He spent a few games coming in late as a defensive replacement, but he hasn't stepped into the batter's box since August 4 and it doesn't appear like that will be changing anytime soon. It's tough to think that a finger will keep CarGo sidelined for the duration of the season, but so far, that's the way it's looking right now.

Alex Wood, SP ATL - When Wood joined the rotation at the tail-end of July, he became one of the hottest waiver pick-ups around. He rattled off five consecutive quality starts and in his sixth, he threw 5.2 shutout innings. But now it would appear that Wood's luck is running out…or his arm is getting tired, one of the two. Over his last two starts, Wood has only logged eight innings and has given up 11 runs on 17 hits and five walks with just six strikeouts. Worst of all is that both outings came against lesser competition as neither the Phillies nor the Mets are fielding a lineup that would instill fear in even the youngest of Single-A starters, let alone a big league pitcher. He'll face Miami again this week which, considering how badly they beat him after seeing him just once before, he's not someone you can trust in your rotation.

Starling Marte, OF PIT - When a player responds with "brutal" after someone asks him how his hand feels after swinging a bat, you can't be too confident in his future performance. Well, that's exactly what's going on with Marte who was just recently activated from the DL as the Pirates look to lock down the division or, at the least, a playoff spot. It looks like Marte will go the same route as CarGo and be used as a defensive replacement, but offensive production is going to be very difficult to come by with him.

Avisail Garcia, OF CHW - It's been a tough week for the young outfielder as he went just 3-for-18 (.167) over his last five games, but it's going to get worse for him and his owners as he is now expected to miss a few more days this week thanks to impending dental work for a bad tooth. They haven't said how extensive the work is, but you have to figure that a tooth problem that keeps you out for a few days has to be something fairly serious. He's losing any momentum he was building in the weeks prior and it could be tough for him to get back into the swing of things.

Howie Kendrick, 2B LAA - Every time a report pops up saying that Kendrick could, "back as early as next weekend," the pain his fantasy owners feel grows more and more. While you've probably already housed him on your bench and are using some sort of band-aid in your middle infield, it's also safe to say that you can cut Kendrick and take that final step in moving on. The latest word, for the third time, says that he is making progress and could be back next weekend against the Astros, but that's yet another week without him. So for the two weeks in which you could have him back, is he really going to be that helpful? Probably not. His strong suit is the batting average and two weeks' worth of at-bats at this time of the season isn't doing dinkey-doo.