Friday Fantasy Pickup: Jayson Werth, OF, Nationals

It’s understandable why many prospective owners are uninterested in a 37-year-old outfielder who is coming off the worst season of his career, one that was marred by poor play and injuries. So far this season, he’s hitting a measly .236 with a career-low .290 OBP through 54 games. Werth has lost the little plate discipline he once had, and his contact rate dwells at its lowest point since his first year with the Nationals in 2011. And, yes – I am about to recommend that you pick him up promptly. Here’s why:

First, this is not a recommendation for a player that will contribute throughout the campaign, but rather an endorsement for a guy that can give you an immediate boost. Over his last nine games, Werth is hitting .314 (11-for-35) with four home runs, 11 RBI and seven runs while raising his average to its highest mark since September of 2014. He’s proven throughout his 13-year career that he can string together power numbers in bunches (see September of last season), which gives reason to believe that this surge can last long enough for owners to capitalize on it.

Known more nowadays for his beard than his bat, Werth has a couple of advantageous matchups on the horizon that can benefit those in season-long, weekly or daily formats. On Friday and Saturday, he will see Phillies starters Jeremy Hellickson and Aaron Nola, respectively. Against the duo in his career, the former All-Star is 7-for-28 (.250) with three homers, two doubles and 11 RBI. He’ll draw the Cubs’ John Lackey and Jason Hammel early next week. Werth has tagged them for a combined 10 hits in 32 at-bats (.313) with six extra-base hits, including two round-trippers. And finally, he’ll travel to San Diego to end the week with a four-game series against one of MLB’s worst pitching staffs.

The veteran is entrenched in the Nationals’ above-average lineup, and lately he has been hitting from the two-hole. He’s protected in the order by the NL’s reigning MVP, Bryce Harper, which gives Werth an opportunity to see good pitches and score many runs. And, although picking him up can be approached with the short-term in mind, it’s worth noting that he is on pace to hit 25-plus home runs, notch 80-plus RBI and score 75-plus runs in 2016.

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