The Cubs have found a way to get Victor Caratini in the starting lineup in four of their last six games leading to seven hits in 18 at-bats with three runs and four RBI. Willson Contreras played well from late June through early July when he hit .429 over 42 at-bats with eight runs, three HRs, and 11 RBI. Over the last two weeks, he’s lost his swing (4-for-23 with 13 Ks) and some playing time. Caratini doesn’t have a clear path to starting at-bats, but he may emerge as a C2 in deep leagues if Contreras has an underlying injury.
The Orioles have turned back to Caleb Joseph at catcher over the last week or so after a trip to the minors. Joseph has ten hits in his previous 28 at-bats with five runs, one HR, and five RBI while starting nine of the last 12 games in Baltimore. Only a C2 option in deep leagues while a Fantasy owner mines the free pool for a stronger long-term option.
Since returning from the DL in late June, Lucas Duda has 32 Ks in 68 at-bats which is a problem for a Fantasy looking for a player with power and starting at-bats at first base. His swing showed a spark over his last six games (7-for-23 with four runs, one HR, and three RBI) pointing possible upside in power going forward. Over his recent surge, Duda did strike out nine times forcing a Fantasy owner to have a short leash if he starts to lose playing time or deliver empty at-bats.
The Nationals finally activated Ryan Zimmerman off the DL after missing more than two months of the year with an oblique issue. Last year Zimmerman played at an elite level (.303 with 36 HRs and 108 RBI), which makes him one of the better darts in the free agent pool even with a cloudy situation in playing time for Washington. Buy and hold type bat once he starts to drive the ball over the fence.
Kolten Wong continues to put up a fight for at-bats for the Cardinals. Wong has 15 hits over his last 40 at-bats with seven runs, one HR, seven RBI, and one SB while starting 11 of 12 games for St. Louis. Kolten tends to hit at the bottom of the order while needing more power or speed to be a viable start from week to week in shallow leagues.
Fantasy owners continue to have trust issues with Joey Wendle while surfing the free agent pool. Over his last 16 games, Wendle hit .385 over 52 at-bats with eight runs, two HRs, nine RBI, and one SB. Joey has bench value for sure with injury cover status.
The Giants hope to have Evan Longoria back at the end of next week after missing six weeks with a hand injury. His bat came in short of projections over his first 270 plate appearances (.246 with ten HRs and 34 RBI). Veteran bat with a long resume of steady production in HRs and RBI if your team has a weakness at third base.
Danny Valencia should get the bulk of at-bats at third base for the Orioles after Manny Machado was shipped to the Dodgers. Valencia is in the midst of a slump (5-for-42 with two runs, one HR, and five RBI) making him a free square in the free agent pool. Only a desperation filler in all formats until he starts to make better contact.
Over his last ten games, Aledmys Diaz has ten hits in 29 at-bats with seven runs, two HRs, and six RBI. He’s on pace for 20+ HRs with some weakness in runs and RBI due to hitting at the bottom of the Blue Jays’ batting order. Only in play in deep leagues as long as Diaz continues to help in home runs.
Kole Calhoun is trying his best to correct his early season fade. Over his last six starts, Calhoun has eight hits in 22 at-bats with seven runs, four HRs, and six RBI. His batting average (.187) still has miles to go to fall in his preseason predicted range while sitting against lefties. His second half should be much better in 2018 leading to starting value in deep leagues. The Angels have moved him up in the batting order as well to help his upside in runs.
Carlos Gomez could offer an excellent combination of speed and power over the last two months of the season. Over his last eight games, Gomez hit .458 with six runs, one HR, six RBI, and one SB. Carlos is a streaky player who is just rounding into form.
Two weeks ago I mentioned Cameron Maybin as a possible speed out. He’s proved worthy of being a starter over the last ten games. Maybin has 11 hits in his last 33 at-bats with four runs, one HR, two RBI, and five SBs with a much better approach at the plate (ten walks and six Ks). Cameron has sneaky power with catch up speed if he’s given every day at-bat.
After two rehab starts (two runs over nine innings with nine Ks), the Angels look poised to activate Nick Tropeano off the DL. Early in the year in the majors, Tropeano fell short of expectation leading to a 4.85 ERA and 1.35 WHIP. Nick is only worth a ride in deep leagues with Fantasy owners having a short leash if he starts walking too many batters or serving up home runs.
James Shields should be a pitcher of interest for teams still in the hunt for the playoffs. Over his last eight starts, Shields has a 3.20 ERA and 1.22 WHIP with 40 Ks over 50.2 innings. With a move to a pitcher-friendly park and a better offense behind him, James may deliver more big games going forward.
I’m still bullish on Jordan Zimmerman even after a flat outing in his last start. He is another arm that should draw interest in the trade market if the Tigers are willing to eat a considerable chunk of his salary. Over his last seven starts, Zimmerman has 1.85 ERA and 0.87 WHIP with 40 Ks over 43.2 innings. He has a winning resume of success before arriving in Detroit.