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FA Frenzy: August 23
There are approximately five weeks remaining in baseball’s regular season. If you’re still waiting for that guy to snap out of his slump, you might want to move on and grab one of the players below.
Here’s our latest edition of Free Agent Frenzy. Please note that, as in past seasons, no player will be mentioned in this space more than once in a four-week span, because we don’t want to beat you over the head all year long about the same players.
Let’s get going!
Catcher: Evan Gattis, Braves (owned in 34.8 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Gattis isn’t as sexy a fantasy free agent as he was when bashing homers all over the place in April. However, with Jason Heyward likely done for the regular season, Gattis’ path to playing time is clearer. He hasn’t hit a home run in a month, but he will soon. His C/OF eligibility is a nice bonus.
Digging deeper: Max Stassi (0.0 percent owned) was called up by the Astros earlier this week after hitting .277 with 17 home runs at Double A. On Wednesday, Stassi celebrated his promotion by taking a fastball to the face. He’s got no broken bones, but results of a concussion test are pending. If Stassi doesn’t go on the concussion DL this weekend, he’ll be a helpful AL-only pickup.
See, I told you he’d be good! I also told you he’d hit 40 home runs, and that didn’t quite work out, so I’ll stop with the I-told-you-sos. After a miserable start to the season, Davis has batted .282 with three homers, 13 RBI and 19 runs in 37 games since coming back from the minors, and has cut down his strikeout rate. He’ll start hitting more homers soon, too. Go get Ike – again.
Digging deeper: Todd Helton (0.9 percent owned) just turned 40, and is far from his old, roto-stud days. However, he still plays most of the time and is batting .250 with eight homers.
Walker is finally healthy after battling an oblique injury, and is batting .301 with 13 runs scored this month. He needs to hit a few more homers, but he can help you fill a hole in any format.
Digging deeper: Did anyone cut Emilio Bonifacio (3.2 percent owned) in your AL-only league, or possibly even your deep mixed league? The Royals gave Bonifacio a new lease on fantasy life last week, and he’s responded with six stolen bases in eight games since leaving the Blue Jays. He qualifies at 2B/OF, and might get 3B eligibility soon. With regular playing time, Bonifacio can be as lethal a stolen-base threat as you’ll find.
Hate A-Rod all you want, but in 15 games since returning to the Yankee lineup, he’s batting .281 with a couple of homers, a couple of steals and an .800 OPS in 15 games. Don’t worry - I won’t tell anyone if you root for him.
Digging deeper: Is it possible that I like Ed Lucas (0.2 percent owned) more because he’s eligible at 1B/2B/3B/SS than due to any fantasy contribution he might offer? Perhaps, but he reached double-digit homers four straight times as a minor leaguer, and has scored 33 runs in 64 games for the Marlins this season. Not bad, right?
Shortstop: Jose Iglesias, Tigers (owned in 24.4 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Iglesias is more glove than bat, and his BA – which was over .400 for most of May and June – is falling back to Earth. Still, he might hit a powerless .270 while swiping a few bases and scoring some runs over the season’s final five weeks. In some formats, he’s useful.
Digging deeper: With Howie Kendrick not quite ready to return for the Angels, Grant Green (0.3 percent owned) will get his at bats for a little while longer. Green is batting .304 with no home runs since his early August promotion, but his minor-league track record suggests modest power and speed. He’s 2B/SS-eligible.
Venable is batting .342 with five homers and five steals in August, and he’s not going to keep that up. However, his batting average won’t kill you, and he could offer decent power and speed over the next five weeks. Venable is rosterable in any format, even with a slowdown likely.
Digging deeper: Jordan Schafer (0.5 percent owned) has assumed the Braves’ leadoff role in the absence of Jason Heyward, and figures to play every day the rest of the way. Schafer’s best fantasy attributes are good basestealing ability and a good eye that will get him on base enough to score a decent number of runs.
Starting pitcher: Zack Wheeler, Mets (owned in 25.4 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Wheeler doesn’t need to be as good as Matt Harvey to be a good pitcher, folks. Wheeler’s 3.49 ERA over 12 starts is respectable, as are his 62 strikeouts in 69 2/3 innings. Next week, Wheeler is slated to face the terrible Phillies on Monday, followed by the Nats over the weekend.
Digging deeper: Erasmo Ramirez (1 percent owned) comes off a seven-inning, one-run outing against the Rangers to face the depleted Angels on Saturday. I’m a fan of Ramirez and his nasty changeup, and I think he’ll keep getting better.
Relief pitcher: Rex Brothers, Rockies (owned in 8 percent of FOXSports.com leagues)
Rafael Betancourt appears headed for Tommy John surgery, so Brothers gets the ninth inning back. It would be nice if Brothers threw more strikes, but a closer is a closer is a closer.
Digging deeper: Tommy Hunter (1.5 percent owned) got Wednesday’s save for the Orioles, but was the third pitcher to appear in the ninth inning of the game (after Darren O’Day and Brian Matusz). Allegedly, the shaky Jim Johnson was getting some rest. Johnson’s hold on his job has to be tenuous at this point, and Hunter might get the gig instead of Frankie Rodriguez (5.5 percent owned) if the O’s make a change. If you want to speculate on K-Rod, I won’t argue much, but Hunter is more likely to be available in most leagues.
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