Halpin' Hand: The Lower Half

September 30, 2009

Welcome to the season's final edition of The Lower Half. In addition to possibly picking up the players below, here's something to remember about your starting pitchers in daily transaction leagues: if they start anytime after Tuesday, you should waive them after they pitch, because they're not pitching again.

This week, The Lower Half reviews 10 players owned in less than half of FOXSports.com leagues, but who haven't been included in this space for the past month. We usually include nine, but you deserve a bonus. Pickups are advised if you've got the room on your roster.

(Note: All stats are through Sunday's games.)

Edwin Encarnacion, 3B, Blue Jays (28.1 percent owned)

When Encarnacion got traded to the Blue Jays, I immediately placed a $15 bid on him in my A.L. keeper league, since I had visions of last year's 26-homer season dancing in my head. Then Double E actually started playing for the Jays, and he stunk for a while, batting .186 with a .477 OPS (!) and one home run in August. I was beginning to think I got stuck with a lemon.

As usual, water reached its level. Encarnacion has five home runs, 15 RBI and 16 runs in September. He's no superstar, but he's a decent power source at the hot corner this week, with series on the road against the Red Sox and Orioles.

David Price, SP, Rays (27.0 percent owned)


Price struggled on Sunday, but he's been pretty good lately. He gets his final start of the season against CC Sabathia and the Yankees. Sabathia will be going for win No. 20, but that's the only thing the Yanks have to play for. Expect Joe Girardi to play most of his regulars, but it might not matter. Price is 7-3, 3.11 at home and 2-4, 6.24 on the road (11 starts each).

Juan Uribe, 2B/3B/SS, Giants (22.1 percent owned)

I wrote a couple of weeks ago that I wouldn't include Uribe here because I can't stand him, but at some point the opportunity to get a middle infielder who can hit overrides my irrational prejudices. After all, the guy's batting .372 with seven homers and 21 RBI this month. Holy $#@!

Gordon Beckham, 3B/SS, White Sox (14.0 percent owned)

Presumably, Beckham wasn't one of the players Ozzie Guillen ripped into for watching college football after a loss over the weekend, because in this article Guillen praised how well Beckham's played since his June promotion. For the final push toward your fantasy title, he's much more valuable if you can play him at shortstop, but he's got six homers this month. His bat is at the point where it can play anywhere.

Franklin Gutierrez, OF, Mariners (12.5 percent owned)

I thought Gutierrez might improve at the plate this season, but did you see this coming? In Seattle, of all places? Aside from being a terrific defensive center fielder, the 26-year-old is batting .282 with 18 home runs, 65 RBI, 80 runs scored and 15 stolen bases. Let's hope he makes a big push for a 20-20 season this week.

Ryan Madson, RP, Phillies (8.7 percent owned)

Madson got a four-out save on Sunday, and he could get more chances this week if only because Charlie Manuel's eyes might explode if he has to watch Brad Lidge pitch in the ninth inning again. I wouldn't call Madson a lock to close over the Phillies' final seven games, but he's certainly their best option at the moment.

Matt Thornton, RP, White Sox (6.0 percent owned)

No, Thornton isn't just here because I have him for $1 in my A.L. keeper league, but he's definitely intriguing. He got saves on Friday and Sunday and has whiffed 84 batters in 70 1/3 innings this season. Also, current closer Bobby Jenks is probably in line for a big arbitration award in the offseason, so there have been plenty of rumors about the Sox dealing him. Thornton's a nice play this week and a worthwhile flier for 2010.

David Murphy, OF, Rangers (5.5 percent owned)

Murphy started 2008 on a tear, then cooled off to a .275-15-74-64-7 finish. He's been steadier this season and is going to wind up in just about the same place — he's at .275-16-55-58-9 right now. He's a nice A.L.-only outfielder and can be picked up if one of your players gets unexpectedly shut down this week.

Jason Hammel, SP, Rockies (5 percent owned)

You want whiffs? Hammel has 30 of them over 32 2/3 innings in his last five starts. Just remember that after his Wednesday start against the Brewers, he's probably not going to pitch again in the regular season unless the Rox have to play a one-game playoff on Monday against the Braves. Pick him up Tuesday or Wednesday, then waive him Thursday morning.

Homer Bailey, SP, Reds (3.4 percent owned)

More Ks here! Bailey has 35 punchouts in 38 1/3 innings over his last six starts, and that's including ZERO in six innings last Wednesday against the Pirates. He's scheduled to start Tuesday against the (already-clinched) Cardinals, which means he'll probably get another outing in Sunday's season finale versus the pitiful Pirates. It's not just about the strikeouts, either — Bailey has a tremendous 1.99 ERA over his last seven starts. Once a phenom, then an allegedly failed one at age 23, it looks like he may have finally figured things out.