This bodes well for fantasy owners as the All-Star break approaches, as the Fantasy Baseball season is currently in full swing.
Starting Pitcher to Start
Only a few short weeks ago, fantasy owners around the world were beaming with pride as their little-known stud Dallas Braden walked to the mound for Oakland and tossed his first career perfect game. Nowadays, those same owners are wondering where everything went wrong. It appears as though the tables have turned for the Athletics, as now Braden is stuck in a funk while youngster Trevor Cahill has decided to take command of the starting staff.
Over his first 11 starts, Cahill is boasting a 6-2 record, 3.21 ERA and 42 Ks. Impressed yet? In seven of his last eight starts, Cahill has pitched at least six innings, meaning he's throwing deeper into games and providing you, the owner, with more points to enjoy. Add on the fact that his 42 Ks are matched by only 21 BBs, and you have the makings of a nice fantasy starter.
Oh, and did I mention that he is only owned in 59 percent of CBS Leagues and only started in 35 percent? Not only is he a fantastic start for all of you owners out there, he's probably a nice pickup too.
Hitter to Start
I know what a lot of you Nelson Cruz fans out there are saying tonight. Let me guess--it goes a little something like this: "It's about time I saw you back in my lineup again!" That's right, baseball fanatics; the Rangers outfielder has finally come back to the major league scene, being activated from the 15-day DL on Tuesday.
Cruz, who had been batting .327 with 10 HRs, 34 RBI, 19 Rs and seven SBs before going down with an injury, had torn up opposing pitching staffs since Opening Day. Now he's back for more. So I advise you to take one more look at your bench. If you see a name that has a "Nelson," or a "Cruz," or any combination of the two (this would probably be the best bet), then I suggest you switch his status to "Active" in Week 13.
Reliever to Start
Speaking of big names coming off the infamous DL, the Colorado Rockies officially activated closer Huston Street on Tuesday. Street has yet to see any time in 2010; however, his 2009 stats prove to be a nice point to leave off from (4-1, 3.06 ERA, 35 saves and 70 Ks). Although one would figure that he would be moved to the closer's role, this will most likely not be the case. Expect Street to see a few appearances as a middle reliever or setup man until he is caught up to speed. The second the Rockies give him the "green light" in the ninth, you should do the same.
Youngster to Start
It appears as though the Pittsburgh Pirates organization is headed to another losing campaign, yet there is finally something to pay attention to in PNC Park. After much anticipation, third base prospect Pedro Alvarez has finally strapped on the "big boy pants" and reached the show. In a mere 16 at-bats this season, he has accumulated only one hit and two RBI; however, this is certainly no reason to look down on him as a potential fantasy producer.
Alvarez possesses solid power, and he will get a boatload of opportunities to show it off in 2010. Let us all remember one thing: He plays for the Pirates. It's not like we're going to see him being sent down any time soon, as there is truly nothing to lose with him logging time at the MLB level. If he begins to produce, I suggest giving him a look in Week 13.
It's time for our Week 13 edition of the "Bonus Start"! This week, we are going to take a peek at the New York Mets' rotation as we spotlight Hisanori Takahashi (try saying that five times fast). This season, Takahashi is 6-2 with a 3.13 ERA and 55 Ks in 60.1 innings pitched. When asked about whether or not Takahashi would come out of the starting rotation sometime soon, manager Jerry Manuel replied, "No...I will not take him out of the rotation." That is good enough for me, especially with both Takahashi (and the Mets) on a nice hot streak.
Starting Pitcher to Sit
Leading off the "sits" portion of our column is Toronto Blue Jays starter Brett Cecil. (I know a couple of you Cecil owners out there just stopped reading. Don't worry though; I can back up my argument here.) Cecil, who had recently won five straight starts, is now hitting what many people refer to as a "concrete wall." Over his last two starts (11 innings), Cecil has allowed 11 runs and 15 hits, leading to two losses and confidence issues.
Could this possibly be the turning point for the Jays in 2010? Is the beginning of Cecil's downfall a preview of what is to come for the team from Canada? Look, everyone in the baseball community knows the inevitable fate of the Blue Jays. The team will most likely finish below .500, and the starting pitching will face the worst of its wrath. With the Rays, Yanks and Sox in the same division, we're lucky Cecil has made it this far. Give him a break in Week 13 if he continues to struggle.
Hitter to Sit
Well, it looks like the prophet of the Baltimore Orioles has yet to shine in "Charm City." What was once a hope for many O's fans has yet to take shape for the lowly Birds, as stud catcher Matt Wieters has yet to find his swing in 2010. With his mere .223 BA, five HRs, 21 RBI and 15 Rs this season, fantasy owners have been wondering when the phenom will break out. Being a close follower of the last-place Orioles, I can tell you this: He has all the potential in the world; we just need to give him time.
Over the past few weeks, Wieters has been working on shortening up his oft-criticized elongated swing, leading to him producing more RBI with RISP. At the moment, though, this is still a work in progress. My suggestion to all you Wieters owners is this: If you have a viable replacement, use him. Wieters will pick it up as the year goes on. Once his swing is finally fixed, we should be looking at a much different hitter in the batter's box. As they say, "Patience is a virtue."
Reliever to Sit
What has happened to Diamondbacks reliever Chad Qualls lately? Over his past three outings, the Arizona closer has given up eight earned runs in 1.2 innings, making his ERA soar to a horrific 8.87. Add on the fact that he can hardly be considered a "closer" anymore, and you have the makings of a nice fantasy benching for Week 13. Monitor Qualls' progress over the next week. If things continue to go south, I suggest giving him the boot and watching him float around in free agency.
Youngster to Sit
Is it not amazing how much can change in a year's time? Last season, Detroit Tigers rookie Rick Porcello was atop the baseball world; now, he no longer exists in it. If you haven't heard, the former stud has been demoted to Triple-A Toledo after dropping his third straight decision. Porcello, who went 4-7 with a 6.14 ERA and 33 Ks before his demotion, has left many owners scratching their heads, all wondering where in the world he went wrong. It's about time that this youngster found the bench, as he won't be helping you much from the farm system.
It's finally time for our weekly "Bonus Sit"! This week, we will take a look at Los Angeles Angels shortstop Erick Aybar. Aybar has had a decent season at the plate, betting .272 with one HR, 13 RBI, 41 Rs and 11 SBs; however, his fortunes have been flipped as of late. A decision is currently being made in the front office about whether or not Aybar should see time on the DL. As a fantasy owner, knowing your shortstop is even being considered for the spot is unsettling. Give him the sit in Week 13.
By Lawrence Barreca, analyst at Fantasy Baseball Maniaxs