Fantasy Baseball

Fantasy Baseball: Playoff Push Pick-ups

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By:  A. J. Applegarth

Hello, Baseball fans!  This article will be a combination piece that will discuss both batters and pitchers, as many of you make your final push towards playing in the playoffs.  Depending on your league settings, you may be starting the playoffs as early as next week, so hopefully the players listed below are players you can grab to help solidify your seeding, or make that last ditch effort to claim the final playoff spot!  Here we go!

Batters:
Manny Machado (SS – BAL) – The Baltimore phenom is currently living up to all expectations with his stellar play so far since being called up late last week.  While it’s only a very small sample size of stats, Machado has a .375 AVG, going 6/16 with 3 HR in only four (4) games.  Machado has also played 3B in all of those games, so he should pick-up 3B-eligibility after this week’s games, assuming he plays every day from Tuesday thru Sunday.  The only knock to Machado at this point is that he has yet to draw a walk or steal a base, but I believe those stats will start filling up sooner rather than later.  Machado has only struck-out twice, so he seems to be seeing the ball very well in the early going.  Manny is currently owned in 63.3% of leagues, so if you want to hop on this stat train, I suggest grabbing him ASAP.  

Justin Morneau (1B/DH – MIN) – While Morneau’s injury history is well-documented, it seems that he is finally starting to show signs of life and rounding into the former-MVP stat machine he once was a few years back.  Morneau has seen his ups and downs this season, but so far in August, he hitting at a lofty .395 clip with a 1.123 OPS, 3 HR, 9 R, 10 RBI, 4 BB to only 5 strikeouts.  Do I think that Morneau will maintain the high AVG/OPS?  Not necessarily, but I do believe he is a worthwhile addition to teams trying to position themselves for, and in, the playoffs.  Like Johnson, Morneau is sitting at 93.3% ownership, so it’s possible he’s already picked up in your league.  But, if you’re lucky enough to have him on your waiver wire, I strongly suggest grabbing him for your playoff push.

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Chris Johnson (3B – ARI) – Aside from his past two games where he has gone 0-7 with only 1 RBI, Johnson has been red-hot over the past few weeks.  Since July 30th, Johnson is hitting .286 with 5 HR, 6 R and 18 RBI.  The word seems to be out on Johnson, though, as his current ownership is sitting at a healthy 88.9%, so he is already taken in most leagues.  But, if you need some help at 3B/UTIL, and Johnson is still available in your league, you may not have the chance to grab him for too much longer.

Ryan Doumit (C/OF/DH – MIN) – Like Morneau, Doumit has also been productive for the Twins over the past few weeks, and has great flexibility in lineups with his positional eligibility.  Doumit is currently batting .342 with a 1.070 OPS in August, and has also racked up 7 RBI, 5 R, 3 HR and 1 BB to only 4 strikeouts.  Doumit has also started all, but two games in August, and sits at 72.3% ownership, so if you need some help at C or OF, he’s a solid choice, if available.

Alex Avila (C – DET) – Avila is another solid option at C if you’re in the market.  After a very mediocre start to the season, Avila finally seems to be putting it together for a Detroit squad that is in the midst of its own playoff push.  Avila is batting an off-the-charts .452 with a 1.198 OPS in the month of August, and has started all, but one game for the Tigers this month.  Avila only has 1 HR so far this month, but does have 7 R, 7 BB, and 7 RBI versus 9 strikeouts.  Again, not really sure I see the AVG and OPS staying where they are, but Avila is owned in less than 50% of leagues right now (49.1% to be exact), so not everyone has caught on to his current pace.

Pitchers:

Alex Cobb (SP – TB) – Cobb has won his last three outings, going 7.0 IP and giving up only 1  ER in each of those starts.  Cobb has also averaged 6 K in those starts, while maintaining a WHIP under 1.00, as well.  The main thing to keep in mind is that these starts came at Oakland (8/1), at home against Toronto (8/8), and at Seattle (8/13), so Cobb hasn’t necessarily faced any offensive powerhouses over those starts.  Cobb faces C. J. Wilson (who just lost to Cleveland Monday night) and the Angels in L.A. in his next start on Saturday, August 18th.  The Halos were the last team to defeat Cobb back on 7/27, even though he still managed a QS in that game (which was also at L.A.), going 7.0 IP and giving up 3 ER and 0 BB while striking out only three.  I like Cobb’s chances to continue to build upon his last few outings, and with a 20.9% uptick in ownership (probably due to people streaming him for Monday’s game since his overall ownership is only at 21.7%), I can easily see him still being available later in the week.

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Paul Maholm (SP – ATL) – Maholm was the main cog in the trade between Atlanta and Chicago right before the trade deadline.  In Maholm’s previous six starts with Chicago prior to the trade, he went 5-0, pitching a QS in each game, while racking up 44.0 IP and 31 K, to only 5 ER on 8 BB and 31 H.  Since joining the surging Braves, Maholm has gone 1-1 with 2 QS and 13 K.  In his first outing, he allowed 3 ER on 6 H (2 HR) and 2 BB over 7.0 IP, but still struck out eight in the loss.  In his second outing, he pitched a CG shutout against the Mets on 8/10, giving up only 3 H and 0 BB while striking out five.  Maholm is still only owned in 78.3%, so if he’s available in your league, I’d pick him up ASAP.

Dale Thayer (RP – SD) – Thayer picked up his sixth save of the season Monday night against the Braves, his first since earlier in the season when he took over the closer role for the injured Huston Street.  Thayer was a bit up-and-down in the closer role earlier in the year, but has since pitched very well in a setup / relief role for the Padres.  If you’re looking for some cheap saves, Thayer may be your man, although, Luke Gregerson could also be in line for some save chances while Street is out.

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About A.J. Applegarth

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