Fantasy Baseball Holiday Happy Hour: Injuries, Pick-ups and Other Random Bits

by A.J. Applegarth
By:  A. J. Applegarth

For this article, I wanted to steer away from the norm and send out a bunch of “quick-hitting” info in lieu of focusing solely on the pitching side of the game.  I plan to touch on some injury news, both old and new, some potential pick-ups and/or streaming picks for the week, and also want to throw out a few other random bits from the first two days of the week.  Let’s get started!

Injury News
In this section, I’m going to highlight a few of Fantasy’s current injuries, as well as discuss a few guys who just recently came off the DL.   If you’re looking for some follow-up info on the dreaded Fantasy Injury Bug, this section is for you!

Clay Buchholz (SP - BOS) has been out with neck soreness since June 8th, but had an issue-free throwing session Tuesday.  He threw from 60 feet on flat ground, and will progress to 90 feet, and then to 120 feet before progressing to a mound, although, there is still no set timetable for his progression.  Stay tuned, but this is finally some good news for Buchholz owners!  Carl Crawford (OF - LAD), who has also been out since early June due to a hamstring injury, could be back as early as this Friday, July 5th.  He is scheduled to work through a four-game rehab stint, so if all goes well, Crawford could be back for the Dodgers by the weekend.  It remains to be seen how
playing time will be split in the LA outfield once Crawford returns, though, especially with the out-of-this-world play by Yasiel Puig.  Brett Lawrie (3B - TOR) is slated to move from High-A Dunedin to Double-A New Hampshire on Wednesday to continue his rehab stint for the ankle injury he suffered in late May.  Lawrie’s bat has been on-fire through 12 AB in the minors, as he’s currently hitting at a clip of .500/.538/.750 with one double, one triple, two RBI, and a run scored.  Even with the small sample size, the stats are quite encouraging for those of you who have been stashing Lawrie.  Josh Willingham (OF - MIN) was placed on the DL15 on Tuesday (retroactive to July 1st) with a medial meniscus tear and bone bruise in his left knee, and is expected to miss 4-6 weeks.  If you have an open DL spot to stash Willy, feel free to do so, but if not, it’s safe to drop him and his underwhelming 2013 statistical output for someone who can help your team for the next month and a half.  Jose Reyes (SS - TOR) returned from the DL last Wednesday, and has heated up after going 0-for-6 with 1 BB and 1 RBI in his first two games.  Reyes is working on a 5-game hit streak with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 6 R for the scorching-hot Blue Jays.  Bryce Harper (OF - WAS) made his return from the DL on Monday, and hit a HR (that was nearly caught) in his first place appearance.  Since that AB, Harper has gone 0-7 with 1 BB, so it looks like he could still have some rust to shake off after battling knee issues for the past month-plus.

Pick-ups / Streamers
In this section, I plan to highlight a few pick-ups to target (specifically, if you have any of the injured players listed above), as well as a few potential streaming options for the rest of this week.

I’m not going to get too in-depth on the offensive pick-ups becasue Joe will be highlighting some guys in his next article, but I did want to point out a couple of players that have caught my eye.  Juan Francisco (3B/1B - MIL) has been one of the most-productive 3B over the past week, notching at least one hit in six of his last seven games played.  Aside from an off-day on June 29th, and an 0-for-5 day on June 30th, Francisco has 4 HR, 7 RBI, and 8 R since June 25th.  The second guy I want to mention is Marcell Ozuna (OF - MIA).  Before Tuesday night’s 0-for-4 game, Ozuna had a 10-game hit streak brewing, and had multi-hit games in half of those contests.  Over the last 15 days, Ozuna has 7 R, 10 RBI, 1 HR and 1 SB, and his hit streak bumped his season AVG up to .293.  If you need some CI help, or some OF help, these guys are worth a look, espeically in deeper leagues.

Now, we can get to a few guys I think are worthy of picking up to spot-start this week, as all three of these players are owned in less than 30% of leagues.  The first player , Miguel Gonzalez (SP - BAL), was very consistent in the month of June.  Gonzo notched a QS in all five games he started last month, and went 4-1 with a 2.88 ERA.  He also had 28 K and a WHIP of less than 1.00 (26 H and 7 BB in 34.1 IP).  With Baltimore’s acquisition of Scott Feldman on Tuesday, Gonzalez will now face the Yankees on Friday instead of facing the White Sox, as planned prior to the trade, so hopefully, he can repeat the success he had against New York on May 21st.  Ubaldo Jimenez (SP - CLE) is another guy I like this week, as he faces the Kansas City Royals on Thursday.  Jimenez’s June wasn’t as strong as Gonzo’s, but he was able to go 3-1 in 6 GS, and did not allow more than 3 ER in any of his June outings.  His three wins also came against Tampa Bay, Texas and Baltimore, three very good offensive teams.  Ubaldo held the Royals to only 2 ER on 2 H and 4 BB on June 18th, so I expect similar success this week.  Lastly, Stephen Fife (SP - LAD) has been extremely consistent since taking over a rotation spot for the Dodgers.  Fife is coming off his best game of the season to date, where he pitched 7.0 innings of scoreless ball against the Phillies last Sunday.  Fife will see San Francisco for the second time in two weeks, and should have continued success against the struggling Giants who are 2-8 in their last 10 games.

Random Bits:
This section is exactly what its name infers: a few random bits about various players who have been in the Fantasy Baseball spotlight, slightly more so than usual.  The guys listed below have been keeping baseball analysts and commentators talking, so they are worth highlighting for this article.

Michael Cuddyer (OF - COL) saw his 27-game hit streak come to an end Tuesday against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers, who shut-out the Rockies 8-0.  Cuddyer’s streak started on May 28th, and over that span, he was able to rack-up 42 total hits, including 11 multi-hit games, 17 R,  6 HR and 19 RBI.  Like Cuddyer, Leonys Martin (OF - TEX) has been working on his own 15-game hit streak over the past few weeks.  He also has five-straight games with a SB.  Martin’s percentage owned is just under 90% right now, though, so it’s unlikely he’s available in your league.  If he is still out there, he’s worth the add as long as he continues to excel for the Rangers.  Homer Bailey (SP - CIN) pitched the first No-Hitter of the 2013 season on Tuesday night, notching 9 K to only 1 BB in Cincy’s win over the San Francisco Giants.  Before Tuesday's game in Cincinnati, Bailey was also the last pitcher to throw a No-Hitter in the majors, becoming the first pitcher to throw consecutive No-Hitters since Hall-of-Famer Nolan Ryan completed the feat twice in the 1970’s.  Ryan’s first set of consecutive MLB No-No’s came when he threw one in May 1973 and the second in July 1973.  Then, Ryan repeated the feat throwing a No-Hitter in September 1974 and the second one in June 1975.   Bailey's first No-Hitter was the last one of seven pitched in the majors in 2012, as he went the distance to shut out the Pittsburgh Pirates 1-0 on September 28th.

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