A look at some players who could bolster your fantasy team off the waiver wire, depending on the format of the league in which you play.
Zack Cozart, SS, Cincinnati Reds
Cozart is a subpar offensive option in real life but a solid option in fantasy leagues. Among shortstops, he is ninth in HR, eighth in RBI, and fifth in runs. Dusty Baker finally gave up on the idea of batting Cozart and his lousy .276 on-base percentage second, so Cozart takes a bit of a hit, but if you’re not particularly concerned about batting average, Cozart is a better play down the stretch than a number of mixed-league shortstops/middle infielders currently on active rosters. —Mike Gianella
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Paul looks at five starting pitchers that could help your fantasy squad if you deploy them only when they take the mound at their home yards.
A couple of weeks ago, I started to take a look at the 2014 first round, discussing what we’ve learned so far in 2013 and how it might impact the early part of drafts next March. I also mentioned a second part next time out. The “Sporer Report” was off last week for the holidays, and though it’s obviously back this week, I’m tabling part two for a little while to cover a topic a bit more useful for the here and now as you charge toward your 2013 league pennants.
There is nothing new about streaming pitchers as it relates to fantasy baseball. It’s a viable strategy with known pros and cons. It is often a matchup-based decision, but today we are going to look at some guys who are useful candidates for the other primary factor when deciding on streamers: venue. Depending on their team’s ballparks, some pitchers perform markedly better at home or on the road. I have 10 such pitchers, five for each side, whom you can maximize by deploying them only on their plus side. Let’s start with the homebodies.
An unlikely team leads the American League in scoring in June: the Oakland Athletics.
The Tuesday Takeaway
The Athletics began the month of June by getting blanked twice in a three-game series against the Royals. Bob Melvin’s offense was described as “historically bad.” Oakland had lost 10 of 11, falling behind the Mariners and into the AL West cellar.
After last night’s 3-0 shutout over the Dodgers, though, the A’s have now won six of seven, improving to 32-36 on the year and jumping back into third place. Brandon McCarthy, on the mound for the first time since June 9, led the way for Oakland in the series opener, tossing seven scoreless innings before Grant Balfour and Ryan Cook finished off Los Angeles. But the offense, not the pitching staff, has actually done much of the heavy lifting of late.
Pitchers are starting to drop to like flies, making Value Picks even more important as they move from luxuries to necessities as replacements. Cory Luebke has a partially torn UCL, Jeff Niemann suffered a broken leg and hit the 60-day disabled list, Danny Duffy is likely set for Tommy John surgery, Vance Worley joined the DL ranks with elbow inflammation, and Joe Wieland (hardly a mixed league stalwart five minutes into his career), went down earlier this month with an elbow injury of his own.
Bryce Harper's presence and early contributions gives the Nationals a happy glimpse into the future.
The Weekend Takeaway
During a weekend series highlighted by Matt Kemp’s 10th-inning walk-off homer in Saturday’s 4-3 Dodgers victory, the Nationals got a glimpse into their future—a future that likely will not include many more sweeps at the hands of the Dodgers.
Top prospect Bryce Harper arrived with a bang on Saturday, and while Kemp ultimately stole the show, the 19-year-old phenom immediately displayed the tools that will soon make him a superstar. Harper rocketed a high Chad Billingsley fastball over Kemp’s head to straightaway center for a double, fired an 80-grade bullet home from left field, and drove in the go-ahead run with a ninth-inning sacrifice fly that would have won the game if not for a Henry Rodriguez meltdown in the bottom half of the frame.