As the season winds down, the free-agent pool is not exactly full of contributors. We discussed viable options like Gregor Blanco and Derek Dietrich last week, and they remain solid options for 12-team-mixed-leaguers if they are available. Franklin Gutierrez and Eugenio Suarez were discussed last week for deeper leagues and they both continue to produce as the season winds down, moving themselves into the picture in 12-team mixed leagues as well. These four players are all recommended if you need to fill holes over the rest of the regular fantasy season.
Relief pitcher/first baseman Ike Davis’ season-ending hip injury has opened the door for regular playing time down the stretch for Canha and he’s been making the most of his new opportunity. Since Davis made his last appearance on August 17th, Canha has gotten eight starts at first base and he’s continued to swing the hot bat that he showed earlier in the month while playing left field. In 80 August plate appearances, Canha has hit .325/.350/.532, adding in two home runs and driving in 15 runs. The 26-year-old Canha slugged eight home runs over the first half of the season, and while his two home runs in August mark his only two since the break, if he’s able to dip back into the power that he showed earlier and starts running at all again (five steals in the first half, zero in the second)—and combines it with the other improvement he’s shown—he certainly has the makings of an intriguing fantasy option over the next few years.
Canha owns a massive reverse platoon split; hitting for a .468 OPS on the season against lefties, while mashing righties to a .862 OPS clip, meaning the A’s will likely give him the bulk of the playing time down the stretch. With his five remaining years of contractual control after the season, the A’s will continue to find a place in the lineup for their 2014 Rule 5 pick if he keeps hitting.
Eickhoff’s long-term viability as a deep-league option was discussed yesterday, and his first two starts (coming against the Marlins and Mets) to start his big-league career have shown flashes that he can contribute in September this season in a few categories. Eickhoff doesn’t appear to be on an innings limit over the rest of the season and shouldn’t be in any danger of losing his rotation spot over the rest of the year as the Phillies seem intent on giving him a trial to see if he can be a part of their 2016 rotation. Eickhoff has struck out 11 batters (while only walking two) over 12 innings over his first two starts, and allowed four runs (three earned)—good for a 2.25 ERA. Eickhoff’s next three starts are scheduled to come in New York against the Mets, at Boston, and at home against the Cubs, before he faces NL East opponents the rest of the way. —J.J. Jansons
It’s a repeat performance for Cowart this week in this spot, solely because the waiver-wire hitting pool in deep AL-only leagues remains weak. After his call-up from Triple-A last Tuesday, Cowart has been getting regular starts at the hot corner for the Angels. The 18th-overall pick in the 2010 MLB Draft began his big-league career by going 0-for-13 in his first four starts, but has a couple of hits, including a HR and a couple of RBI, in his last five games, reaching in four of those five contests. With David Freese still out with a broken finger, possibly returning next week, the switch-hitting corner infielder could continue to see time at third base while Freese remains on the shelf. Cowart has shown a little speed during his minor-league career, posting 36 stolen bases In the past year-and-a-half in the minors, so Cowart could provide a stolen base or two while he remains in the lineup. This is purely a short-term spec play, but in deep AL-only leagues, the former top prospect could be a decent injury fill-in.
The veteran southpaw was acquired by the Tigers last week from the Blue Jays for cash considerations and was called up to start this past weekend against the Rangers. Now in his 16th year in the big leagues, Wolf held his own against a potent Rangers lineup and allowed three earned runs over his seven innings while striking out five and walking none. The lefty hurler got his second start on Thursday against the Angels and put up another solid performance, allowing just one earned run and seven baserunners over seven innings while taking a tough loss. Rolling the dice on Wolf is certainly a gamble, but the soft-tossing lefty did put up solid numbers in Triple-A this season, posting a 2.53 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, and 106-o-40 K:BB ratio in his 139 2/3 innings, making Wolf worthy of a roster spot in these formats.
Other AL-Only FAAB options: Jerry Sands, OF, Cleveland Indians; Sam Fuld, OF, Oakland A’s; J.R. Murphy, C, New York Yankees; Paulo Orlando, OF, Kansas City Royals; Chris Gimenez, C, Texas Rangers; Daniel Nava, OF, Tampa Bay Rays; Tim Beckham, IF, Tampa Bay Rays; Ryan Strausborger, OF, Texas Rangers; J.P. Arencibia, C, Tampa Bay Rays; Heath Hembree, RP, Boston Red Sox; Trevor Gott, RP, Los Angeles Angels ; Nate Jones, RP, Chicago White Sox; Zach Putnam, RP, Chicago White Sox; Mychal Givens, RP, Baltimore Orioles; Kevin Jepsen, RP, Minnesota Twins
La Stella was the Opening Day starter at second base for the Cubs this season, but an oblique injury suffered in the first week derailed his season and put him on the 60-day DL. He was recalled from Triple-A on Monday and has already gotten couple of starts in the Cubs infield this week. La Stella has no long-term value, but if Joe Maddon thinks La Stella is a fit in the Chicago lineup, the middle infielder from New Jersey with a career .320 AVG in the minor leagues could help fantasy teams in the short term from an AVG and runs scored perspective. La Stella is purely a deep NL-only-league play for a contending fantasy team with a MI hole to fill.
Signed to a minor-league contract by the Diamondbacks in June, this former 14-game winner with the Rockies was called up from Triple-A to get his first start of the season on Monday. Chacin pitched well, limiting the Cardinals to six hits and two earned runs over 6 1/3 innings while striking out five. The 27-year-old hurler should stick in the Arizona rotation for the short term while Jeremy Hellickson is nursing a hamstring injury, and he is scheduled for another start this weekend against Oakland. If Chacin can record another quality start against the A’s, he could be worth a flier in deep NL-only formats.
Other NL-Only FAAB options: Elian Herrera, IF, Milwaukee Brewers; Dustin Garneau, C, Colorado Rockies; Tommy Pham, OF, St. Louis Cardinals; Greg Garcia, INF, St. Louis Cardinals; Jairo Diaz, RP, Colorado Rockies; Logan Verrett, SP, New York Mets; Andrew Chafin, RP, Arizona Diamondbacks; Javier Lopez, RP, San Francisco Giants —Keith Cromer
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