Another week, another player is suspended for testing positive for synthetic testosterone. It's a trend I'm not particularly thrilled with. Granted, that Melky Cabrera and Bartolo Colon both got caught is a sign that drug testing is working to a certain degree, but I'm not naive enough to think that more players aren't trying to cheat the system.
I'm mostly bummed about this situation because now baseball is getting national attention for the wrong reasons. Not because of the exciting pennant races, the three perfect games we have seen this season, Mike Trout's historic rookie season or even Billy Hamilton's stolen base record. Nope, instead we're rehashing the same old arguments we have had for the past decade or so. It's exhausting.
I mentioned last week that losing Cabrera in fantasy leagues wasn't a death sentence and the same thing applies with Colon. The veteran right-hander was featured in Waiver Wired just two weeks ago, so he obviously had value in mixed leagues, but the good news is that similar production can be found on the waiver wire. In fact, this might be a good time to stash his teammate Dan Straily, who figures to join the starting rotation as soon as he's eligible to return from the minors in a few days.
Brett Anderson SP, Athletics (Yahoo: 19 percent owned, ESPN: 14.9 percent)
Anderson was victorious in his first major league start in 14 months Tuesday night, limiting the Twins to just one run on four hits over seven innings while striking out six and walking none. Granted, it's tough to glean too much from one start, but Anderson threw 62 out of 86 pitches for strikes, induced 13 ground balls to zero fly balls and hit 92 mph with his fastball in his final inning of work. Pretty encouraging stuff, especially with Bartolo Colon ruled out for the season after his PED suspension. It's easy to forget that the 24-year-old was emerging as one of the game's best young left-handed starting pitchers prior to undergoing Tommy John surgery, so he could have some sneaky value down the stretch.
Tyler Colvin OF/1B, Rockies (Yahoo: 18 percent owned, ESPN: 22.2 percent)
Colvin scuffled a bit in July, but he should be back on the radar in fantasy leagues now that he'll get regular duty at first base following Todd Helton's hip surgery and Michael Cuddyer's nagging oblique injury. The 26-year-old hit his first home run since July 6 on Monday night against the Mets and is batting .409 (18-for-44) over his last 12 games. The Rockies will face the Cubs in Wrigley Field this weekend before playing six straight at Coors Field, so now is a great time to buy in deeper formats.
Matt Harvey SP, Mets (Yahoo: 35 percent owned, ESPN: 45.9 percent)
The Mets continue to be terrible, but there's a lot to like about Harvey. The hard-throwing right-hander tossed six innings of one-run ball Wednesday night in a no-decision against the Rockies and now holds an excellent 2.75 ERA and 43/15 K/BB ratio over his first six major league starts. He'll likely be shut down at some point in September and don't look for the Mets to give him much help offensively, but he should be owned in more leagues right now.
Jonathan Lucroy C, Brewers (Yahoo: 37 percent owned, ESPN: 23.5 percent)
Lucroy continues to be undervalued in mixed leagues, despite posting some very impressive numbers. The 26-year-old backstop hasn't dropped off much since his return from a broken bone in his hand late last month, hitting .283 (17-for-60) with three home runs and 11 RBI in 20 games. If it wasn't for his two-month absence, he likely would have passed his career-highs in homers and RBI by now. With Carlos Ruiz, J.P. Arencibia and Mike Napoli all on the disabled list at the moment, there's no excuse for him to be unowned in standard leagues.
Zack Cozart SS, Reds (Yahoo: 24 percent owned, ESPN: 26.8 percent)
Cozart hasn't made an impact like his teammate Todd Frazier as a rookie, but he's still doing enough to warrant attention in mixed leagues. The 27-year-old is hitting .310 (27-for-87) with four homers and nine RBI in 20 games this month, pulling his batting average up from .240 to .252 in the process. He is currently tied for fifth among fantasy shortstops with 14 home runs and ranks ninth with 64 runs scored. His on-base percentage (.297) is brutal and it would be nice if he ran a little more, but he should be owned in all leagues which use a MI (middle infielder) spot.
Jeff Keppinger 1B/2B/3B, Rays (Yahoo: 7 percent owned, ESPN: 13.4 percent)
Go ahead, laugh if you want, but Keppinger is very quietly having his best season since he batted .332 in 67 games with the Reds back in 2007. The 32-year-old is batting .319 with six home runs, 29 RBI and an .818 OPS in 80 games this season while making eight starts at first base, 14 at second base and 31 at the hot corner. He has spent the majority of the season batting fourth or fifth in Joe Maddon's lineup, so he should continue to get plenty of chances to drive in runs. Keppinger will help fantasy owners the most out of the MI (middle infielder) spot, but the multi-position eligibility is nice to have.
Lucas Harrell RP/SP, Astros (Yahoo: 14 percent owned, ESPN: 9.4 percent)
It was bound to happen sooner or later. The Cardinals got to Harrell on Tuesday night, knocking him around for six runs on eight hits and three walks over just five innings. It broke a string of seven straight starts where he allowed two runs or less. I don't think Harrell can be trusted every time out in fantasy leagues, especially with that pathetic offense behind him, but he's a worthy streaming option this weekend against a reeling Mets team that is struggling to score runs off anyone right now.
Mitch Moreland 1B/OF, Rangers (Yahoo: 20 percent owned, ESPN: 27.1 percent)
I swear I was planning on including Moreland in Waiver Wired even before he hit a grand slam and drove in five runs Wednesday night against the Orioles. Trust me. The truth is that Moreland has been very solid since returning from a hamstring injury in late July, hitting .328 (22-for-67) with three home runs, 13 RBI and an .896 OPS in 22 games. He's best utilized in leagues where you can make daily lineup changes, as he owns a .603 career OPS against southpaws, but he should be useful as a CI (corner infielder) or fifth outfielder in deeper mixed formats.
Patrick Corbin SP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 14 percent owned, ESPN: 21.5 percent)
I recommended Corbin in NL-only leagues when he was added to Arizona's rotation at the start of August, but now it's time to give him a shot in mixed leagues. The 23-year-old southpaw has an impressive 2.77 ERA and 24/6 K/BB ratio in 26 innings over four starts this month and a 3.60 ERA and 54/19 K/BB ratio in 65 innings overall this year. It looks like the Diamondbacks will shut him down at some point in September once he reaches his innings-limit, but he's worth owning for now, especially with a promising matchup against the Padres on Friday.
John Jaso C, Mariners (Yahoo: 11 percent owned, ESPN: 3.6 percent)
I called Jonathan Lucroy undervalued a bit earlier, but Jaso's success has flown completely under the radar. The 28-year-old went 1-for-2 with two walks and a run scored in Wednesday's win over the Indians and is now hitting .289 with a .408 on-base percentage and a .908 OPS on the year. Among catchers with at least 200 plate appearances, only Jonathan Lucroy, Buster Posey and Carlos Ruiz have a higher OPS. The Mariners have been alternating Jaso between catcher and designated hitter on most nights, so he makes for a worthy second catcher in mixed leagues at the very least.
Shopping at the five-and-dime:
(Players owned in less than 10 percent of Y! and ESPN.com leagues)
Tyler Skaggs SP, Diamondbacks (Yahoo: 8 percent owned, ESPN: 3.5 percent)
Skaggs got the win in his major league debut Wednesday against the Marlins, giving up two runs on three hits and five walks over 6 2/3 innings. It was a bit of a mixed bag, as he struggled with his location at times, but it's easy to see why the Diamondbacks are so excited about him. One of the top pitching prospects in the game, the 21-year-old southpaw features a fastball in the 92-93 mph range and a knee-buckling curveball. There's no clear path for him in the rotation at the moment, as he was called up for the purposes of the doubleheader, but he could have value in mixed leagues down the stretch if the Diamondbacks end up trading Joe Saunders before August 31. It looks like he's staying in the majors for now, so keep an eye on him.
Will Venable OF, Padres (Yahoo: 3 percent owned, ESPN: 1.5 percent)
Talk about red-hot. Venable is 10-for-16 (.625) over his last four games, which has pulled his batting average up from .238 to .257 and his OPS from .715 to 762. The 29-year-old has also been pretty active on the basepaths recently, stealing nine bases over the past 30 days. Only Rajai Davis and Anthony Gose have more during the same timespan. Venable figures to sit against southpaws and he's naturally more productive on the road than at PETCO Park, so as long as you know what he is and what he isn't, he should be able to help in deeper formats.