Sunday, July 3, 2011

Fantasy Baseball: Pickups of the Week

With the season just passing the halfway point and the All Star break fast approaching, here are some widely available players who could help your team.

Rich Harden, SP, Oakland, 10% owned Yahoo, 7% ESPN
Everyone knows what this guy has done in the past when healthy. He struggled greatly last year with his control, but he finally made his 2011 debut on Friday against Arizona and walked none while striking out six. With a career average of over one strikeout per inning, Harden could be an asset in three categories, especially at home in pitcher-friendly Oakland, and can be acquired for nothing. He could struggle in WHIP if he can't keep the walks under control, but he's an easy start this week when he faces Seattle this week at home.

Cory Luebke, SP/RP, San Diego, 14%/15%
Luebke is another starting pitcher with strikeout potential in a favorable home work. Of course, an ineffective offense hurts his chances at wins, but I'd rather have a pitcher like Luebke helping me in three categories than a #4 starter with a high-powered offense who drags down my ratios. The one red flag with Luebke is that the return of Aarong Harang brings his rotation spot into question, but he has pitched very well in his two starts thus far and has an excellent matchup this week at San Francisco.

David Hernandez, RP, Arizona, 23%/18%
With JJ Putz hitting the disabled list with an elbow injury, David Hernandez has assumed the closer's role in Arizona. Hernandez already picked up his first save with a clean inning on Saturday. Hernandez is an obvious option for those looking to fill a short term need for saves, but with Putz's injury history and no firm timetable on his recovery, Hernandez could be worth speculating on for saves down the road too.

Joe Nathan, RP, Minnesota, 34%/32%
After Matt Capps turned a 7-4 lead into an 8-7 loss Saturday, Nathan moved one step closer to reclaiming the closer's role in Minnesota. Then on Sunday, Capps was pulled out of a save situation after giving up two more hits to the Brewers. Capps has always been a placeholder for Nathan until he's ready to resume closing, and with the way he and Capps have pitched since Nathan's return from the DL it probably won't be long now. Keep a close eye on this situation, and consider grabbing Nathan now if you're not usually the quickest to the wire.

Javy Guerra, RP, Los Angeles, 6%/10%
This is a pretty simple situation: Guerra is the Dodgers' closer right now. He may not be that good, the Dodgers may not be that good, and Guerra may not be the closer for the rest of the season, but right now he is the guy. In addition, Jonathan Broxton is now more than likely out for the year, which eliminates one of his main competitors.

Eric Thames, OF, Toronto, 4%/2%
If you hadn't checked the Toronto lineup for a week, you would notice a lot of differences. With Juan Rivera cut loose and Jose Bautista moved to third base, Thames, Corey Patterson, Rajai Davis, and the recalled Travis Snider will man the three outfield spots for the Blue Jays. Thames has been excellent in his second taste of the bigs, hitting three home runs in the past five games (including one each off of Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee). His playing time could come into question, although it's hard to imagine him sitting on the bench with the way he's played since his recall. He dominated AAA this year, albeit in the hitter-friendly PCL league, and offers the rarest of assets in 2011: power potential.

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