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Roto Riteup: August 24, 2013

On this date in 79 AD Mt. Vesuvius erupted, probably. Rather than dwell on that negative, this is a link to probably the greatest Mt. Vesuvius reference in pop culture history.

On today’s agenda:
1. Another quality start from Ricky Nolasco
2. Matt Cain to the disabled list
3. Eric Young‘s hot streak
4. A streak of steals from Emilio Bonifacio

Another quality start Ricky Nolasco
Last night Ricky Nolasco tossed eight innings of two hit ball against the visiting Boston Red Sox. Nolasco didn’t allow a walk while striking out six and garnering a dozen swinging strikes. Including yesterday’s start, Nolasco has three straight quality starts and nine straight starts without allowing more than three runs. With his next start coming at home verses the Chicago Cubs, Nolasco should be grabbed in just about any format. Despite his recent string of success, Nolasco is still available in 53% of ESPN formats and 54% of Yahoo! leagues, though just 20% of CBS formats.

Matt Cain to the disabled list
For the first time in his major league career, Matt Cain will wake up and find himself on the disabled list. Cain was struck by a pitch in his right arm during his Thursday start and was being immediately removed. Apparently the contusion and pain is significant enough to send Cain to the 15-day DL. An x-ray showed no breaks in his arm, but given that the San Francisco Giants are well out of the playoff race, there is no real reason to force Cain to pitch.

For fantasy owners, Cain has been quite disappointing this year. His 4.43 ERA has been tough to swallow given his 3.38 career ERA. Of course surface stats like ERA aren’t particularly useful in just 156.2 inning stretches, and Cain’s peripherals have been mostly in line. His xFIP over the past three years has been 3.78, 3.82, and 3.80 and his strikeout rate has been healthy. The real issue is that this season Cain has surrendered home runs at a pace identical to Kevin Correia and Jeremy Guthrie. Assuming Cain’s HR/FB% normalizes closer to his career norm, he should once again be a very good pick next year.

Eric Young‘s hot streak
In the wake of yesterday’s 3-for-5 game — that included his 29th steal of the year — Eric Young has nine hits and two walks in his past seven games. Arbitrary endpoints aside, Young has been a staple atop the New York Mets’ lineup card. Since arriving from the Colorado Rockies via trade, Young has posted 21 steals with the Mets and has scored 31 runs in 56 games. Though his batting average and on-base percentage will never carry you to a fantasy title, he may reach 40 steals on the season. With plenty of upside in terms of steals, any head-to-head league players (who don’t punt steals in a fashion similar to the author) should grab Young. One can freely pick Young up in 86% of Yahoo! leagues, 60% of ESPN formats, and 61% of CBS leagues.

A streak of steals from Emilio Bonifacio
Since joining the Kansas City Royals Emilio Bonifacio has seven steals in nine games. In addition to having the green light on the bases, Bonifacio has started five times in center field and three times at third base. He now is a mere two starts at the hot corner away from eligibility there in standard Yahoo! leagues.

Bonifacio could lose some playing time once Lorenzo Cain returns from the disabled list, however being able to play second and third in addition to his outfield abilities makes Bonifacio a source of steals as a super sub. Alliteration aside, Bonifacio is another player to grab if one is in need of steals. He is available in 81% of Yahoo! leagues, 71% of ESPN formats, and 75% of CBS leagues. If the choice is between Young and Bonifiacio, Young gets the slight edge, even without the position flexibility.