Instead of an attempt at wit in today’s Roto Riteup, I’ll leave you with Dan Szymborski’s heatmap of Ryan Theriot. I saw this last night around midnight and couldn’t stop laughing. Baseball nerd humor at it it’s finest!
• Speaking of middle infielders, Stephen Drew is back; but more importantly he is back and his projection looks good. His rest of season ZiPS is for a .328 wOBA. If Drew had been healthy all year long, a .328 wOBA would place him seventh among qualified shortstops. I touched on Drew a couple of weeks ago, but no one has taken me up on my suggestion just yet. Drew is still available in 79% of Yahoo! and 85% of ESPN leagues. If you’re looking for a great second half SS eligible player, Drew could be your guy. Thanks to reader/commenter Mike for pointing out that Jed Lowrie left the game last night after an apparent ankle and knee injury. Lowrie has been nothing short of fantastic this season and was seen on crutches after the game. Drew could be the ideal replacement candidate.
• If you’re looking for outfield help then maybe Matt Joyce is your solution. He is owned in just 56% of Yahoo! leagues and 61% of ESPN leagues. Joyce is slated to begin a rehab assignment in High-A today and could be back with the Rays as soon as Wednesday. Joyce has enough power to hit at least 10 home runs the rest of the way and his RBI totals should be decent as well. For the month prior to his injury Joyce had been hitting 3rd or 4th the vast majority of the time. He crushed right-handed pitching and in a small sample size, he has hit left-handed pitching for a 120 wRC+. Ideally he won’t be platooned with anyone once he’s fully healthy and back into form. If he is available in your league, I’d pick him up this week before the other owners realize that he’s all but back in the big leagues.
• Somehow Alcides Escobar popped not one but two home runs last night. With those two homers he managed to double his season total and raise his slugging from .416 to .437. Obviously power isn’t Escobar’s claim to fame, but no one ever complained about their shortstop hitting for a little power. Escobar’s BABIP has remained high throughout every month so far and his seasonal average is still over the .300 threshold. He projects to hit .280 for the rest of the season, but it will be an empty .280 if he does. He does have some upside on the base paths, as he has already nabbed 13 bags to just two caught stealing. He should be able to just about match that stolen base total in the second half of the season, so he does offer something besides a rather hollow average. Escobar should be available to pick up or at least plug in and play for a week at a time in most Yahoo! leagues and almost half of ESPN formats.
• Colby Lewis is all set to to return to action after missing three weeks on the disabled list. After throwing bullpen sessions on Tuesday and Friday, it seems as though Lewis will not be heading for a minor rehab assignment. Instead the Rangers have slotted him to start against Oakland on Wednesday. If Lewis has a solid start, I’d look to trade him while his value is high. I know he battled forearm soreness, so it’s hard to judge what effect it had on him exactly, but Lewis’ velocity is down across the board when compared to last season. He’s still a pretty extreme fly ball pitcher (only 37% GB% for his career) and thus his home run rate is a constant concern. His projection is for a 4.02 ERA compared to his current 3.51 ERA. If he has a good outing on Wednesday then I would absolutely look to trade him while his value for the stretch run is perceived to be high. Lewis is owned in over 90% of ESPN leagues and almost 80% of Yahoo! formats. He is living off of his very good 2010 fantasy season. Stop paying for his past performance. Let someone else.
For those of you who play daily fantasy games like FanGraphs: The Game, or just like to stream players, here are a couple matchups you may be able to exploit.
A Pitcher for Today: Chad Billingsley vs SD
The Padres have scored the fewest runs in baseball and I’m actually a Billingsley fan. His strikeouts are up this year and so are his peripherals (SwStr% and F-Strike%) so I like him today and beyond.
A Pitcher for Tomorrow: Edwin Jackson at FLA
Jackson is only owned in about 65% of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, so I figure he’s a pretty solid stream candidate.