Matt Garza got a save?  Max Scherzer and Jonathan Niese continued to impress on the mound.  Billy Butler and Mike Stanton may be turning up the power.  Let’s look at these stories and all the rest from yesterday’s games:


Brandon Phillips (2-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R) – Cincinnati Reds –  He is on fire, now with a six-game hitting streak.  Since June 1 he’s gone 49-for-142 (.345) with 5 HR, 12 RBI, and 27 R.  While the RBI aren’t quite what we’d hope for, the runs more then make up for it.  He’s up to 65 runs on the year, helping to make him one of the elite 2B in the game (especially with Chase Utley and Dustin Pedroia missing significant time).

Martin Prado (3-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) – Atlanta Braves –  He’s not a home run hitter, yet he’s now hit three over his last two games (5-10, 3 HR, 3 RBI, 4 R).  He’s hitting .336 with 10 HR, 39 RBI, and 61 R on the season.  While his BABIP is slightly high (he entered the day with a .363), that potential regression isn’t enough to scare anyone off.  He’s certainly making Braves fans forget about Kelly Johnson’s success, isn’t he?

Billy Butler (2-3, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) – Kansas City Royals –
 Is the power finally starting to show itself?  It may not seem like a lot, but he has four home runs since June 13 (he had five home runs up until that point).  Last season he hit 13 of his 21 home runs after the All-Star Break, so it certainly is possible.  He’s been a must use anyways, thanks to the average, but his value could increase tremendously if he starts hitting them out at a greater pace.

Adam Dunn (3-4, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 3 R) – Washington Nationals – 
He had gone 12 games without a home run, but he made up for that in a big way.  He now has 20 HR and 54 RBI on the season.  Who thinks he reaches 40 this year?

Adrian Gonzalez (4-5, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 R) – San Diego Padres – 
He’s hitting .302 with 17 HR and 54 RBI on the year.  He’s good, but we all knew that already, didn’t we?

Michael Brantley (1-5, 1 R) – Cleveland Indians –
 He’s been back in the majors for four games, seeing time in the absence of Shin-Soo Choo.  It hasn’t gone as fantasy owners had hoped, however.  In the four games he’s 2-for-17 with 1 RBI and 1 R.  He has plenty of speed, however, and could be a cheap source of stolen bases.  If you are in need there, he’s worth the flyer in five-outfielder formats.

Lance Berkman (1-2, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 R) – Houston Astros –
 He has home runs in three straight games, going 4-for-9 with 3 HR, 6 RBI, and 4 R.  I know a lot of people have given up on him, but clearly the potential to bust out is still there.  His BABIP is at .281, so the potential is there to hit for a better average the rest of the way.  He’s no longer an elite option, but he should be solid for those in deeper formats.

Buster Posey (4-4, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 3 R) – San Francisco Giants –
 He was at 1B, not catcher, not that it matters when he erupts for days like this.  I wouldn’t get too used to the power (he had six home runs over 172 AB at Triple-A prior to his recall), but right now he is scorching hot.  In July he’s gone 12-for-24 with 4 HR, 9 RBI, and 8 R.  He’s worth using and a solid bat, but don’t get used to the power numbers.

Matt Holliday (4-5, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 4 R) – St. Louis Cardinals –
 There’s no slowing him down, is there?  He has his average up to .306 with 14 HR, 44 RBI, 50 R, and 6 SB, just further entrenching himself as one of the elite offensive outfielders in the game and dispelling any concerns owners had after his horrific experience in Oakland.

Aramis Ramirez (2-5, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) – Chicago Cubs –
 He’s showing some signs of getting things back together.  He has three home runs in his last two games and a modest three game hitting streak (5-13, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 5 R).  He has a long ways to go, but 3B is an extremely shallow position so owners have certainly given him more slack then some other struggling players.

Mike Stanton (1-4, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 R) – Florida Marlins –
 Finally, he may be starting to flash the power we all heard so much about.  He’s homered in back-to-back games, picking up 6 RBI in the process.  His power potential makes him ownable in all formats, but those in five-outfielder formats should certainly have him in their lineups.  Despite struggles with his average (.223), his potential to hit home runs is too much to ignore.


Max Scherzer (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 6 H, 2 BB, 6 K, W) – Detroit Tigers –  He’s now 4-0 in his last five starts and has allowed 3 ER or less in each of his last six starts.  In his last four starts (27.2 IP), he’s allowed just three runs while striking out 29.  While he’s probably not this good, he’s certainly rewarding those who stuck with him (or grabbed him when someone else gave up).

Jonathan Niese (7.2 IP, 3 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 K) – New York Mets –  He was outpitched by Bronson Arroyo (8.0 IP, 1 ER, 7 H, 0 BB, 3 K, W), but he just continued to roll.  Even with his rain delay disaster (6 ER over 4.2 IP), his ERA since coming off the DL is 2.62.  He also matched his career high in Ks, which he had set in his previous outing.

He’s emerged as a solid option in all formats and a must own in deeper ones.  I can’t say that he’s not going to regress, but he’s now showing more strikeout potential with good control and a good groundball rate.  You have to love that skill set.

Marc Rzepczynski (5.2 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 7 K) – Toronto Blue Jays –
This was his first start coming off the DL and there are things to like and things not to like.  Obviously, the strikeouts are a plus.  Allowing two home runs (Orlando Hudson and Delmon Young), is not.  The groundball outs (9) were another plus.  He has the potential to be very similar to Jonathan Niese, so that makes him a pitcher who is worth watching in all formats.

Matt Garza (0.2 IP, 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB, 0 K, SV) – Tampa Bay Rays –
With Rafael Soriano having pitched in four straight games, the Rays turned to Garza (this was his work day between starts) to close things out for David Price (7.2 IP, 2 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 10 K, W). 

It certainly was an interesting move, but fantasy owners certainly aren’t about to complain.  Don’t expect to see him get any more saves, but maybe this experience will help motivate him (the Rays proved their faith in him) and get him back on track.

Bobby Jenks (1.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K, SV) – Chicago White Sox – While Matt Thornton has been great this season (2.73 ERA, 1.02 WHIP) and is primed to ultimately replace Jenks as the closer, for now Jenks has reestablished himself in the role.  He closed May with a 6.35 ERA and has gotten it back down to 3.98 thanks to allowing just 2 ER over his last 16 appearances. 

Continue using him with confidence, but keep Thornton stashed away, if you have room on your bench.  It’ll just take one slip up, and the job could easily change hands.

A.J. Burnett (7.0 IP, 2 ER, 5 H, 2 BB, 3 K, W) – New York Yankees –
It appears that the horrific June is behind him.  In his two July starts he’s allowed 2 ER on 9 H and 5 BB, striking out 9, over 13.2 IP.  He’s still not a must start for those in shallower formats, but in deeper formats he appears safe to return to the lineup unless the matchup is problematic.

Tim Lincecum (7.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 10 K, W) – San Francisco Giants –  This is what we’ve been waiting for, huh?  Even a “bad” Lincecum has managed to go 9-4 with a 3.16 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and 131 K over 116.2 innings.

Josh Johnson (8.0 IP, 0 ER, 6 H, 1 BB, 8 K, W) – Florida Marlins –
 He’s now 9-3 with a 1.70 ERA on the year.  Who is your Cy Young, Johnson or Ubaldo Jimenez at this point?

Who were the night’s big performers in your minds? Anyone else jump out at you? Any thoughts on the guys I mentioned here?


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