A look at what took place this past weekend on the fantasy baseball diamond.
Stay tuned each week to Athlon Sports for a 2013 Fantasy Baseball Weekend Waiver Wire report every Monday. Our fantasy junkies cover the hottest hitters, best waiver wire pick ups, top starting pitching spot starts and sift through bullpens from around the league each week.
Top 25 fantasy baseball hitters of last week (June 10-16):
* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues
Weekly Waiver Wire:
This week's waiver wire is a bit more position-specific in light of the injuries sustained by Colorado's Troy Tulowitzki and San Francisco's Marco Scutaro last week. Both were top-20 MI (2B/SS) options prior to their injury, with Tulowitzki being a top-10 overall player. Tulowitzki is the harder one to replace because of his all-around production, and it also appears he will be out the longest (expected 4-6 weeks) after breaking a rib on Thursday. Scutaro sustained a hand injury after getting hit by a pitch on Tuesday and the team still isn't sure about his prognosis. He says he wants to try and play through the injury, but that's not a given and he also runs the risk of making it worse and jeopardizing his season, especially if surgery is needed. So when it comes to a shallow position pool like MI, what's a Tulo/Scutaro owner to do? Here are five names (in alphabetical order) that could be worth taking a look at. Each are less than 70 percent owned in Yahoo! leagues.
Zack Cozart, SS, CIN (31% owned in Yahoo! Leagues)
Cozart was quite productive last week (.357-1-4 with 7 R) and his status as the Reds' No. 2 hitter behind Shin Soo-Choo and in front of Joey Votto should be appealing in and of itself. Cozart is a top-25 MI option already and while batting average may never be his strong suit, he has more than enough power and opportunities in the second spot to be a reliable run producer. He hit 15 home runs last season, has six already in 2013 and should match, if not surpass, his 2012 RBI total (35) by the All-Star break. He already has 28 RBIs in his first 62 games this season.
Brandon Crawford, SS, SF (50%)
Scutaro's double-play partner has been more known for his glove than his bat, but that has changed this season. Crawford is a top-20 MI who has risen in Bruce Bochy's batting order. A .235 hitter entering this season, he is batting .288 through the middle of June and already has more home runs (five) than he did all of last season (four).
Omar Infante, 2B, DET (47%)
It's easy to lose track of Infante in Detroit's loaded lineup, but the Tigers' second sacker is more than holding his own. Even though he is at the bottom of the order, Infante has scored 33 runs and driven in 21, while batting near .300. He's not a big power-speed guy, but Infante is still capable of hitting one out of the park every now and then (four HRs) and stealing a bag (two SBs) on occasion.
Kelly Johnson, 2B/CI/OF, TB (60%)
Johnson is probably the closest available MI free agent that can provide the pop that Tulowitzki does. Johnson has 10 home runs and 37 RBIs entering this week, putting him in the top six among MIs in both categories. The caveats with Johnson is that he has a tendency to swing and miss, which impacts his batting average (.246), he can be a streaky hitter (.330-7-26 in May, .109-0-3 in June so far), and he could be in line to lose some at-bats now that the Rays have called up top prospect outfielder Wil Myers. Johnson can play all over the diamond, which makes it easier for Tampa Bay manager Joe Maddon to plug him in his lineup and as well as for fantasy owners to find a spot for him in theirs.
Josh Rutledge, 2B/SS, COL (43%)
Rutledge was sent down to Triple-A in late May, even though he was a top-25 MI (26 R, 5 HR, 13 RBIs, 5 SB) at the time. The main issue with Rutledge was plate discipline (13 BB, 27 SO in 43 G) , which had a lot to do with his .242 average. The injury to Tulowitzki opened up a roster spot for Rutledge and he promptly hit a home run in his first game back with the Rockies. The batting average is the big question mark moving forward, but if Rugledge can find a way to get on consistently, he should produce, especially when he's at home and because of his power-speed potential.
Kyle Blanks, 1B/OF, SD: .200/.726, 6 R, 2 HR, 5 RBIs
Cameron Maybin, OF, SD: .250/1.250, 1 R, HR, RBI, (Went on DL on 6/10 with knee injury, out 6-10 weeks)
Carlos Quentin, OF, SD: .214/.567, 2 R, RBI
Anthony Rendon, 2B/3B, WAS: .481/1.258, 4 R, HR, 5 RBIs
Top 20 fantasy Starting Pitchers of last two weeks:
* - less than 70% owned in Yahoo! leagues
Top 5 Spot Starts for the Week (Mon. - Sun.):
1. Mike Leake, CIN (Mon.) vs. Pittsburgh (56% owned)
Leake's WHIP (1.24) may be a little high for some people's tastes, but he has allowed just five earned runs over his last six starts (40 IP) and has a 31:6 strikeout-to-walk ratio during this span. He shut out the Pirates over six innings (7 H, 1 BB, 5 SO) on June 1 in Pittsburgh and as a team, the Pirates are 26th in the majors in both road batting average (.231) and runs scored (118 in 31 G).
2. Miguel Gonzalez (Sat.) at Toronto (17%)
Gonzalez has strung three straight quality starts together, going 3-0 with a 2.21 ERA and 0.89 WHIP (14 H, 4 BB) in those 20 1/3 innings. He has faced the Blue Jays twice already, including holding them to one run in 5 2/3 innings in Toronto back on May 26. He has a 3.31 ERA in road starts, compared to 4.15 at home and has given up just two home runs in 35 1/3 innings away from Camden Yards.
3. Jordan Lyles, HOU (Tues.) vs. Milwaukee (3%)
Lyles has allowed two or fewer earned runs in each of his last six starts. The young right-hander has posted a 28:10 strikeout-to-walk ratio during this span, has gone at least five innings in each start and has watched his ERA go down by nearly five runs (8.36 to 3.48). What's more, the Astros have won four in a row and he won't have to worry about facing Ryan Braun (on the DL) in the Brewers' lineup.
4. Mark Buehrle, TOR (Wed.) vs. Colorado (13%)
After a horrendous start (5.50 ERA in April and May), the veteran left-hander has turned things around. Buehrle has a 1.80 ERA in his last three starts, including seven scoreless innings in a victory at Texas his last time out. Not surprisingly, Colorado's offense is nowhere near as potent away from Coors Field. The Rockies are first in MLB in runs scored at home with 214 in 39 games, but just 18th on the road with 133 in 30 contests. Buehrle also doesn't have to worry about facing Troy Tulowitzki, who was batting .313 with four home runs in 67 at-bats against lefties prior to going on the 15-day DL with a broken rib.
5. Chad Gaudin, SF (Thurs.) vs. Miami (6%)
Gaudin has moved from the bullpen to the rotation and even though he was hit somewhat hard by the Braves (8 H, 4 ER in 5 IP) in his last outing, he has done a good enough job to maintain his starting gig for now. The veteran righty has a 1.12 WHIP in his three starts and prior to his last one, he had gone 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA in the first two. He gets the Marlins at home this week, where has a 0.61 ERA in 14 2/3 innings (all as a reliever). Even though the Marlins got Giancarlo Stanton back in their lineup, this is still a team that has struggled on the road. Miami is last in the majors in runs scored in away games with 100 in 32 games so far.
San Diego closer Huston Street (calf strain) was activated from the DL on Saturday and promptly collected back-to-back saves to close out the weekend. The ERA (4.43) and home runs allowed (seven in 22 1/3 IP) are a little alarming, but the closing gig is his for the foreseeable future. One thing to watch with Street is the Padres could decide to trade him to another team between now and the July 31 deadline. If Street is moved, he will more than likely assume the closer duties for his new team ... Could that be Detroit? Jose Valverde blew the save chance on Wednesday against the Royals, ruining a gem by Justin Verlander. Papa Grande pitched a scoreless ninth on Thursday in a non-save situation, but on Sunday Tigers manager Jim Leyland went to Joaquin Benoit and not Valverde to close out the eighth and ninth of a 5-2 win over the Twins. After the game, Leyland said he thought Benoit was the "best option to close the game," and even though he added, "That was today," one can't help wonder if this is the start of a closer-by-committee situation or if Benoit has passed Valverde on the depth chart. The trade market also is a potential option as this is a Tigers team with its sights set squarely on the World Series ... Seattle's Tom Wilhelmsen has four blown saves on the season, but all of them have come since May 20. He has a 16.88 ERA in 5 1/3 innings (10 ER in 7 appearances) in June, and on Friday, Mariners manager Eric Wedge said he was giving Wilhelmsen a "temporary break" from closing. That night, veteran Oliver Perez got the call and converted the save against the A's. That was the only save situation in the three-game set with Oakland, so it's too early to say if this is Perez' job or if right-hander Carter Capps (2-1, 4.38 ERA) will get some shots as well ... Cleveland's Chris Perez, who hasn't pitched since May 26 because of a shoulder strain, is progressing in his rehab. He pitched a scoreless inning for Lake County, the Indians' Low-A affiliate, on Sunday, in which he gave up two hits and struck out one. He could be ready to return as early as this week, but it remains to be seen if he will take over his closer duties from fill-in Vinnie Pestano right away or not. Prior to going on the DL, Perez had two blown saves in eight chances and was 2-1 with a 4.32 ERA. Pestano, who spent time on the DL in May with elbow tendinitis, picked up his first save on Sunday after blowing his first two opportunities on May 20 and 25. Velocity was an issue for Pestano when he initially came off of the DL, but it seems that he has returned to his normal levels over the past few weeks.
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