In Major League Baseball last night, for the most part pitching was the focus as half the teams in the majors, 15, scored three runs or less. C.J. Wilson and Adam Wainwright were the two most successful starters as they shut out the Mariners and Padres. Wainwright pitched the complete game although Wilson left after eight one-hit innings.
Unfortunately for fantasy owners, those players are almost universally owned and can’t be picked up off the waiver wire. There were several solid performances form players widely available, however. As we do each day (archive here) let’s run down a whole lineup of productive players owned in less than 50% of ESPN leagues (ownership % in parentheses)
Sleeper Starting Lineup
C-Jonathan Lucroy-Mil: (44.0%) Lucroy has been a regular as the catcher in sleeper central, but is about to become too owned to be considered a sleeper. He’s been crushing the ball and his 2-4 night against the Giants brought his average up to .344. He had a double and a triple with a run scored last night as well. On the season, he has four home runs, 14 runs scored, 27 RBI, and an .958 OPS. He’s a top five offensive catcher right now and is an upgrade over almost anyone at catcher.
1B-Lyle Overbay-Ari: (0.1%) When he’s filled in for regular Arizona 1B Paul Goldschmidt, Overbay has delivered. Last night against LA he went 4-4 with three runs, and RBI, a double, and his second home run of the year. He’s hitting .370 with eight extra base hits in his first 54 at-bats. on the year. He’ll be worth a pickup if his playing time increases for the offense-hungry Snakes.
2B-Danny Espinosa-Was: (44.4%) Many owners gave up on Espinosa and he’s starting to make it look like they may have made a mistake. Last night, he went 2-4 with a stolen base as he raised his average up to .219, it’s highest since April 25. He has four stolen bases and 19 runs scored so far this year. The Nationals appear committed to him at 2B making him an intriguing pickup if he’s really on the rebound.
3B-Jordan Pacheco-Col: (0.1%) Pacheco has hit in seven in a row after going 2-4 last night in South Beach. He is up to .269 with five RBI and seven runs scored. All five of his RBI and five of his runs have come during his hitting streak. He’s taken over at 3B for the Rockies and is worth considering in super-deep leagues if you need average help. He doesn’t have plus power or speed, but is in the groove right now for Colorado.
SS-Elliot Johnson-TB: (31.2%) The infield shuffle in Tampa continues but it’s been Johnson who has emerged as a potential long-term contributor for the Rays. His 3-4 night last night raised his average to .286 on the year with his eighth stolen base, four in his last ten games. He hit his third double of the year last night as well and scored his tenth run. If you are playing shortstop roulette or lost yours to injury, he can be a nice source of steals, runs, and average.
OF-Michael Brantley-Cle: (21.7%) Brantley’s hits come in bunches and last night he went 2-4 with a run and two steals. He has three stolen bases in his last two games bringing him to six on the year while he’s raised his average to .261. He’s not a power option (zero home runs) but can contribute with his 14 RBI, 20 runs, and his speed on the basepaths.
OF-Tony Gwynn Jr.-LAD: (0.2%) Up to .298 after his 3-4 last night, Gwynn is securing his spot atop the Dodgers lineup. He has hit in eight consecutive games now and added two runs and two RBI last night. He’s scored 12 runs on the year with 10 RBI and only two steals. He’s still loaded with potential if he stays at the top of the lineup. Nobody outside of Miami has been hotter than LA, and the Dodgers will get Matt Kemp back raising the potency of the lineup following Gwynn.
OF-Jeff Francouer-KC: (41.2%) Back-to-back games with home runs the last two days have given Francouer three on the year with 11 RBI and 18 runs scored. He has played 41 games for the Royals as their everyday RF and is now batting .259 in his first 162 official at-bats. His power surge has been recent and is resulting in an increase in ownership. He hasn’t been able to steal bases, but could be a big contributor in other offensive categories if you can grab him in your league.
AL Starting Pitcher-Brian Matusz-Bal: (0.5%) In one of his best starts of the year, Matusz limited the Red Sox to two hits and a run in 6.1 inning while striking out nine. He picked up his third win in a run to get to 4-4 on the year. His 4.86 ERA and 1.54 WHIP don’t show his recent effectiveness. He has 38 K’s in 50 innings through his first nine starts and bears watching moving forward if he can continue his run of success. He has had some ugly starts, but in five of his last six has given up three earned runs or fewer.
NL Starting Pitcher-R.A. Dickey-NYM: (41.2%) Surprisingly, no one has more wins than Dickey in the National league. He picked up number six last night in Pittsburgh by holding the Pirates to a run on five hits in seven innings while striking out a season-high 11. He showed no ill-effects of being hit on the wrist while batting in his last start. He has allowed three earned runs or fewer in all but one of his nine starts. Not only is he 6-1, but he has a solid 3.45 ERA and 1.17 WHIP while holding opposing batters to a .241 average.
Relief Pitcher-Tyler Clippard-Was: (14.9%) The Henry Rodriguez project is on the shelf for the time being in the nation’s Capital. The official “closer-by-committee” may turn into Clippard as closer very quickly if he can keep throwing like he currently is. Clippard has allowed seven earned runs in his 20 games but only one this month. He pitched a clean ninth last night in Philadelphia while striking out one to pick up his first save of the year to go with his 10 holds. He misses bats as evidenced by 24 K’s in 20 innings this year and is the early favorite to emerge the winner of the closers job for the Nats.