Tuesday night August 14 in the Major Leagues was dominated by some solid starting pitching outings from some unexpected pitchers. Lucas Harrell of the Astros, Jeremy Guthrie of the Royals, Kyle Kendrick of the Phillies, Hiroki Kuroda of the Yankees, Wei-Yin Chen of the Orioles, Chad Billingsley of the Dodgers, Tim Hudson of the Braves, Mat Latos of the Reds, Chris Young of the Mets, Josh Johnson of the Marlins, Doug Fister of the Tigers, Matt Moore of the Rays, and Madison Bumgarner of the Giants all gave up one or no earned runs in their starts. That’s 13 of the 30 teams in action who got excellent starts last night.
Offensively, it was a far less successful night for fantasy baseball owners as a whole. However, as usual there were plenty of under-owned players who produced and they’re our focus on today’s Sleeper Central (Archive here). The players listed below had good nights last night and are available on waiver wires in over half of ESPN leagues. If your team needs a tweak, look at picking up the players listed below to provide a nice kick for the stretch run.
Michael Brantley – OF – Cleveland Indians: Just because the Indians are done for the season doesn’t mean there isn’t fantasy value to be had. Brantley’s ownership has actually trended down to 43.6% despite his solid start to the month of August. In his 13 games he’s played this month, Brantley is hitting .311 with a .822 OPS which is actually slightly down from July when he hit .326 with a .934 OPS. Brantley plays virtually every day in CF for the Tribe and has 52 RBI and 49 runs scored with a .293 average on the year. He’s added 12 stolen bases in 18 attempts and has 34 doubles which puts him at fourth in the American League behind Alex Gordon, Adrian Gonzalez, and his teammate Shin-Soo Choo. He doesn’t hit for elite power with just five home runs but can help compensate with his average and RBI for any other addition you might make that’s all power and no average. Brantley isn’t a must-own but can be a help to many fantasy teams as we come down the stretch as a solid contributor across the board.
Sleeper Starting Lineup
C- Wilin Rosario – Col: (8.6% ownership in ESPN leagues) 2-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B, HR, BB. Rosario has 19 homers on the year in just 246 at-bats with 47 RBI and 42 runs. His poor defense has kept him from becoming a full-timer, but he’s a valuable run-producer when he’s in the lineup. At a shallow catcher position Rosario is in the top five in home runs and the top 12 in RBI and runs scored. If you don’t have an elite option you could do way worse than Rosario especially as his playing time appears to be increasing as the season winds down.
1B- Yonder Alonso – SD: (11.7%) 2-4. Alonzo has hit safely in eight of his last nine games with five multi-hit games over that span. Many fantasy owners were disappointed by his lack of home run power this season, but he can meet your expectations if you pick him up for average and RBI. Alonso is hitting .312 with 19 RBI and three home runs in 29 games in the second half. In the first half he only hit .263 with three home runs and 19 RBI in 83 games, so the 25-year old prospect appears to be starting to figure things out on the MLB level.
2B- Luis Cruz – LAD: (0.1%) 3-5, R, 3 RBI. Cruz has stepped into the super-sub role left vacant with Jerry Hairston’s DL trip. He has three multi-hit games in his last seven with six RBI and has raised his average to .270 on the year. Keep an eye on his playing time going forward to see if he can maintain his spot in the lineup and any fantasy relevancy.
3B- Jeff Keppinger- TB: (18.1%) 2-4, 2 2B. Keppinger is hitting .321 on the year with 13 doubles and five homers through 73 games. If you need a boost in average from the hot corner, it looks like he’ll remain a regular in the lineup even with Evan Longoria back making him an option in deep leagues or daily formats where you are bargain shopping.
SS- Zack Cozart- Cin: (25.8%) 2-4, 2B. Cozart continues to hover around the .245 mark with his average and hit leadoff daily for the Reds. His OPS is still just .695 but if you need countables from an everyday SS he’s a low-end option that gets consistent playing time and lots of at-bats.
OF- Rajai Davis – Tor: (43.2%) 3-4, R, 2B, BB, 2 SB. Davis has 35 steals on the year in 43 attempts and has three multi-hit games in his last four and four steals over that time as well. Davis has excelled in the leadoff role for Toronto and makes a nice addition to yours as well if you need steals, runs, and even occasional power.
OF- Eric Young Jr. -Col: (5.3%) 3-5, 2R, 2 RBI, 2B, HR. Another top of the waiver wire heap leadoff man is Eric Young Jr. He has gone 10-20 in his last four games and 15-37 in his last eight. He has secured the leadoff spot for the Rockies ans is making a huge impact. If Davis and Young are available, you could completely makeover your outfield in a hurry and rack up the steals and runs.
OF- Michael Brantley -Cle: (42.8%) 3-4, 3 R, 2 RBI, HR. Brantley has been a solid option al year and is picking it up a bit lately. Check out the more in depth info above.
OF- Jon Jay- Stl: (28.1) 2-3, R, 2 RBI, BB, HR. Jay hit his fourth home run of the year and raised his average to .315 on the season. He’s hit safely in eight of his last ten and in his last eight games is 17-32 with six RBI and seven runs scored.
AL Starting Pitcher- Jeremy Guthrie – KC: (1.7%) 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K, W. Guthrie had a 6.35 ERA in 19 games with the Rockies and a 7.71 ERA in his first three with the Royals. Since then, he’s thrown 15 innings of shutout baseball over two starts. Is Guthrie following the Jason Hammel story of success after leaving the rarified air of Coors Field? Only time will tell, but he’s definitely worth a look as a spot starter to see if he continues his dominance.
NL Starting Pitcher- Kyle Kendrick – Phi: (1.5%) 7.0 IP, 0 ER, 5 H, 0 BB, 6 K, W. Kendrick was probably the most surprising among the list at the top of this page. He allowed six runs in 3.1 innings his last time out to Atlanta but bounced back in a brilliant way agains the Marlins. I’d like to see at least one more solid start before I start using him in anything but the most desperate deep league as a streaming option.