By: James Sargent
Omar Infante: Omar Infante is now the starting third baseman due to the injury of Chipper Jones, and he is sure making the most of it. He is currently on a 13-game hitting streak and is a must own in all leagues. Last week, Infante batted .419, scored six runs, belted out three home runs and drove in five RBIs. The Atlanta Braves utility man won’t be coming out the lineup anytime soon and his production for the rest of the season is worth adding to your roster.
Coco Crisp: Coco Crisp has been swinging a fiery stick and tearing up the basepaths as of late. Last week, he jacked two home runs, scored seven runs and stole four bases. Although Crisp’s season stats are low, you have to remember he only has 202 at-bats. If you need a spot starter in the outfield slot for a week or two, give Crisp the chance. He won’t let you down and will definitely provide plenty of runs and a couple of steals.
Lyle Overbay: Lyle Overbay had an outstanding week, but it really only came from one game. On Friday against the Red Sox, Overbay went 4-for-5 with two homers, seven RBIs and three runs scored. It was a career night for Overbay and a game that could show what he has the capabilities of doing. I’m not trying to say Overbay is an outstanding player, but with a little more production out of the Toronto first baseman and he could be a solid fantasy option. If you are very desperate for a first baseman, Overbay might be your guy, but in all reality, just chalk this performance up to one good day.
Ryan Howard: Ryan Howard has had 19 at bats since coming off the disabled list and has not made the most of it. Last week, he went 2-for-19 and only drove in one RBI. His strikeout rate is still very high and you could say his home run rate is kind of low this season. If the Phillies want to make the post season, Howard has to be a catalyst in the offense and make them go.
Brian McCann: Last week was pretty bad for Brian McCann. He only recorded three hits all week and only one RBI. The Atlanta Braves catcher, just like Ryan Howard, needs to start stepping his game up so his team can hold on to their first place lead. Even McCann’s defense has been shaky to say the least, and he is normally an elite backstop. Owners shouldn’t worry though, because the anchor of this line up will erupt soon enough.
Aaron Hill: An 0-for-19 slump over the previous five games had Aaron Hill demoted to eighth in the lineup. Hopefully this will give a jolt to the struggling second baseman. Expect Hill to stay in the eight hole with the .208 average he desperately needs to get higher. Owners who drafted Hill with the hopes of a repeat to last season have been thoroughly disappointed. I know on a first hand basis because I am one of those owners.
Jaime Garcia: Jaime Garcia threw a three-hitter for his first career shutout, and first outing longer than seven innings, in a 9-0 victory over the Giants. He picked up his 11th win of the season and his 2.42 ERA is the sixth-best mark in the National League. This was probably his best game, so far, in the majors and he his looking to have for many more outings similar to the one he just had. If he keeps up the strong performances, he could possibly have a chance to get some CY Young votes and win Rookie of the Year.
Ted Lilly: Last week, Ted Lilly tossed a two-hit shutout and recorded 11 strikeouts against the Colorado Rockies. This was his first shutout since 2004 and the Rockies were without star outfielder, Carlos Gonzalez, but nonetheless it was still impressive. Lilly is 4-0 with a 1.29 ERA in four starts for the Dodgers. Lilly is proving to be a great spot starter if you need it, and with the season reaching its final month, spot starters will be key.
Brian Matusz: First off, I would like to say that I love Brian Matusz’s stuff. He has the potential to be a star, left handed pitcher in the majors. This is his first full season with the Orioles and he has been up-and-down to say the least. Last week, Matusz threw eight shutout innings and struck out six Rangers. This start, as with Jaime Garcia, was one of Matusz’s more impressive ones. Give it a couple more years and Brian Matusz will grow into a more dominating pitcher.
Cliff Lee: Cliff Lee has been struggling as of late, and has not picked up a win since Aug. 6. Last week did not bode too well for Lee, as he tossed 13.1 innings and allowed 14 earned runs. When Lee was pulled from his second game last week in the fifth inning, it was his first time since his final start of the 2009 season without completing six innings. The left-handed work horse needs to get his act together soon so he can be riding high into the playoffs.
Javier Vazquez: Last week was a rough one for Javier Vazquez. Vazquez was taken out of the rotation and will be available out of the bullpen beginning this week. In seven starts since the All-Star break, Vazquez is 2-2 with a 6.69 ERA, though he’s 0-2 with an 8.10 ERA in four August starts. Ivan Nova will be replacing Vazquez in the rotation, and with Andy Pettitte soon to return, this could be the end of Vazquez as a starter.
Jon Lester: Jon Lester gave up a career high nine runs in his only start last week. He lasted only two innings, giving up eight hits and walking three. He has lost five of his last seven starts, and hopes to be revitalized when he pitches against the Rays. If Boston wants a post season birth, Lester needs to be the guy to step up and lead the Red Sox.