By James Sargent
Last installment of Sargent’s Orders until next baseball season.
Shin-Soo Choo: Shin-Soo Choo has been the Indians’ best hitter all year, and last week he solidified that with a great performance. Choo was selected AL player of the week with a .500 batting average, four home runs, 11 RBIs and two stolen bases. Choo has 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases, one of three American League players to have reached those figures this season. The others are White Sox outfielder Alex Rios and Angels outfielder Bobby Abreu.
Mike Aviles: To some baseball fans, Mike Aviles is probably not a name you hear quite often. For one, he’s on the Kansas City Royals, and two, there are typically better middle infielders to start in fantasy baseball. Aviles is having a decent season this year, and last week he was scorching the ball and significantly raised his batting average to .309. He also provided four home runs and seven RBIs. Pick him up if he is available in your league. Ride his hot streak and watch as he continues to amaze.
Jay Bruce: Last week, Jay Bruce recorded eight hits, three homers and seven RBIs to help the Cincinnati Reds move closer to clinching the National League Central. Bruce has been raking all of September and I’m sure the Reds are hoping that can transpire in the playoffs as well. Bruce is an intricate part of the Reds’ offense and he can certainly be pushed aside at times due to the success that Joey Votto has had all season.
Miguel Cabrera: Miguel Cabrera had a terrible week last week, and that doesn’t happen too often. Cabrera was 1-for-21 with only two RBIs and just didn’t look like himself. Part of the reason could be that he was dealing with bicep tendinitis. As long as he can play, he’s going to be out there trying to finish strong.
Ben Zobrist: Ben Zobrist has been struggling since the All-Star break. He recorded only two hits all week, and before the hits came on Sunday, he was in an 0-for-23 skid. Zobrist, who bats second in the Rays’ lineup, needs to start getting on base more frequently so the big bats of Evan Longoria and Carlos Pena can drive him home. The Rays, whose magic number is five, need a hot Zobrist for the playoffs if they want to make a run at the World Series.
Brandon Phillips: Brandon Phillips continues to struggle at the plate. Phillips went into Monday’s game hitting .132 over his last 16 games. The skid began when Phillips returned to lineup after missing six starts due to a bruised right hand. Last week, Phillips went 3-for-25 without recording a single run or RBI. Once Phillips moves past the injury, I am sure his “mojo” will return and he will become the player who you are used to seeing.
Daniel Hudson: Daniel Hudson has been flat-out brilliant since arriving in Arizona. All 10 of his starts have been quality, as he’s gone 6-1 with an amazing 1.65 ERA. Last week was much the same for the right-hander as he recorded a win and only allowed one earned run in 14.1 innings of work. I think the Diamondbacks have a future ace in the making. Thank you, White Sox, for Hudson! He is younger, cheaper and quite possibly better than Edwin Jackson.
Derek Lowe: Last week, Derek Lowe upped his win count to 14 with two solid victories. He pitched 14 innings and only allowed two earned runs while recording 14 strikeouts. His next start is against the Nationals and he is definitely a must start for this occasion.
Carlos Marmol: Carlos Marmol recorded three saves last week and did not allow any runs. He has 33 saves in 38 opportunities and leads all relievers with 124 strikeouts, something he has accomplished over 71.1 innings, giving him a gaudy 15.64 strikeouts-per-nine-innings rate. This is Marmol’s best year and should be in your starting closer role every night just in case he gets a save opportunity.
Jonathan Broxton: Jonathan Broxton hasn’t returned to form since getting removed from the closer’s role. If anything, he’s gotten worse. What happened to his domination? Last week, Broxton threw 1.1 innings and allowed two earned runs with no strikeouts. Hong-Chih Kuo is currently the Dodgers’ closer, and with Broxton pitching the way he is, he won’t be earning it back anytime soon.
John Lackey: John Lackey has lost his last four decisions and even heard boos from the Boston faithful. With a road start against the White Sox and a home start against the Yankees, benching Lackey is probably in your best interest to close the season. This has been quite a disappointment for Red Sox fans, who are hoping he will rebound next season after getting acclimated to a new team and the tougher AL East.
Mark Buehrle: Mark Buehrle has not won since beating Minnesota on Aug. 19, a five-start stretch in which he’s 0-2 with a 5.63 ERA. Last week he allowed six earned runs in five innings of work with only one strikeout. Buehrle is having a very sub-par year and at this point should probably be dropped from your team if he is still on it. At least he had that great opening play to start the season, right?