In this week’s installment, we take a look at some of the guys that may have flown under your fantasy radar. At this point in the season, every fantasy owner has to dig deep and think outside the box to work the matchups in his or her favor. Let’s take a look at some guys that could really help you separate yourself during the dog days of summer.
1.Corey Hart, RF MIL
Hart is really enjoying a resurgent season. After the Brewers inked Jim Edmonds before the season started, Hart found himself in a platoon with the veteran. I guess that’s exactly the type of motivation that “The Wolverine” needed as he’s really been ripping the ball all season long. He’s got 18 HR, 55 RBI, and is batting a very respectable .272 on the year. What’s even better is that he’s currently riding a 10-game hitting streak and has hit .341 over that span with six doubles, seven runs, and 13 RBI. Get him active as he begins the week against the lowly Astros.
2.Cliff Pennington, SS OAK
No, this isn’t Chad’s (NFL QB) younger brother. We’re talking about Oakland’s everyday SS here. The little known SS has certainly been making a name for himself in the fantasy world over the last week and a half, and is showing no signs of cooling down. After getting off to a really rough start, Pennington has turned it around with 17 hits over his last 11 games. He hit just .175 in May, so it’s really encouraging to see him having success in June. For the season, he is batting just .248, but his SB potential paired with his hot hitting make him a prime target to start next week while he’s still hot.
3.Adam Jones, CF BAL
Jones was one of my favorite fantasy breakout candidates coming into the year as he had 25/25 potential written all over him. Unfortunately for both he and fantasy owners, it hasn’t exactly panned out that way, but baseball is a long season. Jones has seemingly finally found his groove and is showing off what made him so appealing on draft day. He’s been really disappointing with only three SB to date, but he is batting .523 over his last five games, all of which have been multi-hit performances. For the season, he’s got 11 HR with 31 RBI, so if Jones could start swiping some bases, he’d be even more valuable than his current standing.
4.Carlos Quentin, LF CHW
Quentin has never quite been the same player since his MVP-caliber season in 2008 when he blasted 36 HR. In fact, at the start of this season, he looked absolutely dismal and couldn’t seem to even hit the ball, let alone hit it over the fence. Thankfully, Quentin has begun to found his power stroke and is connecting with regularity. Despite his low average (.231), Quentin’s value lies in his ability to hit them out and drive em’ in, which is exactly what he’s been doing of late. He’s got four HR in his last nine games with 13 RBI and has hit .419 during that span. For the season he’s got 12 HR and 46 RBI, so Quentin definitely still has the potential to reach the 30/100 plateau. Just keep in mind that he’s a notoriously streaky hitter.
5.Todd Helton, 1B COL
After an absolutely atrocious start to the season, Helton was left searching for answers and may have had retirement on his mind. Thankfully for fantasy owners, he continued to grind it out and is finally starting to see some results. While his season line doesn’t look pretty at all (.254/2/15), he is hitting .320 over his last 12 games and seems to be settling into the number two slot in the lineup. Don’t expect Helton to put up the typical numbers of a 1B, but if you’re looking for a high average and a solid OPS, Helton is a cheap (and very appealing) option with limited upside.
1.Brandon Morrow, SP TOR
Morrow has been somewhat of an enigma his entire career: the strikeout potential has always been there, but Morrow hadn’t learned how to use his powerful stuff to pitch effectively—until now. In his most recent outing, Morrow pitched another eight scoreless against the Cardinals and has really come into his own. In his last five outings, he’s held the opponent to one run or less four times and has allowed just five runs total over 34 innings (1.32 ERA). Despite his season line of 5-5 with a 4.50 ERA, Morrow has been pitching much better of late and much better than his statistics would have you believe. With 92 K in 84 IP, it’s easy to see the kind of overpowering stuff the kid has.
2.Yovani Gallardo, SP MIL
Gallardo wasn’t exactly a sleeper on draft day, but slipped down many draft boards (unjustly) after compiling a 13-12 record last season. Another reason why wins are overrated: Gallardo pitched much better than his record dictated and had 204 K in 185.2 IP. As if that wasn’t impressive enough, Gallardo has been even better this season, amassing 115 K in just 103 IP already. For the season, the young ace is 7-3 with a 2.36 ERA and has been just ridiculous of late, with an ERA of 1.23 over his last six starts. He is the MLB leader in strikeouts and is a two-start pitcher this week. Need I say more?
3.RA Dickey, SP NYM
Dickey makes his second straight appearance on the Top 5 list, and I’m just as surprised (pleasantly) as everyone else. Dickey spent three days in the woods this offseason doing nothing but communicating with nature and tapping into himself, and it’s seemed to work. In his first seven starts for the Mets, he’s gone 6-0 with a 2.33 ERA and 1.30 WHIP. What’s most impressive may be his 35 K in 46.1 IP, as he’s never known to be a strikeout pitcher prior to this season. With his ability to throw the knuckleball at varying speeds and good location, Dickey has become a serious headache for opposing hitters and is showing no signs of slowing down. Keep running him out there.
4.Ricky Romero, SP TOR
It’s usually the same story with Romero: when he’s good, he’s superb, and when he’s bad, it’s really ugly. Despite the ups and downs he’s gone through this season, his overall season line remains very impressive: 6-3 with a 2.85 ERA, 1.22 WHIP, and 101 K in 104.1 IP. Over his last two starts, Romero has gone 14 IP without allowing a run and striking out ten. As a scheduled two-start pitcher this week, Romero is a must-start option based on his strikeout ability alone.
5.Dan Haren, SP ARI
Haren is usually just about as consistent as they come, but this season has been somewhat of a struggle for him. He’s just 7-6 for the year with an uncharacteristically high ERA (4.65) and WHIP (1.31). Haren had a really tough beginning to 2010, but has seemed to get somewhat back on track over his last five outings. In his last start against the Yankees, Haren was very impressive allowing just three runs over seven IP and striking out eight. That’s the Haren that we know and love, and that’s the one that’s going to have to continue to show up should he hope to find continued success in the second half. Fantasy owners should hope that Haren gets traded to a contender so he has a little extra incentive to be at the pinnacle of his game rather than pitching for the miserable DBacks.