Top 5 Weekly Fantasy Matchups (August 22nd)

The classic Ichiro pose.

With six weeks left in the fantasy baseball season, owners in contention are looking for any competitive edge against the competition. We’ve done some serious number crunching at FBS to provide owners with a guaranteed recipe for success. Let’s take a closer look at some of the guys you may want to consider this week.

Hitters

1.Yuniesky Betancourt, SS KC: .271/13/61/51

Take another look at Betancourt’s season line. Not too shabby for a SS on one of baseball’s worst teams, wouldn’t you say? Largely overlooked by most owners, Betancourt is enjoying a huge breakout season. Not only has he hit three grand slams this season, but he’s already got four more bombs than his previous career high and looks primed to surpass his career high in RBI (67) as well. Owners could certainly do a lot worse at a mighty thin position, and Betancourt’s offensive ability warrants him a roster spot in most standard leagues. He’s on an August binge, batting .358 with six homers and 15 RBI with still over a week left in the month. Do not hesitate to plug him in to your lineup, but monitor the situation closely and pull the plug if and when he begins to cool off.

2.Ichiro Suzuki, OF SEA: .311/5/34/55

It’s been a “down” year for Ichiro as he has not produced the way that most of his owners have become accustomed. Unfortunately for the Japanese star, he plays for the lowly Mariners who have had trouble scoring runs all season long. He’s scored just 55 runs out of the leadoff spot which tells owners all they need to know about Seattle’s offensive output this year. Having said that, he does have 31 steals on the season, which is nice to see after he compiled just 26 all of last season. He’s hitting .321 this month with 13 runs scored and seven swipes this month, so get him active and take advantage of the production.

3.Jason Kubel, OF MIN: .262/15/81/53

Pegged as a sleeper by many heading into the year, Kubel didn’t exactly live up to his hype over the first couple of months. His power has always been for real, but unfortunately so has his streakiness. Luckily for his owners, August seems to be Kubs’ favorite month as he’s just been going off over his 18 contests this month. With six homers and 23 RBI during that span, the man in Minny is amazingly hot right now and needs to be active in every format. He’s got a real chance to finish with 20+ dingers & over 100 batted in which is pretty much what most had projected for him during Spring Training.

4.Adam LaRoche, 1B ARI: .271/21/78/64

A notorious slow starter, LaRoche has been a different player since the break. The lanky lefty now sports a career OPS of over .900 in the second half compared to just a .775 mark in the first half. It’s time to get him active in all formats as he’s no longer just a borderline option in most leagues. He’s one of those guys that owners can pencil in for guaranteed production but must realize that most of it will come in August and September. With a .311 average and 13 taters over the last six weeks, LaRoche has established himself as a pretty hot commodity.

5.Joe Mauer, C MIN: .331/8/66/73

Mauer had been a major disappointment for owners who drafted him expecting a repeat of 2009’s power surge. Heading into the ASB, some owners were left wondering if his hefty new contract was putting too much pressure and looking for answers as to why the star catcher wasn’t producing. Then, something clicked, and Mauer has been on en fuego. He already has five games with three or more hits in August alone and has gone 26 for 55 (.473) with two homers, 12 RBI, and 11 runs scored over his last 14 games. He’s elevated his season average past the .330 mark and has an outside chance at the batting title. Continue to stick with the elite option at a thin position through thick and thin.

Pitchers

1.CJ Wilson, SP TEX: 12-5, 3.02 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 128 K

After spending the majority of his career as a reliever, Wilson’s transformation to a starter this year has gone about as flawlessly as anyone on the Rangers’ staff could’ve hoped. Fantasy owners have been thrilled with Wilson’s results as he’s a player who definitely came at a discount on draft day. The best part about Wilson’s game is his ability to strikeout guys at a very regular clip and has eclipsed double-digit Ks on a few occasions this season. A legitimate candidate to win 15+ games, CJ is making it look easy over his last two outings with 20 Ks in 16 IP and just a single ER allowed. He’s won five straight decisions and has an August ERA of 2.55. He’ll take on the Twins Wednesday.

2.Ted Lilly, SP LAD: 7-8, 3.23 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 115 K

When the lefty arrived from Chicago, he was just 3-8 on the year despite pitching much, much better than that. Since he came to Tinsel Town, he’s made it look easy going 4-0 over that span. Most recently, Lilly twirled an impressive two-hit shutout of the Rockies where he amassed 11 Ks. Never known much as a strikeout pitcher, the veteran’s K:BB ratio is just about 5:1 which is absolutely remarkable. Still getting largely ignored in fantasy circles (I have no clue why), Lilly is a better than solid option the rest of the way as long as he continues to pitch at such a high level. Perhaps it’s in the home cookin’ as Lilly is a California native, so let’s hope the trend continues. He’s scheduled to take on the Brewers Wednesday and carries a 0.64 ERA against them this year.

Scherzer has been a dominant force since his return.

3.Max Scherzer, SP DET: 9-9, 3.73 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 134 K

After a brief demotion to the minor leagues following a series of poor starts, Scherzer has come back with a Cliff Lee type of vengeance. He’s been one of the top starters in fantasy over the last six weeks but had been hampered by the inability to secure the W. Now coming off back-to-back victories, Scherzer looks primed to ride this wave for the rest of the year. An absolute strikeout machine, even his “bad” starts are solid. To recap: 8-5 with a 2.28 ERA since coming back to the show. He’ll be making a start for my team Thursday against Toronto.

4.Jonathan Sanchez, SP SF: 9-8, 3.47 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 151 K

Once referred to in the same breath as Oliver Perez, Sanchez has taken his game to another level this season. Talent was never the question with the lefty, but his control problems often limited him earlier in his career. Nowadays, it seems that those problems are behind him as he’s proving to be a dominant big league pitcher at times. Coming off of an outing where he pitched eight plus innings at Philadelphia, owners should be salivating at the thought of him taking on the Reds in San Fran this week. Those in need of strikeouts should pay particularly close attention.

5.Mike Pelfrey, SP NYM: 12-7, 3.80 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 87 K

Big Mike is finally starting to look like the dominating starter that owners saw in the first half. Despite an extremely high WHIP and an undesirable 87:53 K:BB ratio, Pelf has begun to reward his owners who stuck with him through his toughest stretch of the season. After not lasting more than six innings in seven straight starts, he’s now pitched at least seven in three straight and is 2-1 over that span. He’s beginning to use his fastball more, which is allowing him to better set up his devastating splitter and also helps to keep his walks down. He’s scheduled to take on the Marlins this week and will look to continue to keep the positive momentum.

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