Welcome to the debut of the “Rotoprofessor’s Picks of the Week” column. As I said recently, this column is going to bring you the staffs suggestions for some under-the-radar options for the coming week. You aren’t going to find any superstar names here, but if you are in need of some help, these are names that are worth checking out.
Let’s get to this week’s suggestions:
Lorenzo Cain – Outfielder – Kansas City Royals (Ray Kuhn)
Cain entered the season as a highly regarded sleeper, especially for those looking for cheap stolen bases. All that has changed was that he got injured early in the season causing him to play in just 5 games and none since April 10 prior to being activated for Friday’s game. Although it was a small sample size, Cain hit .133 in his 15 at bats. That and the fact that he has been disabled for most of the season means that he can probably be found on your waiver wire. In 14 games he hit .269 on his rehab stint with 2 HR and 7 RBI and will reclaim the starting CF role. As long as Cain is healthy, which it sounds like the Royals took extra care to ensure that he is, he will be starting. You can probably count on a decent average and about 15 SB for the rest of the season which is more than you can say about most of what is available on the waiver wire. Unless you are really hurting in the outfield and SB departments, I would wait a week before starting him in weekly leagues, but he is someone to keep an eye on and watch in daily leagues.
Shelley Duncan – Outfielder – Cleveland Indians (Ray Kuhn)
Going into the All-Star break Duncan had a stretch where he hit 4 HR in 6 games which was part of a 9 game stretch where he hit .370. Duncan has power and is capable of filling of the stat sheet at times when he gets in these zones. Regardless of the last stretch, he is a streaky hitter who has never hit for a good average. At this point in the season, there is a reason why players are on the waiver wire and most have flaws. Duncan is different than Cain in the sense that he is purely a need based pickup and not a speculative player who could become a valuable player for your team. For those of you in deeper leagues that are looking for an outfielder for a week and could use some power, he could help for the week. It could also be an all or nothing acquisition that could pay dividends without risk.
Todd Frazier – Third Baseman/Outfielder – Cincinnati Reds (Eric Stashin)
In the first game out of the All-Star Break the Reds had Scott Rolen on the bench and Frazier starting at third base (though Rolen was out there yesterday). That should speak volumes of what they are thinking, but it is far from a definitive answer. Frazier is a risk because he could find himself on the bench a few times, but the Reds have started playing him in the outfield as well to keep his bat in the lineup. In his past four starts he’s gone 6-13 with 2 HR, 3 RBI and 6 R. The Reds have seven games at home this week, where Frazier has hit .275 with 4 HR in just 80 AB. It’s risky, because you may only get 4-5 games from him, but the upside is there at a weaker position.
Casey McGehee – First Baseman/Third Baseman – Pittsburgh Pirates (Will Overton)
This isn’t a guy I recommend playing every week, but this is one of these weeks where you want to put him in. Mostly because of the first two games of the week. McGehee and the Pirates are taking in the Rockies in Colorado at the beginning of the week and the first two pitchers are lefties, Jeff Francis and Christian Friedrich, followed by the struggling Jeremy Guthrie. If the Rockies weren’t going with two lefties than I’d probably be more likely to recommend Pedro Alvarez or Garrett Jones, but the lefties mean McGehee plays and he’s been playing well with a .300 average for over a month now.
Josh Rutledge – Shortstop – Colorado Rockies (Eric Stashin)
With Troy Tulowitzki out and their season quickly sinking, the Rockies called up Rutledge immediately following the All-Star Break. While he hit eighth in his first two games, chances are he’s going to quickly move up the Rockies lineup. Playing at Double-A, the 23-year old was hitting .306 with 13 HR (as well as 27 doubles and 3 triples) and 14 SB in 356 AB. That’s an intriguing power/speed combination, especially playing in Coors Field. There is a little bit of luck in the average (.345 BABIP) and you’d like to see him draw more walks (3.7%), but there’s an awful lot to like. If you need a middle infielder, he’s well worth the risk (in other words, those looking to replace Dee Gordon should take notice).
Casper Wells – OF – Seattle Mariners (Will Overton)
It looks like Casper Wells has gone from platoon outfielder who fills in against lefties to an everyday outfielder who hits both lefties and righties equally well. Still the Mariners are slated to take on four left-handers this week which means Wells is even more of a lock for serious playing time. Well has earned this playing time by going 9 – 30 recently and he has real power ability and should settle into a HR/AB rate around 1 in 20 AB’s.
Alex Cobb – Tampa Bay Rays (Eric Stashin)
He has a pair of starts against two less than stellar offenses in the Indians and Mariners. So far he has shown elite groundball stuff (61.7%) and solid control (2.53 BB/9). He also has been alright in the strikeout department (6.32 K/9), but a 7.97 K/9 over his minor league career shows us that there is more upside potential. That’s the perfect trio of skills, especially with the matchups he has, both of which are coming at home. If you are considering an under-the-radar two-start option, he’s as good of a pick as there is.
Lucas Harrell – Houston Astros (Will Overton)
Starting against the Padres in San Diego is the dream scenario for all pitchers. Two starts ago Harrell threw a complete game shutout against the Padres in Houston and this could be another one. Harrell has been up and down a lot this season, but he’s looked good lately and more important has been finding some K’s which he didn’t have before. Harrell has 25 K’s in his last 21 IP and with that San Diego trip this week it’s the optimal time to start him, even with just one start.
Matt Harvey – New York Mets (Ray Kuhn)
There is much speculation as to whether Harvey will be called up to start on Saturday for the Mets. Harvey is that type of talent where it is worth adding him on that speculation alone. With Dillon Gee out for the season, it is no secret that Harvey will eventually take the hill in Flushing this season. In deeper leagues, you cannot afford to wait to pick him, and especially those of you in keeper leagues must add him this week if he is not already on a roster. In his last outing in the Triple-A All Star game, Harvey pitched 2 innings and only allowed one baserunner. So far this season he has 102 strikeouts in 98.1 innings and in his minor league career has a 3.35 ERA. It is clear he has talent and the Mets have a need. He is worth stashing for even a few weeks before he is called up if you have the roster space, and if it is announced that is starting Saturday I would roll the dice and put him in my starting lineup.