In his first start of the season (Aug. 21), Athletics southpaw Brett Anderson stifled the Twins for six strikeouts and one victory, allowing just one run in seven innings.
The following slideshow touts the top 12 waiver-wire pickups right now, recognizing the best free agents from the majority of 12-team roto leagues.
For the most part, this list rewards players who have already fostered productive starts to the 2012 season.
Savvy readers will notice the rankings are different from last week's offering. These changes can be attributed to the waiver-wire graduations of Ryan Roberts, Jeremy Guthrie, Miguel Gonzalez, Trevor Plouffe, Hisashi Iwakuma and Brandon Belt—forgotten (or largely ignored) assets on draft day, but now contributing pieces with their current teams.
That's how it should be with this countdown: Here today, gone tomorrow.
Enjoy the show!
Skinny: Since Aug. 19, spanning seven games, Cameron Maybin has two four-hit games, three multiple-hit efforts, four runs, four RBI and four steals.
Granted, it's a small sample size of success. But it's also encouraging enough to take a low-risk, medium-upside flier on a player with top-50 talent among outfielders—especially when focusing on runs and steals.
As someone who had reasonably high expectations for Maybin entering the season, I'm shocked that he's batting only .229 with six homers.
But that's in the past...especially if Maybin can replicate his .348 production from the last 15 days.
Skinny: At this point in the fantasy season, where trade deadlines have expired for 99.9 percent of the leagues, there's no real harm in riding middling talents for a short burst of statistical fame.
Take Will Venable, for example.
In his ongoing seven-game hitting streak, Venable has one homer, two steals, four RBI, four multiple-hit efforts and nine runs.
Here's one more carrot for adding Venable: The outfielder has an outside chance at snagging eight, nine or 10 steals from this point forward.
Skinny: This hearty endorsement of Sergio Romo (2-2, 2.06 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 6 saves) also comes with a significant caveat:
I cannot guarantee more than four Romo saves in the final five weeks.
Remember how the Giants lost closer Brian Wilson to a season-ending elbow injury a few months ago? Remember how Santiago Casilla recently got demoted from that interim position, despite 24 saves and a respectable 3.04 ERA for the year?
Since then, the San Francisco bullpen hasn't really taken a hit, with Romo, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt and even Clay Hensley finishing games in a surprisingly stellar committee scenario.
That said, I've always touted Romo as one of baseball's most effective relievers, regardless if he's closing out games or not.
And for 12- or 14-team leagues, I would happily roll the dice on his fantasy talents in September.
Skinny: Did you catch New York-based radio host Mike Francesa's hilarious eruption on the Mets last week?
The driving force behind the epic 10-minute rant was the Rockies coming into Citi Field and sweeping the Mets, who had lost 30 of 42 games at the time.
Francesa's meltdown included numerous references to how Colorado has "nobody in the lineup," a nod to Troy Tulowitzki (disabled list) and Carlos Gonzalez (family reasons) missing games.
While taking it all in, I kept thinking of Tyler Colvin...and how he had picked the perfect time to go on a mini-breakout against National League pitching.
In the last 15 days, Colvin has been hitting at a .340 clip with one homer, seven RBI, seven runs and four steals.
Bottom line: With steady at-bats in the Rockies lineup, there's a good chance Colvin will post sneaky-good numbers from this point forward.
Skinny: Patrick Corbin doesn't immediately stand out on a Diamondbacks staff that's awash in dependable veterans (Ian Kennedy, Daniel Hudson, Trevor Cahill) and elite youngsters (including Trevor Bauer, who may be back in September).
But at the same time, I'm willing to roll the dice on Corbin in September, citing his underrated knack for collecting six strikeouts and allowing three runs or less per outing.
In fact, I'd wager that Corbin (3.60 ERA, 1.17 WHIP since July 28) will register at least two games of eight-plus strikeouts from this point forward.
From any angle, Mitch Moreland has been crushing it with the Rangers.
A .360 average and 10 RBI since Aug. 20.
A .340 average in the last 15 days.
A robust .297 batting average and 43 RBI over 239 seasonal at-bats (or one for every 5.6 at-bats).
And yet, Moreland can be acquired in roughly 65 percent of fantasy leagues nationwide.
Skinny: At first blush, it seems ridiculous to endorse a rookie who got plowed for eight runs and 10 hits in a Triple-A game (Aug. 14).
But one clunker outing isn't enough to sway me from taking a low-risk, high-upside flier on rookie Tyler Skaggs, one of the Diamondbacks' three pitching dynamos under the age of 24 (Trevor Bauer, Archie Bradley).
From July 13 to Aug. 8, spanning six minor league starts and 37.2 innings, Skaggs had a 3-1 record, 1.03 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and 35/12 K-BB ratio.
Of equal importance, Baseball America has Skaggs ranked as Arizona's No. 3 prospect and projects him to be a high-end No. 3 starter in the majors.
In the fantasy realm, Skaggs may be a No. 3 starter this time next year, too.
Skinny: We'll keep this endorsement of Marco Estrada short and sweet:
Of the pitchers listed in this countdown, Estrada (3.54 ERA, 1.29 WHIP since July 28) has the greatest potential for nine-plus strikeouts every time he takes the mound.
For those engaged in hotly contested battles for their league's "Strikeouts" crown, that should be enough motivation to take a simple flier on Estrada, who's flourishing in the Brewers' rejiggered starting rotation.
Skinny: As stated numerous times on The Fantasy Blog, I fully expect the Phillies to have a fantastic September run to respectability—a product of Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Cole Hamels being healthy and (presumably) happy with their numbers of late.
Those good tidings have trickled down to Kyle Kendrick...who has three wins, a 16/3 K-BB ratio and microscopic marks in ERA (0.83) and WHIP (0.69) in his last three outings.
Need any more incentive to install Kendrick as a No. 6 pitcher in 12-team leagues?
His next four starts will likely come against the Mets, Reds, Marlins and Astros, Giddyup!
Skinny: When in doubt, always roll with a Rangers hitter.
That should be a nice creed for fantasy owners over the next five weeks, as they search high and low for a hitter who:
1) Will log regular at-bats down the stretch...
2) Has the potential for two or three bursts of fantasy excellence before October.
David Murphy (11 HR, 49 RBI, 49 runs, 8 steals, .313 BA) has been a quiet dynamo for Texas all season. But check out his numbers from the last 30 days—two homers, 16 RBI, 18 runs and a red-hot batting average of .381.
Tell me you wouldn't kill for a productive hitter who rarely falls into long slumps?
Tell me you wouldn't covet a guy with seven multiple-hit games since Aug. 16?
Skinny: First things first. Mike Moustakas has wayyyyyyyy too much talent to be a waiver-wire afterthought in fantasy leagues.
But then again, when you're batting .053 in the last seven days and .179 since July 28...it's certainly understandable to see him fall through the cracks.
For those with long memories, I hailed Moustakas, Mike Trout, Lorenzo Cain, Aroldis Chapman, Brandon Belt and Brandon Beachy as my top sleepers back in March.
Of course, I had Moustakas (19 HR, 60 RBI, 56 runs, .248 BA, .306 OBP) ticketed for similar greatness as Trout (24 HR, 72 RBI, 100 runs, 41 steals, .337 BA) this season...indicating that's it's possible to be very wrong even when technically correct with predictions.
Here's the big positive that comes with grabbing Moustakas immediately: It cannot get any worse than what his previous owners had to endure in August.
If healthy, Moose has the capacity to finish strong with the scary-good-in-2014 Royals...something like five homers and 17 RBI.
Skinny: It's not my nature to give two thumbs up to pitchers coming off major surgeries, followed by an extensive rehab process.
But in the case of Brett Anderson (elbow), I had been counting down the days until his re-emergence in the Oakland rotation, believing he would play a major role in the club's push for an American League wild-card slot.
Anderson accelerated this endorsement in his inaugural start, stifling the Twins for one run and six strikeouts on Aug. 21.
It also helps that Anderson (career ERA of 3.62) will likely face the Indians, Red Sox (sans Adrian Gonzalez) and Mariners in his next three outings.