By Lawrence Barreca, analyst at Fantasy Baseball Maniaxs
With the All-Star break only a week away, newly injured fantasy starters have begun to surface around the league, and the search for viable replacements is officially on. What injuries are we referring to? Who could you possibly grab to replace those injured stars? Let's see who we have in store on this week's Start/Sit.
Starting Pitcher to Start
Last week, we had a Blue Jays starter who I considered a “sit.” This week, I’m turning the tables a bit and naming another one a sure-fire “start.” The player I am referring to is none other than former Mariner Brandon Morrow. Since he began using a softer approach on the mound, Morrow has been on a tear. In his last five outings, he’s held opponents to one run or less in four of them, allowing a miniscule five runs in 34 innings (1.32 ERA). During this stretch, he is 2-1; however, this is only due to the lack of run support given by the Blue Jays’ offense.
Morrow has taken his once hard-throwing mentality and changed it to more of a finesse style. He now pitches to contact, and trust me, it is working. To compare him to a starter from last year, think the Orioles’ Brad Bergesen—and if we learned anything from Bergesen last season, it’s that these players can prove valuable while they are hot. With him being started in only 65 percent of CBS leagues, some things have to change when Week 14 comes around.
Hitter to Start
Over the past few weeks, people have been calling this former All-Star a bust. It had even gotten to the point where some fans wanted him to be optioned down to Triple-A Norfolk in order to work out the “kinks” in his swing. Let’s just say those fans have been quiet as of late. If you’re wondering who I’m talking about, it is Baltimore Orioles center fielder Adam Jones.
Before Tuesday’s game against the Oakland A’s, Jones was riding an eight-game hitting streak, in which he was hitting .424 with four HRs and nine RBI. His average now sits at .268, with 12 HRs, 33 RBI, 35 Rs and three SBs. Since moving down in the batting order, Jones has seen a boost in nearly every offensive category. If he’s been stashed away on your bench, it’s about time you stuck him back in the lineup again.
Reliever to Start
Remember when I mentioned former closer Chad Qualls as a “sit” last week? Well, the Diamondbacks are currently searching for a new replacement in the closer’s role, and I may have just found the man for the job. Reliever Sam Demel, who was recently acquired in a deal with Oakland, has maintained an ERA of 0.00 in his first four appearances, and apparently he could be next in line for the closer’s role.
With current fill-in closer Aaron Heilman blowing a save on Monday, we may see Demel in that role sooner rather than later. If you are in need of saves, monitor Demel’s progress over the next week. If the D-Backs decide to promote him, then he will be a nice pickup for the second half of the year.
Youngster to Start
For a guy that is only owned in 56 percent of CBS leagues, Marlins first baseman Gaby Sanchez has been one of the better corner infielders in fantasy as of late. Currently riding a nine-game hit streak, Sanchez is hitting for a .302 BA, eight HRs, 36 RBI, 39 Rs and three SBs. Over the course of the hitting streak, Sanchez is hitting .475 with six RBI and six Rs.
If this kid is still sitting around in free agency (and there is a good chance that he may be), then I suggest picking him up. At this rate, he will be right up there with Stephen Strasburg and Jason Heyward for the NL Rookie of the Year Award.
It’s time for our Week 14 edition of the “Bonus Start”! This week, we will take a look at Athletics outfielder Coco Crisp. Crisp, who has only been off the DL for six games, has hit in five of those six contests since his return. For the year, he is officially at .414 in 29 games. If you are in need of a speedy, and for now hot-hitting, fantasy outfielder, Crisp is the guy to grab.
Starting Pitcher to Sit
Whatever happened to New York Mets “ace” Johan Santana? It has now been four straight starts in which he has allowed four or more earned runs, putting his ERA at a horrid 5.96. According to Newsday, Santana said that he was still “recovering” from elbow surgery. Well, isn’t that just a pleasant thing to know as a fantasy owner?
All this time, you have been starting your undoubted “ace” of the Mets, only to now find that he is still in recovery. In the process of this recovery, he is ultimately killing your fantasy team. Sorry, but I am not a happy camper. His fastball velocity is down, his arm angle is “out of whack,” and he has been consistently bad over the past month or so. It’s time to sit this so-called “ace” down.
Hitter to Sit
Before our very eyes, the Boston Red Sox are slowly falling apart. First, Jacoby Ellsbury, next Dustin Pedroia, and now it’s catcher Victor Martinez.
For all of you fantasy owners who haven’t heard, Martinez was officially placed on the 15-day DL on Tuesday with a fractured thumb, and the veteran backstop will be out through the All-Star break. Because of this, owners around the country will be scrambling for a backup option over the next week-and-a-half. Do not fear, though, as he is expected to return for fantasy Week 15. Just sit him on the bench until the All-Star festivities finally come to a close.
Reliever to Sit
With Huston Street back in the Colorado Rockies bullpen, many fantasy owners wondered how long it would take before Street would finally push himself back into the ninth-inning role. With Manuel Corpas’ performance as of late, though, it may not take much effort for Street to climb back into the closer’s role. In three of his last six appearances, Corpas has allowed three earned runs or more, shooting his ERA up to an unpleasant 4.50.
Huston Street owners, your time is coming in the near future. Manuel Corpas owners, your time is officially coming to an end.
Youngster to Sit
I thought Johan Santana had it rough until I took a glance at Reds rookie starter Mike Leake’s numbers as of late. Over his last four outings, Leake has given up 17 runs in 22.1 innings (6.85 ERA). If it hadn’t been for some amazing run support from the Reds lineup, Leake would have fared far worse in the “W-L” category over that span (surprisingly, he is 0-1 over his past four starts).
Some analysts say that Leake may finally be “hitting the wall,” and for that, I believe it’s time to give the kid a little time on the bench. If I were you, I would wait for this cold streak to blow over. The second it does, stick Leake back into the rotation. Let’s all hope this is a temporary setback and nothing more.
It’s time for the infamous “Bonus Sit”! This week, we are taking a glance at a brand new development going on as we speak in the fantasy world: the possible injury to Manny Ramirez.
Fresh off the DL, Ramirez appears to have re-injured himself after running the bases on Tuesday. According to reports, Manny injured his right hamstring, an injury that, based on its severity, can keep him out of the lineup anywhere from a few days to back on the DL itself. If the latter is the case, then he will be unavailable for fantasy Week 14. Be sure to monitor the situation as more details surface.