Who are the hottest pickups in fantasy baseball games? Can you trust them on your fantasy baseball teams?
Francisco Rodriguez, RP, Milwaukee Brewers
- Last 7: 1 W, 2 SV, 1.29 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 10 K in 7 IP
They come in droves when a manager names a new closer. Q: How long is the shelf life of this one?
Closer Hot Seat mentioned on Wednesday that team decision-makers want to see John Axford back in the role as soon as they believe that he's ready for it. Plus, there's still the outside chance that the Brew Crew trades K-Rod. A: Probably not very long.
Ben Sheets, SP, Atlanta Braves
- 7/15: W, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K in 6 IP
The Bravos' newest starter is an old name with an unfamiliar approach: Sheets has incorporated a changeup fairly heavily, and it may help him to stay healthy as well as succeed.
All future outings won't look this good, and he's no longer a fireballer. But if Sheets keeps hitters off-balance, he could produce a low WHIP, an ERA of about 3.00 to 3.75, some W's and something like seven K's per nine.
Cody Ross, OF, Boston Red Sox
- Last 4: .500 BA, 5 R, 3 HR, 9 RBI in 14 PA
Ross is back on everyone's list after he began the week in two-hit style. A monstrous, two-tater game on Wednesday followed by his walk-off heroics (a three-run bomb) on Thursday quickly put him back in the fantasy consciousness.
Ross has often been a hot-or-cold hitter who warrants ownership in shallow leagues when his switch is on. The temporary absence of David Ortiz (strained Achilles' tendon) frees up a few at-bats, too.
Francisco Liriano, SP, Minnesota Twins
- Last 10: 3 W, 2.84 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 77 K in 63 1/3 IP
Carter may finally be ready
Those in shallow mixed leagues who were too skeptical to pick up Liriano not long after he re-entered Minnesota's rotation are jumping on the bandwagon. Back-to-back games in which a pitcher totals 25 strikeouts can do that.
The southpaw has dealt to only one high-quality opponent (Chicago White Sox), and his control problems are creeping up on him again. Liriano has been on his game, so enjoy it while you can. It'll be interesting to see how he pitches if he's traded to a contender.
Steve Cishek, RP, Miami Marlins
- July: 1 SV, 0.00 ERA, 0.50 WHIP, 9 K in 8 IP
Ozzie Guillen is handling save opps by committee because Heath Bell continues to give him fits. Roto managers from all walks seem to be aware that Cishek heads this group. He's had the club's best bullpen arm in 2012.
Matchups will probably be a factor. Lefty Mike Dunn picked up the Fish's only other save since the break. Righty Juan Oviedo (sprained UCL) is no longer in the picture.
Bell is the biggest threat to the committee. He could reclaim the job, but it'll take more convincing than it did last time.
Chris Carter, 1B/OF, Oakland Athletics
- Last 11: .310 BA, 10 R, 5 HR, 9 RBI in 36 PA
The A's haven't played their former top prospect every day since his late June call-up, but the masher is convincing them to increase his PT. Brandon Moss, Carter's main competition for ABs, has shockingly - kidding! - cooled quite a bit since Oakland turned to him at first base.
Carter's production against right-handers is just a continuation of the work he did on the farm this season. The BA will certainly come down, but his much improved BB/K implies that his reported newfound respect for the need to make adjustments to pitchers is paying dividends. Carter may have turned a corner.
Daniel Straily, SP, Oakland Athletics
Many fantasy players in deep setups didn't want to take the chance that a league-mate would beat them to this minor league right-hander. According to Susan Slusser, the A's plan to give him a look should they trade Bartolo Colon.
In 126 1/3 stanzas between Double-A Midland and Triple-A Sacramento, Straily has gone 6-6 with a 2.64 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP and an 11.54 K/9. Wow. He's been superb in the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League (1.10 ERA in six starts) so far.
Reports suggest that Oakland is highly unlikely to trade their portly right-handed veteran. Some evaluators believe that Straily isn't as good as his marks suggest. At least fantasy players know who the next man up should be, and with numbers like that, he can't be ignored.
Paul Maholm, SP, Chicago Cubs
- Last 5: 4-0, 0.89 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 20 K in 30 1/3 IP
He's not an ace, but he's on fire. Maholm has piqued the interest of contending teams with his recent performance.
The left-hander isn't suddenly a transformed hurler. His 4.09 ERA, 5.88 K/9 and 2.47 BB/9 for the season are more indicative of the type of pitcher he is. Maholm induces a decent rate of ground balls and is in a groove, which could last for another week or a couple of months.
Anthony Gose, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
- Last 2: .200 BA, 0 R, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB in 5 PA
The Jays called up their top position prospect when they placed Jose Bautista (wrist irritation) on the disabled list. Gose has moderate power and is a high-end base-stealer whose plate discipline could still use some work.
The 21-year-old certainly deserves attention, but not in most roto leagues for now. Joey Bats may miss only the minimum, fortunately. Brett Lawrie (calf contusion) seems to have avoided a serious injury. And Toronto called up Travis Snider, who's expected to play regularly for the time being. Gose's fantasy future probably won't really begin until sometime in 2013.
Travis Snider, OF, Toronto Blue Jays
Speaking of! Diamond Market went over the Jays' post-hype prospect on Friday. Snider, 24, is finally getting the shot that he's clamored for this season. Some of his 2012 minor league stats may be evidence that he's maturing as a hitter.
Toronto hasn't always given Snider a fair shake, but much of the onus is on him. He still has a pretty swing, good power and a willingness to run on occasion. He's worth a shot in many formats.
Minnix is baseball editor and a fantasy football analyst at KFFL. He plays in LABR and Tout Wars and won the FSWA Baseball Industry Insiders League in 2010.
The University of Delaware alum is a regular guest on SiriusXM Fantasy Sports Radio and Baltimore's WNST AM 1570.