Alex Cobb, SP, Tampa Bay Rays
- Last 4: 3 W, 1.93 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 21 K in 28 IP
Doumit still doin' it
Matchups against the Seattle Mariners and Toronto Blue Jays inflated these stats a little, but don't scoff at Cobb going seven frames in each contest and walking just three overall. The grounder specialist doesn't induce many empty hacks, but he's looking like another developmental victory in the Rays' long line of useful home-grown SPs. He's improved his fastball command, curveball deployment and preparation leading up to his starts.
Cobb is contributing to the surplus but could soon be a casualty. Will he get the boot whenever Jeff Niemann (broken leg) returns? That could come in a few weeks, and Niemann was having a breakthrough of his own before he went down. Cobb makes the most sense to lose out, but maybe Jeremy Hellickson's recent stumbles tag him with a 'pen assignment. A six-man rotation would mean cutting down David Price's appearances. No thanks.
Cobb visits the Angels next, followed likely by hosting the surprising Athletics and, unfortunately, traveling to the Texas Rangers. He might be running out of steam by then anyway, so keep an eye on the future if you jumped on board.
Ryan Doumit, C, Minnesota Twins
- August: .347 BA, 7 R, 4 HR, 10 RBI in 51 PA
As he's moved around the diamond, Doumit keeps mashing as he rides in with his second straight entry here. Other than a weak clip versus left-handers on the year, the switch-hitter's plate peripherals don't show an imminent regression overall. He'll wind up as one of the biggest profit earners this season among backstops.
Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cincinnati Reds
- Last 50: .320 BA, 26 R, 14 HR, 39 RBI in 195 PA
The last few stragglers are hopping on board. Ludwick was hitting .203 on the year before that stat period commenced June 12. He stands at .268 and has already matched his 22 homers from 2009 in 200 fewer plate appearances. The 34-year-old can credit revisiting the squared contact he made in past excellent years (23.2 liner percentage in '12) along with a minor but important uptick in cuts taken within the strike zone.
Ludwick's long-standing hacker tendencies should prompt a drop-off warning, though, and his stock won't be more sellable than it is now; his team's hot streak and home digs accentuate his value. Riding out his season wouldn't be a bad alternative, but if you have depth in the outfield, you can swap him to fill another need.
Grant Balfour, RP, Oakland Athletics
- Last 33: 1 W, 2 SV, 1.54 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 30 K in 35 IP
Those two wrap-ups have come over his last pair of appearances while he retook the Oaktown saves reins. Ryan Cook has looked a tad better lately, but the competing A's won't ditch Balfour - at least from top preference - if he keeps this up.
Eric Chavez, 3B, New York Yankees
- Last 12: .500 BA, 10 R, 5 HR, 11 RBI in 41 PA
A healthier, platoon-protected Chavez has paid off for the Bronx Bombers with Alex Rodriguez (wrist) hurt. A-Rod should return sometime in September, but Chavez could still find time at the hot corner if the Yanks decide to rest Rodriguez as October nears, so that'll mean some corner-infield utility even as a part-timer for deep mixers.
About Tim Heaney
Tim's work has been featured by USA Today/Sports Weekly, among numerous outlets, and recognized as a finalist in the Fantasy Sports Writers Association awards. The Boston University alum competes in Tout Wars and LABR and has won several industry leagues in both baseball and football.
During baseball and football season, hear him every Wednesday on 1570 AM WNST in Baltimore. On Thursdays, he visits 106.1 FM WMTI in New Orleans and Sirius XM Fantasy Sports Radio, where he often crashes other shows, as well.
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