Owned in fewer than 50% of league polled
SP Carlos Villanueva, Chicago Cubs
Villanueva returns to the starting quintet following the Scott Feldman trade. He stretched out to four frames Sunday, allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out five. The 29-year-old should continue building up his pitch count, improving his odds to log wins and quality starts as the summer wears on.
Bend BA like Beckham
Though his 6.90 K/9 doesn't reflect it, he's kept his swinging-strike rate on an above-average cloud (9.8) in his mixed role. Over eight starts earlier this year, he posted a 3.93 ERA with a 1.14 WHIP (2.39 BB/9) over 52 2/3 stanzas, though he struck out only 36. The improved control, however, says that he could notch longer outings, and his diverse arsenal will play well over longer stretches.
It'd help if he can continue taming his homer allowance (a bane for him most of his career) via his notable bump in opponents' grounder rate. Even if he logs something short of but resembling the 8.41 K/9 and 2.45 BB/9 he put forth as a SP last year, he could wind up a cheap, surprising value play the rest of the way.
2B Gordon Beckham, Chicago White Sox
With seven homers after the end of last July, Beckham showed enough flickers to earn plenty of preseason followers heading into 2013. They're still going: He's hitting .345/.373/.451 with a homer and nine RBIs following his June return from a broken hamate bone in his left hand, thanks to the crouched stance he's carried over from late last year.
One drawback is that Beckham said he wants to focus on making solid contact and doesn't necessary have a motivation for more homers yet. Beckham falls in the pile of middle infielders that must display overwhelming power to provide consistent value; the fall-off risk rises for below-average SB contributors that rely on batting average as a chief asset yet rarely take a free pass.
Of course, power should come, regardless of Beckham's preference, as he regains sturdiness in his lower hand to streamline his follow-through. For the pennies he likely will cost in most universes, ride this stretch while preparing for him to slow down. In deeper leagues that require an MI body, there are worse chances to take.
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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