With the trade deadline passing and with less than two months until the playoffs, we’re about to approach the stretch.
It should be a fun time; as many as 17 teams are legitimately still in the hunt for a playoff berth.
So let’s look at some hot, trendy and intriguing names to watch this week.
Matt Holliday: St. Louis Cardinals
With his current hot streak, Holliday is making a case for inclusion among NL MVP talks.
Holliday is 15-41 in his last 10 games with five home runs, two doubles, 13 RBI’s and nine runs scored. Holliday is keeping the Cardinals in the wild card hunt and although he has some tough matchups this week at home vs. San Francisco (Matt Cain, Barry Zito, Ryan Vogelsong and Madison Bumgarner) and away at Philadelphia (Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee and Vance Worley), he is a player you should always roll with.
Ryan Ludwick: Cincinnati Reds
Ludwick is raising his game just as the Cincinnati Reds find themselves on a roll.
In his last nine games Ludwick is 13-33 with four home runs, three doubles, 14 RBI’s and six runs scored.
One of the bugaboos with Ludwick was his playing time, but right now Dusty Baker is not platooning him and Ludwick is making for a good mixed-league start.
On tap for Ludwick and the Reds this week are road contests with the Brewers (Yovani Gallardo, Mike Fiers and Randy Wolf) and the Cubs (Chris Volstad, Justin Germano, Travis Wood and TBD).
Johnny Cueto: Cincinnati Reds
The driving force behind the Reds’ surge is perhaps the NL Cy Young favorite Johnny Cueto.
Although he has proven to be mortal in his last couple of starts (giving up 8 runs in 13.1 innings pitched), Cueto is 8-2 in his last ten starts with eight quality outings. Cueto is now 14-5 on the year with a 2.52 ERA.
With two starts (@Milwaukee and @Chicago) on deck this week, Cueto is a pitcher to have full faith in.
C. J. Wilson: Los Angeles Angels
Although he was lit up like a Christmas Tree in his return to Texas last week, Wilson can be line for a fantastic week.
First, Wilson will get to face off against the A’s in Oakland and if Mike Scioscia stands by his word, the Angles will skip Ervin Santana’s start this weekend and will move up Wilson to pitch at home vs. the Mariners.
With matchups like that, Wilson could carry a lot of fantasy owners to greatness this week.
Kendrys Morales: Los Angeles Angels
Morales made history this week when he hit a home run from both sides of the plate in the same inning while playing in a game against the Rangers, making him the third such player to achieve such a feat (Mark Bellhorn, Carlos Baerga being the others).
After a slow, painful start and recovery from a major ankle injury, Morales is now finding his groove. In his last six games Morales is 9-23 with three home runs, eight RBI’s and five runs scored.
With a streak like this, it may be the time to insert Morales into lineups as he faces off against the staffs’ of the A’s (Jarrod Parker, Bartolo Colon and Dan Straily) and the Mariners (Felix Hernandez, Hisashi Iwakuma and Jason Vargas) this week.
Jon Lester: Boston Red Sox
It’s now or never time for Lester-for both Red Sox fans and his fantasy owners.
Lester has had a very disappointing and inconsistent season going 5-9 with a 5.36 ERA. However, in his last two starts (14 IP and 7 ER’s) Lester has been solid, as he has thrown 13 strikeouts to just issuing two walks.
With two manageable starts vs. Texas at home and @Cleveland, Lester has to have a good week if he is to be trusted down the stretch.
Phil Hughes: New York Yankees
Although not great by any stretch, Hughes is quietly flying under the radar, as he has thrown eight quality outings in his last 10 starts.
In that time, Hughes has thrown 52 strikeouts while lowering his ERA to a respectable 3.98 mark. While he’ll serve up some home runs, he is making for a useful deep-league starter.
Hughes has two starts this week and although they could get dicey (@Detroit and @Toronto), Hughes will always have the potent Yankees’ bats to back him up.
Albert Pujols: Los Angeles Angels
Yeah, so remember that funk Sir Albert was in at the beginning of the season?
Well, that is officially a thing of the past, as Pujols has once again become machine-like.
In his last 10 games, Pujols is 17-44 with six home runs, six doubles, 15 RBI’s and 10 runs scored. With this streak, Pujols is finally preserving the luster of being a top-5 draft pick.
With the same matchups as Morales, expect Pujols to keep the good times rolling.
Dan Straily: Oakland A’s
Making for a popular pickup off the waiver wire this week has been A’s pitching prospect Dan Straily.
Straily has the makeup of a great strikeout pitcher and last week he finally got the call and impressed in his debut by tossing six innings and allowing five hits, one walk and striking out five batters while allowing one earned run.
This will be a good week to assess Straily, as he will face off against the potent Angels lineup.
Jose Reyes: Miami Marlins
Just like Pujols, Reyes is finally making good on his hefty contract with nice little run to end July and open August.
Reyes is now riding a 24-game hitting streak and is 17 for his last 35 with six doubles, 10 runs scored and four stolen bases.
Reyes is about the only recognizable Marlins these days and with shortstop such a shallow position, Reyes is proving to be invaluable of late.
This week Reyes returns to Citi Field to take on his old mates, the Mets (Jon Niese, Chris Young, R.A. Dickey), before heading back home to take on his old teammate Hanley Ramirez and the Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw, Joe Blanton and Chris Capuano).
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