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Closing Time: Chris Carter goes ballistic

Scott Pianowski
Roto Arcade
Houston Astros v Minnesota Twins
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Houston handshakes (Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

Midsummer zero, August hero. Isn't fantasy baseball a blast? 

At what point did someone buy into Chris Carter in your league? He was hitting .181 at the beginning of July; it's surprising the Astros were still giving him at-bats at that point. But something's clicked with the slugger over the last five weeks - he's on a .328/.386/.765 tear, with 15 homers in 31 games. He's the top fantasy player over that period, and it's not even close (your Top 5: Carter, Kluber, Kershaw, Harrison, Hernandez).

Carter sent two more balls to the seats in Tuesday's victory, the story we're getting used to. Here's some scouting video for you. Obviously no one expects Carter to keep up anything close to this pace, but will he be trustable the rest of the way? 

Perhaps a few tweaks in the approach are to be credited here - have a look at this interesting Carter audit from David Temple. Carter's been chasing fewer pitches out of the strike zone of late (probably common for anyone on a hot streak - that's seeing the ball well), and perhaps more importantly, he's shortened his stroke. Given the awesome raw power Carter brings to the table, a long swing isn't required.

Let's also note that Houston is scoring a lot more of late - that's largely due to Carter's run, but it goes deeper than that. Since the All-Star break, the Astros are fourth in runs scored. They've moved up to 17th in scoring for the season. That's not documentary material, but at least see the broader point - the Astros are no longer an automatic stream target (though we do appreciate the 1,049 strikeouts, most in the American League). They're going to get Dexter Fowler back on Wednesday, too (unfortunately, George Springer remains in limbo). 

You need a Carter forecast to consider for the rest of the year, and here's what I've got for you: .231 average, 22 runs, 8 homers, 26 RBI, 1 steal. The strikeouts will never go away, but that's still an ownable line in any mixer I play in. Share your Carter forecast in the comments.  

• Jordan Schafer is a one-trick pony, but it's a pretty nice trick. Is there room for a specialist in your life?

Schafer did just one thing well with the Braves this year: steal bases. He collected 15 swipes in 17 chances, a crazy amount of bags over just 80 at-bats. Of course when you hit .163 and slug .213, there's a good reason the team doesn't want you hitting. Schafer's career slash is .223/.308/.305 over 1,115 at-bats.

The Twins added Schafer about a week ago, and they're thin enough for Schafer to actually play a fair amount. He's off to a 6-for-22 start in Minnesota, with six steals in six attempts. Rabbit, run. He's ready to add in 99 percent of Yahoo leagues, if you have one category to fill. He'll probably play against most right-handers (he's not starting against a lefty Wednesday). 

• If you want to step up in class for your stolen-base specialist, Jarrod Dyson is worth considering. The Royals have given him a modest 46 at-bats since the All-Star break, but Dyson has turned them into eight steals. He swiped 18 bags in 22 attempts during the first half.

Dyson will never get into the All Star Game without a ticket, but his .286/.335/.342 line at least puts him into consideration for a lineup spot. And if this move doesn't pan out, you can always blame Ned Yost (#boomyosted). Dyson is unclaimed freight in 97 percent of The Y. He doesn't play enough to endorse in weekly leagues, but if you have time for daily roster maintenance, you might find a useful commodity here.

• As long as we're looking at longshot plays here, anyone interested in Eric Sogard as a middle-infield filler? He qualifies at second and short and he's been handy over the last month (14 runs, three steals, .294 average, .419 OBP). His overall profile doesn't look like much, but he did bat .266 in 130 games last year.

I like getting a stake in the Oakland offense, even if it comes at the bottom of the order. This is the most prolific club in the majors, by far. Sogard has 10 starts this month, essentially holding down a full-time gig. You should ignore him in the shallow leagues, but I like him as a bench rover in deeper pools. 

• What the heck do we do with Padres right-hander Odrisamer Despaigne? He's compiled a tidy 2.72 ERA through nine MLB starts, but look under the hood: he's only striking out 5.75 batters per nine innings, and his walk rate is no treat (3.5/9).

A lucky HR/FB clip (5.6 percent) explains some things, along with a .265 BABIP. He'll probably have an ERA in the high 3s or low 4s the rest of the way. I'll consider Despaigne for streaming when the circumstances are highly favorable, but that's it.

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