At first glance, there isn't much going on with the 2014 San Diego Padres. They're 12 games under .500, nowhere near contention in the National League. They're last in the majors in runs, no matter how you slice it (home, away, total). They currently don't have a general manager. You wonder why The Chicken cries himself to sleep every night.
But even the mediocre clubs have something to contribute in our fantasy racket, so today we serve a little sympathy for the Friars.
Yangervis Solarte might turn into a fun player in San Diego. He came to Bordertown in the Chase Headley deal, and Bud Black uses him at the top of the order (second or third). Solarte covers three infield positions (everything but first base) and he has a little pop (eight homers in 280 at-bats). He's 8-for-28 with two homers since the trade.
The position flexibility is especially handy in leagues that have short benches or low transaction caps. In that type of format, a rover is a beautiful thing. What's not to love about the Brock Holts of the world? Solarte is free to grab in 85 percent of Yahoo leagues, and the batting slot will help to offset his supporting cast.
Fantasy owners have been a little slow on the grab for Joaquin Benoit, the veteran reliever. After half a season of excellent set-up work (1.88 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, 51 strikeouts), Benoit recently stepped into the closing role, taking over for the departed Huston Street. It doesn't look like Benoit will be shipped out of town at the deadline, and his handshakes are just as good as anyone else's. He's already collected three saves, and he's still free in 56 percent of The Y.
The Jesse Hahn story has been a blast from day one: six wins, 2.12 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, delicious curveball. The Rays can't believe they let this kid go. Alas, Hahn is unlikely to complete the season - the Padres obviously are looking towards the future and they don't want Hahn to throw too many innings. Earlier in the week Black mentioned 5-10 more starts for Hahn, obviously a vague number. My guess: Hahn gets the hook in early September.
I'd tell you to trade him now, but I recognize your opponents have the internet, too. You're unlikely to find an unwitting sucker. Maybe you just enjoy the next few turns, then make a change for the stretch run. Fake baseball is a lot more sophisticated than it used to be - and if your league is the rare group that isn't, you don't need anyone's help.
I reluctantly mention Jedd Gyorko - he's ruined Teddy Bell's summer, don't you know? - but he is back with the team, for what it's worth. Gyorko's off to a 3-for-6 start on the reboot, with a walk, but it's hard to look away from that seasonal slash (.171/.224/.276). Then again, he did club 23 homers in just 486 at-bats last year, and he was playing through injuries for most of the first half of 2014. Do you feel lucky? Right Said Jedd is a free agent in about two-thirds of Yahoo leagues.
Tyson Ross? Everyone's onto that one, enjoy your victory lap in the comments.
• I've been a Jose Quintana sympathizer all year, and it's been a slog at times. Despite the ninth-highest pitcher WAR for the season, he's stuck with a mediocre 6-7 record. His stand rate is under the league average, and he's 27th in American League run support (among 44 qualifiers). The White Sox defense and bullpen have let him down regularly, too.
With those sob stories out of the way, it was refreshing to see Quintana win ugly in Tuesday's game at Detroit. Quintana permitted 11 baserunners over six innings but somehow allowed just two runs - that's fortunate. And the White Sox eventually broke the game open in the seventh inning (and grabbed him an easy win), exploding for seven runs - a rally that was helped significantly by a pair of Detroit errors. You had a break coming your way, Q.
To be fair, Quintana has a very low HR/FB clip, which makes him a tricky call forward. His real ERA is 3.15, his FIP suggests 2.83 (ah, that sloppy Chicago defense) - but the xFIP number pushes to 3.38. That said, heck, I'd take any of those ERAs forward. And when you strike out three batters per every walk, you're playable in any mixed format.
The Tigers weren't anywhere near a save situation in this game, of course, but their bullpen might have received some definition anyway. Joakim Soria worked in the seventh inning and had his lunch handed to him - six hits, four runs, two homers. Joe Nathan appeared in the ninth, just getting work, and struck out two of the three batters he faced. Nathan is like the cat with nine lives this year - and all of a sudden, the closing cat has a moderate leash.
• If you're playing the streaming game (or even the temp-to-perm game), allow us to say one more word about Seattle's Chris Young, righty back from the dead. He's reeled off eight consecutive useful starts for the Mariners (2.12 ERA, nine walks, 43 K), going to his slider more than ever.
The Indians don't present an easy draw on Thursday - they're sixth in the majors in runs - but Young doesn't cower against anyone. His last three turns came against the Orioles, Angels and Athletics, all Top 10 opponents (the Angels and A's are 1-2 in runs). His ownership tag is steadily increasing, but he's still undervalued at 39 percent.