It's been a rough go for the Twins this year, so we have to savor the small victories where we can. Take a bow, Andrew Albers - and stay loose for the weekend.
Expectations were modest when Albers was recalled from Triple-A on Aug. 3 - although he was steady in the minors (2.86 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 2.2 BB/9), we're talking about a 27-year-old arm without any notable pedigree. The fantasy community didn't react much when Albers stopped the Royals over 8.1 scoreless innings last week, and few gamers were on board for Monday's two-hit shutout of the Indians (0 BB, 2 K). Here's some Albers video to consider, take a peek.
It's been a pitch-to-contact story in The Show for Albers, something we're trained to treat suspiciously - he's struck out just four over his 17.1 innings. Then again, he's walked just one batter and he's inducing ground balls 49 percent of the time. He wasn't working against cupcake matchups, either; Cleveland's been solid all year and the Royals have been terrific of late. Looking ahead, we see the lowly White Sox waiting for the weekend, good work if you can get it. Get ready with your streaming plans; you can add Albers in 93 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Brian Dozier sparked Minnesota's offense on Monday, homering for the second straight day. He's been profiled in this space before, but it's time for another look.
Dozier got off to a lousy start to the season but he's been a handy player since early May - check out what he's done over his last 82 games (.249-42-12-40-8). The average is so-so, sure, but category juice always plays for us, especially in the middle infield (and Dozier qualifies at both second base and shortstop). Heck, over that period, he's been a more productive player than Jose Altuve, Ben Zobrist, Chase Utley, Jed Lowrie and Jimmy Rollins, among others. Keep an open mind here.
Dozier is never going to lead the league in walks, but he's shown improvement in his plate discipline - and the Twins seem impressed, using him as the leadoff man since the beginning of July. Dozier is free for a click in 67 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Jenrry Mejia didn't pick up a win at Chavez Ravine - pretty much no opponent does that these days. But there's nothing wrong with his quality start, which passed the eye test and gave us useful numbers (6 H, 3 ER, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). The Dominican righty is off to a 2.22/1.07 push to his four starts this year, with 22 strikeouts against just three walks. Zesty is as zesty does. Get ready to dial him up on the weekend at Petco Park.
• Plenty of familiar names sit in the Wednesday streaming pool, waiting for their name to be called. You know we like Dillon Gee, though he has to face the sizzling Dodgers. You've read the Ivan Nova propaganda for weeks; you picked him up or you didn't. Bronson Arroyo and his guitar, you've heard that song before. Nova hosts the Angels and Jered Weaver, while Arroyo has the matinee at Wrigley Field. Do what you like.
And then there's Rick Porcello of the Tigers, the enigmatic sinkerballer who's in the middle of an up-and-down Age 24 season. Detroit's infield defense has improved with the Jhonny Peralta suspension, of course (you're ridiculous, Kid Iglesias), and Porcello is up against the punchless White Sox, a team he's done well against over three turns (1.74 ERA, 1.11 WHIP). Crooked numbers are always a possibility with Porcello, but his last seven turns have been reasonably clean (13 ER over 44.2 IP, with 29 strikeouts against 12 walks). Feel lucky? Porcello is unowned in 78 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
Speed Round: For the second time in 2013, Yu Darvish flirted with a no-hitter against the Astros (this time, the bid died in the eighth inning). Here are your wiffle ball pictures. He’s now made four starts against Houston, piling up 43 whiffs over 29.2 innings. Darvish will miss the Astros next week unless the Rangers skip their fifth starter . . . The Angels finally accepted reality, dropping Tommy Hanson to Triple-A . . . Roy Halladay (shoulder) is starting a rehab assignment this week, if you feel lucky. I’d be surprised if he contributed anything useful down the stretch . . . Cody Ross (hip) is probably done for the year. At least for fantasy purposes, it cleans up the muddled outfield. Gerardo Parra has started to hit again, and Adam Eaton won Monday’s game with a pool-splash homer in the bottom of the ninth . . . Cameron Maybin (knee) hit a snag in his rehab and your DL spot is probably better served on someone else . . . Free-swinging power source Andrew Lambo will get a chance with the Pirates. He has 31 homers in the minors this year (and 123 strikeouts), split between Double-A and Triple-A . . . Rafael Betancourt (appendicitis) is hoping to be back on the weekend, but given his history, there's no way I'd drop Rex Brothers for a while . . . Ryan Ludwick (shoulder) returned to the Reds, taking an 0-for-3 collar. I didn't put in a claim for the 35-year-old in any of my mixers . . . Trevor Cahill (hip/shoulder) is aiming at a weekend return . . . To no one's great surprise, the Mets are expected to shut Matt Harvey down for the year around the 200-inning mark. He's at 159.2 innings on the eve of Tuesday's start at Los Angeles.