Eric Stults, point and click (USAT)
Stults is currently owned in 28 percent of Yahoo! leagues and the number is rising – he's been the most-added player in Y! leagues this morning. He's posted a 3.28 ERA and 1.07 WHIP over 14 starts, with six wins and 60 strikeouts. Working in the NL West is a cushy assignment if you can avoid Colorado and Arizona. Stults's average fastball barely registers on the radar gun (86.4) but he's locating well and getting positive results nonetheless.
Stults's best work has come in Petco Park, as you might expect (2.90/0.84), but his ratios aren't terrible on the road (3.58/1.25). A Wednesday start agains the banged-up Giants in AT&T Park doesn't look too threatening.
Improved control is telling most of the Stults story for 2013: he's only issued 17 unintentional walks over 90.2 innings, which is why we can get away with his modest strikeout rate (5.96/6). He's been lethal on lefties (.546 OPS) and passable against righties (.724). If you aren't chasing the K/9 category, this looks like someone you can audit in medium and deeper pools.
Stults does have to face Madison Bumgarner on Wednesday, but hey, can't have everything. His following two turns are favorable enough: a home start against the Phillies and a trip to Miami. Location, location, location. Let's see where this story goes.
• The Rockies gave us a good time during their recent stretch of 15 home games in 18 dates, piling up 87 runs in the Mile High air. Good work if you can get it. But Colorado's bats quickly went silent in Toronto on Monday night; three pitchers (led by Josh Johnson) combined on a five-hit shutout. Tasty bagels in the YYZ.
The first game of a Rockies road trip is generally a spot to avoid for fantasy production – it takes the batters a while to get used to life at regular elevation, where breaking pitches return to full bite. Colorado has played six post-Coors games this year and they've presented a problem at the dish. Here are the run totals: 2, 2, 0, 5, 0 and 0. The kick-off effect wasn't as strong in 2012 but you know the score with this team; Colorado had the best home OPS and the worst road OPS last season.
To be fair, the Rockies road production hasn't been an overall issue this year: Colorado stands third in road OPS for the balance of the season. But the next time we get them in this type of spot, a road game after an extended homestand, let's consider how we can exploit it. It's going to happen five more times in 2013.
• Royals manager Ned Yost doesn't have a lot of friends in the fantasy community, and he's not helping the cause with his crazy handling of catcher Salvador Perez. The KC backstop caught his 14th game in 14 days Monday, a workload no one should have to endure in today's age of enlightenment. Perez did have a week and a half away from the club before this streak started, but it's not like Perez was playing croquet at a country picnic. He was actually out of the country, dealing with a grandparent death and the migration of his mother to America. Do the right thing, Royals – give your meal ticket a day off.
So long as Perez doesn't break down, I like his fantasy prospects going forward – he's a Top-10 option at his positon. Perez has been a production rock since coming back to KC and settling into the No. 3 slot in the order (.286-10-2-11 over 56 at-bats) and his "see the ball, hit the ball" approach doesn't bother me at all. This deep into his pro career (170 games over three partial seasons), I'm fine to trust the .309 career average. Some players can make an unorthodox approach work.
The sidewinder saves tonight (USAT)
The sidewinder saves tonight (USAT)
• Giancarlo Stanton's return helps everything in Miami, including the save prospects of closer Steve Cishek. The Cape Cod sidewinder has righted the ship nicely, converting five straight save chances over a sterling run of six appearances (no baserunners, 5 K). Lefty Mike Dunn and retread Chad Qualls aren't challenging for the baton now. Cishek had no trouble securing Monday's victory in Arizona, a win sparked by a pair of Stanton rockets. (Seriously, no one hits them like this guy.) The Marlins are 4-3 since Stanton returned to action.
• Jurickson Profar has already picked up starts at four positions (second, short, third, DH) and he'll be adding to that list soon. The Rangers are having him work with coach Gary Pettis; the aim is for Profar to be "functional in left field" according to manager Ron Washington. I'll be surprised if Profar gets anything close to full-time 2013 duty in Texas unless injuries occur to other players, but maybe Profar will shock the world and be a quick study. After the season is over, the Rangers need to take a long look at their middle infield and how they want to shape things. Elvis Andrus signed an eight-year extension two months ago, and Ian Kinsler landed a five-year extension in 2012.
Speed Round: The legend of Evan Gattis is put on hold for a while: he has a strained oblique and was placed on the disabled list Tuesday . . . The Rangers might get Jeff Baker (thumb) back on Wednesday, notable given how he rocks against left-handed pitching. Tom Milone gets the call for Oakland . . . Asdrubal Cabrera (quad) is making solid progress and could be back in 7-10 days . . . Dillon Gee took a tough loss at Atlanta, posting eight scoreless innings before allowing Freddie Freeman's walk-off shot in the ninth. Gee has 32 strikeouts against just four walks over his last four starts; next up is a turn at Philly and a home date against Washington . . . Jason Vargas rolled past the Mariners (7 IP, 2 R, 9 K), another solid home turn for him. He's a 3.13/1.21 man at The Big A, a 4.42/1.58 stay-away on the road. The Pirates come to the OC on the weekend, then Vargas works at Houston . . . Mike Napoli (illness) is good to go for the Red Sox on Tuesday, but it's not clear yet if Mike Carp will be available . . . Jose Reyes (ankle) has started a rehab assignment and should be back with the Blue Jays before the end of the month . . . Shelby Miller worked five smooth innings Monday before a leg cramp pushed him from the game. This shouldn't cause him to miss any time . . . The Royals pushed across a ninth-inning run and won at Cleveland, but it wasn't any help to no-luck starter James Shields. The consistent righty has a 2.72 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 13 quality starts – and two crummy wins to show for it . . . Nick Franklin continues to pass the eye test – his two-run homer accounted for Seattle's runs. Despite two positions of eligibility and immediate category juice (three homers, two steals), he's still waiting for you in 73 percent of Yahoo! leagues . . . Nick Swisher took a cortisone shot in his left shoulder and isn't expected back until Friday at the earliest. The sore-winged Swisher is hitting .125 in June. Meanwhile, Chris Perez (shoulder) might be ready to go on the weekend. He'll make his second rehab appearance Tuesday.
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- Eric Stults
- Salvador Perez