The Rockies finally returned home on Monday, the start of a glorious nine-game stretch at Coors Field. We're always looking for ways to take advantage of the thin air, and with that in mind, let's give a look to third baseman Nolan Arenado.
Arenado's had a curious season, essentially speeding from hot prospect to fantasy afterthought in a limited amount of time. The Rockies gave the rated rookie a call in April but we didn't see early returns. He was scuffling with a .221/.261/.374 slash in the first week of June, fantasy buzz plummeting.
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Maybe it's arbitrary endpoints and maybe it's not, but Arenado has stepped his game up over the last 12 weeks, hitting a credible .293 over that span (and .329 in August). He had three hits in Monday's win over San Francisco, settling into the No. 5 slot in the order. The power is still on back order, but he's slugging .462 at home, along with an .800 OPS. Arenado has also been sharp in the field, marking his territory nicely.
Now's a good time to kick some tires, with Arenado home cooking and available in 82 percent of Yahoo! leagues. (A few widely-owned names to consider dropping for your Arenado pickup: David Freese, Michael Young, strep-battling Mike Moustakas, Jose Iglesias, Jurickson Profar.)
• While the Rockies have committed to Arenado and fantasy owners should as well, buzzy Boston prospect Xander Bogaerts is a trickier proposition. The Red Sox view Bogaerts as a part-timer for the balance of the year, and he's not in the starting lineup Tuesday even with an opposing left-hander on the mound. Playing time is criterial in most mixed leagues, which is why Bogaerts not recommended for the stretch run. Stephen Drew and Will Middlebrooks aren't going to simply float away. (Sure, grab and hold Bogie in keeper and dynasty formats, obviously. No one fails to grasp that concept.)
• Monday unofficially turned into Matt Harvey mourning day. The Gotham City ace has a partially-torn UCL in his pitching elbow and will likely need Tommy John surgery. That wipes out this season, and most (if not all) of 2014. You know the TJ drill by now.
The Harvey news is a good reminder for keeper-league players: the prudent year-to-year plan is to focus on hitting. Pitching is an unnatural act, after all, and for all the precautionary measures baseball clubs take with their men on the mound, sometimes you're going to hit a pothole. Everyone has to deal with the jagged edge of randomness. On the whole, the offensive stocks are far less volatile.