The Nationals are just a game over .500 after Thursday's play, but this team nonetheless could be the sleeping giant in the NL. A host of key Nationals have returned from injury of late - Bryce Harper, Jayson Werth, Stephen Strasburg - and we can now add catcher Wilson Ramos to that list.
Ramos was a hot property in fantasy not too long ago, a trendy 2012 sleeper after a solid 2011 breakthrough (15 homers in 389 at-bats). But a torn ACL in May wiped him out last season, and he's missed most of this year due to a balky hamstring.
The Washington backstop returned to action in the July 4 matinee and he quickly made an impact, collecting three hits against Milwaukee, including the game-flipping homer. The tape reflects well on Ramos - he used the entire ballpark over the course of the afternoon, and the round-tripper was a no-doubter.
Closing in on his 26th birthday, perhaps Ramos is ready for a snappy second half. Consider him a sure add in two-catcher leagues, and he could become a Top 12 option at the position if things break right. He's waiting for you in 97 percent of Yahoo! leagues.
• Speaking of comebacks, it sounds like Ike Davis is closing in on his return to the Mets, perhaps as soon as Friday. Davis has been productive in his Triple-A tune-up, slashing .293/.424/.667 and knocking seven homers in 21 games. Sure, it's the hitter-friendly PCL, but those are elite numbers nonetheless.
Davis's nightmare first half is hard to forget, but we also have to consider what he did in the second half of 2012 (20 homers, .542 slugging). If you need to take a chance at the corner spot, you'll find Davis available in 71 percent of Yahoo! pools.
• We don't want to come down too hard on Edward Mujica for Thursday's blown save at Anaheim - it's his first squandered chance of the year, after all. That said, Mujica has struggled with the gopher ball of late - Josh Hamilton's tater was the third the reliever has served up over six appearances. This has been a career issue for the St. Louis reliever - he's allowed 33 homers over the last four years, despite working exclusively in the bullpen. It's going to take a lot of accidents before the Cardinals look for a different ninth-inning plan, but just make sure Trevor Rosenthal isn't floating around on your waiver wire.
• We've had some false alarms with Brett Wallace in the past, so Thursday's two-homer game against the Rays has to be taken with a grain of salt. That established, he does have three homers and eight hits over his first 28 at-bats back with the Astros, and this comes on the heels of a strong push in Triple-A (.326/.398/.554, 11 homers in 59 games). Wallace was considered a buzzy prospect as recently as 2010, and he's still just 26. Anyone want to throw a post-hype dart at the wall?
• Don Mattingly's managerial life is about to become more complicated - Carl Crawford (hamstring) is just about ready to be activated off the disabled list. Crawford will travel with the club to San Francisco for a weekend series, and we'll probably see him at some point at AT&T Park (it could be as soon as Friday). The return gives Los Angeles four outfielders (Crawford, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig and Andre Ethier) and just three spots to use them.
Ethier would seem to be the odd man out - Kemp is too good to sit and obviously Puig has to play given the splash he's made. But until we know for sure Crawford is back at full throttle, maybe it's not something to worry about.
Speed Round: The Rockies closed out Thursday's win while Carlos Gonzalez rested a sore back; he suffered the injury in the fifth inning. Consider him day-to-day . . . It's possible that Troy Tulowitzki (rib) could return before the All-Star break, though I'd still guess he won't play for Colorado until after the intermission. He's been taking infield and batting practice this week . . . Jose Quintana hasn't been a big strikeout source this year, so it was surprising to see him dispatch of 11 Orioles in a terrific start Thursday (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB). Unfortunately he draws the Tigers, and Justin Verlander, next week . . . A concussion and a bad hip could keep Alex Gordon on the shelf for a few games . . . The Raul Ibanez music keeps playing: four more hits, including his 21st homer . . . Miguel Cabrera (back) was held out of Detroit's romp at Toronto. Given the rock-hard playing surface at the Rogers Centre, the Tigers made a prudent decision here . . . Kyle Gibson lost his way against the Yankees, allowing 11 hits ands eight runs over 5.1 innings. He works at Tampa Bay next week . . . The Rangers finally did something with scuffling Elvis Andrus, dropping him to eighth in the order for Thursday's game. Texas is far and away the league's worst offense in the first inning of games this year (.203/.165/.284), with Andrus a major part of that problem.