Closing Time: Mark Reynolds gets ridiculous

For years I've been expecting low returns from most Orioles. For a while, I've done just fine fading any Mark Reynolds buzz.

Looks like this is the year I give back those gains. Must be the old-school logo.

Baltimore has forged a tie in the AL East standings, level with the Yankees, and the insanely-hot Reynolds is a big reason why. He's clouted eight homers over his last 26 at-bats, including a pair of taters in Thursday's victory. He's up to 20 homers for the year, with 12 of them coming over the last 30 days.

Hot and cold streaks definitely exist for baseball players, it's just difficult (actually, impossible) to know when they'll start and when they'll stop. Consider the monthly batting averages for Reynolds this year: .143, .306., .218, .207, .275, and .409 (in six games) for September. There's no pattern here.

Better plate discipline could be playing into the recent spike; Reynolds walked twice as much in August as he did in July, and he's already collected four free passes this month. But sometimes that sort of thing ties to production; when you're in a rut, pitchers might feel more comfortable attacking you with strikes and making sure they don't give anything away. You can be sure the Yankees will be very careful with how they handle Reynolds the rest of the weekend.

If nothing else, perhaps Reynolds helps us identify the "dead zone" as we swim through the final month of baseball. He's still unowned in 45 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Maybe some owners are so disengaged at this point, nothing will get them to the point and click. That said, about 4,300 players did grab Reynolds over the last 12 hours.

Obviously the readers here aren't in that crew (I know you're quick, quicker, and quickest), so let's look at some more subtle and actionable roto stuff.

The Stream Police, they live inside of my head. Well, something like that.

There's been plenty of Hisashi Iwakuma (39 percent) pub in this column of late, but he's still widely available and ready to go. His last month stacks up nicely: four wins, 1.09 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 26 Ks in 33 IP. Go ahead and dial him up against Oakland, buoyed by the Safeco backdrop.

I'm surprised Bronson Arroyo trades at a modest 33 percent; even at this time of the year, that's too low given what's behind (2.62/0.90 last month) and ahead (a home start against Houston). He's also a nifty guitarist in a pinch.

Ross Detwiler (39 percent) generally doesn't work deep into games, though he's still found a way to win five of his 10 second-half starts. He's still just 26 and a former first-round pick; I like the sneaky pedigree that's at play here. And any home start against Miami sounds good, given how the Marlins have flagged the season.

(Initially I had some J.A. Happ words in this space, but he's out for the year with a broken foot; the news moved Friday afternoon. So it goes. Dave Stieb might be the only Toronto player still healthy.)

Red-light names to avoid: James McDonald (it's time to drop him, gamers), C.J. Wilson (at Detroit? no way), and both sides of the Westbrook-Fiers matchup. I also expect the Yanks to post a crooked number against Joe Saunders, like the rest of the free world.

Time for some overdue words on Oakland's Josh Donaldson, who's one of the most glorious of roto finds: a catcher-eligible player who really isn't catcher. The Athletics use Donaldson as the primary third baseman (though he also fills the catcher spot), and he's actuality the top-rated Yahoo! backstop over the last month (.316-9-5-15-2). Brandon Inge is done for the year, so there's nothing blocking Donaldson from playing time. He's good to go in 87 percent of Yahoo! leagues.