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The Wire Troll: Ryan Ludwick’s Power Surge

August 5, 2012 | By Tim McLeod | comment on this post
Ryan Ludwick has been cranking dingers for the Cincinnati Reds.
Ryan Ludwick has stepped up for the Reds.

The closer carousel keeps on spinning. Ryan Cook blew another save opportunity for the A’s on Saturday; Joe Nathan has been struggling and is taking a break this weekend; the Angels bullpen has struggled mightily over the past several weeks; Brett Myers has moved on to the Pale Hose and with Francisco Cordero banished to a middle relief role, it’s now Wilton Lopez time in Houston; Jonathan Broxton is now part of a deep and talented bullpen in Cincinnati leaving Greg Holland manning the ninth for the Royals. This season will be remembered as the year of the continuous closer shuffle and several of the moves at the trade deadline just fueled the insanity.

We’ve got a full and very interesting slate of candidates on the agenda this week so without further ado let’s give them the once over.

Ryan Ludwick, OF, Cincinnati Reds (CBS: 56 per cent owned, ESPN: 53 per cent): The injury to Joey Votto left a gaping hole in the Reds offense and the need for someone to step up and produce. Since the All-Star break, Ludwick has been on fire — mashing seven homers with 23 RBI in just 68 at-bats. He has been a key player in the Reds jumping into a 5 1/2 game lead in the NL Central.

Joe Blanton, SP, Los Angeles Dodgers (CBS: 57 per cent owned, ESPN: 14 per cent): I’ve never been a huge Blanton fan, but you would think the Phillies could have done better than a PTBNL when they dealt him to LA. The move to cavernous Chavez Ravine will do nothing but good for both Blanton and the Dodgers as they battle the Giants down the stretch.

Greg Holland, RP, Kansas City Royals (CBS: 39 per cent owned, ESPN: 46 per cent): The rumour mill got this one right as Broxton was shipped to Cincinnati and Holland became the new go-to guy in the ninth inning for the Royals. With 57 strikeouts in 41 2/3 IP, Holland has all the tools to be very successful in his new role.

Andy Dirks, OF, Detroit Tigers (CBS: 19 per cent owned, ESPN: 5 per cent): The Tigers activated Dirks last week from the DL where he’s resided since the end of May dealing with an Achilles injury. Prior to the injury, he was off to a solid start with four homers, 16 RBI, and a stupendous .328 BA. Quintin Berry owners should be getting concerned.

Wilton Lopez, RP, Houston Astros (CBS: 14 per cent owned, ESPN: 8 per cent): The time has arrived for Lopez to move from the speculative pick to the he’s got the gig phase of his career. Cordero was simply abhorrent and it’s time to see if Lopez can get the job done as the Astros make plans for the move to the AL next season.

Domonic Brown, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (CBS: 21 per cent owned, ESPN: 2 per cent): It’s “shit or get off the pot time” for Brown. Long touted as a top prospect, the trades of both Hunter Pence and Shane Victorino have created an opportunity for regular at-bats down the stretch. The next two months will go a long way in determining Brown’s future with the Phillies.

Other Options

Welington Castillo, C, Chicago Cubs (CBS: 1 per cent owned, ESPN: unowned): The trade of Geovany Soto to the Rangers has moved Castillo into at least a job-share for the Cubbies. GM Theo Epstein will give all the youngsters a good look over the final two months.

Alexi Ogando, RP, Texas Rangers (CBS: 23 per cent owned, ESPN: 5 per cent): Nathan has struggled lately and is getting some time off to recharge the batteries this weekend. Ogando is now a perfect 2-for-2 in his absence. Just sayin’…

Blake Beaven, SP, Seattle Mariners (CBS: 11 per cent owned, ESPN: 2 per cent): Beaven has allowed only 12 free passes in 90 2/3 IP this season and with three consecutive quality starts under his belt should be gaining some attention in deeper leagues.

Patrick Corbin, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks (CBS: 11 per cent owned, ESPN: unowned): The six shutout innings, two-hit gem he spun Wednesday against the Dodgers just illustrates the incredible depth of young starting pitching in the Arizona system.

Mike Olt, 3B, Texas Rangers (CBS: 27 per cent owned, ESPN: 4 per cent): It’s crowded in Texas, but Olt did destroy minor league pitching to the tune of 28 homers and 82 RBI in 354 at-bats.

Corey Kluber, SP, Cleveland Indians (CBS: 2 per cent owned, ESPN: unowned): Let’s give the kid a mulligan for that first inning in which he allowed two homers and six earned runs Thursday against the Royals in his first career start. He settled in nicely after getting over his early battle with the nerves. At Triple-A Columbus he struck out an IL-leading 128 batters in 125 1/3 IP and will get a good look from the Tribe as it makes plans for 2013.

Hisashi Iwakuma, SP, Seattle Mariners (CBS: 23 per cent owned, ESPN: 1 per cent): In Iwakuma’s last start Tuesday against the Jays he struck out a career high 13 over eight innings. Is he currently the second best starter to come over from Japan last offseason?

Trayvon Robinson, OF, Seattle Mariners (CBS: 2 per cent owned, ESPN: unowned): Robinson’s speed-power combination is intriguing and he should see regular at-bats down the stretch.

Kevin Jepsen, RP, Los Angeles Angels (CBS: 1 per cent owned, ESPN: 1 per cent): Is he currently the best arm in the Halos’ bullpen?

Dan Straily, SP, Oakland Athletics (CBS: 49 per cent owned, ESPN: 7 per cent): Straily not only pitched well in his debut Friday against the Jays, he saved my good friend Rich Wilson from being forced into the Witness Protection Plan. (It’s a long story.) Parting with some of that FAAB cash would be a wise plan.

Derek Norris, C, Oakland Athletics (CBS: 8 per cent owned, ESPN: unowned): Last Sunday, Norris was demoted to Triple-A Sacramento. Then the A’s dealt Kurt Suzuki to the Nats and by Friday Norris is not only back in the bigs, but is the go-to guy behind the plate in Oakland. The power potential (especially in two-catcher sets) makes him a solid investment.

Geovany Soto, C, Texas Rangers (CBS: 22 per cent owned, ESPN: 11 per cent): Everybody hits in Texas.

Josh Vitters, 3B, Chicago Cubs (CBS: 4 per cent owned, ESPN: unowned): Ian Stewart is hurt and done for the year. Luis Valbuena is struggling to get to the Mendoza Line. Isn’t it time for a Vitters sighting in the Windy City?

Nate Schierholtz, OF, Philadelphia Phillies (CBS: 5 per cent owned, ESPN: 1 per cent): Schierholtz got his wish and the Giants moved him to Philadelphia. Short-term at least, he should see an increase in playing time in the revamped Philly outfield.

Grant Balfour, RP, Oakland Athletics (CBS: 23 per cent owned, ESPN: 27 per cent): Cook has now blown four saves in his last six chances. Balfour hasn’t allowed an earned run since June 28. Patience has to be running thin in Oakland.

Erik Kratz, C, Philadelphia Phillies (CBS: 1 per cent owned, ESPN: unowned): Carlos Ruiz (plantar fasciitis) is out 4-to-6 weeks, but we know what Brian Schneider brings to the table, so perhaps Kratz is worth taking a look at.

Adeiny Hechavarria, SS, Toronto Blue Jays (CBS: 3 per cent owned, ESPN: unowned): If Brett Lawrie (ribcage) finds his way to the DL, some insurance in AL-only formats could be money well spent.

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