Tim Wakefield, Boston, SP: Wakefield is scheduled to come off the DL this coming Tuesday, starting in place of the injured Josh Beckett. For those playing in H2H formats, Wakefield is a potential two-start pitcher heading into this week. Sidelined since early August with tightness behind his shoulder, he is currently sporting a very solid 3.67 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. The Sox are in tight in both the division and wild card races, and that should provide opportunities for Wakefield to win down the stretch. He’s currently owned by only 37 per cent of all teams playing in CBS leagues, so get that 65 mph floater active in AL-only, H2H, and deeper keeper formats for this coming week.
Jim Johnson, Baltimore, RP: The injury to George Sherrill has created the opportunity for the 25-year-old Jim Johnson to be annointed the new closer for the Orioles. Johnson is enjoying a very fine 2008 season, sporting a sweet 2.33 ERA and 1.16 WHIP. He has also yet to yield a big fly, a major reason for his success. If one is looking for potential cheap saves heading down the stretch, Johnson is a solid addition in all formats.
Ronnie Belliard, Washington, 1B/2B/3B: The former Cardinal is currently in the midst of a very, very hot streak. In his past ten games, how does a 19-for-38 line work for you? He’s also managed to hit one long ball and produce seven RBI. This is another situation where going with the hot hand could pay dividends. Belliard is eligible to be slotted in all the infield positions excepting shortstop, making him a solid acquisition in NL-only and deeper mixed formats that require both middle and corner infield slots.
Ryan Garko, Cleveland, 1B: In his past ten games, Garko has put together a very nifty .342 BA, with two homers and 11 RBI. He is currently owned in a scant 38 per cent of CBS leagues so he’s most certainly available. He’s out there and he’s hot; what more could one be looking for heading into those last several weeks of the season? Grab him in all formats and ride the streak.
Manny Burriss, San Francisco, 2B/SS: Burriss is another of those no power, all speed middle infielders that is probably currently sitting on your league waiver wire. In 27 at bats since August 13, he is batting .370 with three stolen bases. If your fantasy squad is in the market for a push in the stolen base category, Burriss is worth a flier.
Jose Bautista, Toronto, 3B/OF: What a difference a week or so can make. Bautista went from riding the pine in Pittsburgh, to being demoted to Triple-A Indianapolis, to finally being the leading home run hitter on his new team, the Jays. Bautista has never been a threat to claim a batting title, but has demonstrated he can hit the long ball, with 31 homers over the past two seasons. The 27-year-old is currently in the midst of an 0-for-August slump, but Manager Cito Gaston has indicated that he is going to see some significant playing time down the stretch, making him a worthwhile addition in AL-only leagues.
Barry Zito, San Francisco, SP: I hate this one already and I haven’t even started discussing the many pros and cons regarding Zito. In his past two starts, both of which resulted in victories, he has pitched rather well. Treat this one with kid gloves, but if you need aggravation and the potential for wins and… (well, let’s leave it at wins), Zito is at least worth a look in very deep and NL-only formats. If the phrase, “desperate times require desperate measures” relates to your current fantasy pitching rotation, Zito is certainly an option.
Dana Eveland, Oakland, SP: Eveland, who was just recently demoted to Triple-A Sacramento, was recalled by Oakland August 21. In his first game since the recall, he went seven strong innings Saturday, and even though it was against the anemic Mariner offense, he held them to just one run over seven innings in picking up the victory. The 24-year-old southpaw allowed only five hits, striking out seven with only one free pass. The injuries to both Sean Gallagher and Justin Duchscherer should guarantee playing time down the stretch for Eveland, making home a solid acquisition in all deep keeper formats and AL-only leagues.
Carl Pavano, New York Yankees, SP: Whew. After being activated off the three-year DL, Pavano actually made it through five innings Saturday and is at least rumoured to be still healthy and capable of starting next week. Added to this amazing accomplishment, he actually got the win and other than an ugly second inning where he allowed three hits and a walk, which contributed to all three runs scored against him, he actually didn’t look all that bad. The Yankees will certainly supply the offense necessary to generate wins, so rolling the dice in AL-only leagues would be a legitimate option.
Chris Lambert, Detroit, SP: Lambert, acquired from the Cardinals last August for Mike Maroth, will make his major league debut for the Tigers this coming Tuesday. Lambert has enjoyed a very solid 2008 for the Triple-A Mud Hens — a 12-8 record, with a 3.50 ERA, and 124 strikeouts in 149.1 IP certainly makes him a decent option for AL-only leagues.
Chris Ray, Baltimore, RP: Okay he’s probably not going to see any action this year, but he is the Orioles closer of both the past and the future. The Orioles have repeatedly said they have no interest in rushing Ray back into the Baltimore lineup, and are working towards a healthy return for Spring Training next year. For those of us in deeper dynasty keeper formats that are now planning ahead to 2009, it would be getting to the time to add him to your roster.
Luis Ayala, New York Mets, RP: Since the injury to Billy Wagner, the Met bullpen has been a mess. Aaron Heilman, given the first opportunity, has certainly not stepped up his game with any level of consistency. The Mets, looking to bolster their bullpen, acquired Ayala from the Nationals for the PTBNL (player to be named later) this past week. Ayala does have some history as way, way back in 2003 he managed five saves in a great season for the Montreal Expos. He has now pitched three scoreless innings for the Mets and picked up his first save this past Friday. When Manager Jerry Manuel comments “if the opportunity comes up, I wouldn’t hesitate to go with him again,” that should be a good indicator that future save opportunities are going to be there. If he’s still out there in your league, get him rostered quick.