Fantasy Baseball: Batters Stock Watch

Fantasy Baseball: Batters Stock Watch

The Melky Cabrera suspension sent a shock wave through fantasy baseball Wednesday, and with that, we'll focus on the outfield in this week's Batter Stock Watch.

Buy

Eric Young, 2BOF, Rockies: He's been a monster this month (11 runs, three homers, .447 average), taking advantage of the leadoff spot and Colorado's thin air. Young's also collected 13 steals in limited playing time for the year (157 at-bats); imagine what he could do if he landed a regular spot. Manager Jim Tracy is notorious for being a lineup tinkerer, but he says Young will stick in the Colorado mix even after Michael Cuddyer returns Thursday. Good enough for us, we'll keep running with Young.

Jon Jay, OF, Cardinals: He's getting a shot at the top of the St. Louis lineup, and the results have been terrific: 20-for-45 binge this month, two homers, three steals. The Cardinals as a team lead the NL in batting average and runs scored, so it's a handy place for rotisserie value. Jay's strong defense also keeps him in the lineup the team needs to be strong up the middle, because the corner defenders are very weak.

Rajai Davis, OF, Blue Jays: He doesn't offer strong fundamentals in the field or at the plate, but Davis knows what he's doing as a baserunner (35-for-43 on steals this year, with 12 swipes since the break). The injury-ravaged Jays don't really have a choice any longer in their outfield they need to play Davis every day. Don't let your past opinions on Davis cloud your judgement; he's a strong play down the stretch.

Desmond Jennings, OF, Rays: His first-half mess was a sore spot for fantasy owners, but Jennings has been back on the beam since the All-Star break (.308, four homers, seven steals, 24 runs). Most importantly, he's trimmed his BBK rate down to a more acceptable area (nine free passes, 21 strikeouts). With Evan Longoria back in the fold, it's a good time to be rolling with most of your Tampa Bay offensive options.

Sell

Bryce Harper, OF, Nationals: He's going to be a superstar someday, no one disputes that. But Harper has been a gaping hole in Washington's lineup of late (.178 .267.254 since the break), and he's only batting .221 against lefties for the year. In a keeper pool, you should flip Harper's wonderful future for someone who is wonderful right now. Flags fly forever.

Hold

Garrett Jones, 1BOF, Pirates: He's been a lefty liability his entire career, and that story hasn't changed this year (.595 OPS). But so long as we live in a right-handed world, why worry? Jones rakes against the northpaws (.293.327.547, 15 homers), and the Pirates have been a run-scoring juggernaut since the beginning of June. Enjoy the ride.

Brandon Belt, 1BOF, Giants: The Melky Cabrera suspension gives Belt another way into the Giants lineup and further protects him from the whims of Bruce Bochy. Belt's swinging sweetly at a .472 clip this month, with just two strikeouts over 36 at-bats. That should earn him some lineup cred for the balance of August.

3 challenges Melo Trimble faces by returning to Maryland

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3 challenges Melo Trimble faces by returning to Maryland

Melo Trimble, by many estimations, made the "right" decision by returning to Maryland for his junior season.

Of course, there could be any number of unforeseen circumstances in the future that could change that opinion, but given the current set of conditions, he returns to a team that could legitimately make the NCAA tournament with another year to prove to NBA scouts that he can play at the next level.

But there are still challenges ahead for Trimble. Here are three of them. 

1) Less on-paper talent than the 2015-16 team

Mark Turgeon made two enormous, late-signing period splashes last year by landing five-star center Diamond Stone, then Rasheed Sulaimon from Duke as a graduate transfer. That helped to solidify a starting five that already included Trimble, then-senior Jake Layman, and Georgia Tech transfer Robert Carter, Jr.

The Terrapins had arguably the most purely talented starting five in the country. The attention on a given night was off of Trimble in a way because on any given night any one of those five players could carry the offensive load. It will be on Trimble during his junior season.

The starting five likely projects something like this (with some variation, depending on how Turgeon wants to utilize his guard and wing depth): PG: Melo Trimble | SG: Dion Wiley | SF: Jared Nickens | PF: L.G. Gill | C: Damonte Dodd.

Freshman guard Anthony Cowan will assuredly be in the mix, but that still pins most all of the offensive pressure on Trimble. Can he thrive when he is the focal point of the defense's game plan? 

Wiley, Nickens, and Gill hitting their shots would help. But who becomes the reliable pick-and-roll options like Carter and Stone were last season?

MORE TERPS: MARYLAND ADDS 4-STAR LATE IN SPRING PERIOD

2) The foul problem

Throughout the 2015-16 season, Turgeon mentioned whenever he could the fact that Trimble was getting to the rim at the same rate that he was his freshman season, but not getting foul calls at the same rate. That meant the same wear and tear on his body, but without the benefit of an efficient scoring line to go with it. 

Turgeon would never publicly, explicitly pin it on the referees, but look at the difference between Trimble's average field goal attempts as a sophomore during Big Ten play (4.4) and during the NCAA tournament (10.6). That cannot all be accounted for by saying he got to the basket more often in the tournament. 

Because Trimble hits at such a high rate from the free-throw line (86.8 percent), he becomes lethal in the pick-and-roll because he can hit shots if the defense goes under a screen, pass to an open man if they hedge out, or drive past and draw a foul if they go over. 

No fouls in the lane? Less effective pick-and-roll for a player who feasts in that set. What indicates that something will change when he is a junior?

3) The looming 2017 NBA Draft

By returning to Maryland, Trimble buys himself time and gives himself an opportunity to show what he can do during his junior season in hopes that he returns to a form closer to what we saw in 2014-15 or early 2015-16. 

That will all build up likely to the 2017 NBA Draft, assuming Trimble enters. He has questions that he now has to answer and some things that will be real concerns.

He will be 22 years old at the time of next year's draft. Only three players projected to be taken in the first round of this year's draft, according to DraftExpress.com's current mock, will be 22 years of age or older on draft night -- Oklahoma's Buddy Hield, Michigan State's Denzel Valentine, and Providence's Kris Dunn.

Player of the Year finalist. Player of the Year finalist. Projected lottery pick back in 2015 who decided to stay anyway.

That's tough company to break into for Trimble and it speaks to the type of junior season he would have to have to get into the first round. 

And the foundation of his overall game won't be changing. His length will still be subpar, compared to his peers, at next year's Combine. It's unlikely that his max vertical will improve by much, which means he'll have to answer those questions another way -- simply by playing basketball. 

Master the pick-and-roll. Shoot a high percentage from three. Get back to the line at a high rate. That should be the formula for Trimble.

With season over, what did Kevin Durant say about his future?

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With season over, what did Kevin Durant say about his future?

The offseason of Kevin Durant is underway now that the Oklahoma City Thunder have been eliminated in shocking fashion from the Western Conference Finals — and the Wizards wait in line for a chance to put their best foot forward.

It’s not shocking in that they lost to the defending Golden State Warriors, but that they had a 3-1 series lead before succumbing in seven games.

It’s how they unraveled with Durant and Russell Westbrook reverting to their old form of panicking down the stretch, making bad decisions and blowing a 13-point first-half lead.

Durant, a D.C. native, is an unrestricted free agent who remains on the Wizards’ radar. And a host of other teams such as the Warriors, San Antonio Spurs, Miami Heat, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks want a shot to make their pitch.

“We just lost like 30 minutes ago,” said Durant, who had a team-high 27 points in a 96-88 loss that included a personal 7-0 run in a crucial fourth-quarter stretch. “I haven’t even thought about it yet. I’m embracing my teammates, just reflecting on the season. I’ll think about that stuff, I don’t know when.”

Durant earned $20 million with the Thunder this season. He could opt to sign a two-year deal with the second of it being an opt-out. That would allow Durant to play with Westbrook and Serge Ibaka, both of whom will be unrestricted in 2017, one more season so he can make his decision concurrent with theirs.

And with the salary cap expected to grow from $70 million in 2015-16 to $108 million for 2017-18, financially it would make more sense for Durant to wait.

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Gausman looks for that elusive win against Red Sox

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Gausman looks for that elusive win against Red Sox

Tonight's Game:

Boston Red Sox (31-20) vs. Baltimore Orioles (28-21), Oriole Park at Camden Yards, Baltimore, 7:05 p.m.

Starting pitchers:

Eduardo Rodriguez (2016 debut) vs. Kevin Gausman (0-2, 3.24)

Keys to the Game: 

Can the Orioles get to Rodriguez early in the game? He is making his first start of 2016

Can Gausman finally get that first win? He hasn't won in seven starts, but the Orioles have won three of them. 

News and Notes:

— Caleb Joseph injured his groin in the eighth inning and was taken to the hospital for an examination.

— Gausman has won just three of his last 31 starts since Aug. 2014. 

— David Ortiz is batting .462 (6-for-13) with two home runs and four RBIs against Gausman.

— Ortiz has hit 26 home runs in 113 games in Baltimore. 

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