Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher stock watch

Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher stock watch

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Kris Medlen, SP, Braves: While there was nothing wrong with his relief work this year, Medlen has specifically taken off as a starter, giving us five dominant turns (4-0, five walks, 29 strikeouts, 0.83 ERA). No one can be expected to keep that sort of KBB ratio, but Medlen doesn't sweat contact either, given that he induces a ground ball 52 percent of the time. Get in on this story now if you can, especially with the Padres (in Petco) waiting for next week.

John Axford, RP, Brewers: The Milwaukee bullpen has been a carnival ride all year, but Axford seems to have righted the ship of late: he's recorded two saves this week and regained the endorsement of manager Ron Roenicke. And there's nothing special chasing Axford: Jim Henderson is a career minor leaguer with no pedigree, and Francisco Rodriguez hasn't fooled in 2012. By default, it looks like the club will sink or swim with Axford the rest of the way. How badly did you say you needed saves?

Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals: No one expected immediate miracles when Garcia returned to action last week - he missed a couple of months with a shoulder problem - but a 10-strikeout performance against Pittsburgh immediately pushes Garcia back into our plans. The NL Central is a nifty place for a pitcher, where you see a bunch of exploitable opponents (Houston, Chicago, even Milwaukee), and the Cardinals also offer the deepest lineup in the Junior Circuit. Look for a strong finishing kick over the next six weeks.

Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Royals: The thin air of Colorado didn't permanently break his spirit - Guthrie has been sharp in six AL turns (3.23 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, KBB ratio just under four). The Royals aren't giving him much help with offense or bullpen, but you take what you can get. Guthrie posted a sneaky 3.83 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with the Orioles back in 2010, and the AL Central isn't nearly as demanding. There's an underrated arm here.

Sell

C.J. Wilson, SP, Angels: It's been a mess for most of the big-name LA pitchers, with Wilson a notable crash over the last two months. He hasn't won a game since late June, posting a 6.09 ERA over 11 starts. The strikeout clip is still good for Wilson, but when you allow 31 walks and nine homers over 65 innings, you're not going to be successful. Batters are also squaring up Wilson with little trouble, producing a line drive 21 percent of the time. In mixed leagues, you need to do better. This game is about the numbers, not the names.

Hold

Daniel Straily, SP, Athletics: He didn't look out of place during his three-game trial in Oakland (3.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 12 strikeouts, four walks), and he figures to have a rotation spot for good now that Bartolo Colon has been suspended. Straily won't come back to the majors for one more turn - he needs to spend 10 days in the minors unless an injury creates an opening - but he's mixed-league worthy for September, especially in Oakland's roomy home park.

Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays: His ordinary save total (just 16 handshakes) is tied to how Toronto's season has gone - the Jays are a losing team to begin with, but a lot of their victories have been lopsided ones. Janssen's 2.22 ERA and 0.80 WHIP get your attention, and he validates the love with his strikeoutwalk rate (50 punchouts, just eight free passes). As volatile as the closer market can be, we expect Janssen to be a safe stopper into 2013.

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MLB Trade Rumors: Nats reportedly willing to trade Lucas Giolito 'straight up' for Andrew Miller

MLB Trade Rumors: Nats reportedly willing to trade Lucas Giolito 'straight up' for Andrew Miller

The Nationals are very interested in acquiring a closer before the trade deadline on Monday.

The hang up has been — as it was with a potential deal for Aroldis Chapman — with the number of pieces they would have to give up in the process.

While keeping all of their top prospects would be ideal, a source close to the MLB's Jon Morosi believes the Nationals would be willing to trade 22-year-old RHP Lucas Giolito to the Yankees for 31-year-old closer Andrew Miller.

RELATED: WHO ARE THE NATS' TOP TRADE DEADLINE TARGETS?

The Yankees had previously insisted that they would be keeping Miller, but with the team looking to stockpile young talent for the future, a one-for-one trade would do them well. But having just dealt Chapman, the Yankees may want more in return, which the Nationals have balked at in recent talks.

But Miller would be an upgrade from the Nationals' current situation.

Jonathan Papelbon has been shaky and inconsistent as of late, and while Shawn Kelley has been capable of spot closing duties, it is clear that the team is deficient in that department. Miller only has nine saves this season, but has played second fiddle to Chapman and his blistering pitch speed. Miller has a 1.39 ERA and has struck out 77 batters this season.

Miller is a good closer, but is he worth giving up a bona fide top prospect in Lucas Giolito?

The answer will become clear by the end of the weekend.

RELATED: NATS' INTERESTED IN PIRATES' ALL-STAR CLOSER

 

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Mike Wallace finally passes conditioning test; allowed to join Ravens at practice

Mike Wallace finally passes conditioning test; allowed to join Ravens at practice

OWINGS MILLS – Ravens wide receiver Mike Wallace was back on the practice field Friday, after passing his conditioning test on the second try.

Wallace missed Thursday’s practice after he failed the test on his first attempt. Joining him on the field Friday was wide receiver Dobson Collins, who also passed the test on his second attempt.

The Ravens hope Wallace will return to the form he had early in his career, when he was a consistent deep threat for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Wallace was a disappointment during stints with the Dolphins and Vikings, but Joe Flacco’s ability to throw the deep ball could help Wallace rejuvenate his career.

RELATED: RAVENS TIGHT END LEAVES CAMP WITH INJURY

In other practice news, cornerback Jerraud Powers missed practice for the second straight day and remained the only player yet to pass the conditioning test. Running back Kenneth Dixon, who sprained his left knee Thursday, also did not practice.  

Ravens coach John Harbaugh was hoping the team would stay disciplined during the first day of practice in pads on Saturday.

“The biggest message when you put the pads on is, ‘You’ve been in pads before,’’’ Harbaugh said. ‘“Don’t overreact. It’s going to be fine.’…I want to get right into executing and keep building on what we’ve done the last two days.

“We’re not going to be out here tackling too much – especially the veteran guys. Let’s just go play football.”

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Report: Nats talking to Pirates about All-Star closer Melancon

Report: Nats talking to Pirates about All-Star closer Melancon

With Aroldis Chapman now in Chicago, the Nationals have moved on to other options in their search for bullpen help.

They have been linked to Andrew Miller of the Yankees and Wade Davis of the Royals.

On Friday, another veteran name emerged on the rumor mill. That would be All-Star closer Mark Melancon of the Pittsburgh Pirates.

RELATED: NATS' TOP TRADE DEADLINE TARGETS

See this tweet from FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal:

Melancon, like Chapman, would be a rental, as his contract expires after this season. He is a three-time All-Star who finished eighth in NL Cy Young voting in 2015.

Melancon has been brilliant for Pittsburgh this year with a 1.51 ERA and 30 saves in 33 chances. He led the majors last season with 51 saves in 53 tries.

What stands out about this rumor, though, is that the Pirates would even be willing to part with Melancon. They are currently just two games out of an NL wild card spot. Teams in their position do not usually become sellers.

Because of that, one would have to imagine the price would be high for Melancon, as Pittsburgh has no urgency to move him. One could argue they have no reason to in the first place.

Regardless, it's good news for the Nats if the Pirates will listen to offers. Melancon would be a rare commodity on the trade market as a closer with experience and a long track record of proven results.

[RELATED: Papelbon's job as Nats closer now a real question]

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