Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher stock watch

Fantasy Baseball: Pitcher stock watch


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.


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.


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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Williams, Capitals' third line cashes vs. the Cats

Williams, Capitals' third line cashes vs. the Cats

After being held without a point through the season’s first three games, the Capitals’ third line broke through in Thursday’s 4-2 win over the Panthers in South Florida.

Right wing Justin Williams staked the Caps to an early 1-0 lead by finishing off a splendid centering pass from defenseman Nate Schmidt. As Williams whacked his own rebound past Florida goalie Roberto Luongo, center Lars Eller crashed the net while left wing Brett Connolly covered the point for Schmidt, who was credited with the only assist.


Although Eller and Connolly are still looking for their first point, it’s now official: all four of the Capitals’ forward lines have scored at least one goal.

“They were a hard working line,” Coach Barry Trotz told reporters afterward. “They were keeping it simple. They were working hard. They were winning their battles that were in on. And when you do that [and] you play the right way, you’re going to have some success. And they did.”

It was goal No. 250 for Williams, who acknowledged the milestone by noting that he's only 500 goals behind Jaromir Jagr, who netted No. 750 in the same game.

Thursday’s matchup marked the second straight game for the Connolly-Eller-Williams combination, but it was the first in which all three registered at least one shot on goal. Williams, in fact, finished tied for the team lead in shots on goal with four. Entering the game, he had mustered just one shot in three contests.

“I think we’ve done better, marginally, every game we’ve played,” Williams said. “It’s kind of hard not to; we didn’t have some great games to start.”

Prior to Thursday’s breakthrough, Trotz said he believed the unit’s slow offensive start may have been caused, in part, by having new players (Connolly, Eller and Sanford) who are still getting settled and the simple fact that there are four players on the line, meaning there’s a rotation, which reduces reps and can negatively impact communication, continuity and chemistry.

Williams, though, indicated after the game that the line's chemistry is slowly revealing itself.

“We’re talking a little bit more,” he said. “We’re supporting a little bit more. We’re getting to know each other a little bit more.”

The question now is when will Sanford see the ice again? The third line is coming off its best game, and hockey coaches don’t like to make changes to a winning lineup. At the same time, Sanford, a 21-year-old first year pro, needs to play.

It’s not an issue yet. But it’s something that will bear watching in the coming days and weeks.


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Redskins place first-round rookie WR Josh Doctson on injured reserve

Redskins place first-round rookie WR Josh Doctson on injured reserve

When the Redskins drafted Josh Doctson No. 22 overall, the idea was the rookie receiver out of TCU would push DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garçon for snaps and catches. An Achilles injury limited Doctson's ability to hit the field, and now has landed the receiver on the injured reserve list.

Washington coach Jay Gruden announced the move to IR on Friday and said "It's best for him. For his state of mind it's important to get this thing fixed."

Doctson opened training camp on the Physically Unable to Perform list and did not play in the preseason. He did not open the regular season on the IR, however, and played in the Redskins first two games against the Steelers and Cowboys, both losses.

From there, Doctson was inactive for four weeks before landing on the IR.

"I feel terrible for Josh," offensive coordinator Sean McVay said.

Moving Doctson to the IR had been discussed for a few weeks as his Achilles injury did not seem to improve, but Gruden and the Redskins front office wanted to wait and see if the rookie could rebound from the injury. A myriad of tests have been done on the affected area and did not reveal damage, so the cause of Doctson's pain remains unknown. 

Expect much more information on Doctson and what it means for the Redskins receiving group to come. 

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