As we march on towards the fantasy baseball playoffs, it’s crunch time for you and your fantasy team. What you do now can make or break your entire season. Fortunately for you, I'm here to sift through box scores and stats to figure out who has been the hottest and who has been the coldest in the Major Leagues.
Mat Latos, SP, Cincinnatti Reds
Last three starts: 2-1, 1.17 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 23.0 IP, 21/3 K/BB
In his last four starts, Latos has only been given a total of seven runs of support, but that hasn’t hurt him all that much. Over that span, he has only given up three runs of his own and the Reds have gone 3-0.
In addition to only giving up three earned runs in his last 30.1 innings pitched, it appears that opposing batters have been Latos-intolerant, as he has also racked up 24 strikeouts while only walking six. He has been the clear ace for the Reds all season long, and this last stretch definitely solidifies his status.
Alex Wood, SP/RP, Atlanta Braves
Last four starts: 1-0, 1.11 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 24.1 IP, 23/5 K/BB
Alex Wood is just one more in the long line of Braves homegrown starting pitching talent. Initially, Wood served as a reliever, but has recently made the switch to a starter after Tim Hudson went down. The switch has paid off huge for the Braves, who needed Hudson’s spot filled badly.
Since the beginning of the month, Wood has been tremendous. In addition to the above stats, Wood has held batters to a paltry .179/.233/.250 triple slash, while allowing only three extra base hits (all doubles).
The fact that Wood has excelled can let the Braves have a slight sigh of relief. Also, if you need a great option to start as you get to your league’s playoffs, Wood is the man.
Jason Castro, C, Houston Astros
Last four games: .529 BA, 3 HR, 5 RBIs, 2 2B, 1 3B
Jason Castro has been one of the few bright spots for the lowly Astros this season. If you didn’t know, the former first round pick has hit to a .278/.350/..490 triple slash with 17 home runs and 51 RBIs.
Over his last four games, Castro has been a monster. He has racked up nine hits, six of which were extra base hits, and drove in five runs.
As of right now, Castro is only owned by 52.9% of all ESPN leagues, so if you need some help, go take a look and see if he’s owned in your league. Just because he’s an Astro doesn’t mean that he’s going to suck.
Khris Davis, LF, Milwaukee Brewers
Last six games: .476 BA, 3 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 2B, 3 HBP
No, not that Chris Davis. It’s Khris Davis with a K. The man responsible for replacing Ryan Braun in the Milwaukee lineup has been moderately acceptable. This season, Davis has hit .338/.416/.727 triple slash with eight home runs and 18 runs driven in in just 39 games for the Brewers (which would extrapolate to a 34 HR, 75 RBI season). Albeit a small sample size, a big part of fantasy baseball is riding someone when they’re hot.
Right now, he’s owned by 65.8% of ESPN leagues, but has been added by 62.9% in the last seven days, so word of his hot hitting has been spreading quickly. If you need outfield help, definitely take a look to see if he’s available in your league.
Jeff Locke, SP, Pittsburgh Pirates
Last three starts: 0-1, 8.76 ERA, 2.35 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 8/11 K/BB
After a great start in the first half of the season, and being a huge reason why the Pirates were so successful, it appears that Locke’s Cinderella stretch may be coming to an end.
As you can see, over his last three starts, it appears that hitters have been able to pick the Locke, roughing him up for 12 earned runs in his last 12.1 innings pitched — including a 2.2 IP, 8 ER start against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The poor stretch has raised his ERA up above 3.00 and earned him his fourth loss.
Brandon McCarthy, SP, Arizona Diamondbacks
Last three starts: 0-3, 7.80 ERA, 1.73 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 11/5 K/BB
Everyone’s favorite tweeting pitcher has struggled to get it together after being hit with a comebacker last season. After two solid seasons in Oakland, McCarthy has only compiled five quality starts (more than six innings pitched, no more than three earned runs) in 15 total starts this season.
It sucks to see him struggling after that injury, especially since it seemed like he got things back together in mid-May when he had a stretch of 24 innings where he gave up only one earned run.
Kendrys Morales, 1B, Seattle Mariners
Last seven games: .148, 0 HR, 2 RBI, 0 SB
After being traded to the Mariners to give them a power injection, Morales had been doing his job in their lineup for a long time. This season, Morales has hit .283 with 17 home runs and 67 RBIs.
As of late, however, Morales hasn’t been the player the Mariners traded for. In the last week, Morales registered just four hits in his last 27 at-bats without any extra base hits. He also struck out eight times.
The uncharacteristic stretch is nothing to worry about. Over the last week, his Mariners have faced tough AL West competition, including games against Yu Darvish and Martin Perez. There’s still time left for him to pay off big in your playoffs.
Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs
Last seven games: .133, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 0 SB
Starlin Castro? More like Nobody-lin Castro! [cue laugh track]
Jokes aside, Castro has been uncharacteristically horrific at the plate this season. Right now, he has mustered up only a .237/.274/.333 triple slash this season after averaging a .297/.336/.425 one over the rest of his career.
His performance recently hasn’t helped his cause at all. In his last seven games, Castro has reached base just eight times (four hits, two walks, two reached on error) and scored only twice. He has zero extra base hits and has even been caught stealing twice.
Which Castro will you get if you draft him next season? Personally, I think it’ll be the 2011-2012 version. It seems that the mental part of the game is lacking for him, as he even got benched for making a mistake against the Cardinals this week. So once he gets that in check, he’ll be back to his All-Star ways.