Let’s get right into this week’s edition …
In the Field
OF Nate Schierholtz, San Francisco
He closed out the first half of the season in style, bumping up his hit streak to six games while going 4-for-4 in the last game against the New York Mets. Three home runs over that stretch shows his power potential, as the San Francisco Giants have been batting him in the cleanup spot. He’s owned in only 20 percent of online leagues. Grab him now as I expect that to rise significantly very soon.
INF Clint Barnes, Houston
Eligible at both second base and shortstop, the Houston Astros middle infielder is also riding a six-game hitting streak into the All-Star break. After a slow start, it appears he is finding his groove at the plate. He is worth owning in all formats, and in a pinch can be a starter while he’s riding this hot streak.
3B/SS Eduardo Nunez, New York Yankees
The announcement of Alex Rodriguez’s surgery opens up a regular spot in the lineup for the New York Yankees’ future shortstop. He has shown some offensive flashes, including seven hits over two games against the New York Mets over the July 4th weekend. Regular playing time for the next 4-6 weeks and shortstop eligibility makes him an attractive short-term option. He is worth owning in all formats, and those needing middle infield help can plug him into the lineup right away.
On the Bump
Paul Maholm, Pittsburgh
Usually I don’t like to double dip and have repeats in the column, but in this case it is warranted. Maholm got a mention two weeks ago and he has not disappointed. Still owned in less than half the online leagues, Maholm closed out the first half of the season allowing two runs or less in six of his last seven outings, picking up four wins in the process. He is worth owning in all formats.
Javier Vazquez, Florida
Another repeat listing, as Vazquez continues to impress. Only two wins in his last four starts, but in three of those he didn’t allow a single earned run. No one knows for sure if he’s turned things around for good, but for now, he is worth riding. He’s worth owning in all formats.
Barry Zito, San Francisco
Since coming off the disabled list, Zito has been nothing short of stellar. He’s allowed only three earned runs in his last three starts, as he picked up wins in all three. Firmly established as one of the top four starters in San Francisco, he is poised to have a great second half of the season. He’s owned in less than half the online leagues, but that won’t last long as he not only should be owned in all formats, but in deep leagues he’s worth being a starter.
Chris Volstad, Florida
The Florida Marlin youngster had a strong finish to the first half of the season, winning three of his last four starts. The Philadelphia Phillies took it to him, but he only allowed five earned over 19 innings against Seattle, Oakland and Houston. He doesn’t strike out a lot of guys, but when he’s on, his outs are recorded mostly on the ground. He’s worth taking a flyer on as the second half of the season gets underway.
Dontrelle Willis, Cincinnati
We’re digging a little deep here (very deep in fact) but those of you in deep leagues might consider taking a flyer on the once-famous lefty. A decent outing in his first start last week, one in which he was in line to pick up the win when he left the game. Cincinnati does have other options, but his performance last week has earned him another chance on the mound. Keep an eye on him to see how his performances are going forward.
Out in the Pen
Bobby Parnell and Jason Isringhausen, New York Mets
The big news this week is the New York Mets have shipped their closer Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee. This leaves a gaping hole in New York’s closer role, one that is likely to initially offered to Parnell. Parnell doesn’t have a single save on his career resume, but he has been stellar this season when called upon. Someone in the current Mets bullpen that does have a few saves on his resume, 293 to be exact, is Isringhausen. These are the two guys that I’d lay my money on. Though conventional wisdom would project Isringhausen to get more chances, he’s 38 so the Mets are likely to test out the 28-year-old Parnell to see if he can handle the role. Both players are worth a roster spot in all formats.
Jon Rauch, Toronto
Frank Francisco’s latest meltdown just before the All-Star break has opened up some doubt in the manager’s eyes, which is likely to translate into opportunity for Rauch to sneak in a couple save opportunities. This wouldn’t be the first time this has happened this season. Look for Rauch to get some short-term looks with the potential to grab the job and hold onto it for a while. He’s worth owning in all formats.