Beckham, Bay among top potential comeback candidates this season
Gordon Beckham says he feels he is finally prepared to hit and ready to hit
Huston Street could be a Top-10 closer for team that may only win close games
Cliff Pennington has only one hit in his last 34 at-bats over last two weeks
It was a week to marvel at comeback stories. Roy Oswalt signed and debuted in the minors for the Rangers, Francisco Liriano found himself again for the Twins and Johan Santana pitched the first no-hitter in Mets history.
It makes us wonder where we might find the next great comeback story. It is a great place to buy low in fantasy before value rockets up.
Leading this week's look at fantasy baseball trends, we outline a trio of potential comeback stories worth buying into right now:
Since dipping below the Mendoza Line in mid-May, Beckham has raised his average around .040 points and shown the power that once made him the next Dustin Pedroia in the eyes of this fantasy writer. Beckham homered three times last week and six times since this resurgence began and is now on pace for 24 on the season.
"I feel like I'm back to being the guy I was and the guy I've been," Beckham said. "The guy I just kind of pushed under the rug for a long time. I just feel like I'm prepared to hit and ready to hit and that's allowing me to get in a good position and allowing me to do the things I'm capable of doing. That's all you can ask for. You don't know where the ball is going to go, but if you are squaring it up, you should get some hits."
He is one of the most-added players in mixed leagues now, and frankly, shouldn't be available at the thin second-base position.
This one might be a tougher sell, or buy, but Bay is at least coming off the DL on Tuesday and he was hitting pretty well before going down with the injury that has sidelined him for over a month and a half.
He isn't a 30-homer threat anymore, but he is a streaky slugger who can put some good runs together to help owners in deeper fantasy leagues. If Bay can salvage even some of his Red Sox form, you're going to be getting a bargain off the waiver wire.
The Padres don't win much, but when they do, you have to figure it will be a low-scoring, save-situation type victory. Street is returning from the DL on Tuesday and he was lights out in his first 9 1/3 innings with the Padres before going down.
Street often doesn't get enough credit in fantasy circles, but the Padres' pitcher-friendly park should serve him well as should a weak offense that figures to win its share of low-scoring games. He just might be a Top-10 fantasy closer again ... in a season where we just don't seem to have 10 worthy of that status.
SP Johan Santana, Mets -- Chris Sale had a huge two-start week with 23 strikeouts, but you cannot overlook a no-hitter, particularly when it is the first in Mets history. Santana might not throw anything over 90 mph anymore, but clearly he has proven capable of starring again in fantasy with much less post-surgery. Santana isn't quite an option because of his low wins total, but he is a Top-25 pitcher who should be active in all leagues, all weeks without a shred of doubt.
SS Cliff Pennington, A's -- It is tough to fathom how bad this 27-year old is right now. He was 0-for-15 in Week 9 and went just 1-for-19 in Week 8. That isn't a slump, that's a disaster. Good thing his glove keeps him in the lineup, because he hits worse than a pitcher right now. The fact he has ability and proved capable in the big leagues before means we might eventually see a market correction. It is just getting tough waiting for it. He isn't worth owning in any fantasy league at this point.
1. SP Homer Bailey, Reds -- We finally might have seen him come into his own, even if his increase in ownership is more due to his two-start status.
2. OF Dexter Fowler, Rockies -- His progress after the All-Star break a year ago has translated well to 2012. He might only continue to get better, too.
3. SP Roy Oswalt, Rangers -- His first warmup start went well, so it could be just three more outings before he joins the rotation and fantasy lineups. He should prove to be a must-start in all leagues quickly.
4. OF Carlos Quentin, Padres -- He has come off the DL scorching and looks like a solid start in all fantasy leagues right away.
5. 2B Gordon Beckham, White Sox -- Don't look now, but Beckham just might be reaching his value for fantasy owners at long last. He is on pace for 24 homers, a hot streak that should get him owned in just about all fantasy leagues right now.
6. C Wilin Rosario, Rockies -- Ramon Hernandez's DL stint has allowed Rosario to emerge on the mixed-league scene. There is legit pop here and long-term potential.
7. SP Dillon Gee, Mets -- He pitches just well enough to stick around in the rotation and on fantasy rosters in deeper leagues. He is no big loss if you cut him after this two-start week, though.
1. C Jonathan Lucroy, Brewers -- There is no such thing as a timely injury, but Lucroy's has been especially untimely amid the career breakthrough he was enjoying.
2. OF Andy Dirks, Tigers -- His DL stint likely ends his time on mixed-league fantasy rosters for now. He was hot, but he just isn't that promising when his Achilles' gets in order again.
3. RP Dale Thayer, Padres -- He had back-to-back stinkers last week and Street (lat) is due back as the closer Tuesday. Thayer might not be worth owning any longer.
4. SP Bronson Arroyo, Reds -- The good starts are easily being outweighed by the bad right now. He is not worth owning in mixed leagues.
5. OF Xavier Avery, Orioles -- The basestealer was sent back to the minors and really was only an option in AL-only rotisserie formats anyway. Cut and ignore him.
6. SP Ross Detwiler, Nationals -- He wasn't all that bad in the Nats' rotation but someone had to get bumped for Chien-Ming Wang for the time being.
7. RP Henry Rodriguez, Nationals -- His breakthrough season has hit a snag, and Brad Lidge is coming back soon and Drew Storen is back later, so H-Rod might not save another game the rest of the season.
Most traded: Buy, sell, hold
1. SP Tim Lincecum, Giants -- This is still the best buy-low player in the marketplace. The past start was at least promising and he has the potential to reel off a stretch that rivals anyone in the game still. BUY
2. SP Cliff Lee, Phillies -- If not for his lack of a single victory, or his injury, we wouldn't think anything of Lee's slow start to the season. His peripherals still are strong. BUY
3. SP Adrian Gonzalez, Red Sox -- Usually it is the first season in a new home that takes some adjustment time. Instead, Gonzalez has slumped in Year 2. Like Lincecum, he is healthy (presumably) and too good to be held down for long. HOLD
4. SP Roy Halladay, Phillies -- Pitchers with shoulder woes never seem to get good news. We are still waiting for it, perhaps, on his second opinion. Expect the same diagnosis. Nothing from him for the next two months. When he does come back, he won't be the Halladay we are accustomed to. SELL
5. 1B Bryan LaHair, Cubs -- It is a great sign he has come out of a slump and picked up where his early season streak was taking him. It shows he can adjust and make good on his career breakthrough. The problem he has is his deep position. The hype might make him better bait than performer here on out. SELL
Eric Mack writes fantasy for SI.com. If you miss his Monday baseball trends, Wednesday prospect report or Friday pitching review, you can also find him on Twitter, where you can mock him, rip him and (doubtful) praise him before asking him for fantasy advice @EricMackFantasy. He reads all the messages there (guaranteed) and takes them very, very personally (not really).