Fantasy baseball Weekly Planner: First half's good, bad and ugly
While you get a few-day reprieve on setting lineups and agonizing over your fantasy fate over the All-Star break, you can take the time to celebrate or laugh at us for some of our preseason predictions.
We break down the good, the bad and the ugly of our first half in SI.com's Weekly Planner.
Good: Tim Lincecum will enjoy a renaissance.
Well, not quite. We have to stretch for this one. His first half was mostly mediocre, but he did post the best start of his career with Saturday night's no-hitter at San Diego's Petco Park. We will take credit for that one.
Honorable mention: Josh Hamilton and Fernando Rodney will be busts. They still have value, but they are no longer considered elite options at their positions. A lot of people saw that coming from Hamilton, but few really figured Rodney would regress so far from his dominant 2012 and his impressive spring training, including his World Baseball Classic performance.
Bad: Victor Martinez will be comeback player of year.
V-Mart has made a comeback and has gotten progressively better in each of his first three months, but he hasn't been close to being a reliable mixed-league option until recently. Martinez is hitting .400 in July. He still stands to make good on this prediction, but this review is for the first half only.
Ugly: Stephen Strasburg will tally 300 strikeouts.
Not only has Strasburg's strikeout rate dipped to a career low in the first half, he is a sub-.500 starting pitcher (5-7). He posted the worst start of his career this week and isn't even on pace for 200 strikeouts. This makes him a solid buy-low candidate for the second half at least. Take advantage if anyone is selling. The Nationals still have a run in them, mostly because Strasburg is healthy and ready to rack up some innings and strikeouts.
And now for the rest of the weekly look at fantasy baseball's trends of the week:
SP Tim Lincecum, San Francisco Giants -- Those patient, even bullish, with the former ace get rewarded with a no-hitter Saturday night. They also pick up 24 strikeouts in 16 innings of his two starts this week. The 29-year-old might not be an All-Star, but he is still on a 220-strikeout pace. If you're worried about the 148 pitches, you are justified in that, but Lincecum can rest that shoulder a week to 10 days because of the break and the Giants shuffling him to the back of their rotation. Don't expect him to start next weekend, but that's honestly the best news for his fantasy owners before his second half begins.
OF Oswaldo Arcia, Minnesota Twins -- What was a promising first half of his rookie year ended with a sour 1-for-22 week that got him demoted back to Triple-A. Arcia will be back with the Twins before this season is over, but clearly the rookie will be too streaky to trust in standard fantasy leagues. The 22-year-old is a legit big-league regular and future fantasy star long term, though.
SP Jarred Cosart, Houston Astros -- His debut was almost as good as Lincecum's career night. He was optioned to the minors for the All-Star break, but he will back for the second half after a 10-day layoff. If the great first start wasn't enough to impress you, he was 7-4 with 3.29 ERA and 93 strikeouts in 93 Triple-A innings. He had an issue with his 50 walks, but assuming he manages that in the majors, he will be a must-have fantasy option. At just 17 percent ownership in CBSSports.com's leagues, he is a huge bargain.
C Wilson Ramos, Washington Nationals -- A hamstring mercifully ended his slow start to the season and his return from the DL has made him closer to the player he was in 2011. He hit 15 homers that year and is a mixed-league fantasy starter when he is going well. If you have a need at the catcher position, Ramos has the potential to hit 10 homers in the second half with an average in the .270 range.
1. SP Ivan Nova, New York Yankees -- This is the Nova we thought we would get last year. He can finally make good on that promise for mixed-league owners.
2. OF Alfonso Soriano, Chicago Cubs -- The famously streaky slugger is hot right now and has even returned the stolen base to his repertoire. He is a lot better than anyone gives him credit for in fantasy.
3. SP Jeremy Hefner, New York Mets -- The 27-year-old is enjoying a breakthrough, posting five consecutive quality starts and going 3-0 in that span. He's useful in mixed leagues, but only in spurts. He will regress back to mediocre eventually in the second half.
4. SP Danny Salazar, Cleveland Indians -- That was quite a debut and one that will earn him starts after the All-Star break. Consider stashing him in deeper formats, especially keeper leagues.
5. OF/1B Logan Morrison, Miami Marlins -- He has cooled off, but he is still a viable fringe option in mixed leagues. He is finally healthy, so consider him a stopgap in the 40 percent of leagues he is still available.
1. 1B Ryan Howard, Philadelphia Phillies -- Knee surgery apparently won't end his season now, but you're looking at mid-August at the earliest.
2. 1B Kyle Blanks, San Diego Padres -- He cooled off from a hot streak and succumbed to an Achilles' injury that landed him on the 15-day DL. He can still impact mixed formats if he can get healthy and hot again, though.
3. SP Roy Oswalt, Colorado Rockies -- There are younger and more intriguing starters hoping to return to the mound in the second half. Don't get sucked in by the name brand here. Oswalt as we knew him no longer exists.
4. OF Matt Joyce, Tampa Bay Rays -- He is on the wrong side of streaky. He's not full-time trustworthy in mixed leagues, particularly with Wil Myers taking at-bats away from him now.
5. C Yasmani Grandal, San Diego Padres -- First a two-month suspension and now a season-ending knee surgery. His career is going down the tubes and it hardly got started. His keeper-league value is even minimal now.
Most viewed (Rotoworld):
1. OF Yasiel Puig, Los Angeles Dodgers -- He lost final vote bid for the All-Star Game and hurt his back that kept him out this weekend. The good news is the rest should get him ready for the second half. He is too good to sit if he's active next weekend.
2. 1B Chris Davis, Baltimore Orioles -- He whipped past his full-season expectations in the first half alone. You're playing with the house's money on the breakthrough 27-year-old of the year.
3. OF Ryan Braun, Milwaukee Brewers -- He missed games while on the bereavement list and there is still hope an appeal will keep him from serving a suspension in the second half of the season. Don't sell too low.
4. SS Derek Jeter, New York Yankees -- Still don't believe older players are more brittle and susceptible to injury? There's a hope he avoids the DL in the short term. That same hope shouldn't exist in the long term.
5. SP Erasmo Ramirez, Seattle Mariners -- He was rocked and sent back to the minors, but he is going to get a recall after that brief week after the break. He has some work to do if he's going to hold off the more elite young pitching prospects nearly ready in Triple-A. Consider him more of an AL-only option.
Most traded (CBSSports.com):
1. SP Justin Verlander, Detroit Tigers -- That was an impressive start, so hopefully the quad injury that forced him out won't keep him from starting Saturday. He has a big second half in him. HOLD
2. SP Matt Cain, San Francisco Giants -- His disappointing season has hit a low. He isn't hurt right now and stands to be better in the second half. It is not a good time to sell. HOLD
3. OF Matt Kemp, Los Angeles Dodgers -- This shoulder injury should have him back after the minimal 15-day DL stay. He should be better than he was in the first half, once healthy. BUY
4. SP Jered Weaver, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim -- He is no longer a potentially elite starter as much as merely a good one. It is a good time to get something for him before he falls apart. SELL
5. SP Cole Hamels, Philadelphia Phillies -- His disappointing first half will become a second-half of payback. Jump on board. BUY
Taking a flier on Brad Ziegler -- He isn't the Diamondbacks closer of choice, but with Heath Bell struggling and J.J. Putz not yet ready to close, he saved a pair of games this week. Ziegler is going to be a valuable reliever next weekend as teams only have three games and some back-end starters won't be going. If you are in a rotisserie league and have roster spots, load up on relievers that can at least pitch on the short weekend.
1. Brad Ziegler, Arizona Diamondbacks
2. Jeremy Hefner, New York Mets
3. Jake McGee, Tampa Bay Rays