Justin Verlander will be a contributor down the stretch. And I mean a positive one, not someone who contributes to your team losing. Verlander is about as competitive as anyone in professional sports. He’s taken a few weeks off to rest his ailing shoulder, but it probably gave him time to clear his head as well. He’s aware of the criticism that’s been thrown his way and he’s probably eager to shut everyone up. I believe he will find a way to improve upon his ugly 4.76 ERA and 1.42 WHP going forward. The Tigers need him to step up just as badly as Fantasy owners do.
The Yankees will regret not just letting Masahiro Tanaka get his Tommy John surgery over with. He’s expected to face live hitters on Saturday and he’s aiming for a September return. But partially torn ulnar collateral ligaments almost always lead to Tommy John, and realistically, the Yankees aren’t winning anything this season. If he needs surgery at this point it will push his recovery into next season.
I’ll also go ahead and make a bold prediction that one more currently healthy pitcher will need Tommy John before the season ends. It will be someone pitching well that will disappoint both fans and Fantasy owners when the operation is needed.
Jedd Gyorko will finish on such a high note that he’ll actually be too trendy entering next season, despite being awful and injured for the first half of 2014.
Josh Hamilton will actually finish strong. Not Hamilton-in-his-prime strong, but don’t drop him if you own him. He’s the type of guy that will be positively affected by his recent “mental break” and it appears the Angels will do whatever they can to turn him around. If you’ve waited this long… play it out. He could have a few-week stretch of nice Fantasy production.
Derek Jeter, who is hitting .268 on the season and only .219 over the last two weeks, will hit .300 in the month of September. The 40-year-old, soon-to-retire Jeter knows how to put on a show. He evaluates his game when pressure is mounting and he’ll feel compelled to produce in his final games as a professional. He won’t hit for any power, but I’d be shocked if he didn’t hit .300-plus in his final month.
A must-start closer will implode down the stretch, ruining Fantasy seasons for his owners. Rafael Soriano, David Robertson, Trevor Rosenthal and Joe Nathan are candidates based on their recent struggles.
Remember when we thought Jesse Crain would get saves this season? Well, he’s not even going to appear in a game.
Billy Burns will impact the standings of roto-style leagues when he’s called up in September to serve as a pinch runner for the A’s. Last season, Billy Hamilton was in a similar situation and stole 13 bases after his September call up. Burns, who has 53 steals in the minors this year, will have a similar role. I’d set the over/under on his Sept. steals total at 10.
Wil Myers will have a strong enough stretch run to make everyone forget about his lost season when 2015 rankings come out.
This isn’t that bold, but Cuban prospect Rusney Castillo won’t make an impact in the majors this season. Quit trying to stash him in non-keeper formats.