If you havenâ€™t noticed, the Toronto Blue Jays are hot. After composing a team of stars in the offseason and then stumbling out of the gate, the Blue Birds have come on like gangbusters in June. Toronto has won 11 games in a row and are now back in the thick of things in the AL East.
Not so coincidentally, this weekâ€™s â€œPlayers to Watchâ€ feature a trio of Blue Jays who should pique the interest of fantasy baseball players.
Pedro Alvarez: Pittsburgh Pirates
Considering he has homered in four straight games, itâ€™s safe to say Alvarez is swinging a hot bat.
With the Pirates in the tick of the playoff hunt, Alvarez has been a boon to their cause by batting .406 in his last eight games to go along with five home runs and 13 RBIâ€™s.
Alvarez and the Pirates will look to continue their hot ways with games at Seattle (Joe Saunders and Felix Hernandez) and home against Milwaukee (Alfredo Figaro, TBA and Kyle Lohse).
Jeff Locke: Pittsburgh Pirates
Also helping the Pirates’ this season has been their stellar pitchingâ€”with Locke being at the forefront.
Locke has pitched way above his head. Thus far on the season, Locke is 6-1 with a magnificent 2.01 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. Can you buy into Locke?
With two winnable starts (@Seattle, vs. Milwaukee) on the docket this week, Locke could yield more positive results.
The Jays lead 9-0 over BAL, on their way to the tying club record of 11 straight wins. And they get Jose Reyes back later this week.
â€” Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) June 23, 2013
Jose Reyes: Toronto Blue Jays
Although he hasnâ€™t been part of their recent success, Reyes will be welcomed back with open arms this week. His speed and all-around game can be beneficial for a team on the upswing.
Reyes, who spent nearly two months on the sidelines with a severely sprained ankle, will likely be activated before Thursdayâ€™s game and will go up against Boston (Jon Lester, TBA, Felix Doubront and Ryan Demptser) for the weekend.
Joaquin Benoit: Detroit Tigers
Largely absent from this column has been the presence of closers getting a write-up. It’s time to change that.
After Jose Valverdeâ€™s latest meltdown, Jim Leyland had no choice but to make Benoit his closer (well, at least unofficially).
Benoit has made Leylandâ€™s decision easy, as he has run with the job and has collected two saves and one win in the last week. With a 1.80 ERA, 1.00 WHIP and a 10.5 K/9 ratio, Benoit is a no-brainer grab off the wire.
This week Benoit and the Tigers host the Angels before ending their week in Tampa.
Adam Lind: Toronto Blue Jays
Helping the Blue Jays in their recent run has been the resurgence of Lind.
Sure, Edwin Encarnacion and Jose Bautista have helped the Blue Jays’ cause, but that was expected of them. Coming into the year, we didnâ€™t know what to expect out of Lind and not many people gave him a chance on draft day.
Lind, who is 15 for his last 43 with four home runs and 12 RBIâ€™s, is now batting .310 on the year with a hearty .963 OPS.
Lind is back, and with seven games (all on the road) against Tampa Bay (Jeremy Hellickson, Matt Moore and Roberto Hernandez) and Boston (Jon Lester, TBA, Felix Doubront and Ryan Demptser) heâ€™s practically a must-start nowadays.
Esmil Rogers: Toronto Blue Jays
Also helping the Blue Jays of late has been the pitching of Esmil Rogers.
After starting out in the bullpen and doing a solid job there, Rogers has been pushed into the rotation and is doing even better. Rogers has won his last two starts while giving up just three earned runs in 13.1 innings pitched. While he has only six strikeouts in his last two starts, Rogers has limited the walks (two) in the process.
With two starts (@Tampa Bay, @Boston) this week, Rogers is worth the roll of the dice. Â
Leonys Martin: Texas Rangers
Running his way onto more fantasy lineups has been the Rangersâ€™ speedster Leonys Martin.
Martin, who has four stolen bases in his last 10 games, is now the Rangersâ€™ main man in center field with Craig Gentry going on the DL. Martin is not all about steals either, as he has gone 12-27 in his last eight games with three doubles and five runs scored.
The Rangers are set for a three game set in the Bronx against the Yankees (Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes) before coming back home to take on the Reds (Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Mat Latos).
Eric Stults: San Diego Padres
Another pitcher who is quietly having an effective season is the Padresâ€™ young hurler Eric Stults.
Stults is now 6-5 on the year with a more-than respectable 3.25 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. Stults also has 63 strikeouts to just 20 walks.
Stults is another two-start pitcher (vs. Philadelphia, @Miami) who could help fantasy owners this week.
Jay Bruce: Cincinnati Reds
With Bruce, itâ€™s usually boom or bust during the year, as he is not one for consistency. This is one of those â€œboomâ€ periods.
Bruce is 16-47 in his last 11 games with 11 extra-base hits (eight home runs) and nine RBIâ€™s. Bruce does his damage in bunches and he should continue his tear this week (granted, it’s only five games) with matchups on the road against the Aâ€™s (Tommy Milone and A.J. Griffin) and the Rangers (Martin Perez, Nick Tepesch and Yu Darvish)
Yu Darvish: Texas Rangers
Darvish has been the goods thus far and has certainly lived up to all the hype.
After a solid rookie campaign, Darvish is on pace for a Cy Young-type season. Darvish is 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA and a league-leading 137 strikeouts.
His first matchup this week against the Yankees should be a doozy, as he will oppose fellow countryman Hiroki Kuroda in New York. Darvish will then end his week with a home matchup against the Reds.
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