Brandon Belt - Belt had a single, double, two walks, and a steal last night in the 5-3 win over the Angels, and he's now hit in 7 straight and is batting 342/458/658 for the month. I know the Giants have favorable home parks in their minor league system, but did anyone really think that a kid that hit 343/457/596 at three different levels over two seasons in the minors wasn't ever going to hit at the big league level? Still just 24, Belt has the power and speed to be a significant asset even if his contact rates portend batting averages more in the .260-.275 range than above .300. I expect Belt to continue to improve as he gets more MLB time under his, um, belt, and I would absolutely be starting him across the board.
Chris Denorfia - Denorfia had another pair of singles last night, and he's now hit in 10 straight starts as he continues to defy expectations. The 31 year old has enough contact skills to expect him to continue to be a help in the AVG category, he has double-digit steal speed, and he has enough pop to avoid being a complete zero in the power categories. He's also hitting atop the admittedly weak Padre lineup virtually every day, so it's a surprise to me that he has owned in 0% of ESPN leagues right now. He's certainly an NL-only starter at present, and deeper mixed leaguers could utilize him as well. His upside is limited due to his mediocre power and the paltry supporting cast, but he offers enough to be a solid 5th OF in the aforementioned formats.
Wade Miley - Miley made it 3 straight one-run outings last night, scattering 9 hits and fanning 8 over 7 innings to pick up his 8th win of the year. Huge strides in control and a bit of a velocity bump have helped Miley to one of the best starts in baseball thus far, but I do expect some fairly significant regression forthcoming, as in both BABIP and HR/FB Miley has been extraordinarily fortunate to this point in the year. If you're able to get front-end value for him I'd be willing to sell high, but I don't expect him to fall all the way out of usefulness.....perhaps more of a 3.50-4.00 ERA the rest of the way would be a reasonable expectation, making him a back-end rotation candidate in all formats.
Justin Maxwell - Maxwell continues to hit when called upon, picking up a double and a homer in the Astros' 9-7 win over the Royals last night. Maxwell has 2 doubles and 3 homers in his last 7 games, as he continues to provide value despite striking out more than 35% of the time. That K rate is going to keep his AVG down in the .230-.250 range, but if you're able to stomach that the power and speed will be valuable as long as he's getting the PT, which shouldn't be too big of a problem. He's a reasonable starter in deeper leagues with the ability to be a 20-20 player if he can maintain this amount of playing time.
Marquis is yet another in a seemingly endless string of data points that illustrate the value of picking up any Padre starter. The 33 year old has forever been a pitcher that was reliant on his defense and his environment to be successful...the fact that he's won over 100 career games with a K/9 of 5.24 speaks volumes to the type of pitcher that he is. He's never had an environment like Petco to pitch in, and through his first three starts with the Padres he's allowed just 4 earned runs and fanned 20 over 19 1/3 IP. He still nibbles a bit much and he'll be vulnerable to the home run ball, but with a solid GB rate and pitching in San Diego I think I would consider him as a spot starter for the first time in his entire career. He has the Mariners in Petco Sunday, and I'd be willing to give him a shot for that one, followed by a clear benchable start in Colorado next week.
Mat Latos - Latos was battered around by the Indians last night, allowing seven runs on three homers over just four innings in the 10-9 defeat. His early-season control problems seem to have subsided, as he's walked two or fewer in his last six outings, but he's still allowing homers in bunches (16 now through 14 starts....as many as he allowed in each of the last two seasons). His K rate is down a bit this year as he's become much more hittable...his swinging strike% and chase% are down more than the K rate is, which is even a bit more of a negative sign. All in all the move from Petco has had more of a negative impact on Latos than I expected to this point, yet his stuff has remained fairly constant at least as far as velocity goes. Latos has been too erratic to trust in the rotation in most formats currently, but I still see enough there that I would want him rostered in most cases in hopes of a turnaround...he's still just 24.
Jason Marquis -