Bryce Harper (OF - WAS) - Bryce Harper continued his hot August by going 2-for-5 with a homerun and a double to knock in 2 RBI. His ISO on the season now sits at a meager .133 and his 77/29 strikeout-to-walk ratio is ugly but the 21 year old is starting to come around this month. Since August 1, Harper has hit .274 with 4 HRs and 12 RBI. Hitting 6th in the Nationals batting order is a big hindrance to his fantasy value but eventually his elite talent will force Matt Williams to move him up. It's hard to believe he's only 21 and it's easy to sometimes forget that detail when we write about his struggles. Baseball is a game of adjustments and just because he hasn't taken the same track as Mike Trout doesn't necessarily mean he's never going to end up on that level. I can't emphasize enough how great of an opportunity it is right now to buy shares on Bryce Harper in keeper leagues. His value has never been lower.
Tsuyoshi Wada (SP - CHC) - Tsuyoshi Wada had his best start of his major league career on Sunday afternoon facing the Baltimore Orioles. The lefty had a no-hitter through 6.1 innings before yielding a solo homerun to Steve Pearce in the 7th inning. Wada finished the game with 6.1 innings pitched while allowing 1 hit, 1 walk, and just the 1 earned run as well as tallying 8 strikeouts. Coincidentally, it was the Baltimore Orioles who originally signed the Japanese pitcher in 2011 before tearing his UCL in the spring of 2012. He missed all of the 2012 campaign and part of the 2013 season before pitching for the Orioles Triple-A affiliate to end the year. His contract option wasn't picked up by the team so the Cubs signed him to a deal before this season. Wada has performed pretty well in his first season showing league average strikeout ability but above average command of the strikezone. At his advanced age, he obviously doesn't figure into the Cubs long term plans but he's a decent streaming option in most league formats depending on the match up.
Arismendy Alcantara (OF - CHC)- Arismendy had 2 hits including a solo homerun in Sunday's win over the Orioles at Wrigley. The rookie outfielder has struggled to make consistent contact through his first 40 games (71% contact rate) but he has flashed the two tools that made him an intriguing prospect - power and speed. On the season, he now has 5 home runs and 7 SBs in roughly a quarter of a normal MLB season. If you extend that over a full season, he's on pace for 20 homeruns and 28 stolen bases. He certainly has a lot of work to do on his approach at the plate (27% strikeout rate and 7% walk rate) but he has the raw tools to be a contributor to both fantasy teams and to the Cubs. The question is whether he can develop this maturity before the rest of the Cubs prospects get the call.
Alfredo Simon (SP-CIN) - Alfredo Simon hasn't been the same pitcher in the second half as he was in the first half. The struggles weren't totally unexpected when you consider that his .232 BABIP with a 20% line drive rate was destined to regress once luck turned against him. In the second half, luck has done just that and now his BABIP is nearly 100 points higher than it was in the first half with just a 4% increase to his line drive rate. However, he managed to put together a really strong outing on Sunday afternoon against the Atlanta Braves, striking out 6 over 7 innings while allowing just 1 earned run on 5 hits and 1 walk. Simon's recent performances have been a better representation of the type of player he really is when luck is in balance. Expect a little inconsistency the rest of the way and just be happy for the roto innings Simon booked for your team early in the year.
Aaron Harang (SP - ATL) - Aaron Harang was rocked in his return to the Great American Ballpark but he did work into the 6th inning, giving up 4 runs on 8 hits while tallying 5 strikeouts. After his hot April and May, Harang had a rough June but bounced back nicely in July posting an ERA of just 2.65. August has brought more troubles for the veteran and has epitomized his up-and-down season. Consistency is what separates the great pitchers from everyone else and it's also why Harang was a must-sell after 2.97 ERA at the end of April. He's still worthy of ownership in mixed leagues but his starts need to be evaluated on a week-to-week basis.
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