Head-to-Head Risers and Fallers for Week 12

Paul Bereswill

Alex Kantecki identifies three risers and three fallers in head-to-head points leagues, including Kyle Blanks, Gerardo Parra and Eric Stults.

Risers

Kyle Blanks

Ray profiled Kyle Blanks in Monday's Roto Roundup, as the Padres' first baseman/outfielder has been receiving regular playing time in the absence of injured first baseman Yonder Alonso. The post-hype sleeper has taken full advantage of his new role in San Diego, hitting .281/.365/.511 with eight home runs, 23 runs, 26 RBI and one steal in 156 plate appearances. If you're looking for power, Blanks -- along with batting average drainers Adam Dunn and Pedro Alvarez -- is the man to own. He's still available in 58.2% of ESPN leagues, and he could give you 12-15 home runs the rest of the way. Just don't go overboard on his rest of the year outlook, as Blanks is a career .234 hitter, including a .229 average in 2011 and a .157 average in 2010. The Padres weren't ready to commit to Blanks before Alonso got hurt, so it's entirely possible he doesn't stick around in a full-time role when all players are healthy. Ride the streak for now, but be aware of the batting average downside. He's actually hitting more ground balls than at any point of his career, so his current power pace -- five home runs in his last 12 games -- is something that won't sustain. But you probably already knew that.

Gerardo Parra

In the Official Fake Teams Head-to-Head Points League, Arizona's "extra" outfielder has racked up 182 points, making him the 15th ranked outfielder ahead of preseason darlings Shin-Soo Choo (181) and Allen Craig (180). Many thought that playing time would be an issue for Parra in a crowded Arizona outfield that already included Jason Kubel, Cody Ross, Adam Eaton and outfield-eligible Martin Prado. Injuries to all but one of the foursome has guaranteed Parra playing time this season, and he has put together his best seasons to date, hitting .315/.379/.469 with five home runs, 43 runs, 23 RBI and five steals. Parra's exceptional plate discipline (9.4% walk rate; 14.9% strikeout rate) has kept him at the top of the Diamondbacks' lineup where he has totaled 128 bases, which is better than the seventh ranked outfielder, a pretty good player named Andrew McCutchen, who has 115. Outside of Paul Goldschmidt, Parra arguably has been the team's most valuable player on offense, and I think that trend continues even when everyone is back and fully healthy.

Eric Stults

When in doubt, go with the hitter. That's my motto in drafts and a guy like Stults is the reason why. When it comes to starting pitching, there's always a surplus of streamable talent available as the season progresses. Take Stults, for example, who is still available in over 70% of Yahoo! leagues and is currently ranked ahead of fellow National League pitchers Homer Bailey, Stephen Strasburg and Gio Gonzalez in the Fake Teams Points League. While I don't think he stays ahead of those guys for much longer, you can't ignore Stults' latest run. In his last four starts, the left-hander has posted four quality starts with a 1.45 ERA, 0.61 WHIP and a 22:1 K:BB ratio in 31 innings. And it's not like the matchups have been cupcakes, either. Two of them have come on the road, including one in Colorado where Stults pitched seven innings of one-run ball. For the season, Stults is 6-5 with a 3.28 ERA and 1.07 WHIP. The 33-year old has done it with an increased K/9 rate (5.00 to 5.69) and an improved BB/9 rate (2.45 to 1.79), while holding opposing batters to a .231 average. His next start comes Wednesday at San Francisco, another plus matchup. Start him while he's hot.

Fallers

Nick Swisher

Swisher is one of my guys. I've owned him in multiple leagues going back for years and years, as the well-traveled first baseman/outfielder has consistently been a 20 home run, 80 run and 80 RBI threat no matter where he calls home. I felt like his move from New York to Cleveland wouldn't cramp his fantasy value too much, with some of his home runs turning into doubles. In points leagues, especially, that's something you can live with. But Swisher hasn't gotten on track with his new team, hitting .237/.337/.402 with seven home runs, 33 runs and 24 RBI in 261 plate appearances. He's been dealing with a bum shoulder -- he's currently day-to-day -- and he could be headed for the DL soon. I know it's convenient, but I think the injury is the overwhelming reason to his struggles. I expect him to hit the DL and be more like the Swisher of old after he's back. His 12.3% walk rate and 22.2% strikeout rate is nearly identical to last year, and his line drive rate is way up, from 22.3% to 27.4%. If an impatient owner dropped him, keep a close eye on his whereabouts. I think he could be due for a big second half.

Martin Prado

As the major league centerpiece to the deal that sent Justin Upton to Atlanta, Prado -- eligible at second, third, short and outfield in Yahoo! leagues -- hasn't worked out the way Arizona and Kevin Towers envisioned when they made their controversial trade in the offseason. After hitting .301 with the Braves last year, Prado has struggled to a .244/.296/.335 line in 297 plate appearances with Arizona, adding four home runs, 30 runs, 20 RBI and one steal. Prado's 2012 numbers were boosted by a .322 BABIP, which currently stands at .263. In 2011, Prado had a similar BABIP of .266 and hit .260 with 13 home runs, 66 runs, 57 RBI and four steals. But there is some good news. Prado's line drive rate (22.5%) is in line with last year, and way better than his 2011 season when it was 14.6%. That should mean good things for Prado going forward, but how many good things? I don't see Prado coming anywhere close to his 17 steals from a year ago, as his previous three year's numbers were four, five and one. I also don't see Prado making a big dent in the power numbers, as his .091 ISO is at its lowest in six years. I think, at the most, you can expect 5-6 home runs the rest of the way. The batting average should come up to around .265 and Prado should be a stable producer of runs in a pretty good lineup, but expecting numbers close to last year is foolish.

Ian Kennedy

Beanballing aside, Kennedy hasn't been the same pitcher since his magical 2011 season, when the 28-year old went 21-4 with a 2.88 ERA and struck out 198 in 222 innings. It looked liked the former New York Yankees farmhand was well on his way to major league stardom, but the next year, Kennedy fell to 15-12. This year, he's 3-4, and there's speculation that the former Arizona ace could be the odd man out when Daniel Hudson returns. I think that's a real long shot, but being out of action for the next 10 days while serving his suspension isn't helping his cause. Kennedy's 5.21 ERA is up there among the worst for qualifying starters, and his 4.80 FIP isn't much better. This isn't a case of a pitcher suffering from bad luck -- he actually has a .282 BABIP -- but one of a pitcher regressing. Kennedy has already allowed 14 home runs in 84 2/3 innings after giving up 28 in 208 1/3 last year. You simply cannot trust Kennedy right now.

Alex Kantecki is a fantasy baseball writer for Fake Teams. He also writes the "Closer Chronicle" for Vigilante Baseball every Thursday, ranking and tiering all 30 MLB closers. You can follow Alex on Twitter at @rotodealer.

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