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Fantasy Baseball: Weekend Warriors

J.J. Hardy – With Derek Jeter and Darwin Barney on the dl, fantasy owners are scrambling for shortstop help. To the rescue is J.J. Hardy who’s thriving in the lead-off role atop the Orioles offense.  In the month of June Hardy has a .404BA, 5HR, 9RBI and 12 Runs scored. Hardy has now been on base in 22 of the last 23 games and currently has a career high .365OBP. Playing the majority of his games in Camden Yards, Hardy now plays in a park which favors his strengths (hitting the ball in the air), so he should hit 20-25 HRs by the time the season is over. Power hitting shortstops are hard to come by with the exception of Hanley Ramirez and Troy Tulowitzki so Hardy is a must add for this weekend’s battles with the Nationals and for the rest of 2011. With the ability to hit for power and score runs, Hardy should be owned the shallowest of leagues, as he could produce top five numbers from the shallowest of positions for the rest of the year.

Carlos Carrasco - After back to back starts of shutout ball, it's easy to see why Carrasco was a significant piece in the Cliff Lee deal of 2009. The 24 year old is currently the only Indian starter worth starting as he’s won 5 of 6 and has a 3.03 ERA over that stretch. Coming into the season many were concerned with Carrasco's ability to give up the long ball, but his last three outings the ball has stayed in play and that included games vs. the Rangers and the Yankees. Carrasco is a must add in 12 team mixed leagues and is someone you should be monitoring in keeper leagues. With so much hype of young pitchers, it’s refreshing to see the Indians might have snagged one along the way. Start him against the Pirates on Saturday, because this could be the last time you see on waivers if he dominates Pittsburgh in interleague play.

Scott Baker - The veteran right hander just completed his best start of the season with a complete game, one run five hit victory over the Rangers. Now riding a two game winning streak, Baker is healthy and is in command with his fastball. His 8.39 K/9 says it all, making him a viable starter while playing in the pitchers friendly Target Field.  With a mid 90s fastball, Baker is utilizing it just fewer than 70% of the time, leading to his highest K rate and his best ERA since 2008 (3.55). This Saturday, Baker faces an anemic Padres offense which is 28th in HR, 29th in BA and 30th in Runs scored.  Owned in fewer than 40% of Yahoo standard leagues, add Baker immediately as this matchup is like stealing candy from a baby.

Jeff Karstens - Three starts in June and 0.44 ERA aren't the numbers of Felix Hernandez or David Price, but the Pirates Jeff Karstens. Through 71 innings pitched, Karsetens has walked 12 batters and in his last six appearances has allowed one walk, contributing to his minuscule 1.08WHIP. While I understand the pessimism with the lack of strikeouts (47), Karstens hasn't given up more than three run since April 17th, so it's conceivable to believe Karstens is the real deal. Add Karstens to your lineup for Sunday’s game vs. the reeling Indians offense which is batting .221 in June.