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Roto Roundup: Desmond Jennings, Alex Rios, Jonathan Lucroy and Others

Ray Guilfoyle highlights some of the top fantasy performers from Saturday's roto action, including my thoughts on Desmond Jennings, Alex Rios and others.

J. Meric

Midseason Fantasy Position Rankings

In case you missed our Midseason Fantasy Position Rankings, here are links to each of our rankings published thus far:

Fake Teams Podcast, Episode 19: Sticking to our guns

I had the pleasure of joining Zack and Andrew on Thursday night's podcast to discuss our Midseason First Base Rankings, where we discussed Chris Davis and his pursuit of 60 home runs, Albert Pujols, Michael Cuddyer andYonder Alonso, among others. You can listen to our thoughts as follows:



Desmond Jennings: Starting to reach his potential

A few years ago, Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings burst onto the fantasy scene hitting 10 home runs and stealing 20 bases in just 63 games. That two month stretch caused many fantasy writers, including me, to overvalue him heading into 2012 fantasy drafts. We all know what happened last year, as he was a bit of a disappointment, hitting just .246, but he did steal 31 bases. He started this season slowly, but has picked things up at the plate when spring turned to summer.

Yesterday, he went 3-4 with a walk and two runs scored, raising his triple slash line to .271-.329-.452 with 11 HRs, 65 runs, 37 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 22 attempts. After hitting .245-.297-.461 in June, Jennings has heated up in July, hitting .339-.426-.542 with 2 HRs, 15 runs, 10 RBI and 6 stolen bases in just 59 at bats. He is currently on pace for 18 HRs and 25 stolen bases, and fantasy owners should be happy with that. But, I have to say that I expected him to steal more bases this season, and maybe we are seeing him focus on stealing more bags here in July.

Alex Rios: Responds after being benched

Current trade target Alex Rios did not help his trade value on Friday night, as he was benched after not running out a ground ball. He rebuilt his trade value on Saturday, though, going 3-5 with a HR, 2 runs and 5 RBI in the White Sox 10-6 win over the Braves. Rios is now hitting .275-.330-.442 with 12 HRs, 48 runs, 47 RBI and 19 stolen bases in 25 attempts. He is quietly on pace for a 20 home run and 30+ stolen base season.

The Pirates, Red Sox and Rangers are rumored to be interested in Rios. His fantasy value will increase if he is dealt to either the Red Sox or Rangers, but should Rios get dealt to the Pirates, I think his fantasy value drops a little as PNC Park is a pretty good pitchers park.

Round'em Up

Another player mentioned in trade rumors a few weeks ago, Phillies second baseman Chase Utley, had a big game on Saturday, going 2-4 with a HR and 3 RBI in the Phillies 5-4 loss to the Mets. Utley isn't the top fantasy second baseman anymore, but he is still pretty productive. Thus far in 2013, Utley is hitting .278-.336-.521 with 13 HRs, 44 runs, 36 RBI and 7 stolen bases in 9 attempts. Utley is a free agent at the end of the season, and I could see him landing in Los Angeles.

I have been saying it for awhile now, but Yankees starter Hiroki Kuroda is one of the more underrated fantasy starting pitchers. Yesterday, he limited the Red Sox to 2 runs on 5 hits, a walk and 4 strikeouts in the Yankees 5-2 win. Kuroda is now 9-6 with a 2.65 ERA, 1.04 WHIP and a 88-25 strikeout to walk rate in 125.2 innings. Kuroda has given up 2 runs or less in 7 of his last 10 starts, and in 13 of his 20 starts overall.

I recently wrote about Brewers catcher Jonathan Lucroy, opining that he is an underrated fantasy catcher. He made me look good last night, going 4-4 with a HR, double and 2 RBI, and is now hitting .286-.330-.493 with 14 HRs, 28 runs and 54 RBI. He is on pace to put up a 24 HR, 91 RBI season. Pretty damn good for a catcher.

Is it time to remove the ace label from Justin Verlander? Verlander stepped on the mound to face a young Royals team which he has owned in his career. In 25 career starts, he owns a 15-2 record with a 2.56 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. Last night, his pitching line was full of crooked numbers, as he gave up 6 runs, 5 of which were earned on 8 hits, 4 walks and just 3 strikeouts. Verlander is now 10-7 with a 3.69 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and a 128-49 strikeout to walk rate in 131.2 innings. His 3.69 ERA and 3.35 walk rate is his worst since 2008.

Angels starter C.J. Wilson is quietly putting up a pretty solid season on the mound. Last night, he shutout the A's on 3 hits, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts over 8.1 innings in the Angels 2-0 win. Wilson is now 10-6 with a 3.15 ERA, 1.28 WHIP and a 118-49 strikeout to walk rate in 128.2 innings.

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