The Cardinals first baseman is line for extended playing time after teammate Allen Craig suffered a foot injury that could keep him off the field for the remainder of the regular season. It's a big blow to Craig owners and a huge boost to Adams' fantasy value over the final three weeks, as the 25-year old is expected to be an everyday player for a Cardinals team in search of the National League Central crown. Adams, who is still available in over 90 percent of ESPN and Yahoo! leagues, is slashing .262/.320/.458 with 11 home runs, 30 runs and 38 RBIs in 244 plate appearances. Adams has big-time power. In 2011, he hit 32 home runs in 115 Double-A games. In 2012, he hit 18 home runs in 67 Triple-A games. And, in both seasons, he topped a .266 ISO. With regular playing time, I expect Adams to become one of the team's premiere run producers with a healthy trio of Matt Carpenter, Carlos Beltran and Matt Holliday setting him up. If you missed out on Oakland's Brandon Moss a few weeks back, do yourself a favor and pick up Adams. If you're a Craig owner in a re-draft league, you can safely make the switch without fear of losing Craig to another team.
It's been awhile since I've recommended a starting pitcher on this white space, but Kluber's low ownership rates make this choice a no-brainer. Kluber, who is still available in 93 percent of ESPN leagues and 81 percent of Yahoo! leagues, picked up a win in his first start off the disabled list after spraining his right middle finger in early August, pitching five innings of two-run ball with five strikeouts and one walk against the Mets. Kluber was on a strict pitch count in his first game back, but he should be full-go in his next turn against the White Sox on Thursday. The Indians right-hander is 8-5 with a 3.54 ERA, 1.20 WHIP and 121 strikeouts in 127 innings this season, but his 3.10 FIP and 2.95 xFIP suggest he's been even better. Part of liking Kluber down the stretch is a favorable schedule that includes beatable opponents in the Royals, White Sox, Astros and Twins. If you're hurting for wins (and who isn't), no pitcher more widely available on the waiver wire has more upside than Kluber. He has a solid 23.4 percent walk rate (to go along with a 5.2 percent walk rate), and his 4.48 K/BB rate is among the league leaders.
Holy crap, what a season it has been for Upton. (And not in a particularly good way.) The younger Upton looked like a runaway MVP candidate in April, slashing .298/.402/.734 with 12 home runs, 22 runs, 19 RBIs and three steals for his new team, then fell into a two-month slump in May and June. He bounced back in July with a .292 BA -- but added only one home run -- before flashing the power again with eight home runs in August. Since the calendar flipped to September, Upton's been in another extreme drought, hitting .148/.258/.222 with no home runs and no RBIs. In September, he has a 35.5 percent strikeout rate and a .047 ISO. Only Miguel Montero and Chris Carter have a worse strikeout rate during that time. I wasn't high on Upton's move to Atlanta in the offseason, but I at least expected some consistency from the former almost-superstar in Arizona. He's not someone I advise flat out dropping, as he could turn it on at any given moment, but he should be on your bench until he shows some flashes of life.
Lynn slimmed down in the offseason, and while he looks good, his performance has regressed considerably from a solid 2012. No, there's probably not a correlation between his weight and performance; I was just looking for a clever intro. OK. Lynn is 13-10 with a 4.37 ERA, 1.35 WHIP and 168 strikeouts in 177 innings in his second season as a full-time starter. But, over the last 30 days, Lynn has a 7.57 ERA and 2.01 WHIP in six starts. Yuck. Last year, the Cardinals righty finished with 18 wins and 180 strikeouts across 176 innings. While his first-pitch strike rate is up, he's getting fewer swings and misses, and his strikeout rate has fallen from 24.2 percent in 2012 to 22.2 percent in 2013. Everything else looks pretty much the same from 2012, however, including his ground ball rate and fly ball rate, which sit at 44.3 percent and 33.9 percent, respectively. Lynn's 4.37 ERA is definitely on the high side, as the 26-year old has a 3.51 FIP and 3.78 xFIP. Those match up very closely with last year's marks of a 3.49 FIP and 3.60 xFIP. He's available in 72.3 percent of ESPN leagues right now, but I think you're best bet is to target him in keeper leagues.
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