World Cup Previews
Our soccer writers, Brian Stultz and Will Jordan, are offering their thoughts on each of the groups for the upcoming 2014 FIFA World Cup, and you can find their analysis below:
Prospect Buy and Hold
With the news that Gregory Polanco will be called up on Friday.....oh wait, no he won't. It seems the Pirates were upset that the news of the call up were leaked before they could announce it to the world, so they decided to wait. So Pirates. We had a few other prospects called up this week, including Astros first base prospect Jon Singleton, Rockies starter Eddie Butler and Orioles starter Kevin Gausman, who is pitching today.
Here is Jason Hunt's list of the players who could be called up in the next few weeks, or later this season. His weekly Buy and Hold series takes a look at players you should look at grabbing off your league waiver wire before they are called up, and before your league mates grab them.
Reds starter Alfredo Simon was probably not drafted in any league this season, but is probably one of the best waiver wire pick ups of the season for many owners. Simon held the Dodgers to one run on 7 hits, no walks and 5 strikeouts in 8 innings in the Reds 4-1 win on Thursday afternoon. The 33 year old has to be one of the bigger surprises of the 2014 season, as he is now 9-3 with a 2.95 ERA, 1.09 WHIP and a 50-19 strikeout to walk rate in 82.1 innings. He has given up two runs or less in 8 of his 13 starts, and is still available in 26% of leagues out there right now. He may not continue pitching like this all season, but you have to ride it while the going is good. He will remain in the Reds rotation when Mat Latos comes off the disabled list on Saturday.
Orioles young starter Kevin Gausman might have finally figured things out in his second chance in the Orioles rotation. I was afraid to include him in Thursday's Streamer Report since he was facing the Blue Jays, but that didn't phase him one bit. Gausman limited the Blue Jays to one run on 5 hits, 3 walks and 3 strikeouts in 6 innings of work in the Orioles 4-2 win. After a very rough first start back in early May, Gausman has given up just two earned runs in 13 innings over his last two starts. I assume he will stay in the Orioles rotation when Miguel Gonzalez returns from the disabled list, but we can never be sure.
Charlie Blackmon was one of the best fantasy hitters in the month of April, and he came back to earth in May and has had a rough start to the month of June. But, maybe yesterday's performance at the plate can get him back on track. On Thursday afternoon, Blackmon went 3-4 with a home run, two doubles, a walk, 2 runs scored and 3 RBI in the Rockies 10-3 win over the Braves. Blackmon is enjoying a breakout season, hitting .298-.344-.504 with 12 home runs, 40 runs scored, 43 RBI and 12 stolen bases, and is on pace to hit 29 home runs, score 98 runs, drive in 106 and steal 29 bases. I doubt he puts up a 30-30 season, but a 25 home run, 25 stolen base season would be pretty damn impressive.
The Rockies have endured a slump since their hot start to the 2014 season, but they received a nice shot in the arm on Wednesday night when they called up former top prospect Tyler Matzek. Matzek pitched very well in his first big league start in 2014, limiting the Braves to 2 runs on 5 hits, no walks and 7 strikeouts in 7 innings in the Rockies 8-2 win over the Braves. Matzek also induced 12 ground ball outs, and is a decent waiver wire pick up if your team is in need of a starting pitcher, or starter to stream, as he is available in almost all leagues right now, and will get the struggling Dodgers lineup in his next start.
I am going to keep this one short today, as I have to get up for an early meeting tomorrow. Will be back at it on Saturday morning.
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