Pence's bat, Zimmermann's arm among possible assets available on discount
By Jason Catania
This may be your last chance.
Major League Baseball's Trade Deadline has come and gone and, in many cases, that also means your fantasy league's deadline is right around the corner. Don't get left out!
Players are moving to new teams in real life, which alters not only their values but also the values of other players who gain newfound opportunity - and a chance to make an fantasy impact over the final two months of the season.
With that in mind, here's a batch of buy-low candidates that could help your squad seal the deal or make a final push to the finish line.
Matt Carpenter, 2B/3B: Carpenter has missed nearly a month with a strained right oblique, but he shouldn't be overlooked.
Far from flashy, the 30-year-old veteran is nonetheless a steady, productive performer who also happens to be eligible at a pair of infield positions, which makes him even more valuable in fantasy.
Carpenter could be returning to the Cardinals by the end of this week, according to MLB.com's Jenifer Langosch, and who couldn't use a player who was hitting .298/.420/.568 with 56 runs, 14 homers and 53 RBIs in 78 first-half games?
Hunter Pence, OF: Pence may be the outfielder version of Matt Carpenter in fantasy baseball.
Pence, 33, doesn't often get a lot of love, yet he always contributes -- often in all five standard categories -- when healthy.
Of course, that has been his biggest problem recently, as Pence missed most of 2015 with a multiple maladies and lost essentially two months in the middle of this season with a severe hamstring injury. Hence, the depleted counting stats (28 R, 7 HR, 36 RBIs, 0 SB) to date.
Fresh off the DL, Pence should be back to his old OF3 self, as long as he can stay on the field, and the Giants are counting on him to do that as they look to secure a postseason berth. Sure, Pence may not run much given the hammy, but there are four other categories he can work on in the meantime.
Jordan Zimmermann, SP: That dynamite April in which Zimmermann went 5-0 with an 0.55 ERA? Seems like it was, oh, about a year ago, doesn't it?
The 30-year-old proceeded to pitch good-not-great through the beginning of June before his numbers really took a turn: Starting on June 8, Zimmermann posted a 7.06 ERA and allowed 38 hits in 29 1/3 innings over a five-start span before succumbing to a strained neck.
It's likely that injury was bothering Zimmermann during his rut, and the latest report indicates he's on the verge of making his way back, per MLB.com's Jason Beck.
Don't expect April 2016 Zimmerman to show up again. But with so much time having passed since he's been healthy and effective, you'll be able to acquire him on the cheap as a capable fourth or fifth fantasy starter the rest of the way.
Max Kepler, OF: The Twins have been in rebuilding mode since, well … since about the end of April in what has become a hugely disappointing season in Minnesota. But because of a promising young core, there's hope for 2017 and beyond.
Especially when it comes to Kepler, the athletic, sweet-swinging 23-year-old rookie who's having quite an enticing campaign. While fellow former top prospects Byron Buxton and Miguel Sano have had their share of hype, Kepler -- who was born and raised in Germany -- has not only flown under the radar by comparison, he's outperformed them, too.
In fact, while it took Kepler a little while to transition to the Majors this year -- he was hitting barely .200 without a single homer amid sporadic playing time into early June -- he really has taken off since. Starting with the first game he hit one out, Kepler has batted .253/.328/.552 with 11 home runs and 36 RBIs in 42 contests.
Considering the Twins are all about the future, expect Kepler to continue seeing plenty of action, so they can find out just how big a part of it he's going to be.
In Watson, the longtime Pirates setup man, Herrera, the fireballing Royals reliever, and Barrett, the little-known D-backs rookie, we have a trio of effective relievers all of a sudden in position to pick up saves for their respective clubs.