Fantasy Baseball pitcher stock watch

Fantasy Baseball pitcher stock watch

By David Ferris
CSNChicago.com Contributor

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Kris Medlen, SP, Braves: While there was nothing wrong with his relief work this year, Medlen has specifically taken off as a starter, giving us five dominant turns (4-0, five walks, 29 strikeouts, 0.83 ERA). No one can be expected to keep that sort of KBB ratio, but Medlen doesn't sweat contact either, given that he induces a ground ball 52 percent of the time. Get in on this story now if you can, especially with the Padres (in Petco) waiting for next week.

John Axford, SP, Brewers: The Milwaukee bullpen has been a carnival ride all year, but Axford seems to have righted the ship of late: he's recorded two saves this week and regained the endorsement of manager Ron Roenicke. And there's nothing special chasing Axford: Jim Henderson is a career minor leaguer with no pedigree, and Francisco Rodriguez hasn't fooled in 2012. By default, it looks like the club will sink or swim with Axford the rest of the way. How badly did you say you needed saves?

Jaime Garcia, SP, Cardinals: No one expected immediate miracles when Garcia returned to action last week - he missed a couple of months with a shoulder problem - but a 10-strikeout performance against Pittsburgh immediately pushes Garcia back into our plans. The NL Central is a nifty place for a pitcher, where you see a bunch of exploitable opponents (Houston, Chicago, even Milwaukee), and the Cardinals also offer the deepest lineup in the Junior Circuit. Look for a strong finishing kick over the next six weeks.

Jeremy Guthrie, SP, Royals: The thin air of Colorado didn't permanently break his spirit - Guthrie has been sharp in six AL turns (3.23 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, KBB ratio just under four). The Royals aren't giving him much help with offense or bullpen, but you take what you can get. Guthrie posted a sneaky 3.83 ERA and 1.16 WHIP with the Orioles back in 2010, and the AL Central isn't nearly as demanding. There's an underrated arm here.

Sell

C.J. Wilson, SP, Angels: It's been a mess for most of the big-name LA pitchers, with Wilson a notable crash over the last two months. He hasn't won a game since late June, posting a 6.09 ERA over 11 starts. The strikeout clip is still good for Wilson, but when you allow 31 walks and nine homers over 65 innings, you're not going to be successful. Batters are also squaring up Wilson with little trouble, producing a line drive 21 percent of the time. In mixed leagues, you need to do better. This game is about the numbers, not the names.

Hold

Daniel Straily, SP, Athletics: He didn't look out of place during his three-game trial in Oakland (3.12 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 12 strikeouts, four walks), and he figures to have a rotation spot for good now that Bartolo Colon has been suspended. Straily won't come back to the majors for one more turn - he needs to spend 10 days in the minors unless an injury creates an opening - but he's mixed-league worthy for September, especially in Oakland's roomy home park.

Casey Janssen, RP, Blue Jays: His ordinary save total (just 16 handshakes) is tied to how Toronto's season has gone - the Jays are a losing team to begin with, but a lot of their victories have been lopsided ones. Janssen's 2.22 ERA and 0.80 WHIP get your attention, and he validates the love with his strikeoutwalk rate (50 punchouts, just eight free passes). As volatile as the closer market can be, we expect Janssen to be a safe stopper into 2013.

Big Ten poll update: Northwestern on the verge of top 25 in coaches, AP polls

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USA TODAY

Big Ten poll update: Northwestern on the verge of top 25 in coaches, AP polls

Northwestern ranked? Hey, it could happen.

In a year when folks are talking about the Wildcats perhaps finally receiving their first-ever invite to the NCAA tournament, the team is also about to crack the top 25.

Northwestern was the de facto No. 26 team in the coaches poll and the de facto No. 30 team in the AP poll when both sets of rankings were released Monday.

After beating Rutgers on the road and pummeling Iowa at home, Northwestern is 15-4 overall and 4-2 in Big Ten play.

The Cats have one game this week, against Ohio State on Sunday, and should they win they could put themselves to have a number in front of their name come this time next week.

The last time that happened? Well, at least in the AP poll, Northwestern hasn't been ranked since 2009, and prior to that, you have to go all the way back to the 1968-69 season.

Elsewhere in the conference, Maryland re-entered the top 25, No. 25 in both the AP and coaches polls. The Terps stand at a somewhat quiet 16-2 overall and 4-1 in league play after wins last week over Indiana and Illinois.

Wisconsin was the No. 17 team in both polls, keeping its place in the coaches poll and moving up a spot in the AP. The Badgers scored a blowout win over Ohio State last Thursday and are 14-3 overall and 3-1 in conference play this season.

Purdue was ranked 21st in the AP poll and 22nd in the coaches poll. After a loss to Iowa, Purdue dropped four spots in the AP and three spots in the coaches. The Boilers are 14-4 overall and 3-2 in the Big Ten.

Minnesota, which lost twice this week to Michigan State and Penn State, fell out of the top 25 in both polls.

Northwestern was the only Big Ten team also receiving votes in the AP poll, while Northwestern, Indiana and Minnesota also received votes in the coaches poll.

Northwestern's Scottie Lindsey named Big Ten Player of the Week

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USA TODAY

Northwestern's Scottie Lindsey named Big Ten Player of the Week

Scottie Lindsey's been tearing it up lately, and the Big Ten has taken notice.

The conference named Lindsey its Player of the Week on Monday, the junior guard and Fenwick High School product receiving that honor for the first time in his career.

Lindsey scored 14 points and grabbed seven rebounds in Northwestern's win over Rutgers last Thursday and added 22 points, eight rebounds, five assists and three steals in Sunday's win over Iowa.

Lindsey is the Wildcats' leading scorer this season with 15.8 points per game, good for seventh in the Big Ten. He also ranks fourth in the league with an 88.9-percent shooting clip from the free-throw line.

And how about this fun fact: Lindsey has scored in double figures in all 19 of the team's games this season, the longest streak by a Cat since John Shurna in 2011-12 and the longest streak by a Cat to start a season since Evan Eschmeyer in 1998-99.

Northwestern is 15-4 on the season and 4-2 in conference play after Sunday's 35-point blowout of Iowa.