By David Ferris
Yasmani Grandal, C, Padres: He's finally all the way back from his oblique injury - Grandal has been hitting line drives all week - and he's a super plug-and-play this weekend, working at Coors Field for three games. Grandal already has three homers in 16 at-bats against the putrid Rockies pitching staff this summer, and he went deep twice during his first MLB start, which came late June in the thin air. Gravity always wins.
Josh Rutledge, SS, Rockies: A sore quad cost him a handful of starts this month, though Rutledge still gave us a homer and a steal as a regular pinch-hitter. He's finally back at shortstop, adding to a splashy 40-game debut (.350 average, seven homers, five steals). Don't worry if Troy Tulowitzki eventually returns to the fold - the Rockies want to see Rutledge at second base anyway, a position he played in the minors.
Trevor Plouffe, Utility, Twins: Thumb injuries are known for their ability to sap power, but Plouffe has finally gotten back to full health and he was locked in during the Seattle series, even if the results don't show it (3-for-13). See the forest for the trees here: Plouffe had a homer, four RBIs and three walks against the Ms, and hit a couple of rockets right at defenders. Look for 4-6 homers in September, along with a useful four positions of eligibility in Yahoo! leagues.
Mike Aviles, SS, Red Sox: He only started one game at short during the Anaheim series, in part because the Red Sox have turned their final quarter of the year into community auditions. And while the Boston lineup was a fun place to be for most of the summer, it's a ghost town now: no more Gonzalez, Ortiz, Youkilis or Crawford. This probably won't be a Top 10 offense the rest of the way, and Aviles won't be a full-timer besides.
Matt Joyce, OF, Rays: He's fallen into some bad habits during the second half of the year (.217/.293/.342, 32 strikeouts, just three homers), and now a forearm injury has crept into the picture. The Rays also know Joyce can't be exposed against too many left-handed starters - he has a puny .620 OPS against them. In mixed leagues, you need someone more reliable (and someone who plays more often).
Joaquin Arias, SS/3B, Giants: Manager Bruce Bochy is going to ride the hot hand with Arias, but anytime you see a .429 average tied to a .450 on-base percentage, be skeptical. Arias is an ordinary journeyman with a .280/.318/.389 line over 202 MLB games (just four homers). He might be worth holding if you need a push in batting average, but otherwise there's nothing to see here.
Many Machado, SS/3B, Orioles: The opening weekend against Kansas City was a blast, but since then Machado has gone 9-for-50 with 14 strikeouts (and just two walks). Baseball is still hard, especially for a teenaged Double-A prospect who was having a so-so year in the minors. We still love the future for Machado, but we're not going to bet on his present. Growing pains are here.
Todd Frazier, Utility, Reds: He's turned into a surprising Rookie of the Year candidate, posting a handy .294-49-18-62 line and qualifying at three positions in standard Yahoo! leagues. Some gamers are worried about Frazier for the final month - Joey Votto is coming back soon, which means Frazier doesn't have the first-base slot to himself anymore - but we can't imagine Scott Rolen being hale for the balance of the year. Dusty Baker can also slot Frazier in the outfield if he wants. Trust the skills here, and have faith that Frazier will keep a spot, somewhere.
Nate McLouth, OF, Orioles: He's still zipping around with plus wheels, even at age 31, which is why McLouth has 15 runs and six steals during a snappy month with Baltimore. And while McLouth isn't going to threaten the warehouse too often at Camden Yards, he still can knock a ball out of the park now and then (two homers over 80 at-bats). Buck Showalter is a believer; he's using McLouth in the No. 3 slot against right-handed pitching. McLouth is a solid No. 5 outfielder or utility play in deep mixed formats.