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By Dan O'Shea
The week of the All-Star Game is a godsend for some and a bit of bad luck for others, the sort of week where you see cellar-dwelling fantasy teams beat top-clubs if they happen to have all their pitchers starting or enough position playesr with Thursday games right after the three-day break.
You also have to be careful about working the waiver wire, because you sometimes see the odd reliever or call-up get a start as teams try to re-arrange their rotations around the break. You also might see pre-trading deadline trades give no-name players a batch of starts, though that doesn't necessarily mean they will continue to start.
That's why some of the hot hands you have seen on the waiver wire over the last week or so might seem unfamiliar. Here's a Fantasy Fix Action Rating guide to some recent hot hands and what to do with them.
Player: Garrett Jones, OF
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: Eight home runs in 13 games is not a pace you can count on, but with Nate McLouth and Nyjer Morgan out of Pittsburgh and the Pirates giving more starts to other outfielders, he will get playing time the rest of the way.
Player: Tommy Hanson, SP
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: Eleven strikeouts Monday night, but a lot of fantasy owners had dropped him last week when the Atlanta Braves shipped him to the farm. Was it lost on everyone that the Braves were just re-arranging the furniture because they were going to need an extra hand elsewhere during the broken-up All-Star week? Apparently so.
Player: Angel Pagan, OF
Comment: Even though the Mets just traded for Jeff Francoeur, Pagan is getting starts because the Mets outfield is so decimated. Pagan hit .350 over the last week, and is capable of stealing a few bases, but you won't get any power, and while Carlos Beltran may be on the DL for weeks more, Gary Sheffield will be back sooner.
Player: Clint Barmes, 2B/3B/SS
FFAR: PICK UP
Comment: A multi-position jewel for the Rockies, Barmes had 2 HRs, 4 RBIs last week, and has a career-high 12 HRs this year. He is getting regular play now for a very good team, and can steal a few bases.
Player: Nyjer Morgan, OF
Comment: He hit .429 over the last week with 4 stolen bases and 4 runs scored, though his main contribution on the hapless Washington Nationals will be defensive. His hitting will cool off, though if you really need the SBs . . .
* Bleacher Report has some ideas for starting pitcher waiver wire pick-ups. Randy Wolf is among them. A decent pitcher with a decent ERA and strikeouts-to-walks ratio, he should benefit from the amazing run the Los Angeles Dodgers are making toward the post-season.
* RotoTimes loves Ubaldo Jimenez, the Colorado starting pitcher who has been known in the past as an impressive, but also wild, flame-thrower. At 7-9, Jimenez is hardly the best pitcher on the most surprising staff this year, with Jason Marquis and Aaron Cook easily having better overall numbers, but his strikeouts and the likelihood the Rockies will get him more wins in the second half could make him a good choice to pick up or trade for.
* Sporting News Fantasy Source reports on a finger injury for Home Run Derby runner-up Nelson Cruz. Cruz started incredibly well this year, and is still among the home run leaders, but his overall hitting has been leveling off, and now the injury arrives. Get ready to sub.
* Sporting News Fantasy Source also takes a look at Paul Konerko's great season for the White Sox. I have a feeling the Sox are just getting started, and Konerko often has been a second-half stud anyway. A player who was supposed to be on the wane has the following line this far into the season: 18 HRs, 64 RBIs, .302 AVG. You won't get stolen bases, but who cares?
* ESPN.com's Eric Karabell writes about Matt Holliday, who has largely been a disappointment this season, but came up big with 2 HRs and 7 RBIs as part of the Oakland A's 12-run rally Monday night. Holliday could be on the move before the trading deadline, so stay tuned, because if he ends up in Philadelphia or some other bandbox, you can expect more performances like Monday's.
Dan O'Shea's Fantasy Fix appears in this space every Wednesday. He welcomes your comments. You can also read his about his split sports fan personality at SwingsBothWays, which isn't about what it sounds like It's about.
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