While most people spend a lot of their time scouting and researching a lot of these September call-ups, looking for even the slightest bit of fantasy contribution, players that are returning from extended stays on the DL are often overlooked by most owners. And as often the case may be, plenty of them can still be of valuable service to you in your quest for a championship. If players were dropped a while ago, chances are, some of these guys have slipped through the cracks and are available to you via the waiver wire. Here are two who have been recently activated and have fairly low ownership percentages.
Carlos Ruiz, PHI |C| Ownership: ESPN – 35.3% Yahoo – 52.0%
As the monthly catcher rankings were rolling out, there was a substantial amount of skepticism on my part with regard to ranking Ruiz too high in the midst of this bizzarro breakout season he was having at the age of 33. With each month that passed, I sat and waited for the other shoe to drop, expecting to see this pleasantly prolific season come to a stark halt. The All Star break came and went and Ruiz was still producing like a champ and I was fully prepared to eat some humble pie and rank him in the second tier of backstops. But before I was able to share my mea culpa with you, Chooch got hit with a case of plantar fasciitis in his left foot and was heading for a lengthy stay on the DL. Dropped by numerous owners, Ruiz is now likely available to you for the stretch run. His back-up, Erik Kratz, filled in admirably but ran into some recent trouble, going 0-for-10 in his last three games. While that isn’t really an extended slump, it is just enough to allow Ruiz to step back into his primary role behind the plate for the Phillies. You’ve seen what he’s done for the first four months of the season. Now with a month off to heal, he is back and ready to produce again. He went 2-for-2 in his return the other day and followed it up with a [1-for-2 with a run scored and an RBI] on Tuesday. If he’s available in your league, you could do a lot worse than taking a chance on him. Pick him up if you’re able.
Dee Gordon, LAD |SS| Ownership: ESPN – 33.1% Yahoo – 44.0%
An even more forgotten spring favorite, Gordon has just been recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque after more than two months on the disabled list with a broken thumb. Now before the injury, he was struggling at the plate, but still the starting shortstop for the Dodgers. Since then, however, the team has made a series of moves that leaves little room for Gordon to return to the starting lineup. Sure, there’s the possibility of moving Hanley Ramirez back over to third, but Luis Cruz has been a solid play at the hot corner and the Dodgers have no reason to put him on the bench. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still squeeze some value out of Gordon. He had 30 stolen bases prior to his injury so you know they’re going to use him as a pinch runner quite often. No more worrying about his batting average or OBP here as that work will be done by others. Gordon’s job will be limited to what he does best and that’s steal bases. If you have the opportunity to move up in the stolen base category, then streaming Gordon into your lineup might just be the difference between finishing in the money and falling out of contention.
Howard Bender has been covering fantasy sports for over 10 years on a variety of websites. In addition to his work here, you can also find him at his site, RotobuzzGuy.com, Fantasy Alarm, RotoWire and Mock Draft Central. Follow him on Twitter at @rotobuzzguy or for more direct questions or comments, email him at email@example.com