There comes a time in a season when you’re willing to give run to some players whom you wouldn’t, ordinarily. This is probably that time. You take a stab at help in a category in which a couple of them might make a world of difference. You pick up a player who has had a negative fantasy impact since he made his debut. Either of those kinds of plays isn’t your first choice, but it doesn’t make it a bad choice. You’re just open to ideas and possibilities, and you’ll take a win however you can get it.
1B/OF Steve Pearce, Baltimore Orioles
Ownership: CBS 44% | Yahoo! 17% | ESPN 38.8%
Now that Manny Machado (torn ligament in right knee) is out for the rest of the season, the O’s have gone no holds barred in terms of defense at the corners in the infield. Struggling slugger Chris Davis has moved to third base, a position at which he’d appeared only three times this season prior. Pearce, a nice right-handed complement to the lefty-swinging Davis at the cold corner, looks like a full-time player now.
It appeared that the regression which seemed due to set in May … or June … finally took hold by the beginning of July. Those who’d ridden Pearce’s wave of good fortune in leagues where they wouldn’t usually consider him began to bail in droves, understandably. In 193 plate appearances, to this point in the season, he’s slashed .275/.335/.466, with a 7.5% walk rate and a 24.1% strikeout rate, against northpaws. (By comparison, he’s walked in 9.8% and struck out in 10.9% of his PAs versus left-handers this year.) Career, those numbers against RHPs: .236/.306/.365, 8.3%, 22.1%. It seemed pretty safe to say that the good times for Pearce, who’s been designated for assignment approximately 37 times in the last calendar year, were finished.
It looks as if someone gave a swift, meaningful kick to the jukebox. Pearce, 31, has slashed .275/.302/.608 in August. He’s using all his karma points and pixie dust in one year. The O’s, on track to win the AL East despite having lost Matt Wieters (elbow ligament reconstruction) and Machado, aren’t about to talk Pearce out of his decision to drain his limited supply. Buck Showalter is the only person who saw this coming.
Upcoming schedule: TB (2), MIN (4), CIN (3), @TB (3), @BOS (3), NYY (4)
Do you need home runs? Pearce, playing in that bandbox of a ballpark, at a time of year when balls leave yards a little more often, is as good a bet as any if you’re going to cast a ballot with an unexpected hero. If your league is much too shallow to have seen Pedro Alvarez dropped. … You have to have lost faith in Brandon Belt (concussion) and Lonnie Chisenhall. Pearce has bopped 15 bombs in 276 at-bats. Give him a shot.
SP Jacob Turner, Chicago Cubs
Ownership: CBS 6% | Yahoo! 1% | ESPN 0.2%
Dave Cameron’s reaction to the Cubs’ claim of and deal for Turner: Don’t expect much. And he’s probably right. But as his link to his previous InstaGraphs entry on the North Siders’ approach to pitching personnel suggests, the Cubbies are throwing stuff at the wall to see what sticks. Offense, in the near future, doesn’t project to be nearly as much of a problem.
The Cubbies have to see some things in Turner, 23, that appeal to them. Manager Rick Renteria observed a few of them last week. The reporter there appears to be a bit stat savvy and shares a few reasons for which a new organization has some hope for Turner, so I won’t bother repeating them. He has displayed this season some of his best velocity (around 92.5 mph) as a big leaguer. His two-seamer is a plus pitch, and this season it’s been his primary offering. He gets swinging strikes with a cutter. Chicago appears to be focused on finding things that work for pitchers who haven’t succeeded elsewhere.
The team placed Edwin Jackson on the disabled list this past Friday with a strained lat, which could also be a “Man, he stinks, but we cut him some sizable checks, let’s look at someone else” injury. Turner gets first crack at the turn. The Cubs could try someone else, like Dan Straily (who certainly still has some upside left) or Dallas Beeler, if Jackson’s absence lasts that long or another rotation member is befallen, as pitchers are often wont to do. It may not have to be place of Turner, though. We’ll see. The club would like to give him at least a few starts before this season closes, as they look toward 2015 and beyond. They’re doing a six-man thing right now just to accommodate Felix Doubront as well.
Upcoming schedule: @CIN, MIL, PIT, @PIT, LAD
The schedule, rest-of-season, isn’t the best. But it’s not the worst. You may want to pick up Turner if you’re desperate for innings in an NL-only league. Who knows, right? I’d be more interested in taking the Cubs’ approach and seeing what they as well as I can salvage from this busted top prospect, beginning next season. This isn’t going to turn into Jake Arrieta. Turner has some appeal in a deep dynasty league, at least those with a Senior Circuit universe. If it’s a really deep mixed league with full-retention rosters, maybe even then, but let’s not get our hopes up too high.
Nicholas Minnix oversaw baseball content for six years at KFFL, where he held the loose title of Managing Editor for seven and a half before he joined FanGraphs. He played in both Tout Wars and LABR from 2010 through 2014. Follow him on Twitter @NicholasMinnix.