Driving the Royals’ Offense, Billy Butler Is Worth Picking Up


Driving the Royals' Offense, Billy Butler Is Worth Picking Up Teams have begun turning to their farm systems to restock their lineups
and rotations. That means it's time for fantasy owners to see if they
can benefit from the cream of the crop.

Chances are, the Nationals' Stephen Strasburg has been stashed away by
someone in your league since the draft. (If he's not, the flamethrowing
righty is scheduled to debut during the second week of June, and his
impeccable stuff should give him terrific value immediately.) But there
are plenty of other youngsters who will soon make an impact at The Show,
and they can provide a much-needed boost to your fantasy squad during
the summer.

This week's Pickups section will highlight three prospects who have the
talent to help your team right away.

As always, the "Three Up, Three Down" segment will highlight the players
who have been peaking and slumping of late. Finally, you’ll find my
suggestions for owners who are streaming pitchers in "Down the Stream."

Three Up

Adrian Beltre, third baseman, Red Sox

The Red Sox' third baseman has been an unstoppable force since the
beginning of May. Beltre is batting .346 with five homers and 25 RBIs in
26 games this month. Eventually, Beltre will cool off, but the power
display is a reassuring sign for those who drafted him as a sleeper at
one of the shallower fantasy positions.

Billy Butler, first baseman, Royals

Butler doesn't have the 30-40 home run pop some teams expect from their
first baseman, but he has a phenomenal line-drive stroke and contributes
plenty at the plate. Still just 24 years young, Butler is batting .349
and already showing signs of being a perennial batting title contender.
If you can compensate for his relative lack of round-trippers at other
positions, he's an excellent asset to any fantasy squad.

Roy Oswalt, starting pitcher, Astros

The 32 year-old Astros' ace has reportedly asked GM Ed Wade to trade him
to a contender, and he's doing his best to showcase his skills. Oswalt
is just 3-6 this season, but that record masks an outstanding 2.35 ERA,
1.01 WHIP, and 69 strikeouts over 69 frames of work. If he's dealt to a
team that has a lineup more capable of providing run support than
Houston's, Oswalt will once again be one of the top fantasy pitchers

Three Down

B.J. Upton, outfielder, Rays

Remember the 2008 postseason, when it seemed as though Upton had
blossomed into a right-handed-hitting Barry Bonds? Well, those days seem
long gone, because the 25-year-old isn't doing much except whiffing at
the plate. Upton's average for the season has plummeted to .213 thanks
to a brutal .163 mark in May, and he's gone deep just once since April

Tim Lincecum, starting pitcher, Giants

If The Freak is going to make a serious run at his third consecutive Cy
Young award, he'd better figure things out soon. Lincecum has walked a
horrendous 15 batters over his last three starts, and whether the cause
of his wildness is a blister or a glitch in his mechanics, fantasy
owners have to be a little concerned. The safe money is on Lincecum
solving his woes soon — perhaps even as soon as his scheduled Memorial
Day start against the Rockies and current Cy Young favorite Ubaldo

Max Scherzer, starting pitcher, Tigers

This offseason's three-way swap that sent Curtis Granderson to New York,
Max Scherzer to Detroit, and Edwin Jackson to Arizona hasn't worked out
for anyone just yet. Scherzer, in particular, was torched during his
first three starts during the month of May, coughing up 21 runs in 14
1/3 innings. He seems to have turned things around after a demotion to
Triple-A Toledo, but keep him on your bench until there are sure signs
of improvement.


Buster Posey, catcher, Giants

Fans have long been clamoring for Posey to be promoted to aid the
Giants' anemic offense, and GM Brian Sabean has finally relented. Posey
will make his debut as San Francisco's first baseman in the Giants' tilt
with the Diamondbacks on Saturday night. He was batting .349 with
Triple-A Fresno, and because of the dearth of quality fantasy catchers,
Posey is certainly worth grabbing.

Michael Stanton, outfielder, Marlins

Not to be confused with the retired reliever, Stanton might have the
most powerful bat in the minors. He has already authored 17 homers in
Double-A, after thumping a remarkable 39 long balls in Single-A during
the 2008 season. Stanton's bloated strikeout rate might depress his
average at first, but his pop should translate to the majors as soon as
he carves out a spot in the Marlins' lineup.

Drew Storen, relief pitcher, Nationals

The Nationals' other first-round pick from last season has found success
in his first few big-league relief outings, and there's plenty more
where that came from. Armed with a mid-90s fastball and a filthy slider,
Storen gives the Nats quality insurance for closer Matt Capps, and
should provide a stellar ERA and WHIP while also chipping in strikeouts
for needy fantasy owners.

Down the Stream

If you are playing in a head-to-head league, a potentially useful — if
— strategy is streaming pitchers.
The key is to get as many wins and strikeouts as possible during the
week, without entirely conceding the ERA and WHIP categories. Below, are
pitchers that you’re likely to find on your league’s waiver wire, who
have optimal matchups for streaming on each day of the coming week.

Saturday, May 29: Kris Medlen, Braves — vs. Pirates
Sunday, May 30: Jon Garland, Padres — vs. Nationals
Monday, May 31: Hisanori Takahashi, Mets — at Padres
Tuesday, June 1: Nick Blackburn, Twins — at Mariners
Wednesday, June 2: Dontrelle Willis, Tigers — vs. Indians
Thursday, June 3: Carl Pavano, Twins — at Mariners
Friday, June 4: Aaron Cook, Rockies — at Diamondbacks

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