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The only reasonable response to J.A. Happ's storybook stint with the Pirates is skepticism.
He started out better than anyone could have expected and has gotten better seemingly every time out, culminating in Wednesday's 10 strikeouts in six innings. It was his second straight start with at least nine strikeouts while allowing just three hits and no walks.
So why the skepticism? He hasn't been even a serviceable mixed-league option since his rookie season way back in 2009. And it's not like he had the peripherals to suggest some underlying potential. His career strikeout rate coming into this season was an uninspiring 7.6 per nine innings. He has had control issues, and he has had home run issues.
Still, any unexpected performance by a Pirates pitcher deserves our attention in Fantasy for the simple reason that their pitching coach, Ray Searage, is the profession's miracle worker du jour, the guy who salvaged Francisco Liriano, redeemed A.J. Burnett and turned Edinson Volquez into something halfway respectable.
Granted, all three of those pitchers had more natural ability than Happ, and the left-hander may ultimately go the way of Vance Worley, who has also started out great under Searage's tutelage.
But given that Happ is in line to make two starts next week, provided the Pirates remove Jeff Locke with the return of Burnett Thursday, now might be the time to believe in the power of Searage. Unless you're in a tight battle for ERA or WHIP in a Rotisserie league, there isn't much downside to it.
Josh Tomlin, SP, Indians (57 percent owned)
Normally, the players featured in this space are recommended on some level, but in this case, I'm here to warn Fantasy owners of the dangers of Tomlin. At a time of year when no one is paying attention, he's now owned 57 percent of CBSSports.com leagues, and he didn't start getting picked up until he joined the Indians starting rotation in mid-August.
I understand why. In six starts, his ERA and WHIP are both terrific, and the historically soft-tossing pitch-to-contact type has even struck out 8.3 batters per nine innings.
But also in those six starts, he has allowed 10 home runs, including three in his most recent one Wednesday, for a rate of 2.2 per nine innings that would rank first among all starting pitchers if he had the innings to qualify, ahead of stalwarts like Phil Hughes, Kyle Lohse and CC Sabathia.
And if you look at his track record, that's kind of his M.O. It's why he had a 4.25 ERA in 2011 despite a career-best and (independently excellent) 1.08 WHIP.
Amazingly, all three of the home runs Tomlin served up Wednesday were solo shots, and that'll happen since he walks so few batters, but his implosion potential is as high as any pitcher's. And it could rear its ugly head at the worst possible time.
Ender Inciarte, OF, Diamondbacks (59 percent owned)
Normally when I pick out the players to feature in this piece, I use the most viewed list on the roster trends page to guide me. So I can tell you that even coming off a three-hit game Wednesday, Inciarte wasn't one of the 40 most viewed players on CBSSports.com leagues.
Which tells you right there how overlooked he is.
It's especially true in points leagues. If you play in one of those, go to his player page and look at the week-by-week scoring breakdown, particularly since his return from a strained hamstring in mid-July. It's one 20-point week after another. Carlos Gomez owners can only dream of such a thing.
Obviously, Inciarte's low strikeout rate and proclivity for doubles contributes to that total, making him a better option in points leagues than Rotisserie. But even in Rotisserie, he's the 39th -ranked outfielder during that stretch thanks in part to a .305 batting average average, which of course is a side effect of that low strikeout rate. He's no slouch in stolen bases either.
Since CBSSports.com leagues typically require five outfielders in that format as opposed to three in points leagues, Inciarte is pretty close to must-own in both. I think a big reason he goes overlooked is because we've viewed him all season as the guy standing in David Peralta's way, but all those at-bats Inciarte is getting are certainly amounting to something. And if you haven't caught on to it yet, now's the time.
Jedd Gyorko, 2B/SS, Padres (22 percent owned)
Don't look now, but this Jedd Gyorko guy may be going places.
I was skeptical even as he was earning shortstop eligibility in standard CBSSports.com leagues. Yes, he's playing there every day now, which would have brought the sleeper hype to a fever pitch if it happened just a couple years ago, but of course, Gyorko has done his best to crush everyone's enthusiasm since then.
His home run Wednesday, though, was his fourth in seven games, and since the All-Star break, he's batting .264 with 11 home runs and a .796 OPS in 178 at-bats. It wasn't translating to much Fantasy production at first because, for a while there, he was basically home run-or-bust, but he's bringing that batting average up little by little, having struck out just eight times in his last 14 games.
That number catches my attention because it's part of what makes him so frustrating. We think of him as this all-or-nothing hitter because the poor batting average fits the phenotype, but he has struck out about one every four at-bats this year, which is no worse than average for a power hitter these days. And that's always been the norm for him.
He should be better than he has been, and now that he's looking it -- and at a position where you won't find too many power hitters -- he deserves your attention in mixed leagues.