Fantasy baseball: This week's top pickups

Fantasy baseball: This week's top pickups
July 18, 2013, 5:15 pm
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Is this All-Star break long enough for you or what? Two days without baseball is just cruel and unusual punishment.

As many people have mentioned, it would be cool to see the Futures Game on Monday, the Home Run Derby on Tuesday, and the All-Star Game on Wednesday. This way, the Futures Game isn't competing with regular season baseball games and we would only have one day before the season resumes. It would also open things up for Sunday pitchers to pitch in the All-Star Game. And if we're really going with the "This Time It Counts" thing, shouldn't the best players be in the game?

While we're in the middle of the most boring two days of the sports calendar, it does give us an ideal opportunity to take a look at our fantasy teams and recognize ways to improve. With that in mind, I have decided to dig extra deep this week for some players of interest for the "second half."

Chris Archer, SP, Rays
Pushed into the Rays' rotation because of injury, Archer has been nothing short of excellent lately. After being knocked around for five runs over four innings in his season debut on June 1, the 24-year-old right-hander has a 2.27 ERA in eight starts since. The most impressive one was on Sunday against the Astros, as he struck out eight batters in his first career shutout. The velocity has always been intriguing, but he has been showing improved control and command over the past month. Archer will face some tougher competition coming out of the All-Star break, but he's making a case to keep a rotation spot even after Alex Cobb returns.

Darin Ruf, 1B/OF, Phillies
Ryan Howard is expected to be on the shelf until late August or early September following knee surgery, so Ruf should get an extended chance at first base in the interim. With a mediocre .749 OPS in 83 games this season in Triple-A, Ruf hasn't been able to replicate the surprising success he had in Double-A last year, but there's enough pop in his bat for him to be on your radar in deeper mixed formats. However, with his penchant for the strikeout, just don't expect much help in the batting average department.

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