Perfect 10
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Who would have guessed before the 2014 baseball season began that two teams through the middle of August would go on 10-game winning streaks: the Kansas City Royals and the Washington Nationals.

Not exactly two of baseball's powerhouses, historically, anyway. The two franchises combine for two playoff appearances in nearly two decades.

But because of long winning streaks this season, for the Royals a 10-game streak in June plus eight in a row this month, and for the Nationals a 10-game run that saw Washington win in the final at-bat five times in six days, the clubs look poised to double that playoff total this October.

As these two teams gear up for an playoff run, it wouldn't hurt a fantasy owner trying to make their own championship run to have a couple of the teams' players on the roster.

On the Mound

Unfortunately when a team wins 10 straight, it tends to not fly under the radar, so lots of Royals and Nationals are on fantasy rosters. No position is more picked over on these two teams than pitcher.

Washington's rotation has got to be one of the most underappreciated in the game. No starting pitcher on the staff has an ERA over 4.00. Stephen Strasburg only has a .500 record, but is ranked seventh among fantasy pitchers as he leads the league with 198 strikeouts. Gio Gonzalez also has a sub-par record and really struggled at the end of July, but he pitched seven shutout innings on Thursday and received the no-decision.

Doug Fister lost on Friday to snap the Nationals winning streak, but he still leads the team in wins (12) and WHIP (1.07) and would lead the team in ERA (2.38) if he had pitched enough innings. Tanner Roark actually leads the team in ERA at 2.80 and fifth starter Jordan Zimmerman has not lost since July 11.

Good luck acquiring any of them though as Roark is the only pitcher with less than a 90 percent owned rate in Yahoo leagues.

Kansas City's James Shields will also be tough to acquire as he is owned in 96 percent of Yahoo leagues. Shields is 12-6 in 178 1/3 innings with 143 strikeouts and a 3.28 ERA.

There are other worthwhile pick ups in the Royals rotation that could be available. Jason Vargas, owned in just 41 percent of Yahoo Leagues, is 2-0 with a 0.56 ERA in his last two starts. Danny Duffy, owned in 53 percent of Yahoo Leagues, is 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA and 29 strikeouts in his last six starts.

Both also have a chance to win a lot of games down the stretch as 25 of the Royals' last 35 games are against .500 teams or worse.

Outfield & Designated Hitter

Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper are both owned in over 90 percent of Yahoo leagues, so the hidden gem in the Nats outfield is Denard Span. The center fielder has steadily raised his average since mid-June to now lead the team in the category. Since the All-Star break, Span has picked it up even more, hitting .377 and scoring 19 runs.

Alex Gordon is batting .282 with 56 RBI and 44 extra-base hits this season, but is not available in many leagues. Try designated hitter/first baseman Billy Butler, who is hitting .279 with 53 RBI and 35 extra-base hits.

Infield & Catcher

Again, the Nationals players are not going unnoticed as middle infield standouts Anthony Rendon and Ian Desmond are taken in over 90 percent of Yahoo leagues. Rendon is having a breakout season at 24 years old and Desmond leads Washington with 20 home runs and 77 RBI.

Surprisingly, Adam LaRoche is only taken in 70 percent of Yahoo leagues. The first baseman is hitting .269 with 19 home runs and 67 RBI.

Wilson Ramos could provide some catching depth. He is batting .351 with six RBI in his last nine games.

Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar could also provide some insurance. He is hitting .360 with six RBI in his last six games.




Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Dave Holcomb at dholcomb@sportsnetwork.com.