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MLB Barometer: Perez Inherits Closer's Role in Cleveland

Kevin Payne

Kevin Payne

Kevin has worked for Rotowire just under a decade and has covered basketball, baseball and football. A glutton for punishment, he roots for his hometown Bills, Sabres and the New York Yankees. He hosts the RotoWire SiriusXM show every Wednesday and Friday and you can follow him on Twitter @KCPayne26.

This week Iíll be subbing in for Mark, who Iím sure is doing something way cooler this Sunday. There were many obvious upgrades but I also threw in one that might surprise you. Finally, many players are on track to make successful returns from injury after extended rest due to the All-Star break.

Upgrades:

Carlos Beltran, OF, Mets - Beltran has finally returned to the Mets lineup. He played 14 games with High-A St. Lucie and went 3-for-12 in his first three games back with the Mets. Beltran appears completely healthy, having legged out a triple and attempted a stolen base already. Beltran has reported no setbacks with his knee but got the day off on Sunday, which will happen every few games to keep him fresh. A lot of people wonder where Carl Crawford will end up next season; the Yankees are a frontrunner (the emergence of Brett Gardner has likely quieted that thought though) and staying with the Rays is an option, albeit a long one. What about the Mets? How would a lineup of Reyes, Crawford, Wright, Beltran, Davis, and Bay look? I think theyíre going to need some bats to compete with the Nationalsí pitching staff over the next few years.

Edinson Volquez, P, Reds - Volquez was likely as hot a pickup as anyone on Saturday after his nine-strikeout, one-run outing in a victory over the Rockies. Heís now 11 months removed from Tommy John surgery and was hitting 95 mph on the gun. Itís not unusual to see pitchers come back throwing harder after the surgery, so deploy Volquez without hesitation.

Chris Perez, P, Indians - Kerry Wood (surprise, surprise) landed on the 15-day DL for the 14th time in his career with a blister issue. Perez has been pitched well this season, posting a 2.62 ERA and 1.250 WHIP. This move may not be temporary either; thereís a good chance Wood gets dealt once he gets healthy, leaving Perez to assume the closerís role. Owners in FAAB leagues who bid on Sunday nights, take note.

Aramis Ramirez, 3B, Cubs - If you were patient with Ramirez, youíre finally being rewarded. He appears to be completely recovered from the left thumb injury that bothered him earlier this year. Ramirez is 17-for-40 (.425) with five homer runs over his last ten games. Now if only Derrek Lee could get things goingÖ

Buster Posey, C, Giants - Mr. Stopa highlighted Carlos Santana in this section last week and rightfully so. Posey has been Santanaís NL counterpart to this point Ė he blasted his eighth home run on Saturday. Typically catchers take a bit longer to develop (ahem, Matt Wieters) but both Santana and Posey have hit the ground running. The only minor red flag about Posey is his drastic home/away splits; he has a 1:7 home run split and a .737/1.177 OPS split. Expect Posey to be among the top 5 catchers selected in next yearís drafts.

Joe Blanton, SP, Phillies - Iím guessing I could catch some flak for this choice, but at least hear me out. I actually picked up Blanton and rolled with him on Friday at Chicago, and he had a decent outing Ė seven innings, three earned runs and a 8:3 K:BB ratio. Why did I roll with Blanton? First, he appears to be over the left oblique strain that plagued him earlier this year. Next, though Blanton entered the Cubs game with a 6.41 ERA and a WHIP north of 1.50, he has consistently been around a 4.10 ERA, 1.33 WHIP kind of pitcher during his season and a half with the Phillies. Therefore, heís likely going to improve on those numbers going forward. OK, thatís some easy, even flimsy reasoning; hereís some more solid stuff. Right now his 62.6% strand rate is a career low while his BABIP is 29 points higher than his career average. His GB% is up two percent from last year and his LD% is down five percent, suggesting that his BABIP is in fact unlucky. His K/9 rate is down from last year, but he has improved each month since his injury and stands at 10.61 over 18.2 July innings. Heíll get a good test on Wednesday when the Phillies travel to St. Louis.

Check Status:

Mike Pelfrey, P and Jose Reyes, SS, Mets - A stiff neck pushed Pelfreyís Saturday start to Monday, while Reyesí oblique will keep him out of action until Monday also. Iím not very trusting of the Mets medical staff given their checkered past. I wonder if they got together and said ďHmm, Pelfreyís coming back Monday, letís throw Reyes back then too.Ē It would be hard to bench either for the upcoming week but look for reports on their status after Sundayís game.

Clay Buchholz, P, Red Sox - Buchholz is expected to return to the mound on Wednesday against the Athletics. He was fine after a Triple-A rehab start and will make his return against a weak hitting team.

Brian Roberts, 2B, Orioles - Roberts is rumored to be returning next week, although Iíll believe it when I see it. If he does return, Iím not the biggest fan. In my preseason ďBustĒ article for the site, I talked about the steady decline in steal attempts over the last three seasons (57, 50, 37), also noting that his strikeout percentage increased (15.9, 17.0, 17.7) and his walk percentage decreased (12.4, 11.6, 10.3). Needless to say Iím not completely sold on him; but heís likely going to be a decent option in deep/AL leagues for some owners.

Yovani Gallardo, P, Brewers - Gallardo has been hampered by an oblique injury, which seems to be a recurring theme this week. Heís scheduled to come off the DL and face the Pirates on Thursday, which is a nice matchup, but be aware that these injuries tend to linger with pitchers. If youíre an owner you have to roll the dice with him here. Just donít be surprised if heís somewhat limited for the next few starts.

Downgrades:

Corey Patterson, OF, Orioles - I remember writing in one of the Thursday recaps that I saw Patterson as a decent option in the short term but not a good season-long solution. Patterson has come back to earth of late, which isnít surprising for a 25.0% K, 6.1% BB leadoff hitter. Heís only hitting .259 in July and the imminent return of Luke Scott will cut into his playing time. If I owned him, Iíd look to see what I could get in return for him via trade.

Chris Davis, 1B, Rangers - Mark upgraded Davis last week, which is exactly what I would have done. As he said, the perceived replacement value of Davis for Smoak made perfect sense for the Rangers to deal for Cliff Lee. The problem is Davis looks no different than he did with his earlier stint with the big club. Davis has only gone 4-for-18 (.222) and has yet to hit a home run. While this is a small sample size, donít forget that the Rangers gave him only a 48-at-bat audition earlier this year. For the time being he also needs to be part of a platoon considering his struggles against left-handed pitching - 2-for-15 (.133) with both hits being singles. On a positive note, Davis has picked up three walks since his recall and has a .318 OBP. This is worth noting since the Rangers were able to stomach Smoakís horrible .209 BA in lieu of his mediocre .316 OBP. Heís still worth a bench spot but I canít justify starting him until he shows heís more than a Quad-A player.

Jorge De La Rosa, P, Rockies - JDLR has shown quite a bit of rust over his two starts since coming back from a torn flexor band on his left middle finger. He has given up 14 runs (11 earned) in only 7.2 innings with a 6:6 K:BB ratio. Donít get me wrong; this guy is filthy when his stuff is on. Iím just not willing to wait for him to right the ship, especially since he is pitching in Colorado during the hottest part of summer.

Chipper Jones, 3B, Braves - Just when it looked like Chipper was going to make something of a contribution in the fantasy world, a hamstring injury limited him to pinch-hitting duties on Saturday. Outside of leagues that count OBP (his is at .376), itís tough to recommend Chipper in any standard format going forward.

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