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FAAB Factor - AL: Injuries Create Opportunities

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson

Jeff Erickson is a co-founder of RotoWire.com and the only two-time winner of Baseball Writer of the Year from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. He roots for the Reds, Bengals, Red Wings, Pacers and Northwestern University (the real NU).

STARTING PITCHERS

Luke French - With Ryan Rowland-Smith going on the DL with extended suckiness, er, a lower back strain, French has gone into the starting rotation in his place. French is cut out of the same cloth as Rowland-Smith - he's a soft-tossing lefty that relies upon his control and defense behind him. He's usable at home and against weaker lineups - in other words, his start on Friday against the Royals in Safeco was the perfect confluence of events. Don't confuse his very good outing as anything else. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Derek Holland - Rich Harden reverted back to wild Harden form on Saturday, walking five and hitting another in just 2.1 innings of work. The Rangers have already moved Scott Feldman out of the rotation to make room for Harden, but don't be surprised if Harden gets moved out next to make room for Holland, who remains on the same schedule as Harden. Hours after Harden's miserable start against the A's, Holland threw six shutout innings for Triple-A Oklahoma City. Holland has also been the better pitcher so far at the major league level, with a 4.19 ERA and 16:6 K:BB in 19.1 innings. If you're able to do so, grab him now before he gets the call by the Rangers. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.

David Huff - Huff successfully resisted the urge to tweet about his callup this week, so he's in the rotation in Mitch Talbot's spot. He didn't really do all that much at Triple-A Columbus to indicate he's going to be that much better than his previous stints. He doesn't miss a whole lot of bats, and still tends to elevate the ball too much, resulting in a home run rate that makes it tough to survive in the American League. The Indians have a whole slew of pitchers that fit this profile, which has been an ongoing problem for them lately. Mixed and AL: No.

Scott Kazmir - Kazmir pitched well in his return from the DL on Saturday, holding the recently neutered Tigers lineup to one unearned run over five innings. His next matchup at home against the Blue Jays should be a little more revealing in where he's really at. He's been really awful for most of the season for the Angels and he no longer offers the high strikeout upside he once had with the Rays. Let others take the chance on buying into his brand name. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Brad Mills - Jesse Litsch is out for the season, so presumably Mills will be the fifth starter for the Jays for the rest of the season. The Jays originally intended to go with Brandon Morrow on his regular rest on Friday, but following Morrow's 136-pitch effort on Sunday, it might be Mills that slots in there. Mills' second big league start didn't quite go as well as his first, failing to go the minimum five innings against the Rays despite a barrage of run support. His numbers at Triple-A Las Vegas have been fairly positive, with a 4.20 ERA and 85:39 K:BB in 96.1 innings. When you look at his numbers, take the ballpark context in mind - Vegas is a launching pad. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Andy Sonnanstine - Sonnanstine came off the DL to step in for the injured Jeff Niemann on Sunday but had the misfortune of facing the Brandon Morrow buzzsaw. He held the Jays to one run on three hits and three walks, striking out just one. He got the call instead of Jeremy Hellickson because the Rays haven't yet made a DL move for Niemann, and Hellickson has to stay down at Triple-A Durham for a minimum of 10 days following his demotion earlier in the week. The Rays have two pitchers getting their shoulders checked, however, so both Sonnanstine and Hellickson could be in line to make a few starts, pending the results of the exams. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Felix Doubront - Doubront has been converted to relief work after making three spot starts earlier in the season for the Red Sox, who just lost Hideki Okajima to the DL. The conversion to relief work might do wonders in the short-term for Doubront, as it will allow him to throw at max effort and prevent opposing hitters from getting too much of a look at him in terms of their advance scouting. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Chris Sale - Sale is the first player from the 2010 draft to reach the majors, rocketing from High-A to Triple-A beforehand quickly after signing. The first-round pick out of Florida Gulf Coast University will work as a lefty specialist, freeing up Matt Thornton to work in more high leverage situations. He dominated at Triple-A Charlotte, albeit in just 6.1 innings, striking out 15. He did walk four over that span and also allowed two homers, so it's hardly the case that he's a finished product. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

CATCHERS

J.P. Arencibia - Arencibia's splashy debut on Saturday ends any chance of sneaking him in under the radar in your AL-only leagues, if it was even possible to sneak in a guy that had 31 homers in Triple-A to begin with. John Buck's hand injury has him projected to be out until August 20, so Arencibia and Jose Molina will split the catching duties until then. Frankly, Arencibia should be playing nearly every day instead of the timeshare arrangement - not because of his superior bat, but instead so that the Jays can see more of him before they make a decision on what to do with Buck this offseason. Go after Arencibia, but be aware that he could get sent back down for about 10 days once Buck returns. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.

Lou Marson - Carlos Santana's season-ending knee injury has opened back the door for Marson to take over for the rest of the season. Unfortunately, there's not much there to believe in Marson. He's been dominated by major league pitching, hitting .194 in 155 at-bats heading into Sunday. The only bright side, from a fantasy perspective, is that he has five stolen bases on the year. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Jose Molina - As far as backup catchers go, Molina hasn't been that bad for the Jays, entering Sunday's play with a .275/.342/.422 line in 109 at-bats. Now that John Buck is on the DL, Molina will get more playing time. In the past with the Yankees, Molina's hitting has suffered with additional exposure, so don't necessarily project Molina to keep hitting at his current pace over the next two weeks. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Adam Moore - Moore is back up and will handle the everyday duties for the Mariners, who have sent Rob Johnson down to clear the decks. It's time for Moore to show the M's what he's capable of doing, both for the rest of the season and for the years beyond. He struggled initially before a bruised heel sent him to the DL, and then he went back down to Tacoma after the heel had healed. He thrived with the Rainiers in 134 at-bats, hitting .321/.359/.463 there. He's hit for some power in the minors, though his 22 homers at High-A High Desert have to be considered a high-altitude anomaly. Certainly his current ballpark isn't going to help him much in that department. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.

CORNER INFIELDERS

Brandon Inge - Grittiness is overrated. Inge has rushed back from the DL from his broken hand, returning well before his 4-to-6 week estimated absence. And make no mistake, “rushed” is the operative term here. The tough guy mentality that professional athletes often take is one that frequently does more harm than good - there's a higher chance of re-injury, and the player usually declines in performance. Inge had three hits in his first game back, but since then has gone 0-for-11 with four strikeouts. Players returning from hand injuries also are good candidates to struggle at the plate. In short, Inge might just be a brand name and not an actual improvement over the bat the Tigers took out of the lineup at shortstop, moving Jhonny Peralta out of position to play there. Mixed: $1.

Dan Johnson - Even if Carlos Pena hadn't gone on the DL, Johnson had earned his callup, hitting .303/.430/.624 at Triple-A Durham with 30 homers in 340 at-bats. The Rays will look to him to replace Pena's power in the near-term, and once Pena comes back, Johnson could very well stick around to be part of the DH picture. Even though he's not young (he turns 31 on Tuesday), he's a potential keeper with Pena becoming a free agent this offseason. Mixed: $3; AL: $11.

Mike Lowell - Lowell has gone from being the forgotten man for the Red Sox to their regular starter at first base now that Kevin Youkilis is out for the season. The Red Sox are still looking for potential platoon partners for Lowell, however, including working out Carlos Delgado on Saturday. However, Delgado is going to need time to get up to speed in the minors, meaning that barring a waiver trade, Lowell will be the starter for at least the next two-to-three weeks. Mixed: $7; AL: $15.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Brent Lillibridge - For a short while, Lillibridge was taking time away from Gordon Beckham at second base, but even though Lillibridge was hitting well (.378/.395/.676), Beckham took the full-time job back and starting hitting well after slumping all season. Beckham left Sunday's game with a groin strain, however, so watch out to see how long he's out. If Beckham is out for a significant amount of time, Lillibridge is a nice little cheap steals candidate. Be aware, however that manager Ozzie Guillen might opt instead to put Omar Vizquel in at second base and Dayan Viciedo at third, so don't expect everyday action for Lillibridge. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.

Omar Vizquel - Dayan Viciedo has considerably more power than Vizquel, but is questionable defensively and is still looking for his first major league walk. Thus, Vizquel is still getting more playing time at third base than Viciedo, and now might slot in at second base occasionally if Gordon Beckham's injury keeps him out next week. Vizquel has at least given the White Sox a tolerable two-hole option when he's in the lineup, getting on-base at a .365 clip. He's also grabbed six stolen bases. Beckham's injury probably doesn't change Vizquel's value - he was going to get the playing time anyhow, it just shifts where he'll play, possibly. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.

Josh Wilson - Thanks to Jack Wilson's epic yet failed battle with the shower floor, Josh Wilson should get the majority of starts at shortstop for the foreseeable future for the M's. He's actually been the less-bad of the Mariners' J. Wilson's, offensively at least. He'll occasionally draw a walk and steal a base, but that's about the extent of his value. If you're choosing between Lillibridge, Vizquel or Wilson, Wilson would be my third choice. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

OUTFIELDERS

Peter Bourjos - We talked about Bourjos last week in a speculative manner, then the Angels called him up and moved Torii Hunter to right field to make room for Bourjos. He's going to play, probably every day as the Angels slip out of the race. The two big negatives to Bourjos are a lack of power and his spot in the batting order (ninth). Still, if you need speed, he's the best “fresh blood” acquisition this side of Desmond Jennings, assuming Jennings ever gets the call. Mixed: $10; AL: $25.

Ryan Kalish - As with Bourjos, we talked about Kalish last week but his circumstances have changed, with Mike Cameron has gone back on the DL with a lingering abdomen injury. Even with Jacoby Ellsbury's return, Kalish should play quite a bit over the next couple of weeks for the Red Sox, setting up the expectation that he might play a significant role for the team in 2011. Mixed: $5; AL: $12.

Ryan Langerhans - Langerhans is getting the playing time in left field while Michael Saunders is out following the latter's collision with the left field wall. This isn't a long-term situation, but you might be able to steal a handful of at-bats this week in AL-only leagues. That might end up with a cheap stolen base or two - he has four bags in 65 at-bats heading into Sunday's play. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

David Murphy - The Rangers have been playing Murphy ahead of Julio Borbon frequently as of late and he's come through with a couple of big homers this week. Murphy is essentially a league-average outfielder, capable of hitting 5-6 more homers down the stretch while adding two or three steals. He'll leak a few at-bats here and there because Borbon often comes into the game late for defensive purposes. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.

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