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FAAB Factor - AL: Scrabble Roster

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

Dallas Braden - Braden has been a far more effective pitcher since the All-Star break than in the previous two months, fresh off of a complete game win against the Mariners on Wednesday. He'll get two home starts this week, against the Blue Jays and the Rays. As always, Braden won't provide too many strikeouts, but because he walks so few hitters, the risk of a blowup outing is pretty slim, especially at home. If you're streaming pitchers in a mixed league, this isn't that bad of a spot. Mixed: $2; AL: $10.

Bryan Bullington - Football has "any given Sunday," but baseball really lives up to that maxim on a daily basis. I give you Bryan Bullington shutting out the Yankees on a sultry summer Sunday afternoon. Once the number one overall pick in the 2002 draft by the Pirates (that phrase best illustrates both the Pirates' recent origins for their lack of success, and the difference between their current front office and past front office), Bullington finally washed out of the Pirates' organization and spent 2009 with the Indians and Blue Jays before getting his turn with the Royals this year. Before getting the call by the Royals, he had pitched pretty well for Triple-A Omaha, sporting a 2.82 ERA, albeit with very little dominance (73 K's in 102 innings). Prior to Sunday's gem, he had a 4.85 ERA and 8:8 K:BB in 13 innings. So naturally, he shuts out a Yankees lineup that pounded five homers the previous day. He's only in the rotation by the grace of Brian Bannister's mechanical kinks and Luke Hochevar's elbow, so he might not even get more than another start or two to try to repeat that performance. Be happy for Bullington, just don't be happy for him on your fantasy team. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Vincent Mazzaro - With Ben Sheets out for the season, Mazzaro's spot in the rotation is secure and he's quietly demonstrated some improvement on the mound. His walk rate is still higher than optimal at 3.35/9IP heading into Sunday's start against the Twins, but he's walked just 12 over his last six starts over 38 innings. He also still needs to reduce his homers allowed (12 homers in 88.2 innings over the season), but he's a live arm in a good ballpark. There could be decent returns coming for those that invest in Mazzaro in keeper leagues. Mixed: $1; AL: $6.

Glen Perkins - Perkins hasn't been the same pitcher since injuring his elbow in May 2009. He had a 6.08 ERA at Triple-A Rochester before getting the call, though it appears he was at least a little unlucky (.366 BABIP against, FIP ERA of 4.15). After picking up a spot start for Kevin Slowey earlier in the week, Perkins will stick on the big league club and pitch out of the bullpen, thanks to Jose Mijares' trip to the DL creating the need for another left-hander. Mixed and AL: No.

Marc Rzepczynski - I mocked a guy in one of my leagues that kept trying to trade me Rzepczynski that "Rzepczynski" was Polish for "the guy I'm going to drop next." And sure enough, he did drop him at the next free agent period. Following Friday's gem against the Angels, I can now pick him up for free. We liked Rzepczynski for what he did at the end of last season, striking out nearly a batter per inning. However, that came with 30 walks last year and then he suffered a hand injury that scuttled the first half of this season. His issues rehabbing his injury were only exacerbated by pitching in the hitter-fueled PCL, particularly in his Las Vegas home park. In his 18.1 major league innings, Rzepczynski has conquered his walks problem while maintaining the strikeout rate (19:2). Small sample caveats apply, of course, but there are some reasons for optimism here. He gets Oakland in Oakland next. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Pedro Strop - The Rangers have had a lot of success converting former position players to pitching, and Strop is the latest to reach the majors. He's actually been up earlier this year, seeing action in four games so far. At Triple-A Oklahoma City Strop had 50 strikeouts in 38.1 innings, posting a 2.11 ERA in the process. He's also done a remarkable job of avoiding the gopher ball, allowing just one so far this season. He might get sent back down again when the Rangers need the roster spot, perhaps for Derek Holland this week, but he's worth watching in the future. Mixed and AL: No.

Koji Uehara - Alfredo Simon's recent meltdowns has opened the door for Uehara to close for the Orioles, though it's an open competition between Simon, Uehara and Mike Gonzalez. Even if he doesn't close, however, Uehara has a 24:5 K:BB in 22.2 innings when actually healthy. Uehara hasn't been given a chance to close a game yet for the O's, so we don't know how he'll handle the ninth inning, but he has plenty of closing experience in Japan, so I suspect he'll do just fine from a pressure standpoint. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.

CATCHERS

Jarrod Saltalamacchia - Salty is now up with the Red Sox after Kevin Cash's injury. He was able to throw out a baserunner in his first start behind the plate, helping to alleviate fears about his well-documented throwing problems. Unfortunately, his bat really cooled off at Triple-A Oklahoma before the trade, but that also could have been a byproduct of spending so much time working on his throwing. I think this is a pretty worthy gamble by the Red Sox for the future, especially if Victor Martinez leaves for greener pastures this offseason. For now, look for Salty to get 2-to-3 starts behind the plate per week. Mixed: $0; AL: $5.

CORNER INFIELDERS

Mark Teahen - Teahen is back from his fractured finger and figures to play all over the diamond for the White Sox. His primary spot will be third base, where the White Sox helped cleared the decks by sending Dayan Viciedo (still looking for his first major league walk) down to Triple-A, but he'll also play in the outfield and at DH occasionally. Here's where we issue the standard caveats about players coming back from finger/hand/wrist injuries - they often depress a player's output even after they return from the DL. Mixed: $0; AL: $4.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Andres Blanco - Blanco now has the second base duties with three other second basemen on the DL for the Rangers, the latest being the tremendous flop, Cristian Guzman. Blanco is a slick fielder but really offers nothing at the plate - sure it's possible he could catch a heater and hit for average, but that's about the extent of it. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Eric Patterson - Jacoby Ellsbury's briefly opens the door for Patterson to play more, but Dustin Pedroia's return from the DL will close that door in short order, as Bill Hall has earned the right to be first in line for most playing time, be it at left field or second base. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Nick Punto - J.J. Hardy's continuing wrist injury might open the door a crack for Punto to play at shortstop when Punto comes off the DL on Tuesday, though Hardy is expected back in the lineup on Tuesday after Monday's off-day. Punto probably won't get much playing time at third base given how well Danny Valencia has hit. If he does worm his way in there, Punto is good for a few steals and that's about it. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Steve Tolleson - Tolleson will take over Adam Rosales' utility infielder role, minus the sprint around the bases whenever he homers. He's there to give Mark Ellis the occasional day off and perhaps spot start for Kevin Kouzmanoff at third. He had a pretty good campaign at Triple-A Sacramento before getting the call, hitting .336/.415/.507 with nine homers and eight stolen bases in 292 at-bats. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

OUTFIELDERS

Gregor Blanco - We've already talked about Blanco, but his three stolen bases while batting leadoff the other day illustrate that players can come out of the woodwork and grab some unexpected value given the opportunity. Given the wholesale changes in the Royals' outfield, it's possible that Blanco could play regularly the rest of the way and steal 5-10 more bases. His career high in the minors was 28 steals, so it's not rare that he's running, but just don't expect him to turn into Jacoby Ellsbury. Mixed: $1; AL; $8.

Brandon Boggs - With Nelson Cruz aggravating his hamstring injury, the Rangers needed another outfielder, though Boggs probably won't get many starts even if Cruz has to go on the DL. The Rangers moved Mitch Moreland out to stand in right field instead of playing Boggs, starting Jorge Cantu at first base. Boggs could get sent back down this week if the Rangers don't think Cruz needs to go on the DL. Mixed: No; AL: $0.

Chris Carter - Carter has started his major league career 0-for-19 with nine strikeouts while playing left field so far for the A's. It's worth noting that he has faltered at the plate whenever he's arrived at a new level throughout his professional career. In other words, it will get better for him. The complicating factor though is that Conor Jackson is coming back from the DL this week and probably will get much of the playing time in left field. Will the A's send Carter down for the next couple of weeks, or will they find a way to play him and Jackson both? So far, manager Bob Geren hasn't been forthcoming on that issue, though he did say that Jackson will be in the lineup most of the time, just not at which player's expense. Mixed: $4; AL: $17.