Fausto Carmona - Carmona was a spot start pickup for Sunday's outing against the Royals in one of my mixed leagues that has an innings-cap. The reason that's important in this league obviously is that a low-strikeout pitcher like Carmona is almost always going to be available - he actively hurts teams in the strikeouts category with 4.91 K/9 rate. That doesn't mean he doesn't have value in this league - a start against a weaker opponent still presents a reasonable chance to pick up a win, which is still a category. But you have to pick your spots judiciously, and even then, you could end up with Carmona's line from Sunday - 6.2IP, 3ER, 10 BB+H, and only four strikeouts, with no win to show for it. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Brett Cecil - Like Carmona, I'm including Cecil here for the benefit of mixed leaguers where he still might be available, as he was in one of my 14-team leagues with an innings cap. The reason why Cecil is still available in some leagues is his regular competition (the AL East) and his strikeout rate - while better than Carmona's, he still sits at 6.44 K's/9IP. Moreover, he's done really well against his division brethren this season - a 2.14 ERA over 63 innings. For all the attention that the Jays' home run prowess has gotten this year, the big news for the Blue Jays is the development of Cecil, Ricky Romeron and Brandon Morrow. Mixed: $5; AL: $17.
Armando Galarraga - Galarraga has been pitching fairly well lately and gets two starts this week, albeit both on the road, one against the Twins. I'm hesitant to advise grabbing him - his recent track record has been built on the back of beating the Indians and Royals. But then again, that second start is against the Royals, who recently batted Willie Bloomquist third in the lineup (and won!). Mixed: $0; AL: $4.
Brad Mills - With Brandon Morrow getting shut down for the season after his next start, the Jays will be looking for candidates to replace him in the rotation. Mills is the natural option, though the Jays have suggested that they'll use two pitchers in there to mix-and-match to replace Morrow, indicating that Scott Richmond might also be an option. But the Jays are also managing Mills' workload, after his 2009 season was curtailed by a rib injury. So Mills might make one or two starts before they go with another option. However, prospects Kyle Drabek and Zach Stewart will not be among the options, having approached their innings limit and with a Double-A playoffs series on the way. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Lucas Harrell - Harrell is up for his second go-around with the club, this time filling in the injury-wracked White Sox bullpen, which lost J.J. Putz and Matt Thornton last week, along with Erick Threets for the season. Harrell will be a middle reliever, and hopefully his control will be better than it was in his spot start, when he walked five in six innings. A quick look at his 84:61 K:BB at Triple-A Charlotte suggests that it won't be much better. Mixed and AL: No.
Brandon League - David Aardsma returned from his sore ribs to get the save on Sunday, but League filled in well in his stead last week when called upon. As hard as League throws, it's a little bit of a surprise that he has only 46 strikeouts in 66 innings entering Sunday's play. On the other hand, League has been an extreme ground ball pitcher, with a 3.42 G/F. Is that a closer-worthy skill set? It's borderline to me - I'd rather see more strikeouts and let him not worry about the ball getting elevated in Safeco. Mixed: $2; AL: $12.
Fernando Rodney - Rodney gets the first shot to close for the Angels now that Brian Fuentes is in Minnesota. His best stint all year came earlier in the year, starting when Fuentes was on the DL. His component numbers (once again) aren't all that great, with a 37:27 K:BB in 51.2 innings. He gets out of some jams by inducing ground balls, but he hasn't consistently missed a lot of bats since 2008. Meanwhile, Jordan Walden looms as a potential replacement down the line, though Rodney is already signed through 2011. The bid here is high though, because he's the guy right now and with so little left in the season, emphasis should be placed on who has the job right now. Mixed and AL: $15.
Jordan Walden - With Brian Fuentes now a Twin, Fernando Rodney is the first in line to pick up the save chances for the Angels, but Walden is the guy that they're grooming for the future. I should have given that possibility greater heft last week, but I'll do it now. I don't think it's that hard to see a scenario where Walden gets the ball in the ninth in the last couple of weeks, if for no other reason to see how he reacts. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
John Buck - For those looking to stream catchers in one-catcher leagues, Buck might be available. He draws Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann on Monday and Tuesday this week - both recently off the DL, and in the case of Niemann, coming off of a disaster start. Buck is hitting for better average since the All-Star break, but has just one homer and two walks in 19 games since then. If you pick Buck up, make sure this is a short-term consideration, as the Jays will likely promote J.P. Arencibia from Triple-A Las Vegas when their season concludes. Mixed: $1.
Wilson Betemit - Betemit is on a bit of a sick run, having hit six homers in his past 12 games heading into Sunday, good for a .335/.415/.588 line in 170 at-bats. I'd love to have his Strat card for next season. I've been demonstrably wrong about the Royals leaving him in at third base, at least in terms about his ability to produce. I still think moving Alex Gordon off the position was a mistake, but that horse has left the barn. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Jeff Larish - Conor Jackson's return to the DL opened the door for Larish to come back and he's getting a few starts at DH for the A's and might continue to do so for the extent of September, with Chris Carter hurt. Larish has made frequent appearances in this column, speaking to the number of times he's made the shuttle from Triple-A to the majors and back. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Andy Marte - Matt LaPorta left Sunday's game with a hip injury, which is the same area that required offseason surgery. Should LaPorta need to miss extended time, Marte will probably play most of the time at first base. It seems as if I've written about him seven-to-10 times over the past three years, nearly always in the same context. In that time, not much has changed. He hasn't hit much for average over the course of his career or this season, he has some power and he's a shaky defender. Because of their history of giving up on prospects too soon (Brandon Phillips and Jeremy Guthrie, among others), perhaps the Tribe has been a little gunshy about letting Marte go. But he's going to turn 27 in October and the team is finally starting to develop some viable alternatives behind him. He'll probably be set-free from the organization at the end of the year. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Mark Trumbo - When Kendry Morales went down, many assumed that Trumbo would get a chance to play for the big league club. Here we are now at the end of August and Trumbo still hasn't gotten a chance, despite hitting .296/.363/.555 at Triple-A Salt Lake with 30 homers. Part of their reticence to call up Trumbo could be their experience with Brandon Wood (who will be making a return engagement in the Arizona Fall League in October and November), part of it could be an emphasis on defense, and part of it could be his .74 contact rate. Still, once Salt Lake gets eliminated from the Triple-A playoff race (their elimination number right now sits at 8), look for Trumbo to get promoted and maybe play a little in September. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Alex Cora - The Rangers are desperate to get something, anything, at second base until Ian Kinsler comes back. Cora … well, he's cut out of the same cloth as the alternatives that they've been using in Andres Blanco and Cristian Guzman. It's possible that he could draw a handful of walks and a token stolen base. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Julio Lugo - Brian Roberts is out for a handful of games with a hip strain and Lugo got the start at second base in his place on Sunday. Unfortunately he had to leave after getting hit on the head by a pickoff throw - his status is currently uncertain as of press time. Even if he's fully healthy, there's not too much upside here, and there's also no guarantee that he'd play every day with Roberts out - often they could play Ty Wigginton at second base and move Jake Fox over to first. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Mike McCoy - McCoy got promoted when Edwin Encarnacion went on the DL, but he probably won't start all that frequently at third base. Instead, John McDonald is supposed to get most of the starting time at third base, and in cases like Sunday when McDonald started at shortstop, the Jays chose to move Jose Bautista in from right field to start at third. Mixed and AL: No.
John McDonald - Usually in our AL-only leagues, playing time is currency in-and-of-itself. This is one case where that isn't necessarily true. McDonald has a great glove, but there's little reason to believe other than random chance that he could be productive over the next couple of weeks - we have plenty of a career sample to evaluate him, and he's not young. Mixed: No; AL: $0.
Marcus Thames - In some leagues there is no DL slots and/or a very thin bench, and that forces teams to make tough decisions on who to cut. In those leagues, you need to be prepared to act quickly to snatch up guys when they become available. In one of my AL-only leagues Thames was sitting on the waiver wire on Thursday and I was lucky enough to get him, and got promptly rewarded by his three homers the last two days. Now he's benefited from the Cell playing at its peak homer form, but Thames will play over the next two weeks with A-Rod and possibly Mark Teixeira out. For that matter, Austin Kearns could play every day in the near future if Teixeira's thumb injury lingers. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Casper Wells - Many thought that Wells could be with the team by midseason following solid Double-A and Arizona Fall League campaigns, but instead Brennan Boesch's wonderful start upon his callup blocked Wells until now. Wells has hit for power at Triple-A Toledo, but a high strikeout rate has kept his batting average down pretty low. It appears that are using him in a platoon with Boesch the rest of the way, with Magglio Ordonez out for the season. There's a small chance that Johnny Damon could also get shut down later in September, but his decision to block a trade to Boston will delay any potential full-time opening arising in that spot. Mixed: $0; AL: $3.