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FAAB Factor - AL: Flawed Seattle Prospects

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).

For this final week, I'm going to eschew bid amounts. After all, there's nothing to save for - if you see a player you like, get him, period.

STARTING PITCHERS

Carlos Carrasco - The theme for finding starting pitchers this week is to get as many starts as possible if you're fighting for wins, with the threat of harming your WHIP or ERA lessened in many leagues, given the sheer volume of innings that you've compiled so far. To that end, Carrasco has two starts this week is available in many leagues. Carrasco has pitched well in five starts so far, posting a 3.03 ERA and 24:10 K:BB in 32.2 innings. We'd like to see more strikeouts, but at this stage of the game we'll take what we can get. His two starts are home against the Tigers and then at the White Sox to end the season.

Kyle Davies - Davies is also a two-start starter this week, with his two games coming against the Twins and Rays, both at home. In both cases, he probably is going to be facing teams that will be benching at least some of their starters - the Twins almost certainly won't have Joe Mauer in their lineup, for example, and the start against the Rays will be over the final weekend. Sean O'Sullivan will also get two starts this week for the Royals, but I think Davies is better equipped to take advantage of the opportunity.

Jeremy Hellickson - Hellickson might get the final start of the season for the Rays next Sunday, to allow for David Price to get on schedule for the playoff opener. That said, don't expect much, because Hellickson will almost certainly make the postseason roster and the Rays won't want to work him too deep. Even still, it's a start against the Royals and Sean O'Sullivan, so you might be able to vulture a last-day win if the Rays allow him to go five or six innings.

David Pauley - Pauley is another two-start starter this week, with a start at Texas that might seem pretty ugly, but chances are it won't be with Josh Hamilton in there, and then a home start against Oakland. Pauley is basically a replacement-level pitcher, but a good ballpark and a mediocre opponent in that second start might create a nice opportunity.

RELIEF PITCHERS

Craig Breslow - With Andrew Bailey out and Michael Wuertz hurting, Breslow is next in line to get all the remaining save chances for the A's as they play out the string this week. Breslow quietly has put together a really nice season, posting a 3.12 ERA and 67:26 K:BB in 69.1 innings. His one flaw is that he's a flyball pitcher, giving up eight homers on the year. The ballpark he pitches in takes away some of that risk, and his opponents on the road this week (Angels and Mariners) don't have punitive ballparks either.

Dan Cortes - The Mariners got Cortes in the Yuniesky Betancourt trade last summer, and his development has been bumpy, though he's improved since converting to relief work. He's averaged over a strikeout per inning, but his walk rate has been consistently high. He showed some of his potential on Sunday, however, by striking out the side in relief against the Rays. Brandon League has disappointed down the stretch, clouding his future as a potential closer. If the M's can get Cortes to cut down his walk rate, I could see a scenario where he eventually closes with the club.

Brandon League - David Aardsma has a sore oblique and hasn't pitched since Sept. 19, so if the M's get a save opportunity over the last week, League will probably get a shot at closing. The only problem is that League has been fairly awful this month, giving up nine runs over seven innings. Is he wearing down, or is this just a sample size fluke? If you're in a mixed league and you're gambling on saves, sure, take the shot. He's just a decent risk to wreck your ERA and/or WHIP. I'd prefer Breslow this week.

Vinnie Pestano - Because Chris Perez was away from the team this weekend due to the birth of his child, Pestano converted the save chance Sunday against the Royals. He was Triple-A Columbus' closer after serving briefly in that capacity at Double-A Akron to start the season. The Indians like his three-quarters delivery and his ability to keep the ball down - he allowed just two homers in 59.2 combined innings, though he only had a 1.27 G:F. The good stat indicator, however, is his 77:16 K:BB in that time span. Perez will be back with the team on Monday, so Pestano probably won't get any further save chances.

CATCHERS

Alex Avila - This one is more for mixed league purposes, as he was recently picked up in one of my 14-team mixed leagues. After making a big splash upon his callup last year, Avila has disappointed this year, posting just a .654 OPS, though some of that has to do with poor batting average (fueled by a .279 BABIP). I think better times are on the horizon in the future. Last year's good rate stats were a fluke, and to a certain extent his slump this year was also. Avila has played more in September and August and has had better results than earlier in the year. I think that the additional playing time has helped.

CORNER INFIELDERS

Matt Mangini - Mangini took a big step up this year at Triple-A Tacoma, hitting for a .871 OPS, eclipsing his marks at every minor league level in his career, including the high-octane park at High-Desert. A quick look at his .366 BABIP suggests that he benefited at least some from randomness. I'm not that optimistic about his future, however - his 26:96 BB:K in 447 at-bats suggests that he'll fit in just fine with the rest of the Mariners' impotent lineup. Even still, playing time is currency, and he'll probably get a good number of at-bats this week.

Justin Smoak - Smoak recovered at Triple-A Tacoma to end up hitting .271/.377/.481 in 35 games there, but at the major league level he's done his best impersonation of Brandon Wood, with an awful 2:29 B:KK ratio in 86 at-bats with the Mariners. That breakdown is a big surprise, because for all of Smoak's faults, he's been a very patient hitter throughout the minors. I'd like to think that this is correctable, but the fact that this came up in the first place is confounding.

MIDDLE INFIELDERS

Mike Aviles - Aviles might very well have been the difference for a number of winning teams this year, thanks to a monster September. He's had eight multi-hit games over the last two weeks, hitting six homers over that span. He's also running a little bit, picking up a stolen base on Sunday. Chris Getz's concussion might have created the full-time opportunity for Aviles this month, but Aviles has clearly been the better hitter this year. The Royals have to figure out how to make room for Aviles, Wilson Betemit and eventually Mike Moustakas at third base, and Aviles might still be the odd man out, though it's debatable whether either Betemit or Moustaka can handle second base defensively.

Drew Sutton - Recent injuries to Asdrubal Cabrera and Jason Donald have created openings for Sutton to play, though Cabrera recently returned over the weekend. A former Astros farmhand that's spent the last two years with the Reds, Sutton doesn't have much of a ceiling, and in fact might have less of a future with the franchise than Luis Valbuena, even with Valbuena's awful season. But Sutton might just get a handful of at-bats during this final week, and if you're in an "only" league, scrambling for at-bats is a meaningful exercise in this final week.

OUTFIELDERS

Greg Halman - The good news? Halman hit 33 homers in 424 at-bats for Triple-A Tacoma this year. The bad news? His plate discipline makes that of Mangini look like Wade Boggs. He struck out 169 times while walking just 37 times. A scout two years ago at the Arizona Fall League discussed Halman's lack of pitch-recognition as a common flaw in prospects. He can't pick up when a pitcher is throwing a breaking pitch, so he has "cheat" and commit early to beating a pitcher's fastball, leaving him completely vulnerable against a decent off-speed pitch. He's unlikely to succeed at the major league level.