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MLB Barometer: Albatross!

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.

Upgrades:

David Hernandez, P, AZ; Antonio Bastardo, P, PHI - I'm starting to think the closer role in Philadelphia is something of a curse. Think of all the pitchers in the bullpen that have gone down with an injury - Brad Lidge, Jose Contreras and now Ryan Madson. Bastardo is now the de facto closer and is quietly having a Jonny Venters-type of season with a 0.90 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP with 34 Ks in 30 innings of work. Meanwhile a move to the bullpen has agreed with David Hernandez, who successfully converted his first save Saturday night. His fastball has been working in the mid-90s and the only blemish on his pitching record is the 22 walks in 38 innings (5.21 BB/9). Both players are good FAAB candidates/waiver claims if you're looking for saves over the next two weeks.

Vernon Wells, OF, LAA - Look, we all have had our fun bringing up the Wells' contract and of course the fellow albatross of a deal that Barry Zito landed. The truth is that although we are paying for those contracts indirectly by watching games, paying for tickets, etc., it's not directly our money. In fantasy terms real-life contracts don't matter so there's no reason to not view Wells as a viable fantasy option given his recent production. After coming off the DL in early June he went on to hit .276 over 20 June games and more importantly swatted six home runs. What is even more impressive is that five of those homers came on the road in pitcher-friendly environments - Safeco, Dodger Stadium and Citi Field. While I'm not optimistic about his ability to steal bases or hit for average (nine walks in 226 at-bats), Wells should be a good source of power for the rest of the season.

Mark Ellis, 2B, COL - As an owner of Ellis in my deep hometown keeper league, I couldn't have been happier with his trade to the Rockies. Up until this season Ellis has been markedly better on the road than at home, posting an OPS between 64-184 points higher on the road over his previous four seasons. Keep in mind that Clint Barmes was once fantasy relevant in a Colorado uniform and Ellis' value will be greater playing in the thin air.

Daniel Murphy, 2B, NYM - While Murphy has played most of his games at first base this season, he qualifies and is more useful at second base. He recently put in extra time in the batting cage and it's paid off as he hit .330 over the month of June. As a result the Mets have moved him into the cleanup spot, which should give him plenty of opportunities to rack up the RBI. He's available in most leagues if you're looking for middle infield help.

Blake Beavan, P, SEA - Ah, my darkhorse pick of the week. Beavan will make his first start Sunday for the Mariners at Safeco against the Padres. For those of you that haven't heard of Beavan, I didn't have him on my radar until he was dealt in the Cliff Lee deal last year. While his Triple-A numbers aren't too impressive (4.45 ERA, 1.48 WHIP), he's a pitcher who relies on his control rather than trying to overpower opposing batters. In Safeco with a good defense behind him this seems like it could be a good equation for the type of pitcher he is. If successful Sunday he'll stay in the rotation as long as Erik Bedard is on the DL.

Chris Davis, OF, TEX - When I was a kid I remember complaining about my playing time to my dad after a soccer game. He told me that I needed to work harder and make myself so good the coach couldn't afford to not play me. Davis is doing that right now for the Rangers having hit home runs at an incredible rate of one per every 8.3 at-bats during June. By now you should know the book on Davis; he's going to strike out a lot but when he makes contact, look out. Look to see if he gets promoted soon and take a flier if you need power and can sustain a sub-par batting average.

Injuries:

Fausto Carmona, P, CLE - Carmona landed on the DL with a quad injury, although he hasn't seemed right for the last six weeks. Over his last eight starts (43 innings) he's had an 8.58 ERA. Look for Zach McAlister (2.97 ERA, 1.103 at Triple-A) and Jeanmar Gomez (2.49 ERA, 1.237 WHIP at Triple-A) to be candidates to take Carmona's spot in the rotation.

Ike Davis, 1B, NYM - A decision should be coming soon on Davis' status for this season as to whether or not he'll have surgery on his ankle. In non-keeper formats it seems safe to drop him given that there's no timetable for his return and surgery could be forthcoming.

Check Status:

Mike Morse, 1B, WAS - It's always funny the way things work out; would Morse be where he is this season had Adam LaRoche not gone down with a shoulder injury? Morse took a pitch off his forearm in the latter game of a doubleheader Saturday and while he left the game he doesn't expect it to be an issue going forward.

Ryan Braun, OF, MIL - After extending his hit streak to 22 games, Braun exited Saturday's game with a calf strain. The injury isn't considered too serious and outside of Matt Kemp, Jose Bautista and Curtis Granderson you'd have a tough time finding a better fantasy outfielder up to this point. Braun will probably miss Sunday's game but look for him to get back in the lineup this week.

Jose Reyes, SS, NYM - I was pretty high on Reyes before the season (truthfully I was on Brian Matusz too) and the only thing lately besides getting praise from Alex Rodriguez that could jinx his recent tear was an injury. Unfortunately that occurred in the form of a hamstring injury, forcing him to leave Saturday's contest against the Yankees. Reyes had been 17-for-30 (.567) over his last seven games with four stolen bases. The injury doesn't appear to be too serious but an MRI Sunday will shed more light as to how much time he'll miss.

Victor Martinez, C, DET - Martinez is in the perfect situation from a fantasy perspective: he qualifies at catcher yet he plays most of his games as the DH. This means he's in the lineup more often than a normal catcher, playing in day games after a previous contest the night before. Martinez is now battling a shoulder contusion and is a risky play for the upcoming scoring period.

Downgrades:

Casey McGehee, 3B, MIL - McGehee has been woeful this season batting only .221 with four home runs in 307 at-bats. While his .252 BABIP points to a lack of luck, a lower line drive rate and an increase in his ground ball rate (over five percent) has not helped that stat. After batting .177 in June an 0-for-4 on Friday found him riding the pine on Saturday. With talks of a demotion to Triple-A swirling around, it's tough to like McGehee's short-term prospects.

Max Scherzer, P, DET - Scherzer has hit a rough patch, giving up at least five runs in five of his last eight starts. He's been prone to the long ball this season, allowing 16 homers (104.2 innings) after allowing 20 all of last season (195.2 innings). One of the problems this year could be his slider, which is down 3 mph and doesn't seem to have a lot of break on it. He'll get Kansas City away on Thursday; I'd take a wait-and-see approach with him.

Andres Torres, OF, SF - It's never a good thing when your manager refers to you as "lost." That's exactly how Torres has looked recently after batting only .182 in June. As a result Torres will probably be given a few games off to clear his head and hopefully right the ship. Look for Aaron Rowand to get some extra starts in the upcoming week.

You can follow on Twitter @KCPayne26

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