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MLB Barometer: Beard Not Feared

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:

Cliff Pennington, SS, OAK - Somewhat quietly, Pennington has been one of the better fantasy shortstops over the last two weeks. Pennington has gone 18-for-46 (.391) with two home runs, four stolen bases and 15 RBI over his last 11 games. The key for Pennington is that he appears to be finally healthy since battling a myriad of injuries since April. Since offseason surgery to repair a torn labrum in his shoulder, Pennington has dealt with an infected sweat gland under his right arm and Bell's Palsy. The shoulder surgery seemed to have impacted his power, as he only had 12 extra base hits over the first three months of the season (267 at-bats). During August and the first three games in September he has 11 extra base hits in only 100 at-bats. He's mainly known for his speed but is worth a gamble if you're looking for middle infield help.

Brandon Guyer, OF, TB, Leonys Martin, OF, TEX - I lumped these two together since they're considered towards the top of the outfield prospects for their respective teams. I'd expect Guyer to play a little more than Martin from here on out with David Murphy playing well, but if you're in a keeper league like mine and can only grab players called up to hold, these are two good players to consider. Guyer kind of got lost in the Desmond Jennings hype, turning in a 14-home run, 16-stolen base season with a .312 batting average (388 at-bats) at Durham. Meanwhile Martin combined to steal 20 bases between two minor league levels and post a 1.006 OPS at Double-A Frisco. Martin struggled upon his promotion to Triple-A, posting a double-slash line of .263/.316/.314. Martin will likely start next season at Triple-A while Guyer has a legitimate shot of sticking with the Rays depending on what they do in the offseason. Guyer could find himself with a starting outfield spot if the Rays move Matt Joyce to first base or decide to move B.J. Upton during the offseason. Both Martin and Guyer are good long-term prospects and should be considered if you can stash them on your bench for time being.

Julio Teheran, P, ATL - Teheran will toe the rubber in the second game of the Braves double-header on Thursday and a strong showing could land him a handful of starts for the rest of the season. One of the top pitching prospects in the minors, the 20-year-old boasts a 2.55 ERA and a 1.186 WHIP at Triple-A Gwinett this season. At the very least he should be picked up in NL-only formats and thrown on your bench if you're desperate for pitching help considering he'll likely deal with the Marlins and Nationals down the stretch if he sticks in the rotation.

Alex Presley, OF, PIT - Presley has been on fire the last few days, going 8-for-13 with a home run and a stolen base. While his overall body of work with the Pirates is a rather small sample size, he appears to have earned consistent playing time for the rest of this season and thrown himself into the outfield mix for 2012. With the big club, Presley has gone 39-for-121 (.322) with two home runs and six stolen bases. His 19:11 K:BB rate isn't too special but it isn't horrendous either. The biggest asset Presley brings to the table is his speed; his five triples with the Pirates is evidence of that. When Ryan Ludwick returns Presley's playing time will likely be cut, but the Pirates would be wise to play Presley if/when they're mathematically eliminated from the playoffs.

Javier Vazquez, P, FLA - I highlighted Vazquez a few weeks back so I'll try not to be too redundant this week. The reason he's an upgrade this week is that I actually found him on the waiver wire in a couple of leagues and he's scheduled to get two starts for the upcoming scoring period. Even with a sub-par offense backing him up, he could provide a win and a good strikeout total this coming week. James McDonald is another good two-start pitcher playing both games at home with good matchups.

Check Status:

Mike Stanton, OF, FLA - Stanton suffered a hamstring injury Saturday, coming at the worst possible time for owners. While the severity of the injury isn't known quite yet, it's likely the Marlins handle their star slugger with white gloves with the team having nothing to play for. Bryan Petersen will likely pick up a few more starts if Stanton stays out for multiple games. Like many others, I've made little attempt to hide my man-crush on Stanton. If you've been following his progression as a player, you have to like what you've seen as the season has gone on which will make him one of the harder players to rank for next season. Right now, I'd probably spend a mid-to-late second round pick on him in most standard formats for 2012. Why? First, the offense can't be any worse in Florida than it is right now. Logan Morrison is finally back in the lineup, Hanley Ramirez has had what has to be considered a lost season and Gaby Sanchez has done little after a decent start. On Saturday, the Marlins ran out a lineup that didn't have a player hitting over .288. Going back to Stanton, his All-Star break splits show a season of stellar improvement. He now has more walks (31) over the second half than the first half (30) despite having 140 less at-bats. During the first half he recorded a home run per every 16.8 at-bats (18 HRs in 302 ABs) while he has a home run per every 11.6 at-bats (14 HRs in 162 ABs). His post All-Star break batting average is 17 points higher (.272) with a increased BABIP which is supported by an increased line drive rate. Stanton is still going to strike out around 25% of the time but that's comes with the territory of a power hitter. You've heard my opinion, so where would you consider drafting him next season?

Mark Teixeira, 1B, NYY - The Yankees slugger took a pitch off his knee against the Red Sox and sat out three games before he returned Sunday. The Yankees will likely be cautious with Tex since they're almost assured a playoff spot, whether or not they win the division. It's hard to recommend benching Teixeira given his return unless you have another viable option on your bench, but be alert for any setbacks.

Injuries:

Brian Wilson, P, SF - It's now sounding as if we may not see Wilson the rest of the regular season and possibly at all for the rest of 2011. If this is the case, look for Sergio Romo and Santiago Casilla to receive any late inning calls.

Hanley Ramirez, SS, FLA - Ramirez will likely opt to have surgery on his troublesome shoulder after meeting with team doctors Saturday night. Ramirez has been on the DL and hasn't played in a game since Aug. 1. It's pretty easy to say this season was a bust - he hit .243 with 10 home runs and 20 stolen bases in 338 at-bats. He'll end up outside of the top-10 for both home runs and stolen bases for the position and considering he was generally a top-3 pick, he did fantasy owners no favors this season. If you have him in keeper/dynasty leagues you'll probably hope he has the surgery sooner rather than later to be as close to 100 percent for Spring Training.

Downgrades:

Jordan Zimmermann, P, WAS - The Nationals have shut down their ace from this season, capping Zimmermann's use at 161.1 innings. This is probably a smart move considering they can increase his workload (typically 15 percent is the number) and get a full season out of him in 2012. Zimmermann finished with an 8-11 record, 3.18 ERA and a 1.147 WHIP. I'd expect the 6.92 K/9 rate to improve next season and I'll predict right now he'll provide better value than teammate Stephen Strasburg next season when taking into considering their likely ADPs. Keep him in mind when the top-10 pitchers come off the draft board in 2012.

Nathan Eovaldi, P, LAD - The youngster made his final start for the Dodgers Saturday and will likely be moved to the bullpen or shut down completely. Eovaldi finished his big league campaign with a 1-2 record and a 3.09 ERA with a 1.31 WHIP. Those numbers are pretty impressive for a rookie and even more when you consider the lineups he faced (@STL, COL, @MIL, @ARI, @ATL, HOU). Look for him to compete for a spot in the rotation next year.

Alexi Ogando, P, TEX - Ogando struggled mightily during August, finishing the month with a 7.14 ERA. As a result, the Rangers have elected to skip his start Monday to keep him fresh for the postseason. The poor outings are likely a result of the hike in his workload this year, jumping from 72 innings in 2010 to double (154) so far this season. The Rangers were able to be aggressive with C.J. Wilson when he made a similar jump in innings but the same handling does not appear to be working with Ogando. Don't be surprised if the Rangers continue to spread out his starts down the stretch and could even put a pitch restriction on him when he does take the mound.

Josh Reddick, OF, BOS - Reddick has slumped after making Red Sox fans forget about J.D. Drew after his initial call-up back in mid-June. Reddick struggled during the month of August, hitting only .208 over 77 at-bats. In addition to the poor batting average in August the Sox acquired Conor Jackson, another viable option in right field. Jackson as a right-handed hitter could steal bats away against southpaws, especially if Terry Francona decides to go with a strict platoon.

You can follow on Twitter @KCPayne26