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FAAB Factor - NL: Ryan Howard is Back

Jan Levine

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.


National League - FAAB - 7/1/12
 
Starting Pitching:

Jhoulys Chacin - Chacin, on the DL with a pectoral injury, said this week that he feels stronger than he has at any point this season. The Rockies discovered that Chacin was struggling with his velocity due to a pectoral injury rather than shoulder inflammation as was previously believed. Once that was discovered, the treatment he received was changed, prompting the recent progress. Chacin, who traveled with the Rockies to St. Louis this past Monday, is now throwing curveballs in his side sessions. Though there was initially some optimism Chacin would return right around the All-Star break, he now says he will likely be back in August. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (very early speculative bid)

Ryan Dempster - Dempster was covered last week but his change of status warrants another nod in this week's column. Dempster, on the DL with tightness in a right lat muscle, was supposed to be out until after the All-Star Game. That plan changed, as Chicago decided to activate Dempster and start him Sunday against the Mets. Dempster apparently had been pitching through the soreness for a couple starts, but he showed no indication of being hurt while tossing 22 consecutive scoreless innings prior to being sidelined. Dempster has posting a 2.11 ERA, 1.012 WHIP and a 66:22 K:BB ratio and is likely to be moved to a contender just before the trading deadline. (just an FYI as still should be owned in all leagues).

Jeremy Guthrie - After an encouraging spot start Wednesday against the Cardinals (two runs in six innings), Guthrie will slot in as the newest member of the Rockies' four-man rotation. The demotion of Josh Outman to Triple-A Colorado Springs opens up the spot for Guthrie, who was tapped to be the team's ace before the season began after he was acquired from the Orioles for Jason Hammel and Matt Lindstrom. His overall numbers have made him a major disappointment for the Rockies, but he has made strides of late, improving his ERA from 7.02 to 6.28 after he was banished to the bullpen. Guthrie is the only Rockies starter not on a 75-pitch limit, and if he can continue to limit the home run ball, as he has allowed 17 so far this year, he could be somewhat effective as a starter. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Roy Halladay - Halladay, who has been sidelined with a strained lat muscle since the end of May, will throw his third bullpen session Saturday; each one more strenuous than the prior one. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. indicated Halladay could go out on a short rehab stint during the All-Star break and be back shortly after the break. Prior to being sidelined, Halladay was 4-5 with a 3.98 ERA in 70.3 innings thus far. He hasn't posted an ERA above 3.00 since the 2007 season. His velocity is down about one mile per hour from last season, and his K/9 has dipped from 8.47 last season to 6.97 this season, which may indicate that he had hidden the injury, rumored to be the case since the spring, for a while before it sidelined him. If healthy when he does return - possibly in late-July - he should be jumped on in all leagues.

Ross Ohlendorf - Ohlendorf will start for the Padres on Sunday at home against Cincinnati, taking the place Andrew Cashner, who was placed on the DL last Sunday. Ohlendorf, who has struck out 13 and walked 10 in 16 innings over five appearances with the Padres -- including two starts -- hasn't tasted much success in the bigs since 2009, when he went 11-10 for the Pirates. He's 2-0, but his ERA is an unsightly 7.31, while hitters are batting .348 against him to date. That said, he could be useful with the benefit of pitching in PETCO Park, though that hasn't been the case to date and has managed a low-4.00 ERAs as a starter in his career. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Joe Saunders - Saunders, sidelined with a strained left shoulder since June 17, will make a rehab start Sunday, where he is expected to throw 80-90 pitches. Saunders would be on regular rest July 13 if everything goes as planned Sunday, but it's no guarantee that he will take the ball in the D-Backs' first game after the break even if he's healthy enough to do so. Josh Collmenter has taken a rotation spot with the loss of Saunders and Dan Hudson to the disabled list, and it's believed that Collmenter will return to the bullpen once Saunders is ready to return depending on the effectiveness of rookie Trevor Bauer. Prior to being injured, Saunders had been having a fairly solid year, going 4-5 with an ERA of 3.44, 1,383 WHIP and 53 strikeouts in 81 innings on the heels of a rebound campaign last year. Mixed: $5; NL: should still be owned.

Ben Sheets - Sheets signed a minor league contract with the Braves last Sunday and made his first rehab start with Double-A Mississippi on Wednesday. He allowed four runs in five innings with six strikeouts with is fastball sitting in the 91-92 mph range. Sheets last appeared in the majors in 2010, when he went 4-9 with 84 strikeouts over 20 starts for the Athletics. An elbow injury ended his stint with the A's, and injuries plagued him in his major-league career, but he reportedly is healthy. Sheets may just need one more minor-league start before he joins the Braves. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early speculative bid).

Relief Pitchers:

Luis Avilan/Pedro Beato/Brad Brach/Miles Mikolas/Shawn Tolleson/Carlos Torres- This week's batch of middle relief promotions/activations took place in Atlanta, New York, San Diego (2x), Los Angeles and, Colorado. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Ronald Belisario - Belisario has been a huge boost to the Dodgers bullpen, allowing just 11 hits in 27.1 innings en route to a 0.95 ERA. His K:BB isn't spectacular at 21:12, though has been improving lately, but his heavy sinking fastball has resulted in nearly twice as many batted balls hit on the ground than in the air. He could potentially be the closer should Kenley Jansen go down even though Javy Guerra is off the DL, but Guerra is likely next in line. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Frank Francisco - Francisco, sidelined with a strained oblique, could appear in a rehab game as early as Wednesday. Everything went as planned Saturday, when Francisco threw from a mound for the first time since suffering the injury. The schedule calls for one more session before Francisco progresses to game situations. Manager Terry Collins said that Francisco will replace Bobby Parnell, who notched another save Saturday and has been lights-out recently, as the closer if he's throwing as well as he did pre-injury. (just an FYI as still should be owned in all formats)

Javy Guerra - Guerra was profiled last week but his activation Thursday warrants inclusion in this week's column. Guerra had been dealing with a sore knee for a few weeks, but the Dodgers decided to place him on the DL and have him undergo surgery in early-June when his mechanics changed to compensate for the knee injury. Guerra returned within the expected 4-to-6 week absence slated for him while recovering from the procedure. Guerra moves back into the role of Kenley Jansen's set-up man. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Wilton Lopez - Lopez, out since mid-June with a sprained right elbow, began a rehab stint with Triple-A Oklahoma City on Thursday. Prior to the injury, he had been a key reliever for the Astros this season, posting a 2.51 ERA and 26:4 K:BB ratio over 32.1 innings. If Brett Myers is moved before the deadline, Lopez, who will be activated after the All-Star break, could get a shot at closing for Houston. Mixed: $1; NL: $5

Sergio Romo - Romo registered his fifth save with a clean ninth inning against the Pirates on Friday. The Giants announced earlier in the day that Santiago Casilla was suffering from a blister and would only be used in an emergency, so Romo getting the save chance was not a surprise. However, Casilla has struggled a bit recently, so Romo's usage should be monitored closely. In 31 games this season Romo has allowed only two runs and 11 hits in 25 innings, with seven walks and 30 strikeouts, relying on a nearly unhittable slider and 89-mph fastball. The probklem is that Romo's injury history precludes him from being used for several days in a row, meaning that he is not a true closer candidate but he may continue to see save chances if Casilla continues to falter. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (uptick in value in NL-only leagues)

Drew Storen - Storen, who had minor surgery to remove a bone fragment from his elbow in early-April, started a rehab-assignment with High-A Potomac on Thursday. If all goes well in his four scheduled appearances, he could return to the Nationals shortly after the All-Star break. The question though is what role he will fill as Tyler Clippard has been phenomenal since moving into the closer role, so it's possible that Store will return as a set-up man, a role he filled 2010. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (slightly higher bid that usual for a set-up man and bump substantially if think he closes).

Catchers:

Bryan Anderson - Anderson was called up from Triple-A Memphis on Friday, to take the place of Yadier Molina, who was placed on bereavement leave. Anderson will likely serve as a backup to Tony Cruz and be sent down once Molina returns to the team. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Tim Fedorowicz - Federowicz is hitting .476 in his first five games in July, elevating his overall slash line to .302/.366/.469. With A.J. Ellis batting just .212 with two home runs since the end of May, Federowicz, who was acquired for Trayvon Robinson last year, is a guy who should be on your radar as a possible call up in LA. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early speculative bid)

Ramon Hernandez - Hernandez, on the disabled list since May 25 with a strained left hand, began a rehab assignment Wednesday with Triple-A Colorado Springs. He will see a few more starts at Triple-A and is expected to return shortly after the All-Star break. Wilin Rosario will continue to collect the majority of the starts behind the plate for the Rockies in Hernandez's absence. Hernandez could draw some interest on the trade market, but the Rockies may elect to keep the 36-year-old catcher since he is signed through 2013 at a reasonable price. If a contender trades for Hernandez, he will probably just serve as a backup or platoon player. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Jonathan Lucroy - Lucroy, sidelined with a fractured fifth metacarpal in his right hand, ran the bases before Thursday's game against the Marlins and has been throwing over the last few days. Lucroy hasn't been cleared to swing a bat but hoped to hit off a tee when the Brewers traveled to Houston this past weekend. Lucroy still has to progress to facing live pitching and then take part in a rehab assignment before returning to the team, but continues to target July 20 as his return date. (just an early heads up as he should be owned in all leagues).

Brian Schneider - Schneider, sidelined with a high ankle sprain. will head to Clearwater, Fla. on Sunday to continue his rehab. Schneider said he will play in a few games with High-A Clearwater and hopes to rejoin the Phillies on their West Coast trip after the All-Star break. When he returns, he will once again resume his role as back up to Carlos Ruiz. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

First Basemen:

Lance Berkman - Berkman, who had his torn meniscus surgically repaired on May 25 and was expected to miss 8-to-10 weeks, started to field grounders and begin baseball activities this past week. It was determined that Berkman will need to go on a rehab assignment before re-joining the Cardinals, something he originally thought might not be necessary. Berkman, who has been out since mid-May, is on track to return shortly after the All-Star break, but he probably won't be ready by July 13. Big Puma, who should regain his starting first baseman job, had a rebound campaign last year and was off to a solid spot before he got injured. Mixed: $11; NL: $33 (slight bid rise from prior week as he gets closer to returning).

Tyler Colvin - Colvin was profiled last week, but with Todd Helton dealing with a sore right hip that may land him on the DL and Colvin continuing to rake, he gets another mention this week. Colvin has somewhat dramatic home and road splits, which was why the fact that his last five home runs, including two Friday, (giving him 13 on the year) have come on the road are all the more encouraging. He's now batting .284 with six homers and 17 RBI in 95 road at-bats this season, numbers that would likely be acceptable even if he weren't batting .330 with seven homers at Coors Field. Mixed: $7; NL: $19 (likely owned but increase in PT and production warrants another uptick in value)

Matt Hague - Hague was recalled by Pittsburgh on Saturday. He'll add a versatile option to the Pirates' bench, but Hague, who had a shot at starting in his previous stint with the big club this year but wasn't able to keep the role, will likely be limited to a start or two each week during this stint with the big club. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Ryan Howard - I profiled Howard the past two weeks, but now that he was activated off the DL a bit earlier than expected, he warrants another mention. Howard (Achilles) said that he believes his calf won't be 100 percent this year, but since his game is power and not speed, that may not be a huge concern. Howard only needed a week or rehab rather than the full 20 days, so it remains to be seen how effective he will be. In addition, his numbers declined a bit the past two years from his 2007-2009 peak, but he is still a solid power/RBI threat. Mixed: $40: NL: $65.

Second Base:

Alexi Amarista - I profiled Amarista last week, but his continued hot streak warrants another nod. Amarista just had a nine-game hitting streak end, and since getting regular playing time dating back to June 24 he has raised his average from .227 to .273. He is seeing time at second, with Logan Forsythe struggling, short and left field and should be in the lineup almost every day. Mixed: $3: NL: $9.

Mark Ellis - Ellis, out since mid-May with a sprained MCL and a bone bruise on the outside of his knee, was activated from the disabled list Wednesday. It's likely that Ellis will play his way into a few starts each week as part of a timeshare at second base for the Dodgers leading into the All-Star break. After the break, Jerry Hairston, when he is not playing shortstop, will likely move over to third base on most nights, cutting into at-bats for Juan Uribe and Elian Herrera. Ellis is the prototypical No. 2 hitter who will hit for average and rack up plenty of runs scored, but don't expect any power or speed. Mixed: $2; NL: 7.

Jordany Valdespin - Valdespin was promoted to the majors for the third time this year during the week. He will fill a bench role for the Mets, providing a bit of pop as a pinch-hitter while also seeing the occasional start either at second base or left field. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Shortstops:

Luis Cruz - Cruz was called up this week to give LA some depth in the infield. However, shortly after his promotion, Dee Gordon suffered a dislocated thumb, propelling Cruz into the starting shortstop role. Cruz thrived in the hitter-friendly PCL this season, hitting .318/.348/.529 with eight homers and 46 RBI through 74 games. Keep in mind, however, that Cruz is already 28 and is hardly a prospect at this stage of his career. That said, with Gordon out, look for Cruz to see plenty of time at shortstop backed up by Elian Herrera and Jerry Hairston Jr. while also possibly playing a bit at third base. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Jordy Mercer - The Pirates recalled Mercer from Triple-A Indianapolis on Thursday. Mercer got off to a fast start with Indianapolis, posting a career-best .796 OPS to earn his first call-up to the bigs in late-May. Last year, Mercer hit 19 home runs and drove in 69 runs split between Double-A and Triple-A. Mercer had difficulty getting off the bench in his earlier stint with the Pirates this season, receiving just nine at-bats in five games. He will probably see most of his action as a pinch-hitter or defensive replacement. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Third Basemen:

Geoff Blum - Blum, sidelined since the beginning of the year with an oblique injury, was activated from the 60-day DL on Monday. John McDonald has been placed on the 15-day DL to make space on the roster, while Blum will likely work in a limited reserve, utility infielder role. Mixed: No: NL: $0.

Matt Dominguez - Dominguez was traded along with Rob Rasmussen to Houston with Carlos Lee going to Miami. The path to regular at-bats at third base is clear in Houston for Dominguez, who will at least provide a plus glove on the left side of the infield even if his bat fails to develop. The 22-year-old was hitting just .234/.291/.357 over 78 games at Triple-A New Orleans this season, continuing a pattern of good glove, no-hit that has been the story since he was drafted in the first-round in 2007. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Scott Moore - Moore was profiled last week when his contract was purchased from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was hitting .318 with 10 homers and 54 RBI with the Redhawks. When the Astros traded Carlos Lee for Matt Dominguez there were questions surrounding Moore's role moving forward with the team, but it looks as if they will try and find a spot for him somehow as he was moved to right field for Friday's game and played third Saturday, homering in each contest. He also has seen time at second and third and a super-utility role helps his value, which is why he is mentioned again this week but with no regular job or guarantee for playing time, his value is somewhat limited. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Luis Valbuena/Josh Vitters - With the news that Ian Stewart will likely be out for the rest of the season after having surgery on his wrist next week, Valbuena gets a short-term spike in value as he will be the current starter at third base. That said, Vitters has been raking a Triple-A Iowa and could get a promotion. Vitters is up to .299/.355/.506 there, with 13 HR, 48 RBI and a 23:51 BB:K ratio. Defense is the main issue for Vitters, and if he shows some semblance of progress, he could be handling the hot corner in the Windy City starting some time this summer. Valbuena - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Vitters - Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early speculative bid).
 
Drew Sutton - Sutton, who was profiled last week after the Pirates claimed him off waivers, warrants another mention this week. Sutton has gone 13-for-35 with seven extra-base hits since joining Pittsburgh, and it looks like he has a short-term hold on some playing time in the outfield with Jose Tabata sent down and Alex Presley on the 7-day DL with concussion-like symptoms. Manager Clint Hurdle isn't afraid to go with a hand that's hot, so Sutton should continue to play for as long as he produces, but if he slumps, Starling Marte could be promoted. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Outfielders:

Jason Bay - Bay, sidelined since June 15 with a concussion, will do a couple days of batting practice, running and defensive drills at the Mets' spring training complex before participating in rehab games for High-A St. Lucie. The Mets hope Bay starts playing for St. Lucie on Sunday. The plan is for Bay to play two or three games there, then head to Triple-A Buffalo for a few more rehab games before returning to the majors, possibly by next weekend. Bay has had an injury-prone past two seasons with the Mets, suffering a concussion that last July that sidelined him for the year, a rib injury that kept him from April 23 to June 6 and now, this concussion. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
 
Emilio Bonifacio - Bonifacio, sidelined since May 18 with a torn ligament left thumb that required surgery, began a rehab assignment this past week and is on target to return right after the All-Star break. As a result, Bonifacio will end up missing approximately 10 days more than previously suggested. Bonifacio led the majors in steals with 20 and was 19-for-63 in May when he was sidelined. When he does return, look for him to play everyday and be a spark plug for the Marlins. Mixed: $9; NL: $25 (bid in case he was waived when injured).

Chris Denorfia - Denorfia went 4-for-5 with three runs scored in San Diego's 8-6 win over the Diamondbacks on Wednesday. Denorfia has now had multi-hit games in four his last five starts, going 11-for-19 over that span and raising his average from .278 to .307. He continues to rake on the road, improving his average away from home to .363. Denorfia sees much of his time against left-handed pitching, and with SD out of playoff contention; he could be a trade deadline target for a contender, which might boost his fantasy value. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (though likely owned in single leagues).

Gorkys Hernandez - The Pirates decided to send Jose Tabata to the minors Tuesday with so Hernandez, who posted a .268/.364/.362 line over 224 at-bats at Triple-A Indianapolis this year, getting the call to the big-league club. Since the promotion, Hernandez has looked overmatched at the plate and it would be surprising to see him help many fantasy teams. Most likely, he'll come off of the bench as a defensive replacement and pinch-runner while Drew Sutton sees additional playing time in left field with Alex Presley landing on the 7-day DL with concussion-like symptoms. In addition, if Presley's injury lingers, Pittsburgh could promote Starling Marte. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Matt Kemp - Kemp (hamstring) began a rehab assignment this week and is targeting a July 13 return; the first game after the All-Star break. He is planning on participating in the Home Run Derby, an event his employers would probably prefer he bypass. In any case, Kemp's recovery appears to be going smoothly, as he is running at 100 percent and has now tested himself in games. (just an FYI as you don't need us to tell you what to do here).

Starling Marte - The Pirates recalled outfielder Gorkys Hernandez from Triple-A Indianapolis on Tuesday and not Marte. There was some thinking that the Bucs would call up Marte to take the place of demoted Jose Tabata, but the team's other major league options are playing so well right now that Marte would likely ride the bench. Hot streaks by Alex Presley, Garrett Jones and Casey McGehee among others mean that Marte owners will have to wait awhile longer before he is promoted. The Pirates have shifted Marte, with Super-Two arbitration having passed, from center field to right, an indication that the organization is looking to increase his versatility. If Presley's injury lingers and Drew Sutton cools off, Marte could up sooner rather than later. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early speculative bid leagues).

Justin Ruggiano - Ruggiano continues to make the most of his opportunity with the Marlins. A 10-game hitting streak has boosted his numbers with the Marlins this season to an unreal .410/.477/.786 in 78 at-bats. That's completely unsustainable of course, but Ruggiano has forced his way into a regular role with the Marlins, and it's going to be very hard for the club to get him out of the starting lineup when Emilio Bonifacio comes off the DL. Ruggiano should see most of his action in right field for the next month with Gioncaro Stanton undergoing knee surgery. However, be aware that in the past Ruggiano has had a Quad-A label, so temper your expectations somewhat. Mixed: $5; NL:$14.

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