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In Some Depth: Blast From The Past

Ryan Eisner

Ryan Eisner

Ryan has been writing for Rotowire since 2007. He currently writes about baseball and covers the White Sox.

One of the first In Some Depth's of the season covered the guys who started the season on the disabled list, and profiled some of the guys who might be serving as fill-in's. Well, some of those guys are finally returning, which means some of those subs may have to shuffle around. Also, Ben Sheets is back?

Without any further ado, here are 10 observations from aroudn the league:

Back from injury: Nick Markakis, Endy Chavez

In trouble: Chris Davis, Xavier Henry, Steve Pearce

Nick Markakis came off the DL during the All-Star break, and Endy Chavez will follow his lead in time for Friday's second-half opener. The duos activation, combined with Jim Thome's presence at DH, spells bad news for the once-hot, now-cold Chris Davis. Davis has slashed an embarrassing .154/.203/262 in 65 at-bats since he took over in right field June 15. To be fair, fellow strikeout chaser Mark Reynolds has a .169 average since that date, and Wilson Betemit has not exactly been an immovable force at first. Either Xavier Henry or Steve Pearce could stick on the 25-man roster as a reserve outfielder with the other Triple-A-bound.

Back from injury: Lorenzo Cain

In trouble: Jarrod Dyson, Jason Bourgeois

Lorenzo Cain appears to be ready to take on the Royals' everyday center-field role a season-and-a-half after the Royals acquired him in the Zack Greinke trade, and a half-of-a-season after he OPS'd 1.193 in the Cactus League. Spring training stats may not be worth a hill of beans at this point in the season, but he has displayed good on-base ability, good speed and decent power throughout his minor league career. Cain has logged all of 30 major league plate appearances over the last two seasons, so he may go through some growing pains against the Justin Verlander's and Chris Sale's of the AL Central. Jason Bourgeois had been stealing Jarrod Dyson's playing time of late in center field, but both should be in line for a major downgrade in playing time with Cain back in the fold. Dyson leads the Royals with 15 steals in 18 attempts, so he should be an able pinch-runner for some of the plodders on the Royals' roster.

Back from oblivion: Ben Sheets

In trouble: Mike Minor, Randall Delgado

Early-2010's prospects Mike Minor and Randall Delgado have failed to hold down the back end of the Braves' rotation this season, so the club added a top prospect from the early-2000's in Ben Sheets. Sheets struck out 10 and only walked one in 10.2 innings for Double-A Mississippi, but those were his first 10.2 innings of competitive ball since 2010. The AP reported he felt confident with his curveball during his second Mississippi start, but health concerns will perpetually be an issue for the former Team USA and Brewers standout. Jair Jurrjens has been pitching better of late, but his rotation spot could be up for grabs later in the season.

Back from injury: Ryan Howard

In trouble: Ty Wigginton, John Mayberry

Ryan Howard may have missed the Phillies' first 84 games after undergoing Achilles' surgery following the 2011 Playoffs, but he only needed seven rehab games between Low-A Lakewood and Triple-A Lehigh Valley to prove his health. He slugged .750 and recorded 10 hits in 20 at-bats between those two levels. It is safe to assume he will not produce at a vintage level given the age and given the injury, but he could be an intriguing first base play in a thin NL class. Ty Wigginton had started 41 of the Phillies' first 84 games at first base, but he was limited to a pinch-hitting role in the Phillies' first-half-ending series against the Braves. John Mayberry could see an uptick in playing time in left if/when the sinking Phillies deal Juan Pierre.

On the mend: Drew Storen

In trouble?: Tyler Clippard

Drew Storen should be back with the Nationals shortly after the All-Star break after getting three strong rehab appearances at High-A Potomac under his belt. Whether he gets his closer job back is a different question. Manager Davey Johnson previously stated that Tyler Clippard would hang onto the role, and with good reason. Clippard's 188 appearances since 2010 rank fourth in the major leagues, but that heavy use has not impacted his effectiveness this year. Clippard is a perfect 14-for-14 since taking the closer role from Henry Rodriguez in late May, and opposing batters have hit .088 off him in those 18.1 innings. Then again, it would be hard for Johnson to turn his back on Storen, who had 43 saves and an 8.8 K/9IP last season. Clippard may hold onto the role in the short-term, but Storen could wedge his way in before the end of the season.

On the mend: Jacoby Ellsbury, Carl Crawford

In trouble: Cody Ross, Daniel Nava

Barring a last-minute setback, Jacoby Ellsbury should return from his season-long exiDLe Friday. He did not exactly tear the cover off the ball during his eight-game rehab assignment (5-for-27, one home run, zero steals), but the most important thing is he is healthy. His return should push the reently-returned Ryan Sweeney from center field to a corner spot (or potentially out of Boston), so one of Cody Ross or Daniel Nava will be a playing time loser. Carl Crawford should be back within a week, so both Nava and Ross will be losers before long.

On the way up?: Brett Wallace

In trouble: Matt Dominguez

Brett Wallace should be in the Astros' second-half plans after Carlos Lee finally agreed to accept a trade to a contending team. Wallace OPS'd 1.012 with two home runs in 36 at-bats while subbing for Lee earlier in the season, and the former top-50 prospect has 13 home runs at Triple-A Oklahoma City after hitting six between Oklahoma City and Houston last season. It makes sense for the Astros to use the final months of the season to gauge Wallace's standing in the organization. It is strange to label Matt Dominguez as "in trouble" days after the Astros acquired him from Miami, but that would be the case if Wallace succeeds, as then neither corner-infield spot would be available.

Coming back with a new name: Juan Oviedo

In trouble: Heath Bell

Is it a coincidence that manager Ozzie Guillen threw a "by-committee" tag on the Marlins' closer role just as the pitcher-formerly-known-as Leo Nunez began to rehab at High-A Jupiter following an eight-week suspension? It is hard to tell how Oviedo will do in the majors after spending much of the summer concentrating on issues other than baseball, but at least he has been throwing strikes. That is more than Heath Bell's 20 walks in 34.2 innings can claim. Steve Cishek should also be in the ninth-inning mix, but Oviedo could cost a few FAAB dollars less.

Back from injury: Alex Presley

In trouble: Drew Sutton

Alex Presley has not been out of action as some of the guys on this list, but his return could quash any dreams Drew Sutton had of earning an everyday role in the wake of beginning his Pirates tenure with 11 hits in 27 at-bats. He has gone 3-for-21 over his last five games, and three of those contests came against the back-end of the Giants' rotation. Presley has been on-and-off this season, and he could be questionable coming off a concussion, but his .277 BABIP is well below his career average and too low for a guy with good speed tool.

On the mend: Roy Halladay

In trouble: Joe Blanton, Kyle Kendrick

Roy Halladay could be back in the Phillies' rotation in the first week of the second half, ending his seven-week absence. Halladay had been a bit more mortal prior to heading to the DL, but he was still striking out more four more than he walked through 11 starts. The wins might not pile as easily with the Phillies' no longer the class of the AL East, but he's still Roy Halladay, His return should encourage the Phillies to boot one of Joe Blanton or Kyle Kendrick from the rotation (likely Kendrick).