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FAAB Factor - NL: Strong Starting Pitcher Options

Andrew Fiorentino

Andrew Fiorentino

A degenerate fantasy player since the age of 13.


National League - FAAB - 7/29/12

Starting Pitchers:

Chad Billingsley - With a 4.30 ERA and a 4-9 record upon hitting the DL with elbow inflammation in early July, many mixed leagues may have Billingsley floating around on the wire. However, he's returned to the Dodgers in impressive fashion, allowing just one run in 13.1 innings over two starts this week, albeit with only six strikeouts (but also just one walk). Mixed: $10; NL: already owned.

Matt Harvey - Harvey's impressive 11-strikeout debut against Arizona makes him the prize of this week's FAAB. Although there are cautionary notes (it's only one start, and he lasted just 5.1 innings and walked three batters), his stuff looked major-league ready and he displayed an impressive ability to command all of his pitches, including a rip-roaring fastball and a biting slider. He's got a rotation spot with the Mets locked down and the ability to be a K-per-inning starter the rest of the way, so if you're going to blow a big chunk of your remaining FAAB on anyone in the NL at this point in the year, he's the guy. Mixed: $11; NL: $19.

Kris Medlen - The plan for the Braves has always been to get Medlen back in the rotation at some point, and with Jair Jurrjens a big hit in all the wrong ways, that time is now. Medlen has shown the ability to miss bats at times, both in the minors and majors, but has pitched to a lot of contact this year (5.96 K/9). That said, he's displayed excellent control and has put up a 2.48 ERA and 1.09 WHIP out of the Atlanta bullpen this season. Medlen is in line to start Tuesday, though he'll be limited to about 70 pitches; still, unless the Braves make a move for another starter, he's in line to possibly be a two-start pitcher this week. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Mark Rogers - The Zack Greinke trade opened up a rotation spot in Milwaukee, which will be filled - at least in the short term - by Rogers, a former first-round pick who was muddling along at age 26 for Triple-A Nashville, where he's got a 4.72 ERA, 1.48 WHIP and 7.0 K/9 in 18 starts. Rogers could conceivably hold down a rotation spot for a little while, as the Brewers don't have a savior waiting in the high minors. Mixed: no; NL: $1.

Wily Peralta - No, he's not a savior, but Peralta was considered the Brewers' top prospect going into this season. Things came off the rails for him early in the year, but over his last 10 games with Triple-A Nashville, he's got a 2.94 ERA with a 56:24 K:BB in 52 innings. If Rogers stumbles, the Brew Crew might see what Peralta's got to offer on the big-league level. Last year, Peralta struck out 157 batters in 150.2 minor-league innings and put up a 3.17 ERA. Mixed: no; NL: $2 (early speculative bid).

Armando Galarraga - After washing out with Arizona last year, Galarraga is finally back in the majors with the Astros, and he turned in a respectable first outing against Pittsburgh (disclaimer: against Pittsburgh), allowing two earned runs and striking out five in five innings. The Astros are another team without many options, so despite Galarraga's mediocrity for them in Triple-A (nine starts, 43.2 IP, 31:18 K:BB, 4.12 ERA, 1.27 WHIP), he could conceivably stick in the rotation for the rest of the year. Just don't expect much. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Eric Stults - The Padres stretched Stults (shoulder) out as a starter on his rehab assignment and he was expected to rejoin the rotation upon his activation, but instead his only appearance so far has been a two-inning relief stint. It appears that his short-term fate is caddying for Kip Wells or Ross Ohlendorf, but if those guys are all that stand between Stults and a rotation spot, expect him to find his way back to a starting role soon. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Jhoulys Chacin - Let's focus on the positives for a moment here: Chacin was a very fantasy-relevant starter the last two seasons, and is just 24 years old with upside, including strikeout upside. He bombed earlier this year, but chest/shoulder problems should probably have had him on the DL to start the season. On Sunday, he's making his first of a projected four rehab starts. That said, when healthy, he's stepping into a four-man rotation in Colorado, which is a recipe for failure. Still, speculate on the upside. Mixed: $1; NL: $5 (early speculative bid).

Stephen Fife - Fife's second big-league start went surprisingly well, as he held the Giants to just one run in 6.1 innings on Friday. Of course, he also walked more batters (three) than he struck out (two), and Fife's minor-league stats don't point to a ton of upside (4.31 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, 6.74 K/9 this year in Triple-A). There's no determination with regard to his rotation spot yet, but odds are that with Nathan Eovaldi shipped out, he'll hold it until he stumbles. Mixed: $0; NL: $2

Relief Pitchers:

Wilton Lopez - With Francisco Cordero looking just as awful with Houston as he did with Toronto, Lopez is the natural inheritor of the closing role. He's not a power pitcher and he doesn't strike out a ton of batters (30 in 39 innings this year), but Lopez has been one of the few bright spots for the Astros this year, pitching to a 2.51 ERA and 1.05 WHIP out of the pen. He's only walked five batters this season, which is always nice in a closer. Now, the Astros may only win about 20 more games the rest of the way, but saves are saves. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Xavier Cedeno - Cedeno actually got a save chance for the Astros on Friday, entering with the bases loaded and one out, but gave up a sacrifice fly to tie the game and then threw a wild pitch that brought in the winning run. A soft-tossing lefty, he's not much as save speculation goes, but he could find himself in there for the ninth on a matchup basis. Mixed: $0; NL: $1

Brian Fuentes - Temper your excitement. Fuentes is buried in the Cardinals' bullpen and projects to be used as a lefty specialist, which is a role that fits his skills far better than setup man or closer. The Cardinals do win, so there's a hint of value there in leagues that count holds. Mixed: $0; NL: $0.

Catchers:

Rob Johnson - Johnson replaces the brutal Mike Nickeas as the right-handed side of the Mets' catching equation. He should be in the lineup most of the time against lefties. A .207 hitter for Triple-A Buffalo, Johnson's best quality is that he's not Nickeas. He does have an empty .286 average (10 hits: nine singles, one double) in his 35 MLB at-bats this year. Mixed: no; NL: $1.

First Basemen:

Todd Helton - Helton (hip) picked a good time to get healthy, as Tyler Colvin has slumped, giving him a clear path to a good amount of playing time at first base going forward. He's even gone 2-for-6 in his two games since returning, though he's sitting Sunday. That said, the one-time star is still hitting .238, his power sapped by age and injury. There's utility there for NL-only leaguers, but with Colvin still likely to press for playing time, don't expect to see Helton playing more than four times a week. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Aubrey Huff - Another guy who seems like he should be hitting the golf courses next season, Huff is batting a robust .150 after returning from a knee injury and going 0-for-2 on Saturday. Brandon Belt has been underwhelming, to say the least, as the Giants' first baseman, but at least he's not a total lost cause at the plate. Huff will likely slot in as a once-a-week replacement and pinch-hitter. Mixed: no; NL: $0.

Second Base:

DJ LeMahieu - LeMahieu celebrated the trade of Marco Scutaro with a 3-for-4 day as the Rockies' second baseman on Saturday. There's no one else to fill this spot right now, so LeMahieu, who hit .314 with 13 steals in Triple-A earlier this year, has a short-term grip on the job at least until Chris Nelson (irregular heartbeat) returns to the team. There's (almost) always some fantasy utility in a Coors Field hitter. Mixed: no; NL: $1.

Jonathan Herrera - Herrera (wrist) has started a rehab assignment and, barring any setbacks, could return sometime this week. He could steal some at-bats from LeMahieu at second while filling in at short and third as well. There's some speed here, but not much else. Mixed: no; NL: $1.

Shortstops:

Jean Segura - The prize of the Zack Greinke deal, Segura's going to remain in Double-A with the Brewers, just as he was with the Angels - for now. He hasn't blown the doors off the wall in the minors - .294/.346/.404 is okay at shortstop, but doesn't beg for a promotion - so he'll likely stay down there for the time being. However, with the Brewers rolling out the deadly combination of Cesar Izturis and Cody Ransom at shortstop, there's certainly a hole for Segura to step into, possibly at some point this year. Mixed: no; NL: $3 (early speculative bid).

John McDonald - The 37-year-old utility infielder could see occasional at-bats filling in at second, short and third, but all those spots now have entrenched starters, especially now that the Diamondbacks have acquired Chris Johnson to play third. Mixed: no; NL: $0.

Third Basemen:

Jedd Gyorko - One of the Padres' top prospects, Gyorko has hit .331 with a .959 OPS for Triple-A Tucson this year, and including his time in Double-A, he's got 22 bombs for the season. A second baseman by trade, the Padres have had him playing third in Tucson, which suggests they'd like to call him up and shift Chase Headley to the outfield. Gyorko has never looked great at third, but the Pads could use his bat. Mixed: $1; NL: $6 (early speculative bid).

Chris Johnson - Johnson was dealt to Arizona on Sunday, and there his value immediately rises. He leaves one hitters' park for another, but the lineup context is certainly better with the Diamondbacks than the Astros. The description for most of Johnson's skills is "modest," but you can do worse in NL-only than modest power and modest average. Mixed: $0; NL: $8 (probably already owned).

Brett Wallace - Wallace could be the big winner with Johnson shipped out of Houston. Despite hitting .333 with a couple homers in a small sample with the Astros earlier this year, he's been exiled to Triple-A most of the season, where he's posted a shiny .297/.376/.503 line with 16 homers. Wallace still strikes out too much and will probably never sustain a high batting average in the big leagues, but he's been getting reps at third base and could be the short-term replacement for Johnson there despite some atrocious defense. Mixed: $0; NL: $4 (early speculative bid).
 
Matt Dominguez - The other possibility for Houston is that Wallace is either called up to play first or left in the minors while Dominguez plays third. In a limited sample (57 AB) since coming over to the Houston organization, Dominguez has hit a respectable .298 with an .805 OPS in Triple-A. Of course, that comes on the heels of a .648 OPS for the 22-year-old with the Marlins' Triple-A affiliate before he was traded in the Carlos Lee deal. Dominguez is still all-glove right now, but that doesn't mean the Astros won't give him a chance to play. Mixed: no; NL: $2 (early speculative bid)

Greg Dobbs/Donovan Solano/Donnie Murphy - Someone has to play third base in the absence of Hanley Ramirez, and these are the three unexciting candidates. Solano's started three of the last five games, for what it's worth, but with no power and only a little speed, he's not very exciting. Dobbs is more of a pinch-hitter - he becomes exposed with significant playing time. Murphy's more of a utility guy, but he was showing stunning power in the minors, slamming 13 homers in 106 at-bats. Still, he's a career .196 hitter in the bigs. Don't go nuts for any of these guys. Mixed: no; NL: $1

Ty Wigginton - Wigginton always has been one of fantasy's finest sources for cheap power and absolutely nothing else. He's seeing consistent playing time at third with the Placido Polanco injury, though he could give way at times to Kevin Frandsen (below). Mixed: $0; NL: $2

Kevin Frandsen - The 30-year-old Frandsen was hitting .302 with one homer (but 34 doubles) and two steals for Triple-A Lehigh before being called up. As a career .243 hitter in the majors, there's little reason to think that average will translate, and with no power or speed, there's not much to see here. But at-bats are at-bats, and he's starting at third on Sunday (and, as I write this, is 2-for-2), so that's something. Mixed: no; NL: $0

Outfielders:

Starling Marte - Marte's big-time debut, with the first-at-bat homer and the whole thing, has given way to the dark side of the talented player - 0-for-9 with three strikeouts the last two games. He has some pop and a lot of speed, but plate discipline remains an issue. Temper your expectations for this year; in keeper leagues, he's likely already owned. Mixed: $3; NL: $8

Carlos Gomez - Gomez has been red-hot of late, getting consistent playing time and delivering a bunch of counting stats - for the month of July, he's got four homers, 10 steals, 14 runs and 11 RBI. Sure, he's hitting .246, but you take the bad with the good. The former top prospect could be a quality source of speed the rest of the way, and he certainly has the ability to mix a few homers in as well. Mixed: $3; NL: $8

Mike Baxter - Baxter is expected to return from the DL on Monday, and the bulk of the playing time in left field could be there for him - he's likely in line to collect all the starts against righties, and if Jason Bay's struggles continue (that's not a big if), Terry Collins has said he could play against lefties as well. He hit .375 in Triple-A on his rehab assignment.Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Scott Cousins/Bryan Peterson - Pick your poison; these light-hitting outfielders (both of whom did hit for some average in Triple-A) will likely split playing time in the Marlins' outfield with Logan Morrison hitting the DL, at least until Mike - er, Giancarlo Stanton is activated. Stanton's rehab assignment starts this week, so either add will be a short-timer. Mixed: no; NL: $1

Corey Brown - Brown was recalled early in the week and saw a start with Bryce Harper feeling ill. He delivered his first big-league homer, which was also his first big-leauge hit -- he's now 1-for-15 in his career. That said, Brown was raking in Triple-A, hitting .300/.384/.559 with 21 homers and 14 steals. Of course, he's 26 years old and the Nats have their outfield spots pretty well locked down. Further, Jayson Werth is on the road to recovery and Brown is a likely candidate for demotion when Werth's activated. Mixed: no; NL: $1

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