This is our weekly look at the free agents in each league. We have two goals for this article:
- Identify likely free agents and discuss their strengths and weaknesses.
- Try to estimate how much of your free agent budget you should bid on them.
One size doesn't fit all, and we could never hope to encompass all league structures, so we have to have a set of base assumptions. Those assumptions are:
- League size of 12 players (either AL or Mixed, we'll specify)
- 5x5 categories
- Each team has a $100 FAAB budget
Erasmo Ramirez, Mariners - Ramirez made his second start in the M's rotation this week and he was outstanding as he held the Orioles to just two runs over eight innings with six strikeouts and no walks. This is now back-to-back starts in which he has struck out six batters and allowed two runs over seven innings or more. Prior to this, Ramirez was used as a relief pitcher and sometimes starter for the Mariners and before that, in the minors as a starter. In the minors at Triple-A Tacoma he had a 3.28 ERA (3.62 xFIP) with 58 strikeouts and 18 walks over 77.1 innings. In the majors this season as a starter, he has a 3.63 ERA (3.25 xFIP) with 32 strikeouts and four walks. That sort of command of his pitches is what his helping Ramirez succeed and why you should pick him up in all leagues where he's available. His final two starts of the season will be this week at Los Angeles and at Oakland. Mixed: $5; AL: $20.
Zach Stewart, Red Sox - Stewart was called-up this week to start against the Rays this coming Tuesday at home and then again the following Sunday against the Yankees in New York. Prior to this he had been at Triple-A Pawtucket, where he posted at 3.94 ERA with 42 strikeouts and 14 walks over 59.1 innings, all as a starter. At the major league level he has pitched mostly out of the bullpen with the Red Sox and previously with the White Sox (he came over in the Youkilis trade). Most owners will want to steer clear of Stewart in his two starts, although his one against the Rays could be useful to those streaming pitchers. Either way, don't expect much here from the 25 year old righty. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Jake Odorizzi, Royals - Odorizzi will make his MLB debut this Sunday against the Indians, after being called-up a week ago from the minors. Between Double-A Northwest Arkansas and Triple-A Omaha, he posted a 3.03 ERA with 135 strikeouts and 50 walks over 145.1 innings pitched. If you're in a keeper league, you'll likely want to give him a look as he could be showcasing his talents for a potential 2013 role in the team's starting rotation. He could make one more start after that, in which case he would likely face the Indians again, so give him a look the first time around to see if performs well enough for round two. Mixed: $3; AL: $12. - Much more in a keeper league.
Andy Pettitte, Yankees - Pettitte returned to the Yankees rotation this week with five innings of shutout ball against the Blue Jays that included three strikeouts and two walks. It was his first start since coming back from suffering a fracture in his lower leg back in late June. This coming week he'll face the Twins at home and then the Blue Jays on the road, so get him in your lineups in all leagues where he's available. On the season he has 2.97 ERA (3.04 xFIP) with 62 strikeouts and 17 walks over 63.2 innings pitched. Mixed: $6; AL: $24.
Scott Downs & Kevin Jepsen, Angels - We found on out on Friday that manager Mike Scioscia has made the decision to start using Downs and Jepsen as part of a committee in save situations with closer Ernesto Frieri. This gives Downs and Jepsen an added boost in value, but not by much as there are only 10 days left in the season. Still, saves are saves and every one of them counts the same. In Saturday's 4-2 win over the White Sox, Scioscia opted to use Downs in the 8th (two strikeouts and a ground out) and Frieri in the 9th for the save (a single, strikeout, and two fly outs) with Jepsen not making an appearance. If forced to pick one of the two, I'd opt for Downs over Jepsen because of his past closer experience this season and his usage in the 8th inning this season. Moreover, Downs has pitched better over the last month with a 1.29 ERA (2.80 xFIP) compared to Jepsen and his 1.86 ERA (4.76 xFIP). Downs Mixed: $4; AL: $14. Jepsen Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Dylan Bundy, Orioles - Bundy was promoted from the minors this week to give the O's some bullpen depth over the final two weeks of the season. For those unaware, Bundy is the top rated pitching prospect in baseball according to many people and sites, who track such things. His talent and potential alone should have those in keeper leagues dreaming big. If you're in one of those leagues and have had to wait till now to bid on Bundy, it's time to spend every last FAAB dollar you own, he's that special (plus we have no more time left). If you're in a redraft league, you can likely ignore him, as Bundy will likely pitch out of the bullpen these last 10 days of the season. There has been no news that he will make a start for the team as they are in the middle of very tight race with the Yankees to win the AL East crown and don't want to put that kind of pressure on such a young arm. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Jake McGee, Rays - Since the All-Star break McGee has a 2.42 ERA, 0.76 WHIP with 35 strikeouts over 22.1 innings. He hasn't been a sexy option to fantasy owners because of his lack of saves and wins this season, but those strikeouts are valuable. If you're looking for someone to add to your roster as the season winds down that can help your strikeouts total, without eating into your innings cap too much, give McGee a look. He and his teammate Wade Davis are among the best options for this role. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Jose Molina, Rays - Molina had a bit of an offensive outburst this week as he went 7-of-14 with two doubles and two home runs. Over the last month, he's batted .265/.308/.510 with three homers over 52 plate appearances. If you're in a deeper league looking for a second catcher option, he might be worth a look. Since the All-Star break he's hit .255/.317/.391 with four homers over 110 at-bats. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Brayan Pena, Royals - With Salvador Perez nursing a bruised hand, Pena has gotten to start the last two games for the Royals, going 3-of-7 with a double and triple. Since the All-Star break he has hit .220/.262/.322 with one home run over 59 at-bats. If you're a Perez owner looking for some insurance this week in an AL only league, consider Pena as an option. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Justin Smoak, Mariners - This week Smoak went 11-of-24 with three doubles and a homer as he continues his September push to stay above the Mendoza Line. Since the All-Star break he has hit .224/.299/.367, pushing him to .210/.276/.344 on the season. Obviously it has been a terrible year offensively for Smoak, but that doesn't mean he can't help owners over the last 10 days of the season. The M's have six road games this coming week, which should be of benefit as his OPS is .174 higher there, than at home this season. Mixed: $6; AL: Owned.
Danny Valencia, Red Sox - Valencia was recalled on Friday from Triple-A Pawtucket to give the team some added third base depth. He was up earlier this month, but was sent down when the team needed a roster spot to activate Vicente Padilla, which should tell you all you need to know about Valencia's value to the club. This season he has hit .193/.204/.314 with three homers over 147 plate appearances between the Twins and Red Sox. He started on Saturday for the Red Sox and hit a home run, so there's a chance he could see a few more at-bats in the coming days. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Ryan Flaherty, Orioles - With Robert Andino getting dotted in the head on Friday night, Flaherty started Saturday's game and could get a few more starts if Andino is unable to pass his concussion tests. On the season Flaherty is batting an unimpressive .225/.273/.341 with four homers and one stolen base over 143 plate appearances. Still, every at-bat counts in fantasy leagues and if you're desperate for a replacement to Andino or just want some insurance, Flaherty might be able to help you. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Irving Falu, Royals - Falu was recalled last Sunday by the Royals to give them some depth at second base for the last couple weeks of the season. He started Friday and Saturday's games in place of Johnny Giavotella and went 4-of-8, all of his hits being singles. On the season Falu is hitting .344/.355/.443 with no homers or stolen bases over 64 plate appearances. At Triple-A Omaha this season he hit .329/.375/.463 with seven homers and 21 stolen bases over 406 plate appearances. If he were to continue to pick-up playing time, his speed, limited as it is, would be the only thing he could offer fantasy owners. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
Nate McLouth, Orioles - McLouth was discussed here last week, but he's worth mentioning again as he continues to stay hot and yet unowned in many mixed leagues. Over the last week he's gone 9-of-32 with a double and homer, putting his batting line at .298/.368/.440 in the month of September. Since the All-Star break he has four homers and nine stolen bases. If you're a Josh Hamilton or Jacoby Ellsbury owner looking for a replacement, McLouth is a decent fill-in in a mixed league. Mixed: $7; AL: Owned.
Craig Gentry, Rangers - With Josh Hamilton dealing with a bizarre sinus problem that has affected his vision, Gentry has started the last four games for the Rangers in centerfield. He hasn't done much with this opportunity, going 3-of-12 with a walk. Still, as long as Hamilton is out, which could be another couple of days, it seems like Gentry will continue to find playing time. On the season he's batting .306/.372/.384 with one homer and 12 stolen bases over 258 plate appearances. Give him a look if you're a Hamilton owner looking for some insurance in an AL only league. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Scott Podsednik, Red Sox - Jacoby Ellsbury has been out of the lineup the past couple days with what could be a strained lat and during this time Podsednik has filled in for him in centerfield. Before this, Podsednik was seeing semi-regular at-bats in left field, but those had started to become sparse with Daniel Nava's call-up. On the season, the 36 year old veteran has batted .304/.323/.359 with one homer and eight steals over 200 plate appearances. Considering he's stolen one base this month, it's unlikely Podsednik gets his wheels turning again anytime soon. Give him a look in AL only leagues if you need a Ellsbury replacement. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Jim Thome, Orioles - Thome was activated from the DL this week, after dealing with a herniated disk for almost two months. So far he has appeared in one game, going 1-of-6 with a double. On the season he's batting .248/.340/.445 with seven homers over 156 plate appearances between the Phillies and Orioles. Chris Davis has been the DH most often for the team, since Thome left and he's likely to keep that job through the end of the season, relegating Thome to mostly pinch hitting duties, thus limiting his value. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop them in the comments section.
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