National League - FAAB - 4/14/13
Henderson Alvarez, Marlins - Alvarez, sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, has resumed throwing and should be throwing from a mound by the end of the week. Manager Mike Redmond called this news "a good sign" and added, "We're hoping he'll be back on the mound throwing a bullpen by the end of the week." Alvarez had a solid spring, earning a 3.55 ERA and 11:3 K:BB ratio before being placed on the 15-day DL on March 31. He should be able to return before the end of the month, but how much his injury has affected his readiness for the season will determine his fantasy value. When he returns, Alex Sanabia will likely be sent to the minors. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (spec bid).
Chris Capuano/Ted Lilly, Dodgers - Capuano is the likely option to replace Zack Greinke, who is expected to miss eight weeks after surgery to repair a broken left collarbone, in the Dodgers' rotation. Capuano, who has been pitching out of LA pen, had been used minimally and may have been better suited to remain in that role since he is not stretched out enough to start, but he'll start Tuesday against the Padres. Lilly came out of his second injury rehab start Wednesday with no issues, throwing 90 pitches while allowing six runs - five earned - with one walk and five strikeouts. Los Angeles already traded Aaron Harang, leaving Capuano and Lilly as the next best possible options with Chad Billingsley having already come off the disabled list. There were strong rumors that LA would deal one of then, but that is unlikely to occur with Greinke out. Capuano, who posted a 3.72 ERA, 1.22 WHIP and 162:54 K:BB ratio in 198.1 innings last season but stumbled down the stretch, is getting the first chance to replace Greinke with Lilly waiting in the wings. Capuano - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Lilly - Mixed: $0, NL: $3.
Tony Cingrani/Alfredo Simon, Reds - Cingrani, profiled last week, could get a promotion this week if Johnny Cueto's triceps injury lands him on the DL. Cingrani followed up his spectacular season debut, in which he tossed six scoreless innings with 14 strikeouts and one walk, by throwing 6.1 scoreless innings against Triple-A Columbus, allowing three hits and a walk while striking out seven Tuesday. Cingrani rocketed through High-A Bakersfield and Double-A Pensacola to get a September call up with the Reds, where he impressed in brief duty. A third-round pick from Rice in 2011, Cingrani lacks a great breaking ball, but his superb command has allowed him to dominate lesser competition. If Cingrani does not get the call, Simon, who was a starter but has been pitching in relief for Cincinnati, would likely get the nod. Simon posted a 3-2 record with a 2.66 ERA and 52 strikeouts over 61.0 innings last year while working in long relief for the Reds. Cingrani - Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (upped spec bid and go a bit higher if you think he definitely gets the call); Simon - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Jose Fernandez, Marlins - Fernandez was profiled two weeks ago when he was a surprising call up to the major leagues. Two starts in, it's hard to argue with that decision, as he has been stellar in both outings despite having no decisions. Fernandez threw six shutout innings Saturday, and now has allowed just one run in 11 innings along with a 0.73 WHIP and 13:3 K:BB ratio. He turned in a dynamic age-19 season in 25 starts between Low-A Greensboro and High-A Jupiter last year, twirling his way to a 1.75 ERA and 0.93 WHIP over 134 innings. Fernandez works with a fastball in the 94-97 mph range, a solid changeup, and a put-away slider, which helped him to a 158:35 K:BB last season. He will be capped at 150-170 innings, but is expected to spend the year in the majors. The Marlins lousy offense means that he may struggle for wins, but he should post solid numbers across the board. Mixed: $7; NL: $18
Matt Garza, Cubs - Garza, sidelined with tightness in his side, is on track to join the Cubs' rotation in early-to-mid May. Manager Dale Sveum noted that Garza still has to throw several bullpen sessions before he is ready for a rehab assignment, but he continues to make good progress in his recovery. Sveum estimates that Garza should be ready for big league action in about four weeks, barring any setbacks of course. Even before a stress reaction in his elbow sidelined him for good in July last year, Garza was having a disappointing year, allowing 15 homers in 103.2 innings, a 3.91 ERA and posting just five wins. That said, his command was as strong as ever with a 96:32 K:BB. And his GB/FB ratio (1.38) was roughly in line with his 2011 mark (1.47). Therefore, once healthy, a return to his 2011 form would not be out of the question. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (early bid, likely to rise when he gets closer to returning).
Phil Irwin, Pirates - Irwin will make a spot start Sunday in place of Wandy Rodriquez who is out with a hamstring injury. Irwin is noted for a sharp breaking pitch and solid control. Both of those areas will be put to test against a good-hitting Reds lineup. Irwin compiled a 2.83 ERA and 117:24 K:BB ratio in 130.1 innings split between three minor-league levels in 2012. He's only expected to start a game or two while Rodriguez mends from his injury. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Shawn Marcum, Mets - Mets officials believe Marcum, sidelined with nerve inflammation in his neck, can be ready to return to the rotation "relatively quickly." Marcum completed a two-inning simulated game session Saturday and is due to pitch five innings in another simulated game Tuesday. If that goes with any hitches, Marcum could pitch for the Mets next Sunday, sliding into the open spot in the rotation. Marcum got off to a good start last season with a 3.39 ERA and 1.17 WHIP through his first 13 starts, but an elbow injury knocked him out for over two months, and he struggled to find his control the rest of the way. Marcum has finished with an ERA of 3.70 or less in each of the last four seasons he has finished, but he has also topped 200 innings just once and 30 starts twice. Given how poorly Jeremy Hefner and Aaron Laffey pitched in their last starts, the Mets will take what they can get from Marcum, though they may be rushing him back, which could adversely affect him later in the year. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (spec bid)
Luis Ayala/Rafael Dolis/Bryan Morris/Logan Ondrusek/Shawn Tolleson/Thad Weber - This week's middle reliever call ups/acquisitions were in Atlanta, Chicago, Pittsburgh, Cincinnati, Los Angeles and San Diego. Neither has major value though Dolis could possibly sneak a save or two in the Cubs' unsettled bullpen. Both - Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Shawn Camp/James Russell, Cubs - I had written a profile of Camp and Russell last Sunday morning when it looked like they might close but scrapped and re-wrote it when Kyuji Fujikawa was named the closer. With Fujikawa now landing on the disabled list with a muscle sprain in his right forearm and Cralos Marmol struggling, Camp and Russell will split closing duties. Camp was serviceable last year, with a 54:21 K:BB ratio in 77.2 innings and a 3.59 ERA over 80 appearances. He tops out at 88 MPH, so he not going to blow anyone away late in a game. One of the team's more consistent relievers last season, Russell had a decent year with 55 strikeouts and 23 walks in 69.1 innings and seven wins over 77 appearances. His fastball averages just 89 mph, but he makes up for that with his solid command. Russell's success against lefties and righties last season and overall better results might make him the favorite to emerge as the more viable option, though Camp will also factor in the mix. Camp - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Russell - Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Jim Henderson, Brewers - Henderson, who was also profiled last week, was officially named closer last Monday with John Axford getting removed from the role. Henderson made manager Ron Roenicke look smart by notching a save that evening. Henderson posted a respectable 3.52 ERA and 45:13 K:BB mark in 30.2 innings last year with Milwaukee and has gotten off to an even stronger start this year. Axford may eventually get a chance at regaining the job, but for now and the near-future, it's Henderson's to lose. Mixed: $7; NL: $17
John Buck, Mets - Buck, who finished last year with a pitiful .192/.297/.347 line along with 12 HR and 41 RBI, is tearing the cover off the ball this season. Despite his 0-for-4 Saturday, Buck is batting .317 with six home runs and 19 RBI, including home runs in four straight games this week. Buck's grand slam Friday set a record for most RBI by a player in his first 10 games with a new ballclub. He opened the season expected to be a placeholder until Travis d'Arnaud was deemed ready for promotion, and despite the hot start, nothing has really changed there. What this start might do is buy him a bit more time, and make him worth a look if he is still available on the waiver wire, but don't expect this type of run to continue if you do pick him up. Mixed: $6; NL: should be owned.
Evan Gattis, Braves - I profiled Gattis two weeks ago when he made the Braves due to Brian McCann's injury, which is expected to sideline him until May. Gattis has made the most of this opportunity, which coupled with Freddie Freeman's strained oblique has enabled him to see lots more playing time than first expected. With both Freeman and McCann out, manager Fredi Gonzalez has said that Gattis will see 75 percent of the playing time behind the plate. It also looks like when he is not catching, Gattis will be used at first base, despite his inexperience playing the position. Gattis, who is a 26-year-old rookie and whose story has been well documented, will hit clean up and should see consistent playing time until at least Freeman returns, around April 22, and possibly until McCann is back. Mixed: $7; NL: $18 (and I could see going higher).
Blake Lalli, Brewers - The Brewers called up Lalli from Triple-A Nashville Monday. The Brewers were a bit thin on their bench, so they decided to bring Lalli up to take the roster spot of pitcher Chris Narveson (finger), who landed on the 15-day disabled list. Lalli can both catch and play first base, so his addition to the roster will allow the Brewers to use their catchers a bit more freely and also give the team an additional pinch-hitter. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Carlos Ruiz, Phillies - Ruiz is eligible to take the field for minor-league games five days before his 25-game ban for a positive amphetamine test ends on April 28. Consequently, Ruiz will fit in a few outings with High-A Clearwater, followed by potentially two more at Double-A Reading. He'll then join the Phillies in New York, where they'll be completing a weekend series versus the Mets. At the moment, he's keeping fresh at the team's minor-league complex by picking up unofficial at-bats in extended spring training games. Presumably, Ruiz shouldn't have too much of a problem at the plate upon his return. Ruiz put together the best year of his career last season despite being limited by plantar fasciitis for much of August and September. His .325 average, 16 home runs, 68 RBI, and 56 runs scored were all career highs. His .343 BABIP was also a career high and well above his career average of .297. That number will correct itself in 2013, but he still should post solid numbers, especially for a catcher. Mixed: $4; NL: $13 (early bid which will rise as return date gets closer, though he should be owned in all formats).
Jhonathan Solano/Kurt Suzuki, Nationals - Wilson Ramos will undergo an MRI to determine the true severity of the left hamstring injury he suffered Saturday. It looks like he'll be out for a couple weeks, during which time Suzuki is expected to take over as the primary option behind the plate for Washington. Suzuki was better with the Nationals after coming over from the A's, but he is nothing special at the plate. Solano will back him up. Solano - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Suzuki - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Joe Mahoney, Marlins - Mahoney, sidelined with a strained oblique, will begin a rehab assignment at High-A Jupiter on Friday. Mahoney showed some solid pop during spring training with three home runs in 30 at-bats, but was limited due to injury over the final weeks of Grapefruit League action. When healthy, Mahoney has a chance to see at-bats behind Greg Dobbs at first base with Casey Kotchman out with a hamstring injury and projected starter Logan Morrison (knee) on the 60-day DL. Mixed: No; NL: $3
Darwin Barney, Cubs - Barney is slated to play in games at Triple-A Iowa on Sunday through Monday following the anticipated removal of stitches from his left knee Friday. Unless the starts do not go as well as expected, he should be back in the lineup to face southpaw Derek Holland on Tuesday. Barney is better known for his defense, as he and Starlin Castro are one of the best double-play combinations in the league, and his return will be a boon for Cubs pitching. That defensive skill set keeps his bat in the lineup, and the volume should yield decent counting stats in deeper leagues, seen in his numbers from last year, seven homers, six steals and 73 runs. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.
Blake DeWitt, Braves - DeWitt was called up from Triple-A Gwinnett last Sunday. A strained right oblique required a DL stint for Freddie Freeman, so DeWitt was added to provide some more depth at the corner infield spots. It's unlikely he'll land an everyday gig, as Chris Johnson and Juan Francisco figure to be the primary beneficiaries of Freeman's injury, with Johnson likely filling in at first base while Francisco mans third. Even if DeWitt gets playing time, historically, he hasn't down much with it, so don't expect much. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Jeff Bianchi, Brewers - Bianchi, who has been sidelined with a hip injury since late March, is ready for game action after spending the last few weeks recovering. It's not clear how many minor league games Bianchi will play before he is deemed ready, but he could join the big club next week if he makes it through the next few days without issue. When he does return, Bianchi should be used as a utility infielder, seeing time at all positions but first base. Mixed: No; NL: $0.
Ramiro Pena, Braves - Pena doesn't usually get enough playing time to be fantasy relevant, but he is making a case for more time, and a secure roster spot with his slick glove work and contributions off the bench. Pena is 7-for-18 in limited playing time, seeing time at short and third, and his hot early start coupled with Freddie Freeman's oblique injury could afford him more action in the short-term. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.
Chase Headley, Padres - Headley, sidelined since March 17 with a fractured tip on his right thumb, began a rehab stint Friday at High-A Lake Elsinore. After the stop at Lake Elsinore, Headley returned to San Diego on Saturday to receive his Gold Glove award. Headley will test the thumb on defense Sunday and Monday in San Diego and possibly rejoin the Padres lineup Tuesday against the Dodgers. Headley he hit a career-high 31 homers and 31 doubles last season. His 115 RBI were not only a career high, but led the National League as well. As for his other skills, Headley made contact 74.8 percent of the time, which is low for him, but otherwise stayed true to who he is with walk and strikeout rates within his normal range. It would be shocking to see him repeat that power, (.212 ISO after a .110 mark in 2011), but he will benefit from the fences being moved in at Petco Park. Mixed: and NL: just an FYI as should be owned.
Ian Stewart, Cubs - Stewart (quadriceps), who was profiled last week, will start a rehab assignment Sunday at Triple-A Iowa. Stewart has a week of extended spring training games under his belt, so the next logical step is a stint at Iowa. He should return to the Cubs before the end of April and slide into his third base gig. In the meantime, Luis Valbuena will earn most of the reps and at-bats at third base, with Brent Lillibridge also logging time at the hot corner. Even when Stewart does return, given his history, don't expect too much. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Chris Coghlan, Marlins - With Justin Ruggiano dealing with a tight right groin, Giancarlo Stanton batting a left shoulder contusion and Austin Kearns going to the hospital with an irregular heartbeat, Coghlan might see some extra playing time in the outfield. Coghlan is batting just .133 but Miami has few other available options due to the myriad of ailments. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.
Starling Marte, Pirates - Marte continued his hot start to the season, registering his sixth straight two-hit game Friday, before notching "just" one hit Saturday. The leadoff hitter has been one of the few bright spots on offense for Pittsburgh. Marte was a career .300 hitter in the minors and averaged more than 20 stolen bases per season. It will be interesting to see how well he fares when pitchers make adjustments against him: Marte struck out four times as often as he walked in the minor leagues, so improving that plate discipline will go a long way for him to be able to fulfill his vast potential. Mixed: $12 (upgrade in value); NL: already owned
Cody Ross, Diamondbacks - Ross, sidelined with a strained left calf, began a rehab assignment last week and was expected to play for Triple-A Reno on Friday and Saturday to continue his rehab. The D-Backs were originally hoping to get him back for their series with the Yankees beginning Tuesday, but that changed Saturday when Jason Kubel was placed on the DL with Ross getting activated to replace him on the active roster. Ross projects to see most of the action in right field after signing a three-year deal with Arizona this offseason. That said, once the Arizona outfield finally gets back to a full complement of players, he might not play every day, which adversely impacts his fantasy value. Mixed: $8; NL: $22.
Nate Schierholtz, Cubs - Schierholtz, who has notched at least one hit in six of his last eight appearances, is batting .355/.429/.581 with one long ball, four RBI, seven runs, and two stolen bases in 31 at-bats, acting a surprising source of production in the outfield this year. He will see most of his action against righties with Scott Hairston playing versus lefties, though that could change if Schierholtz, who has shown at times that he can hit lefties, remains hot and Hairston continues to struggle. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.
Delmon Young, Phillies - GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Young (microfracture surgery in right ankle) should start an official rehab assignment sometime next week. Young, who played in back-to-back seven-inning extended spring training games Thursday and Friday, is tentatively expected to join the Phillies at the end of the month. Young bounced back slightly from his 2011 campaign to post one of his better offensive seasons last year. He finished the season hitting .267 with 18 home runs and 74 RBI. His 18 homers marked the second highest output of his career, while the 74 runs driven in was his third-best total. Unfortunately, the same holes remained in Young's game, as he struggled mightily on defense and managed just 20 free passes while striking out 112 times. That said, when Young does return, look for him to be the Phillies' starting right fielder and take advantage of friendly confines of Citizens Bank Park. Mixed: $5; NL: $14 (early bid which will rise as he gets closer to returning).