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FAAB Factor - NL: Cheap Speed on the Way

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 - 5/5/13

Starting Pitching:

Scott Baker, Cubs - Baker (Tommy John surgery) resumed playing catch Wednesday. After he was shut down in spring training, Baker has begun starting up his program again after resting his elbow for the season's first month. It will likely be a long process for Baker to regain all the progress in his recovery he had made in the spring; making it likely he won't return until midseason. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (speculative early stash bid)

Brandon Beachy, Braves - Beachy (Tommy John surgery) threw a bullpen session Friday. The plan is for Beachy to throw two more bullpens before embarking on a rehab assignment consisting of six or seven starts. A return by late June or early July still seems like a possibility. Despite coming up primarily as a reliever in the minors, Beachy has only started for Atlanta since being called up. He has made 44 career starts with a 3.07 ERA and 3.25 FIP. It's unlikely he will post a 2.00 ERA, as he did last year when he returns, but he should still be an above-average starter with the possibility of much more. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (speculative early bid).

Scott Feldman, Cubs - Feldman was spectacular against the Padres on Wednesday, pitching a complete game while giving up two runs and striking out a career-high 12 batters in the win. The 12 strikeouts have to be treated as an anomaly, as the soft-tossing veteran had a 5.23 K/9 prior to this start, and has never topped a 7 K/9 at any point during his career. He will carry a 3.34 ERA, more than a run-and-a-half less than last year, into his next start against his former team, the Rangers, on Monday. That said, his FIP is 5.17, which is a reversal of the 3.94 he had last year, plus his BABIP is .251, so tread lightly if making a play for him. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Matt Garza, Cubs - Garza, sidelined with tightness in his side and profiled two weeks ago, gets another mention as he will make his second rehab start for Triple-A Iowa on Monday. Monday's outing will be his second rehab appearance, and he will throw at least two more before being activated. Garza's return is not far off, but even if he comes off the disabled list after four rehab starts, he will not pitch for the Cubs before May 21. 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).

Zack Greinke, Dodgers - The Dodgers are optimistic that Greinke, sidelined since April 11 with a broken collarbone, can return in two or three weeks. This would be a huge boost and an earlier than expected gift for the Dodgers, considering he is about three weeks ahead of schedule. He began throwing again earlier in the week, giving the Dodgers additional hope that Greinke will be back before June. Greinke showed no ill-effects from the elbow woes that sidelined him during spring training in his first two starts before he was injured in the brawl with Carlos Quentin and the Padres. Run, don't walk to pick him up if he is available for some reason. Mixed: $6; NL: $17 (early bid to rise as he gets closer to returning in case he was waived when he was first injured).

Dan Hudson, Diamondbacks - Hudson (Tommy John surgery) threw two innings of live batting practice Tuesday. Hudson has reportedly made great progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery and could return as soon as mid-June. However, the Diamondbacks expect Hudson to make his return a little before the All-Star break. Last year, he made just nine starts, first sidelined with shoulder impingement and then with the elbow injury that required TJS. In 2011, he was solid, though not as good as he was in 14 starts in 2010. He profiles as a #2 starter, but may not fill that spot in a deep Arizona rotation, including the arms in the minors. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (speculative early stash bid).

Kyle Kendrick, Phillies - Kendrick kept rolling Thursday, allowing two runs over seven innings in a 7-2 win over Miami. He struck out five and walked two while improving to 3-1 on the season, Kendrick's been the surprise of the season for Philadelphia, rattling off five straight ace-grade outings after getting bombed for five runs in his season debut. He's given up just six runs in his last 35 innings. There's cause for concern, though -- his FIP and xFIP are more than a full point higher than his ERA, and with just a .262 BABIP against and 86.6 percent of runners stranded, there are signs that this hot start is going to be hard to sustain. That said, roll with Kendrick while he is hot, at least until Jesse Biddle, who has been dominant at Double-A Reading, is promoted. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Francisco Liriano, Pirates - Liriano, who is rehabbing a broken right arm and profiled two weeks, gets another mention as he is expected to join the Pirates rotation on May 11 against the Mets. Liriano looks ready to go after striking out 17 batters in 11 Triple-A innings, but the Pirates will not need a fifth starter until May 11, so they will keep him in the minors until then. Liriano had a terrible beginning to last season (9.45 ERA) that had him demoted to the bullpen after six starts. He returned to the rotation in late May and had a 3.68 ERA and 79:29 K:BB ratio in 66 innings. It looked like Liriano had finally captured his pre-2010 form, but he then struggled with a 5.40 ERA and 32 walks in 56.2 innings after he was traded to the White Sox at the end of July - even losing his rotation spot with the White Sox. He signed a two-year deal this offseason with the Pirates, but has been sidelined with the injury. Liriano will get you strikeouts, albeit with a poor ERA and WHIP, though that might improve slightly with his move to the NL. Mixed: $3; NL: $9

Kevin Slowey, Marlins - Slowey has been excellent so far this season, but he raised the bar with Tuesday's outing against the Mets, as his eight Ks were a season best. He has now given up just one run in four of his six starts, and has issued no walks in his past two starts. However, because of his team's struggles, he has yet to record a win. Slowey shined as a starting pitcher his first four years in the MLB, going 39-21. After struggling in 2011, going 0-8, Slowey played 2012 with the Indians' Triple-A affiliate. He signed a minor league with Miami this off-season and made the most of it. Slowey pitched well throughout Grapefruit League action, posting a 2.63 ERA and 13:4 K:BB over 13.2 innings pitched to earn the rotation spot and has made the most of it the first month of the season. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Covered last week - Chris Capuano, Dodgers (he is scheduled to be activated Monday or Tuesday, with no clear word if he will start or relieve), Jhoulys Chacin, Rockies (slated to be activated off the DL and start Sunday) and Matt Magill, Dodgers (remains in the rotation with Ted Lilly landing on the DL, but last just 1.1 innings Saturday).

Relief Pitchers:

Jeremy Affeldt/Brad Boxberger/Javy Guerra/Sean Maness - This week's middle reliever call ups/acquisitions were in San Francisco, San Diego, Los Angeles and St. Louis. None except Guerra have any fantasy value. Guerra is pitching out of the pen in LA, but could get a shot to start if Chris Capuano has any setbacks until Zack Greinke is ready. All except Guerra - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Guerra - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Heath Bell/David Hernandez, Diamondbacks - Manager Kirk Gibson said on Friday that he will limit J.J. Putz's usage a bit in order to help him maintain his velocity. In games when Putz isn't available, Hernandez and Bell would likely be next in line to close. Bell has been very up-and-down, mixing good and bad outings, where he has a 5.91 ERA but 16:3 K:BB ratio in 10.2 innings. When he has been good, he has been very good, but when he has been bad, he looks like the pitcher that lost the closer role in Miami last year. Around signing a two-year extension with the D-Backs in June, Hernandez turned in the best season of his career with an elite 12.9 K/9 and improved 2.9 BB/9. Hernandez's most effective weapon is a sharp-breaking curveball, but he also throws a mid-90s fastball and an occasional changeup. With an arsenal suited to close. This year, after starting the year strong, he has allowed runs in four of his last seven appearances. No pecking order as to the next in line has been given, as Hernandez has the better stuff but Bell has the pedigree as a former closer, so he may get the nod first, but I could see that order reversed. Bell - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Hernandez - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Mike Dunn, Marlins - Dunn has pitched well to begin the season, carrying a 1.84 ERA and 14:5 K:BB over 14.2 innings (16 appearances) will working in late-inning situations for the Marlins. If Steve Cishek were to suffer an injury, Dunn, who notched his fifth hold of the season, might be near the top of the list of potential replacements for the ninth-inning role. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Jeurys Familia/J.J. Hoover - Familia and Hoover notched saves this week, but neither should be relied on to get many more. Familia was used as Bobby Parnell had already pitched, but with Brandon Lyon struggling a bit, it's feasible he gets the occasional look late in games in similar situations, though that could change when Frank Francisco returns. Hoover relieved an ineffective Aroldis Chapman to notch the save. With Chapman and Jonathan Broxton in Cincy, Hoover will not see many chances. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Kyuji Fujikawa, Cubs - Fujikawa (strained right forearm) will begin a rehab assignment Sunday with Triple-A Iowa. Fujikawa is ready for game action after throwing a couple bullpen sessions this week. It's not clear how many rehab outings he will throw before being activated, but it's likely he will be back with the big club within the next week or two. Fujikawa was the closer when he landed on the disabled list, but it remains to be seen if he will get his job back when he returns since Chicago is using a closer committee with Kevin Gregg and Carlos Marmol in the mix. Mixed: $4; NL: $11. (Go slightly higher if think he closes immediately.)

Carlos Martinez, Cardinals - Martinez got off to a late start this spring as he had trouble securing a visa to enter the United States from the Dominican Republic. He made three starts at Double-A Springfield, going 1-0 with a 2.31 ERA, 1.02 WHIP and an excellent 9:1 K:BB ratio. The Cardinals somewhat surprisingly promoted him, only because Martinez was expect to remain in the rotation in the minors and work on refining his secondary pitches. Instead, he will follow the path of Trevor Rosenthal currently in St. Louis, who started his major-league career in the bullpen and should eventually end up in the rotation. Last season, Martinez handled the promotion to Springfield well, striking out 58 and walking 22 in 71.1 innings. Overall his walk rate was cut in half from its poor mark in 2011 and he continued to make strides in that area before his promotion. Martinez mixes a high-90s heavy fastball that generates lots of groundballs along with that developing changeup and curveball. He projects down the road to be a top-flight starter, but for now, will replace Mitchell Boggs in the Cards' bullpen. Mixed: 1; NL: $4 (much higher in keeper leagues).

Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers - Rodriguez obtained his work visa and will report to High-A Brevard County next week. Rodriguez will make three appearances at Brevard County before heading to Triple-A Nashville. He's expected to receive another three appearances there before the team evaluates if he's a fit for the big-league bullpen. Assuming the Brewers follow that plan, Rodriguez would be up by mid-May and vest a $2 million major-league contract for the rest of the season while setting up Jim Henderson and John Axford. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Catchers:

Ryan Hanigan, Reds - Hanigan, who has been out since April 19 with a strained left oblique, will visit a doctor Monday and then head out on a rehab assignment if he is cleared. Devin Mesoraco and Corky Miller will continue to split catching duties until Hanigan returns. When he does come back, Hanigan will draw his share of walks, he'll call a great game behind the plate, he'll control the running game well, he won't hit for power and he won't run. If he continues to struggle and Mesoraco shows signs of life at the plate, Hanigan could see his PT wane as the season continues. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Wilson Ramos, Nationals - The Nationals activated Ramos, who was sidelined since April 13 with a strained left hamstring, from the disabled list Monday. Ramos erased all doubts about the health of his knee coming off ACL surgery last May by turning in an excellent spring both offensively and defensively, earning the Opening Day call behind the plate. As seen above, he was injured two weeks into the season, but ran into no issues with his hamstring during his weekend rehab assignment, so the Nationals decided to activate him Monday. Ramos should see most of the time behind the plate in the Nation's Capitol, backed up by Kurt Suzuki. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Covered last week - Jeff Mathis, Marlins (collarbone, began rehab stint Thursday) and Brian McCann, Braves (shoulder, to be activated off the DL on Monday).

First Basemen:

Matt Adams, Cardinals - Adams, out with a strained right oblique, was slated to join Double-A Springfield for a brief rehab assignment Friday. Assuming he has no setbacks, Adams should be back with the parent club on Tuesday. Expect him to resume the role he held prior to the injury, starting a couple times per week at first base as the Cardinals' outfield and Allen Craig are all hot, not leaving much room for him. Mixed: $2; NL: should already be owned.

Corey Hart, Brewers - Hart said he has made a lot of progress in his rehab and hopes to return on May 30, when he is first eligible to come off the disabled list. The plan is for Hart, who is recovering from January surgery on his right knee, to have a 10-day minor league rehab assignment then return as soon as May 30. Keep an eye on how he handles the rehab assignment, as this will likely determine his readiness for a return. Hart, who moved from right field to first base in May last year after Mat Gamel was injured, tallied 30 home runs and finally settled into the fifth spot in the batting order, where he is ideally suited. Hart has averaged 29 home runs the last three seasons, and while he does not provide speed like he did in the past, he is a good bet to produce in the power categories again, especially playing for another big contract in 2014. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (early bid to rise substantially as he gets closer to returning).

Todd Helton, Rockies - Helton, sidelined with a sore wrist/forearm should be activated off the DL on Sunday. Helton prefers not to head out on a rehab assignment as he recovers from the wrist injury, so the club will acquiesce to the veteran's wishes and bring him back in the minimum 15 days. He'll resume semi-regular duty at first base, getting spelled by either Michael Cuddyer or Jordan Pacheco two or three nights a week. His contract expires after the season, so this may be his last season in the majors in what has been a fine career. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Second Base:

Cliff Pennington, Diamondbacks - Pennington has been heating up at the plate as of late, recording seven hits over his last five games to up his average from .176 to .213. Pennington has been known to go on hot stretches, and this could be the beginning of one. Pennington fell off the table offensively in 2012 with career lows across the board. He is a very serviceable defensive infielder, but is better suited as a part-time utility infielder rather than a guy who plays every day. However, with Aaron Hill out almost another month, Pennington should see some starts second base with Martin Prado playing third now that Didi Gregorious is back from his concussion and should start at shortstop. Mixed: $3; NL: short-term value spike.

Skip Schumacher, Dodgers - Schumacher, profiled last week, gets another mention due to an injury in LA. Schumacher has been seeing extra time at second base with Mark Ellis sidelined with a quad injury. Before Hanley Ramirez injured his hamstring Friday, there was speculation that Dee Gordon would be promoted to play second base. Hanley's injury has given Schumacher a slightly longer leash, but LA has tons of middle infield options, so his hold on the spot is tenuous at best. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Shortstops:

Jeff Bianchi, Brewers - The Brewers activated Bianchi (hip) from the disabled list Thursday. Bianchi will join the big club after completing a 15-game rehab assignment. He will serve as a utility infielder, but his playing time figures to be minimal with the Brewers' regular infielders playing nearly every day, and Aramis Ramirez (knee) set to return Friday. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Dee Gordon, Dodgers - Gordon, batting .314/.397/.431 with 13 stolen bases in 21 games for Triple-A Albuquerque, was called up in the wake of Hanley Ramirez's hamstring injury Friday. With both Ramirez and Mark Ellis (quad) out of the lineup, Gordon could see some starts at either middle infield spot. Skip Schumaker, Justin Sellers, Luis Cruz and Nick Punto will also be candidates for playing time in the middle infield. Gordon had just started taking groundballs at second base in the minors and was thought to be a possible option at the position with Ellis sidelined. This was viewed to possibly be permanent switch, as Gordon has faced significant challenges defensively at shortstop, struggling with ranging to his right and making accurate throws. Look for him to play almost daily with Hanley and Ellis out, as LA desperately needs production from the middle infield. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Jordy Mercer, Pirates - The Pirates recalled Mercer from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. Mercer was brought up to take the roster spot of Neil Walker, who landed on the disabled list with his hand injury. Expect Mercer, who hit .210 in 42 games with the Pirates last season, to serve as a utility infielder with the big club. He homered in his season-debut Friday, and if he gets regular playing time, he can provide a little pop. However, Walker could be back as soon as May 12, and at-bats could be more difficult to come by for the utility infielder, who is also unlikely to unseat Clint Barmes. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Covered last week - Adeiny Hechavarria (activated off DL).

Third Basemen:

Covered last week - Aramis Ramirez, Brewers and Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals (knee and left hamstring, respectively, each activated off DL).

Outfielders:

Roger Bernadina/Tyler Moore, Nationals - With Jayson Werth nursing hamstring and ankle injuries and Denard Span dealing with a sore ankle, Bernadina and Moore have been filling in for them in left and center field. Bernadina posted a career-best 10.7 percent walk rate while maintaining his exceptional work on the basepaths last year. This year, he has gotten off to a very slow start, going just 1-for-25 and a 9:1 K:BB ratio at the plate. Moore proved to be a solid addition to the Nationals' bench last year, pounding out 10 home runs in just 156 at-bats. It took a 23.8 percent HR/FB rate to get there though, a number that seems likely to tumble, plus he had 46K in those 156AB, but the power is there. When Span and Werth return, both Bernandina and Moore will head back to the bench. Bernandina - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Moore - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Andrew Brown, Mets - The Mets called up Brown on Friday. Brown, who signed a minor-league deal with the Mets this offseason, is hitting .367 with two homers and 27 RBI in 98 at-bats with Triple-A Las Vegas. He takes the place of Collin Cowgill, who had a minor-league option remaining. Brown is not on the 40-man roster, but the Mets had one open slot, so they were able to fit him in without waiving anyone. Jordany Valdespin and Juan Lagares both figure to see time in center field for the club, while Brown should see a decent amount of playing time in right. Mixed: $1; NL: $4

Matt Diaz, Marlins - The Marlins recalled Diaz from Triple-A New Orleans on Thursday. Diaz was brought up to give the team added outfield depth with Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) on the disabled list. Though Diaz does not figure to be a regular, he figures to see action against southpaws with his .863 OPS against left-handers. Diaz could see time at both corner spots as well as first base. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Adam Eaton, Diamondbacks - Eaton, sidelined with a strained UCL in his left elbow, is approximately one month away from returning. The tentative schedule for Eaton to begin a rehab assignment is May 17-19, which could potentially enable him to return before the end of the month. Eaton has been on a throwing program that has allowed him to throw on alternating days since last week. He was having a big spring and all signs pointed to him leading off while seeing most of the time in CF until he suffered the injury. As long as he doesn't suffer a setback, he should post solid numbers once he returns, eve though A.J. Pollock has done a solid job in his absence. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (speculative early bid, which may rise as he gets closer to returning).

Donald Lutz, Reds - Lutz was promoted from Double-A Pensacola last Sunday to provide the Reds with depth in the outfield while Chris Heisey (hamstring) serves his DL stint. Lutz displayed decent power potential in the minors so far this season in Double-A Pensacola, hitting five home runs in just 21 games but with a 211/.294/.513 line. He will serve as the fifth OF in Cincinnati. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Marcell Ozuna, Marlins - Ozuna was promoted from Double-A Jacksonville on Monday. He had been on fire down on the farm registering a .333/.383/.810 slash line with five home runs and 15 RBI through 10 games for Jacksonville. His promotion comes out of necessity more than anything, with Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) and Joe Mahoney (hamstring) both landing on the disabled list. Ozuna spent his 2012 season at High-A Jupiter and followed up his fine season the previous year with more of the same. He flashed plus power; slugging 24 home runs over 489 at-bats last season while posting a strong .804 OPS. Ozuna had mashed 69 home runs over his last three minor league seasons, though his 116 strikeouts in 129 games last season lend doubt to the notion that he will ever provide positive value in terms of batting average, his power is absolutely for real. Ozuna should see most of the playing time in right field while Stanton is out and has gotten off to a good start, hitting .389 through 18 at-bats, including his first home run Saturday. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Francisco Peguero, Giants - The Giants recalled Peguero from Triple-A Fresno on Friday. Peguero earned his second career trip to the big leagues by hitting .415 and knocking in 14 runs over 16 games with Fresno. Peguero has the ability to play all three outfield positions, but is best suited in right field despite not having the requisite power profile along with poor plate discipline. He won't enter into a regular role, but with only two right-handed hitting outfielders on the roster, he could see some starts against lefties. That said, if Angel Pagan's hamstring injury sidelines him for a while, Peguero could start in right with Andres Torres playing center field. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Juan Pierre, Marlins - Despite a .291 batting average, Pierre has stolen 10 bases for Miami, giving him over 600 for his career. In addition, he has started to hit better after a very slow start and stole his 9th base of the season Saturday night, giving him 600 for his career. With Giancarlo Stanton out for at least a month due to his hamstring injury and Christian Yelich probably not yet ready for a promotion, look for Pierre to continue to bat leadoff and play left field for the Marlins. Mixed: $8; NL: should be owned but spike in value.

Covered last week - Delmon Young, Phillies (microfracture surgery in right ankle, activated off DL).