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FAAB Factor - AL: Rating the New Closing Options

Andrew Martinez

Andrew Martinez

Andrew Martinez writes about baseball and football, in addition to hosting the award winning RotoWire Fantasy Sports Today on Sirius XM radio. He is a native Texan and roots for the Astros, Texans, Rockets, and Rice Owls.


Starting Pitchers:

Jose Alvarez, Tigers - Alvarez made his second start of the season on Thursday against the Red Sox and gave up two earned runs over five innings with three strikeouts and two walks. It wasn't the lights out performance he gave in his debut earlier this month against the Indians, but it was encouraging nonetheless. He's currently filling in for Anibal Sanchez, who is out with a shoulder injury that is not considered serious. Because Alvarez's stay in the majors figures to be a short one, his value is limited. Still, he makes for an intriguing bid in keeper leagues as he has posted a 2.78 ERA with 84 strikeouts and 16 walks over 81 innings this season at Triple-A Toledo. This week he faces the Angels at home. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.

Erik Bedard, Astros - A little love for Bedard here as he has now allowed two earned runs or less in seven of his last eight starts. Walks have been a problem for him and will likely continue to be a problem for him, but it's kind of hard to argue with a 2.88 ERA this month, when there are so many other bad options in AL-only leagues. Part of his recent success has been limiting home runs, of which he's given up just one over his last seven starts. If he can keep that up, it'll be impressive and a pretty big outlier from career numbers. Still, he's pitched better as of late and deserves some attention in deeper mice leagues. This week he faces the Cardinals at home. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.

Alex Colome, Rays - Colome made his second start of the season on Saturday against the Yankees and gave up no earned runs over 4.1 innings with five walks and three strikeouts. Three runs scored, but they were all unearned and help to better tell the story of just how poorly he pitched. Walks were a problem for Colome in the minors (3.9 BB/9 at Triple-A Durham) and were a problem for him again on Saturday, which is not encouraging. He has the potential to miss plenty of bats and if his control can improve, he might be a real force as a starter for the Rays down the line. As is though, it's unclear when his next start will come and thus his value is muted. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Martin Perez, Rangers - Perez made his second start of the season on Saturday, as he pitched seven innings and allowed two earned runs to the Cardinals. He gave up five hits with three strikeouts and just one walk. Walks are something that has hurt Perez in the past, as he just doesn't miss enough bats to have room for error letting batters reach base via fringe control. This is not to say that his control is bad, it's just that much more important when he's not dominating hitters with his stuff. I'm not very high on his fantasy value because of his low strikeout rate and thus below average command. At Triple-A Round Rock this season he had a 1.75 ERA with 28 strikeouts and eight walks. This week he faces the Reds at home. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.

Erasmo Ramirez, Mariners - Keep stashing the Eraser as he's getting closer and closer to getting activated from Triple-A Tacoma. This week he pitched six innings and gave up three earned runs, five strikeouts, and one walk at Tacoma. It's not the best outing, but does not push back his timetable from returning. What's pushed his timetable back from returning is the fact that the Mariners starters are performing pretty well right now and there's no obvious place for him to slot into their rotation. Last season as a starter he had a 3.64 ERA (3.52 xFIP) with 41 strikeouts and eight walks over 47 innings. Don't forget about him. Mixed: $8; AL: $25.

Esmil Rogers, Blue Jays - Rogers made his fourth start of the season this week and turned in another good performance as he gave up two earned runs over 6.2 innings to the Rockies, his old team. He now has a 1.71 ERA (3.32 xFIP) as a starter with 16 strikeouts and five walks over 21 innings. The last time he was a starter was back in 2011, when he was with the Rockies and sported a 6.28 ERA (4.91 xFIP) with 53 strikeouts and 38 walks over 71.2 innings. Considering he was pitching in Colorado then, some of those numbers have to be discounted. For now he needs to be owned in all AL only leagues and deeper mixed leagues, at least until he comes back down to earth. This week he faces the Rays and Red Sox on the road. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.

Chien-Ming Wang, Blue Jays - Wang started his third game of the season on Saturday and pitched 6.1 innings against the Orioles with no earned runs, no walks, and two strikeouts. As expected he is not strikeout many batters out and is producing plenty of ground balls (64.2 percent). His fantasy value has a low ceiling because of the lack of strikeouts, but his floor seems to be stable for now as he's keeping the walks and home runs to a minimum, granted it's just three starts. Still, it's impressive to have pitched 13.1 innings against the Orioles and Rangers and have no earned runs. Like with Rogers, he needs to be owned in all AL only formats and in deeper mixed leagues, until the league figures him out again. This week he faces the Red Sox on the road. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.

Allen Webster, Red Sox - Webster made his third start of the season on Saturday against the Tigers and gave up five earned runs over 4.1 innings with five strikeouts and two walks. There's no shame in getting hit by the Tigers, but Webster now has a 11.25 ERA through three starts and is on thin ice to stick in the rotation, past when Clay Buchholz is ready to come off the DL. In the minors this season he showed improved command with a 2.98 ERA, 56 strikeouts, and 22 walks over 51.1 innings. He has a future in the Red Sox rotation, it just isn't right now. This week he faces the Blue Jays at home. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Relief Pitchers:

Brett Cecil, Blue Jays - Cecil is not in the mix for saves in Toronto, but deserves some love as he's been a lights out reliever for the Blue Jays this season. Batters are hitting just .129 off of him and he's had 16 consecutive outings without allowing an earned run. Because he's not closing out games, his value only go so far, but considering some of the other options that are out there when it comes to starters in deep AL only formats, Cecil is someone that shouldn't be forgotten. The same goes for someone like Jesse Crain, who is also having an excellent season in a middle relief role for the White Sox. Mixed: $1; AL: $2.

Yoervis Medina & Oliver Perez, Mariners - Since last week's post about the Mariners bullpen options, Tom Wilhelmsen has continued his collapse, Carter Capps had a poor outing, and Oliver Perez was used in the 7th and 8th innings of close games. I'm about ready to rule out Wilhelmsen getting his job back soon because of his continued woes and Capps is not far behind as he's been equally disastrous over his last three appearances (10 earned runs over 1.2 IP). Perez's usage in the 7th inning of that close game on Tuesday makes me wonder if Mariners manager Eric Wedge feels more comfortable using him in tight situations earlier in games, rather than later in games. And while all of this has been going on Yoervis Medina has been fairly effective, albeit with an elevated walk rate. It's that walk rate that makes me leery of touting him as someone that could close out games for the M's. Moreover, it's not a new problem; he's been walking too many batters since the start of last season. Still, he makes for a better option than Wilhelmsen or Capps right now. Medina is a righty, which gives him a slight advantage over Perez, who could be used to face tougher LHBs, earlier in games. Of the two, I'd probably rather own Perez at this point because of his experience, but it's close. Medina Mixed: $4; AL: $12. Perez Mixed: $5; AL: $15.

Joaquin Benoit, Tigers - Papa Grande was DFA'd this week, ending a roller coaster ride that few thought would end without vomit. Benoit is now the team's new closer and rightfully so as he's kept his walks to a minimum, missed plenty of bats, and kept his home run rate low. He has a 1.80 ERA (2.88 xFIP) and has been a great middle reliever this entire season. I have confidence in his ability to close out games and would bid him up in most leagues. The only thing that concerns me is the team brining in a closer from the outside like a Jonathan Papelbon or Bobby Parnell, who could force Benoit back into a setup role. If Benoit is already owned in your league, the next best arm to own is probably Drew Smyly, who has pitched a team high 43.2 innings this season out of the pen. He has been a starter in the past, misses bats well, has a low walk rate, and really hasn't given up many home runs at all this season. My main concern with him is over usage. Outside of those two, there really aren't that many other names to speculate on. Mixed: $15; AL: $30.

Junichi Tazawa & Koji Uehara, Red Sox - Andrew Bailey is no longer the Red Sox closer, after having a meltdown over his last five appearances, in which he gave up seven earned runs, four homers, and plenty of walks. Manager John Farrell plans on using Uehara as his closer and Tazawa as his setup man moving forward. If you're trying to split hairs here and figure out which reliever is better, good luck as both are RHPs with low walk rates that miss plenty of bats and have not given up many home runs. Uehara is the one to own for now as he holds the label of closer, but Tazawa makes for a great reliever own, in leagues where saves are devalued. As for Bailey, it's going to be a while before he earns back Farrell's trust. Between Uehara and Benoit (above), I think Uehara has the potential for more saves as the Tigers could trade for a closer, while the Red Sox might stick with Uehara from here till the end. That said, Benoit doesn�t have a clear challenger to his role, while Uehara does in Tazawa. Tazawa Mixed: $3; AL: $9. Uehara Mixed: $11; AL: $25.

Catchers:

Robinson Chirinos, Rangers - Chirinos was recalled from Triple-A Round Rock on Tuesday to give the Rangers added depth at catcher. Considering A.J. Pierzynski and Geovany Soto are both not injured or over worked, this move is a curious one. At Round Rock he hit .290/.399/.457 with five homers and one stolen base over 193 PA. Don't expect him to see much playing time. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Bryan Holaday, Tigers - Holaday was called up this week from Triple-A Toledo, to take the roster spot of Alex Avila, who hit the DL with a forearm injury. Considering Avila should be back, after the minimum 15 days, it's tough to see Holaday having much value down the road. This season at Toledo he hit .259/.317/.386 with two homers over 186 PA. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

Ryan Lavarnway, Red Sox - Backup catcher David Ross was diagnosed with another concussion this week, so the team was forced to recall Lavarnway up from Triple-A Pawtucket. At Pawtucket he hit .254/.363/.384 with three homers over 168 PA. He has power, but simply does not make enough contact for it to shine through. The team has used him at DH in the past, but that was because they really had no other options at the time. With Salty and Papi healthy, it's tough to see where Lavarnway will find consistent at-bats. Concussions are a tricky injury to overcome, so expect Lavarnway to potentially be with the team longer than is perhaps expected. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Brayan Pena, Tigers - With Alex Avila landing on the DL this week with a forearm injury, Pena has assumed the starting catcher role for the Tigers. On the season he is hitting .290/.313/.383 with two homers over 113 PA. Pena has little power and, despite his numbers this season, is not someone owners can count on for help with their batting average. Avila should not be out more than the minimum 15 days, so Pena is more of a placeholder than anything. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Corner Infielders:

Lonnie Chisenhall, Indians - Chisenhall was brought back up from Triple-A Columbus on Monday to start at third base, while Mark Reynolds slides over to first, as Nick Swisher deals with a shoulder injury. At Columbus, he hit .390/.456/.676 with six homers and two stolen bases over 125 PA, so it's not like Chisenhall wasn't deserving of the promotion. It's unclear just how much playing time he'll receive once Swisher is back in the lineup, but Reynolds shouldn't stand in his way as he has hit .181/.236/.253 over the last 28 days. Chisenhall was up earlier this season and struggled, but appears to have found his swing again in Columbus and if that carries over, he should be up for quite a while, this time around. Mixed: $5; AL: $15.

Travis Ishikawa, Orioles - The Orioles were forced to call up Ishikawa or lose him to free agency as he had an opt-out clause in his contract, so they called him up on Tuesday from Triple-A Norfolk and have since given him some playing time. At Norfolk he hit .316/.413/.525 with seven homers and one stolen base over 208 PA. We've seen Ishikawa before, with the Giants most notably, and it's tough to see how he can really help owners as he doesn't have any skill that stands out as they're all mediocre. He swings and misses too often and doesn't have that much power, so he makes for a low-end corner bat, if that. Expect his playing time to be sporadic. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Lyle Overbay, Yankees - With Mark Teixeira back on the DL with another wrist injury, Overbay has gone back to being the Yankees starting first baseman, even against LHPs, of which he struggles against. On the season he has hit .245/.290/.440 with eight homers over 231 PA. He still has some power and as a LHB in Yankee Stadium, he can use that short left porch in Yankee Stadium to his advantage. The rest of his skills have eroded, but that's to be expected at 36-years of age. Mixed: $4; AL: $12.

Justin Smoak, Mariners - Smoak was activated from the 15-day DL this week, after dealing with an oblique injury. On the season he's hitting .249/.355/.361 with four home runs over 197 PA. The power that some expected to carry over from last season hasn't and his owners have been left disappointed. To his credit, he has increased his walk rate, but that does little to mask the fact that he's simply not living up to any of the expectations that were placed upon him, when he entered the league as a highly rated prospect. He's only 26 years old, but time is running out for him to prove that he can be a productive player. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.

Middle Infielders:

Dustin Ackley, Mariners - Ackley continues to hit at Triple-A Tacoma and could be close to rejoining the M's. He's batting .361/.466/.485 with two homers over 117 at Tacoma. One hole in his production there is the fact that 27 of his 35 hits have been singles and considering the environment, he should be hitting for more power. Still, he's hitting and none of the Mariners shortstops are, so it might make sense for the team to bring him back up and shift Franklin to short and give Ackley another crack at his old job. He's not someone I'd be eager to stash in AL only formats, but rather someone to keep tabs on. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

Brian Dozier, Twins - Dozier has been the hottest second baseman, and maybe hottest hitter, of late as he hit four home runs and two doubles this week, heading into Saturday. On the month he's now hitting .294/.400/647. He'll eventually cool down and when he does, he'll likely go back to being the batting average drain he's been, since he entered the league last season. Still, he's 26 years old and in what should be his peak years physically, so perhaps he can maintain some of this power into the second half of the season. Give him a look in mixed leagues until he slows down. Mixed: $6; AL: Owned.

Alberto Gonzalez, Yankees - Gonzalez was brought up from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Friday, after the team DFA'd Reid Brignac. Gonzalez will provide the team with middle infield depth and that's more on the defensive side. Offensively he brings almost nothing to the table as he's a career .242/.279/.319 hitter with four homers and two stolen bases over 998 PA. If you're in an AL East league, he might be worth a look. Mixed: No; AL: $1.

Jose Iglesias, Red Sox - Heading into Sunday, Iglesias has started four of the last five games at third base over Middlebrooks, a trend that is likely to continue as the later is hitting just .192/.228/.389 on the season. There is talk that Middlebrooks could be sent back down to the minors, if he doesn't pick it up soon. If that were to happen, Iglesias would likely be the official everyday Red Sox third baseman and have value in more than just AL only formats. As is, Iglesias is red hot as he's hitting .431/.482/.578 over 114 PA this season. It's foolish to think that he can keep this up much longer, but he might not have to with the way Middlebrooks is hitting. Mixed: $3; AL: $11.

Elliot Johnson, Royals - With Chris Getz getting optioned to the minors on Friday, the Royal second base job is almost certainly Johnson's to lose. Getz was hitting just .214/.276/.286, so his presence won't be missed. Johnson has hit .246/.277/.333 with two homers and 11 stolen bases this season. While that's not exactly fantasy gold, his speed can help owners in AL only and deeper mixed league formats. Last season he he stole 18 bases over 331 PA, so this isn't coming from nowhere. He'll always be a batting average drain because of his inability to make contact, but so factor that into your bottom line, before investing. Mixed: $4; AL: $12.

Outfielders:

Zoilo Almonte, Yankees - Almonte was called up this week from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to add some depth to the Yankees outfield as they deal with the Lyle Overbay moving back over to first base, to cover for the injured Mark Teixeira. In his first start, Almonte made his presence felt as he went 3-for-4 with a home run. At Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he hit .297/.369/.421 with six homers and four stolen bases over 293 PA. He's only 24 years old, but is not considered much of a prospect as none of his tools are expected to play up in the majors. Last season at Double-A Trenton he hit .278/.322/.488 with 21 homers and 15 stolen bases over 450 PA. If he can make enough contact and more importantly, get enough playing time, he might be of some use in AL only and deeper mixed leagues. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Jarrod Dyson, Royals - Dyson was activated from the DL this week, after dealing with a right ankle sprain. The team plans to use him primarily in center field with Lorenzo Cain, but he could also see some time in right field with David Lough and Jeff Francoeur. What the team should really do is move on from Francoeur and give the combo of Cain/Dyson/Lough more playing time, but that doesn't seem likely at this point. What does seem likely is Dyson running as he had 30 stolen bases last season over 330 PA and five in his rehab assignment (four came in one game). Last season he made real strides with regards to his contact. If he can maintain those gains, he might be of help to owners in mixed leagues. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.

Avisail Garcia, Tigers - Garcia has been yo-yoed quite a bit over the last 10 days as he's been sent down to Triple-A Toledo, called back up, sent back down, only to be called back up on Friday. With the Tigers this season he's hitting .264/.299/.417 with two homers over 77 PA. He only 22 years old and has played a total of 11 games at Toledo, so to say he's had a quick ascent through the minors would be accurate. He got some playing time last season in the playoffs, so he has more experience than one might think for being so young. He showed power and speed in the minors, but needs to work on his plate discipline and contact, if he's going to stick in the majors. Right now the Tigers aren't getting much from Andy Dirks in left field, so Garcia gives them an alternative option. He's not likely to have much value in mixed leagues, until he sees more consistent playing time. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.

Marc Krauss, Astros - Krauss was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take the roster spot of Trevor Crowe, who hurt his shoulder, when he crashed into the wall this week. At OKC, Krauss hit .277/.393/.488 with nine homers and two stolen bases over 262 PA. He's shown enough power in the minors to make him a player worth considering in AL only formats, but only if he gets playing time, which doesn't seem likely with Justin Maxwell freshly off the DL this week. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Justin Maxwell, Astros - Maxwell was finally activated from the DL on Tuesday, after dealing with a fractured left hand that cost him nearly two months. The team sounded pretty set on having Brandon Barnes in center and Maxwell in right, prior to his activation, but that might change now that Barnes is in the middle of a 1-for-18 slump and hitting .237/.272/.342 this month. Either way, Maxwell figures to see steady playing time, now that he's back with the team. Injuries to the hands and wrist can rob a player of their ability to hit for power and that's a real concern for Maxwell as much of his value is derived from his power. Last season he hit .229/.286/.389 with 18 homers and nine stolen bases over 352 PA. His rehab assignment was not productive as he mustered just one extra base hit over 44 PA. Owners are right to be skeptical of what Maxwell might do the second half of the season, considering he's already someone who will be a drain to their batting average. Mixed: $4; AL: Owned.

Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop a line in the comments section.