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FAAB Factor - NL: No Ruf Stuff Type of Deal

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 - 7/7/13

Starting Pitching:

Jake Arrieta, Cubs - The Orioles gave the highly-touted Arrieta several chances to establish himself at the big league level, but he failed to do so over four seasons, and the team ultimately decided to send him to the Cubs along with Pedro Strop in order to pick up Scott Feldman for starting pitching depth. While his K rate rose nicely this year, it was offset by a corresponding jump in his BB/9 ratio, something he will need to correct to stick and succeed with the Cubs. Arrieta figures to remain in the minors for now, but expect the Cubs to give him a chance at the big league level before season's end. That chance could occur in the near-term, if Matt Garza is dealt as expected. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid).

Brandon Beachy, Braves - Beachy, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, looked as if he was ready to return in mid-June before being shut down with some fluid in his elbow. He tossed a 50-pitch bullpen session Saturday, his fourth since his minor setback, and will be evaluated Sunday to determine when he will begin a rehab assignment. If all goes well, he could be back in a few weeks, with some speculation that Tim Hudson could be moved to make room in the Braves' rotation. 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: $2; NL: $7 (early spec bid to rise as he gets closer to coming back).

A.J. Burnett, Pirates - Burnett, out since June 13 with a grade 1 strain of his right calf, is returning to the Pittsburgh rotation. He threw a successful bullpen session Tuesday and did not have any lingering issues into Wednesday. That enabled Pittsburgh to activate him to start Sunday. When he was first sidelined, the righty ranked third in the NL with 99 strikeouts to go with a 3.12 ERA and 1.13 WHIP. (just an FYI as should still be owned in all leagues, if not, go 7/18).

Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks - Bradley, who I profiled in late-May, could get a look if the Diamondbacks continue to falter. According to GM Kevin Towers, the D-Backs would rather promote a youngster than look outside the organization for rotation help. Through 16 appearances between High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile, Bradley is 8-3 with a 1.79 ERA, 1.13 WHIP and 110 strikeouts, while only giving up 69 hits. The right-hander has all the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation starter for the D-Backs and could get his first shot sometime in August or maybe even earlier. He throws a mid-90s fastball along with a devastating curveball and changeup and has proven capable of getting a significant number of his outs on the ground (1.82 GO/AO) and subsequently, keeps the ball in the park (0.45 HR/9). Keep Bradley on your radar because he is a special talent that could make an immediate impact to your fantasy team. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (upped early speculative bid and go much, much higher in keeper leagues).

Chris Carpenter, Cardinals - Carpenter refuses to throw in the towel after being sidelined repeatedly by injuries. He threw a 106-pitch bullpen session Friday, and is on track to face hitters in a simulated game at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. Barring any setbacks, he would be set to begin a Minor League rehab assignment in about two weeks. St. Louis figues to have Carpenter use all 30 days of the rehab assignment to build him to be a starter, in case one is needed. Carpenter, whose pitching shoulder kept him out most of 2012 and was expected to sideline him for his career could be back in the majors by August. Carpenter may be relegated to middle or long relief, but he will be stretched out to be a starter. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid).

Stephen Fife, Dodgers - Fife, who was profiled a few weeks ago, continues to provide solid starting pitching for the Dodgers. He tossed seven scoreless innings last Sunday against the Phillies and allowed only one earned run (four total) Saturday, lowering his ERA to 2.76 in eight starts. If you look at the LA depth chart, Clayton Kershaw, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Zach Greinke and now Ricky Nolasco are locked in as starters, leaving Fife competing with Chris Capuano, who has struggled lately, and Ted Lilly, who is working his way back from injury, for the fifth spot. Last year, Fife's minor league numbers (4.66 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) were far from impressive, but when needed for spot duty in Los Angeles, he delivered a 2.70 ERA in five starts. The 26-year-old averages just 89 mph with his fastball and his minor league walk rates are decent, but far from spectacular. This year, he posted a 4.61 ERA and 1.74 WHIP at Triple-A, but has excelled since the promotion and may remain in LA's rotation. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Alfredo Figaro, Brewers - Manager Ron Roenicke indicated this week that Figaro, sidelined since June 25 with a strained oblique, is faring well in his recovery. A potential return before the All-Star break would be a huge boon for a Brewers rotation that has been completely tattered by injuries this season. While there's still plenty of time in the recovery process for Figaro to hit some sort of setback, everything seems positive on the health front at this point. Figaro, who cobbled together a sturdy 3.46 ERA and 21:6 K:BB ratio in the bullpen, before moving into the starting rotation, made five starts, just one good, before being shut down with the injury. Mixed: No; NL: $0 (early spec bid).

Chad Gaudin, Giants - Gaudin, out with a right elbow contusion after being struck by a batted ball during a start, is expected to be activated from the disabled list and start Saturday against the Dodgers. Gaudin will take his rotation spot back from Mike Kickham, who is expected to go to the bullpen after faltering while standing in for Gaudin. In four starts, Gaudin is 2-1 with a 2.60 ERA and seems the better option for the Giants at this point. He should remain in the rotation if all goes well on the mound. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Tom Gorzelanny, Brewers - Gorzelanny will make his second spot start of the season, stepping in for Wily Peralta (hamstring) against the Mets on Sunday. In his first start, Gorzelanny pitched four innings while allowing one run on five hits with three strikeouts on June 8 against the Phillies. This year, Gorzelanny has been an effective reliever for the Brewers, but his recent track record as a starter isn't very impressive. This is expected to be a one-shot deal, though that could change depending on the severity of Peralta's injury. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Jeremy Hefner, Mets - Hefner, who was profiled about a month ago, continued his roll Tuesday. He cruised to his third win of the season Tuesday, giving up one earned run on four hits and two walks with six Ks in seven innings against the Diamondbacks. This was his sixth straight start in which he allowed two or fewer earned runs, which makes him worth a look in most formats. Unfortunately, until Tuesday, the Mets had scored just nine runs in those previous five starts, which meant he only received one win in those outings. During that stretch, he's faced perhaps the best lineup in the league in the Cardinals, while also getting the best of the Rockies in Coors Field, so it hasn't been all cake match-ups. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Joe Kelly, Cardinals - Kelly, who was profiled two weeks ago when he looked to be the favorite to fill the Cardinals' fifth starter spot, did get the nod on Saturday. He gave up four runs over six innings and did not factor into the decision. Kelly probably did enough to hold down the fifth starter spot, although the Cardinals may use a four-man rotation when possible. Kelly is scheduled to pitch against the Cubs on Friday, but with an off-day Monday and the All-Star break around the corner, St. Louis manager Mike Matheny may opt to skip him. Kelly started 16 games for the Cardinals last year and threw eight in relief, where he was far more successful, so it remains to be seen if he will remain in the rotation or be replaced by either Carlos Martinez or Michael Wacha. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Kyle Lohse, Brewers - Lohse spun a gem Wednesday night, earning the win by tossing eight innings of one-run ball against the Nationals while striking out seven. Lohse hasn't lost in any of his last seven starts after losing four times in the month of May. During that same stretch Lohse hasn't allowed more than three earned runs in a start and has lowered his ERA to 3.43 to go with a 1.16 WHIP and stellar 66:17 K:BB ratio in 102.1 innings for the year. He signed a three-year, $33 million deal with Milwaukee this past March, costing the team their first-round pick. However, with the Brewers struggling, you have to wonder if he will be trade bait despite the loss of that first rounder. Mixed: $8; NL: should be owned.

Carlos Martinez, Cardinals - Martinez was named the Cardinals' minor-league pitcher of the month Tuesday. He has looked sharp while starting for Triple-A Memphis, going 2-2 with a 2.02 ERA, 1.15 WHIP and a 34:12 K:BB across 35.2 innings in seven starts. Martinez could very likely be the next in line should the Cardinals have a spot open up in their rotation, though Joe Kelly is slated to fill in when they need a fifth starter. He mixes a high-90s heavy fastball that generates lots of groundballs along with that developing changeup and curveball that was first used in the pen by St. Louis when he was called up in May. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid).

Brandon McCarthy, Diamondbacks - McCarthy, profiled two weeks ago, gets another mention as he threw a successful bullpen session Saturday and will throw live batting practice on Tuesday. He had a medical scare a couple of weeks back with a seizure stemming from a live drive he took to the head last season, but he's otherwise recovered nicely from the shoulder inflammation that sidelined him on June 2. If all goes well Tuesday, McCarthy should be begin a rehab assignment soon and possibly rejoin the D-Backs at the end of July. He had seemed to turn it around, after a slow start, notching four straight quality starts prior to his poor start right before he was sidelined. McCarthy has landed on the DL each of the past five years, so you know what you get when you own him. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early spec bid).

Tyler Skaggs, Diamondbacks - Skaggs, who started in place of Trevor Cahill, dominated a very tough Rockies lineup Friday and seems to have turned the corner on his career. Coming off of a career-high 13 strikeouts in his last outing with Triple-A Reno, Skaggs worked both sides of the plate with his fastball Friday, which allowed him to get ahead of batters and set up his devastating curve ball. The Diamondbacks have been decimated with injuries this season, so if Skaggs can put together a few quality starts, he could lock up a rotation spot for the second half of the season. With a K/9 rate of nearly 10.0, Skaggs has all the tools to be an elite starter and could become the stabilizing piece the D-Backs desperately need for their postseason push. The D-Backs' will have some interesting decisions once some of their injured starters return from the DL. The only starting pitchers to record a win over the past 26 games for the D-Backs are Skaggs and Randall Delgado. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Kevin Slowey, Marlins - Ricky Nolasco was traded to the Dodgers on Saturday, paving the way for Slowey to return to starting rotation in Miami. After posting an impressive 1.81 ERA through seven starts to open the season, Slowey struggled in six straight starts before landing in long relief. His overall numbers - 4.24 ERA, 1.36 WHIP and 69:17 K/BB ratio over 85 innings - aren't horrible, but you look at how well he pitched early compared to his line now, you see how much he has fallen off. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Tyler Thornburg, Brewers - Thornburg was put to good use Sunday after his call-up Friday, tossing five scoreless innings of relief following a rain delay. That gives him nine scoreless innings on the year for Milwaukee. Contrast those numbers to his 0-9 record with a 5.79 ERA, 1.59 WHIP and 87:29 K:BB ratio in 74.2 innings over 15 starts with Triple-A Nashville. There is some speculation that Milwaukee will be sellers at the trade deadline, possibly moving Kyle Lohse, which could open up a rotation spot for Thornburg. Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (early spec bid as value could rise if trade occurs).

Carlos Torres, Mets - If Shaun Marcum's neck/back issues land him on the DL or out of the Mets' rotation, Torres, who was a starter in the minors but is pitching out of the bullpen, will likely take his slot. Due to off-days and the All-Star break, the Mets may not need a fifth starter until around July 23, so he situation here is still fluid, but Torres is the favorite to slide into that rotation spot. Torres posted decent numbers with Triple-A Las Vegas so far this year, 3.89 ERA, 8.4 K/9IP in 12 starts over 71.2 innings, Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (early spec bid in case he starts).

Carlos Villanueva, Cubs - Villanueva will be stretched out and join the Cubs rotation in the wake of Tuesday's trade of Scott Feldman. It shouldn't take much for Villanueva to get ready, as he started eight games for the Cubs, posting a 1-3 with a 3.93 ERA, before stepping into a relief role when Matt Garza was activated from the DL in May. With a 3.57 ERA and 1.17 WHIP on the season, Villanueva is better than a lot of No. 5 pitchers. He'll probably make his first July start not long after the All-Star break. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants - Vogelsong fractured his right pinkie while batting on May 20. That injury required surgery and landed him on the 60-day DL. He played catch on Monday, and while that session doesn't seem like much on paper, it represented the first baseball activity he has taken part in since breaking his hand. Vogelsong felt good after the session and is moving in the right direction, but he does not expect to pitch for the Giants again until likely mid-August. Prior to getting inured, Vogelsong was suffering through a nightmare season, posting a 7.19 ERA, 1.727 WHIP and 40:18 K:BB in 46.1 innings. Chad Gaudin and Mike Kickham are the latest to step in for Vogelsong, who should get his rotation spot back as soon as he ready to return. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid).

Injury activation/update - Henderson Alvarez, Marlins - sidelined with right shoulder inflammation, covered the past two weeks, activated off the DL and started Thursday. Mixed: $3; NL: $10; Dan Haren, Nationals - on the DL with shoulder stiffness, threw a simulated game Wednesday. The Nationals will activate him Monday and he will replace Ross Detwiler, who landed on the DL with a back injury, in the Nats' rotation. Just an FYI as likely still owned in all formats, if not, go 2/7 on bids.

Relief Pitchers:

Luis Ayala/Charlie Brewer/Greg Burke/Edgmer Escalona/Matt Guerrier/Chris Withrow - This week's middle reliever call ups/acquisitions were in Atlanta, Arizona, New York, Colorado, Los Angeles (2x). None of them have major fantasy value. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Heath Bell, Diamondbacks - J.J. Putz, who was on the DL from May 8 until this past Saturday with a strained right elbow, blew the save Monday and was immediately removed from the closing role. Bell has moved back into that spot, as Putz tries to work through some mechanical difficulties and regain the form he had prior to being sidelined. It's not clear how long Bell will hang onto the ninth-inning duties, but he is worth adding in the short term if he was cut loose upon Putz's return. Prior to Putz returning, Bell was 14-for-17 in save chances, but had struggled recently and blew another save chance on July 4, so tread lightly here. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (in case he was let go when Putz returned, but that was unlikely).

Pedro Strop, Cubs - In exchange for Scott Feldman and Steve Clevenger, the Cubs received Strop and Jake Arrieta. Strop was a key reliever for the Orioles last season, posting a 2.44 ERA in 66.1 IP, but he has floundered in 2013, and was ultimately included in the deal to acquire Feldman. Strop's big problem has been control, as his BB/9 rose from 5.02 to 6.04 this year coupled with a rise in his HR/9 as well.  Those two ratios have contributed to Strop owning an ugly 7.25 ERA this season, but in a Cubs bullpen that lacks ninth-inning options, consider him a candidate to pick up saves if Kevin Gregg is traded. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Covered last week - Santiago Casilla - out since late-May after having a cyst removed from his right tibia. Made last rehab appearance Friday and activated off the DL. He will serve as set-up man for Sergio Romo. Mixed: No; NL: $0 (up if use holds).

Catchers:

Tony Cruz, Cardinals - Cruz started Saturday in place of Yadier Molina, who was sidelined with right knee discomfort and was scheduled to have his knee checked out. If Molina is forced to miss any time, Cruz will likely start at catcher, though don't expect much. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Evan Gattis, Braves - Gattis took his first swings Thursday since going on the disabled list with a strained right oblique on June 18. The light hitting drills marked Gattis' first baseball activity of any kind since landing on the DL. On Friday, Gattis threw a baseball for the first time since suffering his injury, and also ran and did more intensive swings off a tee. He followed that up with similar activities Saturday, but he is not expected to take practice until Thursday. Since he appears to be in only the initial stages of his recovery, it remains too early for the team to predict a possible return date for him, though sometime after the All-Star break seems reasonable if no setbacks. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (likely still owned, but bids are an early spec one if not).

Nick Hundley/Rene Rivera, Padres - Yasmani Grandal sustained damage to his MCL and ACL and was spotted on crutches after Saturday's game. In his absence, Hundley should take over as the Padres' starting catcher, with Rivera as his backup. Hundley got off to a solid start while filling in for Grandal while he was serving a 50-game suspension, but feel back to earth in May. Rivera, who last appeared in the majors in 2011, was hitting .343/.382/.474 with five homers and 38 RBI at Triple-A. He will likely see minimal time behind Hundley. Hundley - Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Rivera - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Erik Kratz, Philies - Kratz, sidelined since undergoing knee surgery last month, ran the bases Friday for the first time since having knee surgery and could begin a rehab assignment shortly. When he does return, he will back up Carlos Ruiz. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Injury activation - Wilson Ramos (returned from his strained hamstring with a big game Thursday. Mixed: $10; NL: $25).

First Basemen:

Yonder Alonso, Padres - Alonso, on the disabled list since June 1 with a fracture of the metacarpal on his right middle finger, had a good CT scan paving the way for him to start games shortly. He will join High-A Lake Elsinore to work out and take batting practice, possibly as soon as Saturday. Alonso appears on the verge of starting a rehab assignment, and while he's been eyeing return to the majors during the second week of July, the Padres may very well hold Alonso out until after the All-Star break to be sure he's ready. Alonso was hitting .284/.335/.416 with six home runs and 29 RBI in 54 games prior to getting injured. In his absence, the Padres have mostly used Kyle Blanks at first base, though Jesus Guzman has also seen the occasional game at the position. Mixed: $3; NL: likely still owned, but bid of $9 as an early spec one if not.

Ike Davis, Mets - Davis was profiled two weeks ago but he gets another mention as he was promoted back to the majors Friday. Davis made progress with eliminating the hitch in his swing, by keeping his front hip in, which prevents him from flying open, while showing better plate discipline. After a slow start, Davis batted .293 with seven homers and 13 RBI and .424 on-base percentage in 92 Triple-A plate appearances to earn the call up. He most probably will resume starting at first base, though the Mets will have to find room for Josh Satin, who has been filling in for Davis and been on a roll lately. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (bid may be wishful thinking from someone who has Davis in two leagues).

Darin Ruf, Phillies - Ruf was recalled from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Saturday. Ruf's promotion is directly linked to Ryan Howard (knee) being placed on the disabled list, and while Ruf could step in as an immediate replacement, he won't necessarily see all (or even most) of the playing time at first base. He crushed 38 homers at the Double-A level last season and slashed .333/.351/.727 in 37 plate appearances with the Phillies earlier this year, but Ruf is having a disappointing year (.266/.344/.408) at the Triple-A level, so expectations shouldn't be too high. John Mayberry, Laynce Nix and Kevin Frandsen could be in the mix at first base, if the Phillies don't hand Ruf the starting job while Howard is out. It's probably worth noting that Ruf has actually spent most of his time in the outfield this season, in an attempt to transition him away from the same position as Howard. Give mild upgrades to Mayberry, Nix and Frandsen also. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Second Base:

Donovan Solano, Marlins - Solano, who hit .379 (25-for-66) with two homers in 17 games with Triple-A New Orleans, was recalled by the Marlins after Monday's game. When Solano went on the DL with an intercostal strain, he was the Marlins' starting second baseman. But with Derek Dietrich up with the big league club, his playing time could be pretty sparse. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Injury news - Jedd Gyorko, Padres - groin, may begin a rehab assignment by the middle of the upcoming week and possibly be back before the All-Star Game. Just an FYI as should be owned in all leagues.

Shortstops:

Junior Lake, Cubs - Lake came out of the gate a little slowly after returning from a rib stress fracture but has now gone 6-for-17 (.353) with four extra-base hits over his last four games (through Tuesday). With Ian Stewart sent packing and Josh Vitters still banged up, Lake is getting the chance to show off what he can do at third. He hasn't shown much progress with the bat over the last few seasons, but he's strong with the glove and has a rocket for an arm. If he can continue to improve his plate discipline and continue getting on base; areas of progress so far this season, he just might warrant a look during the second half. Only Luis Valbuena stands in his way. Mixed: No; NL: $2 (early spec bid)
 
Injury activation/ update - Everth Cabrera, Padres - out since June 16 with a strained hamstring, started and completed a short rehab assignment in the minors. Despite being sidelined for almost three weeks, Cabrera still leads the Padres with a .305 batting average, a .382 on-base percentage, 37 runs scored and 31 stolen bases in what has become his breakout campaign, just an FYI as should be owned in all leagues; Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies - out since June 13 with a broken rib. Tulo took BP on the field for the second straight day on Friday and hopes he will feel healthy enough to go on a brief Minor League rehab assignment shortly. There is a possibility he could return to the lineup before the All-Star break, which might enable the starter at shortstop to play in the All-Star Game. Just an FYI as should be owned in all leagues.

Third Basemen:

Joe Terdoslavich, Atlanta - Terdoslavich, who was having a monster year in his second season at Triple-A, batting .318 with 18 home runs in 85 games, had his contract purchased from Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday. He was named Atlanta's minor league player of the year in 2011 after he hit .286/.341/.526 with 20 home runs and 52 doubles for High-A Lynchburg and skipped Double-A Mississippi to start 2012 but was sent back after struggling. Tedoslavich regained his stroke in Mississippi and carried that forward into this year to earn the call up. With Chris Johnson batting .333 this season, Terdoslavich isn't viewed as a threat to usurp him of starting duties, but the Braves figure to find creative ways to get his bat in the lineup. Expect him to be used similarly to how Evan Gattis was after Brian McCann returned from the DL, receiving a start or two per week while seeing regular pinch-hitting opportunities. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (up in keeper leagues).

Outfielders:

Julio Borbon, Cubs - Borbon may be the last man standing in center field for the Cubs. David DeJesus was placed on the disabled list June 14 with a sprained right shoulder, Ryan Sweeney fractured his left ribs last Saturday in Seattle crashing into the outfield wall and Brian Bogusevic strained his hamstring Thursday. Prior to all these injuries, Borbon has been seeing minimal playing time, but with Bogusevic, who was slated to start in CF now going down as well, look for Borbon to see lots of action backed up by Dave Sappelt until one of those players return. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Carl Crawford, Dodgers - Crawford, who landed on the disabled list with a strained left hamstring on June 2, was activated before Friday's game. He went 5-for-14 with a stolen base during a four-game rehab assignment with High-A Rancho Cucamonga, and is now positioned to share three outfield spots with Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Andre Ethier, though may be sidelined due to injuring his surgically-repaired left shoulder Friday, meaning regular OT for Crawford. Hopefully the next week or two give us a decent idea as to how the playing time will be split going forward. Prior to getting injured, Crawford was batting .301 with five HR, 13 RBI and nine SB in 51 games. Mixed: $8; NL: $22 (in case he was waived when he was injured).

Adam Eaton, Diamondbacks - Eaton profiled two weeks ago gets another mention as he is back in the midst of yet another rehab stint. He served as the designated hitter for High-A Visalia for about two weeks before starting in center field on Wednesday. With Eaton finding his stroke at the plate and now playing the field, he should move up to Triple-A Reno shortly. If he is any setback or pain in his left elbow, the end result may be Tommy John surgery. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early spec bid).

Cole Gillespie, Giants - The Giants called up Gillespie on Friday. He made a pretty strong case for a promotion down at Triple-A Fresno, slashing .277/.361/.455 with nine homers in 74 games so far this season. Depending on how you look at it, the Giants either bought in to Gillespie or lost faith in Juan C. Perez, as the switch was made Friday. Gillespie will see spot and pinch-hit duty in SF. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Ryan Ludwick, Reds - Ludwick, who tore cartilage and dislocated his right shoulder sliding headfirst into third base in the first game of the season, has continued throwing and hitting off a tee but still has not begun to face live pitching. Ludwick still is not expected to return until sometime in mid-August. At this stage of rehab, it seems that target date is still realistic and he could return to full baseball activities once he is able to face live pitching. With the Reds using a shuttle service in left field, Ludwick should see most of the time there when he does return to game action. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid).

Xavier Nady, Rockies - Since the Royals couldn't find a place for Nady on their active roster, the 34-year-old opted out of his deal and went to Colorado on a minor league contract. He swung a hot bat during his time with Triple-A Omaha (.310/.382/.486 with 11 homers), and while Nady will likely have to bide his time at Triple-A Colorado Springs for a while, he could eventually be up to fill a reserve role. If Carlos Gonzalez's back sidelines him, Nady could get the call. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mets - Nieuwenhuis went 4-for-4 with a double, a triple, two walks, five RBI, three runs scored and a stolen base against the Brewers on Friday and followed it up by going 1-for-5 Saturday. He's now hit safely in his last five games and is 9-for-18 with a home run, six RBI and five runs scored over that span. He should continue to see regular starts in center field so long as he is swinging a hot bat. However, he did tweak his right knee Saturday, so check his status before bidding. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Dave Sappelt, Cubs - Sappelt was called up from Triple-A Iowa on Tuesday to replace Ryan Sweeney on the Cubs roster after Sweeney was placed on the 60-day DL with a fractured rib. In 52 games at Triple-A this season he has hit .269/.311/.398 with two home runs and 34 RBI. He will serve primarily as a reserve outfielder and likely will not have a ton of fantasy value at this point. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Injury update - Ryan Braun, Brewers - hand, was able to swing a bat Wednesday for the second consecutive day. He progressed to taking about 50 swings in the batting cage Friday and batting practice on the field Saturday. Braun will hit in the cages on Sunday and plans to take more live BP on Monday. Manager Ron Roenicke has acknowledged that there's a glimmer of hope that Braun will be able to return before the All-Star break, though that may depend if he goes on a small rehab assignment this week. Just an FYI as still should be owned in all formats; Bryce Harper, Nationals - out since the beginning of June with a knee injury, activated off the DL on Monday. Just an FYI as still should be owned in all formats.

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