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FAAB Factor - NL: Atlanta's Rotation Decisions

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 - 7/21/13

Starting Pitching:

Brandon Beachy, Braves - Beachy, working his way back from Tommy John surgery and profiled the past two weeks gets another mention, as he pitched five innings of one-run ball in his second rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett on Friday. He gave up five hits and one walk while striking out three and then tossed 15 pitches after the outing to reach 85. There is an outside possibly Beachy could be activated this week, as Paul Maholm left Saturday's game with a sprained left (pitching) wrist that could sidelined him, though that is undetermined at the time. 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. One open question is what will happen if Maholm can make his start since Alex Wood is being stretched out as a starter and may be up at the end of the month and Kris Medlen may move to the bullpen. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (upped early spec bid again, as he could return to the Atlanta rotation this week).

Brandon McCarthy, Diamondbacks - In what seemingly has become a bi-weekly ritual, McCarthy, sidelined since May 31, gets another mention, as he will begin a rehab assignment with Triple-A Reno Sunday. Manager Kirk Gibson said McCarthy would need at least two rehab starts before returning to the rotation, likely meaning he'll be activated by the end of the month. McCarthy threw a 40-pitch simulated game earlier this week and checked out fine in his recovery from shoulder inflammation. 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).

Tyson Ross, Padres - Ross will be called up to start Tuesday's game for the Padres. Ross has a respectable 3.60 ERA on the season, but had been hit around in his last few outings prior to his demotion. In his last 3.2 innings pitched for San Diego, he had allowed nine runs on 12 hits. Ross has been much better in the minors, going 1-0 while allowing two runs in nine innings as he acclimates back to starting. He will get the nod Tuesday, but after that, it's up in the air, as Sean O'Sullivan slots into the injured Jason Marquis' spot Wednesday, but there is an open fifth spot that could be filled by Ross. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Eric Surkamp, Giants - All indicators point to Surkamp being called up to start the second game of Tuesday's doubleheader against the Reds. This news surfaced after Mike Kickham, who was originally expected to start Tuesday, was allowed to make his start at Triple-A Fresno on Saturday. Surkamp's turn in the rotation was coming up on Tuesday anyways, so that probably sealed the deal for the 26-year-old lefty. In six starts with the Giants in 2011, Surkamp posted a 5.74 ERA with a 13:17 K:BB ratio in 26.2 innings. He is also coming off Tommy John surgery, so starting Surkamp for the potential outing against the Reds is a gamble to say the least. He's expected to be sent back down after the outing. That said, if Jeremy Affeldt lands on the DL, Surkamp could fill the role as lefty out of the pen. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants - Vogelsong, profiled two weeks ago, gets another mention as he threw to hitters in "live" batting practice Saturday for the first time since fracturing his right pinkie while batting on May 20. He may progress to making a rehab start this week followed likely by two more, paving the way for him to re-join the Giants in 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 have stepped in for Vogelsong, who should get his rotation spot back as soon as he ready to return even though Gaudin has been solid in his stead. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid).

Alex Wood, Braves - Wood appears primed to join the Braves' starting rotation by the end of the month. The Braves sent Wood down last weekend, not merely because they needed a reserve outfielder, but so he could get stretched back out into a starter. In 10 starts for Double-A Mississippi this season, the 22-year-old has posted a 1.26 ERA and 9.0 K/9, and after a stint in Atlanta's bullpen, it now appears he may take Kris Medlen's spot in the starting rotation. Luis Avilan is now left as the lone southpaw in the bullpen, thus putting the team in the market for a left-handed relief arm.The Braves' rotation may be fluid, as Brandon Beachy could be back shortly, so even if Wood does get the role, just be aware he may not keep it, even though Paul Maholm has been the weakest link lately. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Covered last week - Tom Gorzelanny, Brewers - Scheduled to start Monday against the Padres. As expected, Gorzelanny will remain in a starting role coming out of the break. The 31-year-old southpaw hasn't given up an earned run in his last two starts, but he'll need to keep it up, as the team also has Alfredo Figaro (oblique), and Marco Estrada (back) as options for the rotation down the road. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Relief Pitchers:
 
Luis Avilan, Braves - Avilan retired one batter against the White Sox on Friday, extending his streak of consecutive scoreless appearances to 23. He's benefited from a .179 BABIP, which seems likely to rise, but there's no denying Avilan's value to the Braves this season. With the club's top two lefty relief arms (Jonny Venters and Eric O'Flaherty) both undergoing Tommy John surgery early into the season, Avilan has filled the void more than adequately. The 23-year-old is sixth in the National League in holds with 15, and he leads the team in appearances with 44. Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (up in leagues that count holds).

Mitchell Boggs/Colt Hynes/Kameron Loe/Miles Mikolas/Fernando Salas - This week's middle-reliever call ups/acquisitions were in Colorado, San Diego, Atlanta, San Diego and St. Louis. None have major fantasy value. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Rex Brothers, Rockies - Rafael Betancourt, who was placed on the 15-day DL on Saturday, had successful appendectomy surgery Friday night. His stint on the DL has been backdated to July 15, though there's no telling at this point whether Betancourt will be ready to return when first eligible on July 30. He likely will miss three weeks, paving the door for Brothers, who has been stellar this year and closed when Betancourt was sidelined with a groin injury, picking up four saves and tossing 13 scoreless innings from May 22 to June 27 to reprise that role again. Mixed: $5; NL: $14 (likely owned but spike in value).

Heath Hembree, Giants - Hembree tossed a perfect ninth inning with two strikeouts against Triple-A Tacoma on Thursday and earned his 20th save of the season. Hembree has now gone nine straight appearances without giving up a run and has shown marked improvement with his command. He's posted a 14:2 K:BB over these last nine outings and has notched six saves in the process. The Giants said that he would remain at Triple-A to enhance his development, but with a performance such as this, they may give it some more thought should their bullpen continue to struggle. Mixed: No; NL: $0 (possible holds if promoted).

Logan Kensing, Rockies - Kensing threw a perfect ninth inning with one strikeout against Triple-A Tucson on Thursday and picked up his 12th save of the season. The 30-year old right-hander hasn't allowed a run and has a 11:4 K:BB over his last 11 appearances (10 innings). With the Rockies likely to move Rafael Betancourt at the trade deadline, Kensing could find his way back to the majors to fill a middle-relief role with a remote chance that he falls into the mix for saves, though Rex Brothers is the favorite to fill that spot. Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (saves spec bid).

Pedro Strop, Cubs - Manager Dale Sveum said Strop could slide into the closer role if the Cubs trade Kevin Gregg. Gregg does not appear to be in imminent danger of moving, but the chances are good he pitches for a different team by the end of the month given that the Cubs are selling off everything but the ivy. Strop has yet to allow a run through his first 6.2 innings with the Cubs and has struck out eight of the 23 batters he has faced, righting the ship after struggling in Baltimore. Strop was a key reliever for the Orioles last season, posting a 2.44 ERA in 66.1 IP, but he had floundered in 2013, and was ultimately included in the Orioles' deal to acquire Scott Feldman. Strop's big problem had 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 contributed to Strop owning an ugly 7.25 ERA with Baltimore, but he has an 8:2 K:BB ratio in Chicago. Keep in mind that Blake Parker could also factor in the closer mix. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early saves spec bid).

Catchers:

Travis d'Arnaud, Mets -d'Arnaud (foot) is scheduled to see a team doctor Monday, after which he's expected to receive clearance to begin playing minor league games. If that occurs, he will play approximately 7-10 days in Florida before rejoining Triple-A Las Vegas by August 1. d'Arnaud would then play at least three weeks for the 51s, before joining the Mets slightly before or on the September 1 roster expansion date. John Bucks has done a solid job for the Mets, but he is not the future behind the plate there, so look for d'Arnaud to see tons of playing time whenever he is called up. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid, up in keeper league).

Ryan Hanigan, Reds - Hanigan (wrist) was cleared to begin swinging a bat Friday. The wrist held up well to more intense strengthening drills Thursday, so the team decided Hanigan was ready to return to the batting cage Friday. The 32-year-old is expected to come off the DL next Thursday, when first eligible. He wasn't doing much when injured, but Devin Mesoraco hasn't taken advantage of his absence, so Hanigan should regain his starting job as soon as he is activated. Mixed: $0; NL: likely owned, but if not, $3.

First Basemen:

Matt Adams, Cardinals - Adams, profiled last week, gets a boost in playing time as Matt Holiday's strained hamstring landed him on the DL on Saturday. Adams, who has been filling in for Holiday, will play first base with Allen Craig remaining in the outfield. Adams has hit well this season, seeing most of his time against righties and .367 BABIP, which is high but he has historically posted a high BABIP in the minors, so the number isn't that much of an aberration. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (likely still owned, but rise in value with Holiday out).

Brock Peterson, Cardinals - The Cardinals called up Peterson on Saturday to replace Matt Holliday (hamstring, 15-day DL) on the 25-man roster. Presumably, the extra playing time in Holliday's absence will be given to Matt Adams, while Adams' bench role ends up in Peterson's possession. Although he's 29 years old, Peterson is having a monster year at Triple-A Memphis, including a .306/.382/.564 line with 22 homers, 66 RBI and a 37:89 BB:K over 346 at-bats. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Neftali Soto, Reds - Soto was recalled from Triple-A Louisville on Thursday. Tony Cingrani wasn't scheduled to start until Tuesday's doubleheader, so he was sent to Louisville to give the Reds an extra position player in the meantime. Soto received two at-bats during his two-game stint with the Reds in May and figures to be looking at another brief stay in the majors; likely to be sent down when Cingrani is brought back up to start. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Second Base:
 
Justin Turner, Mets - Turner, who has been on the disabled list since June 18 with a strained intercostal muscle on his left side, will be activated shortly off the disabled list. Prior to being sidelined, he had a .266/.307/.330 slash line in 44 games for the Mets. When Turner does return, he will once again fill the role of utility infielder. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Injury news - Neil Walker, Pirates - (Oblique) Began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. The assignment is expected to last the entirety of the weekend, with Walker coming off the disabled list Monday if he checks out fine after the three-game stint. Just an FYI as should be owned in all leagues.

Shortstops:
 
Junior Lake, Cubs - Brian Bogusevic became the third Cubs center fielder to land on the DL, following David DeJesus and Ryan Sweeney, so to fill his spot, the Cubs called up Lake from Triple-A Iowa to provide some outfield depth despite his lack of experience at the position, though GM Jed Hoyer believes he possesses enough athleticism to learn on the fly. Lake is up after slashing .295/.341/.462 with four homers and 14 steals in 40 games with Triple-A Iowa, and will play center field, as he did for the first time Friday, until DeJesus returns. When that happens, Lake could see time at third base in a platoon with Luis Valbuena, but not at short despite Starlin Castro's struggles. Though he doesn't have much in the way of power, Lake has proved to have above-average speed, which may be his ticket to staying in the majors. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Third Basemen:

Joaquin Arias, Giants - Arias, sidelined since July 7 after undergoing an appendectomy, could return to action the latter part of this week, which is just a few days beyond the 15 he is required to miss. Arias, who is batting .282 in 60 games, will return to his role as utility infielder, likely seeing time at all four infield spots. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Outfielders:

David DeJesus, Cubs - DeJesus, who has been out since June 14 with a strained right shoulder, could be activated from the DL as early as next week. He was slated to begin playing rehab games with the Cubs' rookie-ball team in Mesa during the All-Star break and then likely advance to a few upper minor-league games before returning to the Cubs. DeJesus was expected to miss about a month with the injury, but his progress has been somewhat slow, as he first started swinging a bat last week. The Cubs also have Ryan Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic out, forcing them to call up Junior Lake, so DeJesus should be able to regain his job back when he returns, unless Lake gets off to a hot start. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early injury return spec bid).

Ryan Ludwick, Reds - Ludwick, who was profiled two weeks, gets another mention as could begin a rehab assignment as soon as Monday. Ludwick tore cartilage and dislocated his right shoulder sliding headfirst into third base in the first game of the season, has progressed slightly faster than originally expected. With another on-field batting practice session under his belt, Ludwick appears set to return to game action in the near future. The 35-year-old said he feels good and is "very close," so as long as he avoids setback this weekend, look for Ludwick to head for the low minors to begin rehabbing. 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: $2; NL: $7 (slightly upped early spec bid).

Christian Yelich, Marlins - Yelich is "highly likely" to be called up by the Marlins in either late July or early August, at the latest. He started the year on the disabled list with a sore foot and then an abdominal strain cost Yelich more than two weeks last month, but he's slashing .268/.351/.508 with six homers down at Double-A Jacksonville. In addition, Yelich held up under the bright lights of Citi Field, going 2-for-2 with a double in Sunday's Futures Game. Yelich, ranked No. 15 in Baseball America's top prospects list, batted a blistering .330/.404/.519 at High-A Jupiter last season. He blasted 12 home runs with 29 doubles and five triples while driving in 48 runs on the year and went 20-for-26 on the basepaths. When he does get the call, Yelich is expected to start off in center field for Miami, with Marcell Ozuna then moving to left. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early speculative bid and go higher in keeper leagues).

Injury update - Matt Kemp, Dodgers - (Shoulder) Activated and returns from the disabled list Sunday, his first day of eligibility. Just an FYI as still should be owned in all formats.