Dylan Axelrod, White Sox - Jake Peavy seems likely to get moved in a trade, prior to Wednesday's deadline thus leaving an open spot in the White Sox rotation. Axelrod is the most likely candidate to fill that role as he has already been a starter for the team this season, granted the results were ugly as he produced a 5.33 ERA (4.93 xFIP) with 55 strikeouts and 32 walks over 98 innings. Other options include Erik Johnson, who just came off the DL and has a 2.24 ERA between Double and Triple-A with 92 strikeouts and 27 walks over 100.2 innings, and Andre Rienzo, who has a 4.06 ERA at Triple-A with 113 strikeouts and 46 walks over 113 innings. The team may want to wait until September to bring up Johnson and Rienzo, leaving Axelrod to pickup the slack until then. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Bruce Chen, Royals - Through two starts Chen has pitched 12 innings with eight strikeouts, one walk, four hits allowed, and one earned run. This is not what most expected when he entered the Royals rotation right before the break, but the team will surely take it. For his career Chen has a 4.59 ERA (4.67 xFIP) over 205 starts, so a fair bit of skepticism is warranted. Still, he's worth a look in AL only formats, until he slows down. This week he gets the Mets on the road, in what should be a favorable matchup. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Samuel Deduno, Twins - Deduno tossed seven scoreless innings on Saturday against the Mariners with six strikeouts and only three hits allowed. The start highlights what has been a nice run of recent success for the Dominican as he has pitched seven innings and allowed two earned runs or less in his last three starts. On the season he now has a 3.18 ERA (4.08 xFIP) with 42 strikeouts and 28 walks over 76.1 innings. The lack of strikeouts is a real concern as is his lack of command, but it's tough to argue with the results so far. He should be owned in all AL only formats and some deeper leagues as owners start to have more confidence his in abilities. This week he faces the Astros at home, in what should be a great matchup for him and the Twins. Mixed: $3; AL: $12.
Matt Garza, Rangers - Garza was finally traded to the Rangers this week and made his debut for the team on Wednesday, pitching 7.1 innings and allowing no earned runs with five strikeouts and no walks against the Yankees. The AL is nothing new to Garza, who holds a 3.93 ERA over 119 starts in said league, and formerly pitched for the Twins and Rays, prior to joining the Cubs. What will be new is his ballpark that will be less forgiving than that of Wrigley Field. Moreover, he'll have to get adjusted to the AL West, of which he'll see plenty of down the stretch. Considering what's left in the minors, Garza may be the best starter worth bidding on for the remainder of the season in AL only formats, so a sizable bid is encouraged. If you've been saving your FAAB dollars in hopes of a savior, bow before Garza, and back up the Brinks truck. Mixed: Owned; AL: $50.
Mike Pelfrey, Twins - Pelfrey allowed one earned run over six innings to the Angels this week with five strikeouts and only one walk. He has now lowered his ERA in nine consecutive starts and pitched to a 2.28 ERA (4.46 xFIP) in the month of July. He's still carrying around a 5.15 ERA (4.68 xFIP) with him for the season, but at least he's improving. Overall his command is still below average, but one has to remember that he's just a little over a year removed from Tommy John surgery. His fastball sat around 94 mph in his last start, which is way up from the 91 mph he started the season with and the same can be said for the velocity on his off-speed pitches, which have also increased in velocity as the season has progressed. This week he faces the Royals and Astros at home, don't overlook him just because he has ugly numbers on the season. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Todd Redmond, Blue Jays - Redmond made his third start of the season this week and allowed three earned runs over 5.2 innings to the Dodgers with six strikeouts and one walk. On the season he now has 16 strikeouts and five walks over 14.2 innings as a starter. Earlier this season he was at Triple-A Buffalo, where he registered a 5.06 ERA with 29 strikeouts and five walks over 26.2 innings. He has spent five different seasons at Triple-A with only four starts in the majors, which seems sort of crazy considering his command has always been decent, despite what his ERA says. Now he seems to finally be getting his chance and judging by today's 10-strikeout performance against the Astros, he's someone worth at least following in AL only formats. This week he faces the Angels on the road. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Garrett Richards, Angels - Richards switched spots with Joe Blanton this week and is now back in the Halos rotation for the foreseeable future. On Saturday, in his start since late April, he pitched five shutout innings with four strikeouts and two walks against the A's. As a starter he now has a 4.66 ERA (4.64 xFIP) with 59 strikeouts and 41 walks over 94.2 innings in 17 starts for his career. That sort of command is down right awful and should scare owners away. Richards, to his credit, has shown glimpses of his potential such as when he pitched seven shutout innings against the Tigers earlier this season with eight strikeouts, no walks, and only two hits allowed. Still, there is more potential for disaster here to owner’s stat lines than there is profit, so be cautious. This week he faces the Blue Jays at home. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Brandon Workman, Red Sox - Workman made his second major league start this week and pitched six innings against the Rays with two earned runs allowed, four strikeouts, and two walks. His stay in the majors was initially thought to be a short one, but Clay Buchholz has taken longer to recover than was initially thought. Prior to pitching in the majors, Workman had a 3.21 ERA between Double and Triple-A with 108 strikeouts and 30 walks over 101 innings this season. Scouts question if he can stick in a major league rotation because he relies so heavily on his fastball and his secondary pitches are not yet refined enough to keep hitters off guessing. That said, he's been pretty impressive in his first two starts and should owned in more AL only formats, until he falters, Buchholz returns, or the team trades for a more established starter to take his spot. This week he faces the Mariners and Diamondbacks at home. Mixed: $2; AL: $7.
Jose Cisnero & Wesley Wright, Astros - Closer Jose Veras has 19 saves on the season with a 2.93 ERA and is likely to get moved in a trade prior to Wednesday's deadline, thus potentially leaving the door open for Cisnero and Wright to step up as the team's new closer. Of the two, Cisnero is likely the more appealing option to manager Bo Porter because his 3.29 ERA (3.84 xFIP) is more than a full run lower than that of Wright's 4.34 ERA (3.53 xFIP). Moreover, Cisnero has a home run rate (0.66 HR/9) that is almost half that of Wright's (1.21 HR/9). The big advantage that Wright has over Cisnero is one may tip the odds in his favor and that's experience as Cisnero is a rookie, while Wright is in the midst of his sixth season in the majors, all of them with the Astros. Wright is a LHP, which means he may be used earlier in games to get tough LHBs out, thus leaving the RHP Cisnero in to get the save against a RHB, which is what ultimately pushes the odds in Cisnero's favor for me. Cisnero Mixed: $3; AL: $11. Wright Mixed: $2; AL: $8.
David Phelps, Yankees - Phelps is scheduled to make at least one more rehab start (Tuesday), before the Yankees activate him from the DL. He's currently making his way back from a strain in his forearm and has missed almost a month since his last start with the club. When he does come back, he's expected to pitch in relief as Ivan Nova has done such a great job as the team's fifth starter as of late. Phelps is no stranger to coming out of the bullpen as he has a 3.49 ERA (3.68 xFIP) over 59.1 innings with 64 strikeouts and 23 walks since the start of last season as a reliever. Should something happen to one of the team's current starters; he'd likely be next in line, so there's some upside here. As is though, expect him to be used in long relief, which limits his value in all formats. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.
Francisco Rodriguez, Orioles - K-Rod was traded from the Brewers to the Orioles this week to work as a setup man for his new team and give them an insurance option to current closer Jim Johnson. Johnson has blown a MLB high six games this season and sports a 3.47 ERA, but he's not close to losing his job. Moreover, he has only allowed one earned run in his last 10 appearances, so there's really no reason to bid on Rodriguez with hopes of him taking Johnson's job in the immediate future. If anything, bid on him because he's been one of the better relief pitchers this season with a 1.35 ERA (3.92 xFIP) with 27 strikeouts and 10 walks over 26.2 innings. Mixed: Owned; AL: $8.
Henry Blanco, Mariners - Mike Zunino broke the hamate bone in his left hand this week, leaving Blanco as the team's new starting catcher for the next six weeks. Blanco is a career .225/.290/.365 hitter with very little power and zero speed, so it's tough to see just exactly how he can help fantasy owners, outside of AL only formats. At 41 years old, there's not much reason to be optimistic about his increased playing time. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Derek Norris, A's - With John Jaso landing on the 7-day DL this week with a concussion, Norris has received a small bump in his playing time. It couldn't have come at a better time as Norris has hit .333/.471/.778 this month four homers over 34 PA. Compared to last season, Norris has raised his contact rate, his walk rate, and has hit for more power, while lowering his strikeout rate, all of which are encouraging signs in his development as a hitter. Unfortunately he still has a ways to go, before becoming relevant in most mixed leagues, but this month has been yet another step in the right direction. Jaso is expected back after the minimum seven days, at which time he'll go back to sharing the starting duties with Norris. Mixed: $2; AL: $6.
Humberto Quintero, Mariners - Quintero signed with the Mariners this week to help give them some depth behind the plate, after they lost Mike Zunino to a hand injury for the next six weeks. Quintero is a career .235/.268/.327 hitter with little power and no speed. Roster him if you want to signal to all your league mates that you've officially given up and are now focused on football. Mixed: No; AL: $1.
Stephen Vogt, A's - Vogt was called up this week from Triple-A Sacramento to take the roster spot of the injured John Jaso, who hit the 7-day DL with a concussion. Because Vogt is a LHB, he should see a fair amount of at-bats, while he's with the team. At Sacramento he hit .324/.398/.547 with 13 homers over 338 PA. This is nothing new as he hit well in the minors, when he was in the Rays organization in previous seasons. He likely just needs some playing time to show what he's capable of at the major league level. However that time is likely not now as Jaso is expected back after the minimum seven days, at which point Vogt will likely be headed back to Sacramento. Mixed: No; AL: $3.
David Adams, Yankees - Adams was recalled this week from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to help add some depth to the Yankees infield as they deal with Luis Cruz going to the DL because of a sprained knee. At Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he hit .301/.400/.489 with four homers over 155 PA. He was also up with the Yankees earlier this season and has a .205/.271/.287 batting line with two homers over 134 PA. 26 years old, Adams doesn't have much power or speed, so it's difficult to see him being of much use to fantasy owners. He could potentially carve out a more prominent role for himself, if he shows he can hit and Brent Lillibridge starts to slump or act more like Brent Lillibridge. A-Rod could return and make this all moot, but at the current time he and Brian Cashman aren't exactly on the best of terms. Mixed: $1; AL: $3.
Brent Lillibridge, Yankees - With Luis Cruz landing on the DL this week with a sprained knee, Lillibridge has started the last five straight games for the Yankees at third base. He has hit .208/.240/.250 with one double over 25 PA, since being recalled a little over a week ago, which doesn't sound like much, but likely makes him feel like one of the regulars, given the state of the current Yankees lineup. Lillibridge has never shown much power, but has decent speed, if he could only get on base to use it. The team brought up David Adams this week to share time at third base with Lillibridge and serves as a serious threat to his playing time as the bar to out produce him has been set quite low. The team's relationship with A-Rod must really be strained, if this is what they'd rather stick with at third base. Mixed: $2; AL: $5.
Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox - .211/.256/.224, that's what Jose Iglesias has hit in the month of July and no one should be all that surprised if it continues as a .385 BABIP is very difficult to sustain. Because of his slump and the slow return of Stephen Drew, heck the play of Drew in general since his injury with the D-Backs, it makes sense for the team to consider bringing back Middlebrooks. Doing so would allow the team to shift Iglesias between third and short and add something the left side of their infield lacks, depth. Middlebrooks has hit .258/.298/.438 with four homers over 94 PA this month at Triple-A Pawtucket, so it's not like he's banging down the door for another promotion. Still, at this point a promotion of Middlebrooks seems more likely than a promotion of Xander Bogaerts, whom the Red Sox seem content to let stay in minors till September. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.
Justin Smoak, Mariners - I've written about Smoak before in this space, but likely never with quite this much conviction. This month he has hit .291/.378/.481 with three homers and six doubles over 90 PA. On the season his line drive rate is up (23.0 percent), his walk rate is up (12.9 percent) and he's hitting RHPs better than he ever has before (.294/.397/.492). He's doing so well against RHPs that it makes me wonder if he should abandon switch-hitting and focus solely on hitting as a LHB more, while the team finds a suitable platoon mate for him against LHPs to maximize their returns on his plate appearances. At 26 years old, Smoak is in or entering into what should be his prime years, which makes his current breakout seem more sustainable. Owned in all AL only formats, mixed leaguers should consider him for a corner infield or utility spot on their roster as the best may be yet to come. Mixed: $6; AL: Owned.
Hernan Perez, Tigers - Perez has started five of the last six Tigers games at second base, in place of Omar Infante, who we learned this week is likely to be out for another one to two weeks with his injured ankle after tweaking it this week at his rehab assignment. So far Perez has hit .269/.286/.346 with one stolen base over 29 PA in 10 games. Those numbers aren't anything special, but then again not much was expected from the 22 year old who has never even set foot in Triple-A. Perez has speed, as he stole 24 bases at Double-A Erie earlier this season over 382 PA, so there's some upside here for fantasy owners. Until Infante comes back or he falls into a slump, Perez is worth rostering in AL only formats. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.
Adam Rosales, A's - Rosales is back with the A's, after being summoned from Triple-A Sacramento this week. He will likely see most of his at-bats against LHPs, when Eric Sogard sits or when Jed Lowrie needs a day off at shortstop, which limits his value to owners. He was with the team earlier this season, before being DFA'd, to make way for Grant Green, who is now back in Sacramento, from which Rosales came. A career .221/.290/.335 hitter, the most exciting thing about Rosales is watching him sprint the bases, after he runs into a pitch and sends it over the fence, which is known to happen on occasion. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
Eric Sogard, A's - With the Grant Green experiment ending before it started (he went 0-for-15), Sogard is back to seeing more full-time at-bats at second base for the A's. Over the last two weeks he has hit .304/.304/.565 with one homer and three doubles, so it's not like the team acted irrationally. If anything the team might be showing some patience, after watching him hit .167/.206/.275 a season ago over 108 PA. Unfortunately Sogard has little power or speed, so the good contact rate that he has shown this season (89.5 percent) can only take him and his fantasy owners so far. He's still going to sit against LHPs because of his struggles against them, but that's actually a good thing for owners as his batting average would likely plummet, if he were exposed to their Kryptonite arms. Give him another look in deep leagues, now that Green is gone. Mixed: $3; AL: $9.
Jonathan Villar, Astros - On Monday Villar was called up from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take over the Astros starting shortstop duties. At OKC he hit .277/.341/.442 with eight homers and 31 stolen bases over 386 PA. The power will likely not translate right away, if at all, but the speed is enticing enough that owners should have him on their radar in most formats. The team has hit him leadoff in every game, since his call-up, which shows they have a bit of confidence in his ability to get on base and so far they've been rewarded with six hits, three walks, and three stolen bases over 27 PA. He has struck out 11 times already and will need to make more contact, if he's to last atop the lineup, but for now he's getting his chance to show he belongs, which is enough for him to matter in AL only formats. Mixed: $5; AL: $17.
Kole Calhoun, Angels - Calhoun should be brought up from Triple-A Salt Lake City on Sunday to take the roster spot of the injured Albert Pujols, who is headed to the DL. At SLC Calhoun hit .354/.431/.617 with 12 homers and 10 stolen bases over 274 PA this season. He would have logged more playing time this season, if it were not for a fractured hamate bone that he suffered in early April that kept him out six weeks. At 25 years old he has some power and speed, but isn't considered much of a prospect. Most see him as a useful bench option that can play all three outfield positions and offers a little bit of everything offensively. Pujols is dealing with plantar fascists which doesn't just go away, at least not without rest or surgery, so his absence could potentially be a long one and could lead to Calhoun being with the club for the rest of the season, as the fragile Josh Hamilton sees more time at DH. With Peter Bourjos still a ways off from returning, it wouldn't be a shock to see Calhoun leap frog J.B. Shuck and become a regular in the Angels outfield for a little while, if everything clicks for him. Mixed: $6; AL: $20.
Mark DeRosa, Blue Jays - Entering Saturday DeRosa had a .300/.364/.600 batting line over 33 PA in July with two homers. Then he hit another homer on Saturday off the Astros in a 1-for-3 effort. His playing time on the season has been sporadic and the majority of his at-bats have come against LHPs, so those in weekly leagues might not have much use for him. However those in daily leagues who can stream him or keep him on their bench should be able to extract the most value out of the aging utility player. On the season his numbers are poor, if not down right terrible, but he's hitting for more power than he ever has before (.225 ISO) and that's a positive that needs to be considered, before overlooking him. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.
Robbie Grossman, Astros - With J.D. Martinez landing on the DL with a sprained wrist, Grossman was recalled from Triple-A Oklahoma City to take his roster spot on Saturday. At OKC he hit .281/.396/.364 with two homers and 15 stolen bases over 310 PA. In the majors he has struggled to make contact or show off his speed, but then again he has only had 131 PA so far. At 23 years old, he is not considered a prospect and will have to battle Marc Krauss for playing time as a backup in the Astros outfield. With Trevor Crowe (wrist) expected back from the DL relatively soon, don't grow too attached to Grossman on the active roster. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
L.J. Hoes, Orioles - Hoes will be brought up on Sunday from Triple-A Norfolk to give the team some added depth in their outfield. At Norfolk he hit .304/406/.403 with three homers and seven stolen bases over 430 PA. At 23 years old he's not much of a fantasy prospect because he lacks the ability to hit for power and hasn't shown much speed. He owns a .302 batting average over 787 PA at Triple-A, so he more than likely will be able to make decent contact at the major league level, if nothing else. Until a spot opens up for him, Hoes will be a bench player and one that most owners can ignore. Mixed: No; AL: $2.
David Lough, Royals - Lough has quietly been one of the more consistent hitters for the Royals this season with a .304/.320/.454 batting line, four homers and two stolen bases over 201 PA, entering Saturday's games. He has only taken four walks, which is somewhat concerning, but helpful in leagues that use batting average as likes to put the ball in play. His power and speed are nothing special, but he's getting everyday playing time and helping owners in the aforementioned batting average category, which cannot be overlooked. He has a .333 BABIP, so it's not like this is smoke and mirrors, granted we're working with a limited sample size here. Likely gone in most AL only formats, those in mixed leagues should consider him for a fifth outfield or utility spot on their roster. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.
Alfonso Soriano, Yankees - Soriano was traded from the Cubs to the Yankees this week, where he will serve as a much-needed RHB, in their debilitated lineup. In Chicago this season he hit .254/.287/.467 with 17 homers and 10 stolen bases over 383 PA. At 37 years old, he knows New York, from his early days, but this is not the same stadium he remembers and being a pull hitter in this Yankee Stadium will not be of much benefit. There's something to be said for going from a bottom dwelling team to a "contender" and the Yankees have done a pretty good job of getting the most out of their aging hitters, at least initially, so a bump in Soriano's numbers is a distinct possibility. That said, owners should not be looking to break the bank on the left fielder and future DH. Mixed: Owned; AL: $25.
Dayan Viciedo, White Sox - Viciedo went on a bit of a tear this week with two homers and a double to help raise his batting line to .254/.299/.414 over 304 PA this season. Overall his numbers are not that far off from a season ago, when he hit .255/.300/.444 with 25 homers over 543 PA. His contact rate is a bit of a problem and he doesn't walk much, but the power is starting to come around and that's what we're all here for, the power. He's only 24 years old, so there's still time for him to develop into a better hitter and potentially hit for even more power, which means owners should exercise a bit of patience. Mixed: $6; AL: Owned.
Luke Scott, Rays - Scott is closing in on his best month of the season, as he has hit .352/.446/.685 in July with four homers and a stolen base (rare) over 65 PA. He is being sat against most LHPs, thus limiting his value somewhat, but he is still very useful in his current role. On the season his contact rate is up to 77.3 percent, which matches his career high from 2008 with the Orioles. Other than that most of his underlying numbers are comparable to those of his career averages, which is a welcomed sign after he slumped so badly last season with the Rays. Likely gone in all AL only formats, he should be considered by owners in mixed leagues with an open utility spot because of his power. Mixed: $4; AL: Owned.
Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop a line in the comments section.