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FAAB Factor - NL: The Metropolitan Hawkeye

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 – 8/11/13

Starting Pitching:

Marco Estrada, Brewers – Estrada, who had been sidelined with hamstring/back woes since June 5 and had several bullpen sessions scrapped, made a quicker than expected return from his rehab assignment to start Wednesday. Estrada only went 2.2 innings in his last rehab start but was activated to start in place of the injured Tom Gorzelanny. He gave up just one hit over five shutout innings, throwing 76 pitches, Wednesday. Estrada struck out six and did not factor in the decision against the Giants. He should remain in the rotation going forward. Estrada emerged as one of Milwaukee’s best starters in 2012. In 23 starts - after having never made more than seven in a season - Estrada posted a 3.64 ERA and stellar 143:29 K:BB ratio over 138.1 innings. This year has been a different story, as he posted a 5.32 ERA in 12 starts before being sidelined by the injury. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Roy Halladay, Phillies – Halladay, profiled two weeks ago, gets another mention, as he threw a five-inning simulated game Saturday. This sim game was his first since landing on the DL and ultimately undergoing shoulder surgery to repair his labrum and rotator cuff in mid-May. If all goes well Saturday, Halladay, who struggled mightily before getting shut down, could begin a rehab assignment next week and possibly return to the Phillies in late August or early September. It will be interesting to see if the operation helped Halladay regain some of the velocity he lost the past two seasons. Mixed: $6; NL: $17 (very early possible stretch run spec bid).

Tim Lincecum, Giants – Lincecum was dominant Thursday against the Brewers, moving to 6-11 after giving up just one hit and one walk over eight innings, striking out eight batters. Lincecum would have been given the opportunity to go for the complete game shutout, but he was pulled after developing a minor blister on his hand after eighth inning. It's not something that's expected to cause him to miss any time. Lincecum has been devastating of late, allowing two runs or fewer in each of his last three starts, covering more than seven innings on each occasion, following his July 22 nightmare, when he allowed eight runs in 3.2 innings. Prior to that start, he struck out 11 in a brilliant start against the Mets and one-upped that with a no-hitter against the Padres, striking out 13. In case you still don’t believe, while his ERA is 4.18, his FIP is 3.64. Mixed: $11; NL: already owned.

Jeff Manship, Rockies – Manship had his contract selected by the Rockies and started Thursday against the Mets. He allowed two runs on four hits and three walks, striking out four in the outing. Manship worked mostly as a starter down at Triple-A Colorado Springs this season, with largely unimpressive results, posting a 4.85 ERA with a 6.1 K/9. Due to injuries, he could get a few more turns in the Colorado rotation. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Carlos Martinez, Cardinals – Martinez was called up to start Thursday after Shelby Miller was hit on the elbow on the second pitch Wednesday by a Carl Crawford line drive and Jake Westbrook, Thursday’s starter, moved up to fill in. Martinez left in the fifth inning with what is presumed to be cramping in his right index finger. It was the first major league start of his career, as he has only appeared in relief earlier this season for the Cardinals. Through 4.2 innings, he had allowed four runs on seven hits and three walks. Martinez has been fantastic this season in his starts for Triple-A Memphis, posting a 1.77 ERA and 1.22 WHIP to go along with 45 strikeouts in 51 innings. He mixes a high-90s heavy fastball that generates lots of groundballs along with that developing changeup and curveball. Miller is expected to make his next start, so Martinez was sent back down, but he could be back for the long term soon in St. Louis. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (included in case your league allows you to pick up minor leaguers. Up bid in keeper leagues).

Ross Ohlendorf, Nationals – Ohlendorf, who has been on the disabled list since August 4 with right shoulder inflammation, will make a four-inning, minor league rehab start Saturday. His shoulder held up well following his return to elevated ground Wednesday, and the right-hander is now expected to toss four innings, or 65 pitches, in a rehab outing Saturday. If his recovery continues without setback, Ohlendorf could be back shortly after his 15 days are up to fill the long-relief role in Washington, though he could replace Taylor Jordan in the rotation. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Tanner Roark, Nationals – The Nationals called up Roark this past week. For now, he is being used out of the bullpen, but he is a candidate to take Taylor Jordan’s rotation spot if/once he is shut down for the year. Roark has filled a similar role this year at Triple-A Syracuse, bouncing between starting and relieving, posting a 9-3 record, 3.15 ERA and 84:20 K:BB ratio in 105.2 innings. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Tyson Ross, Padres – Ross held the Reds to one run on four hits and four walks over seven innings to pick up his third win of the season Saturday. Ross has given up just four runs over 27 innings since rejoining the rotation, and he has a solid 28:10 K:BB ratio to boot. History suggests that he's bound to fall back to earth, but Ross will try to keep the good vibes going Thursday against the Mets. His recent success should keep his rotation spot safe for at least one or two more starts, even if he struggles. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (upped bid from when he was promoted).

Chris Rusin, Cubs – Rusin struck out five and walked two while scattering seven hits over six shutout innings against the Cardinals on Friday. He earned his second win of the season with the effort, catching a potent St. Louis offense during a dry spell at the plate. The five strikeouts were a season-high for Rusin, who has pitched well in his four starts since replacing Matt Garza in the Cubs’ rotation. Rusin, who is essentially auditioning for a place in the Cubs' 2014 plans over the remaining weeks of the regular season, has gotten off to a good head start in that endeavor. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (upped bid from when he was promoted).

Ryan Vogelsong, Giants – Vogelsong, profiled two weeks ago, gets another mention as he was activated from the disabled list Friday to start against the Orioles. He was expected to make a final rehab start with Triple-A on Friday, but the Giants decided he is instead ready following Sunday's rehab start with Double-A Richmond. Vogelsong struck out four and walked three while giving up two runs on six hits and threw 103 pitches over six innings. That outing built off his last two appearances at Double-A where Vogelsong, who fractured his right pinkie while batting on May 20, pitched 11.0 innings and only allowed one run and two walks while striking out eight. Prior to getting injured, Vogelsong was suffering through a nightmare season, posting a 7.19 ERA, 1.727 WHIP and 40:18 K:BB in 46.1 innings. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (slightly upped bid).

Michael Wacha, Cardinals – Wacha, the Cardinals’ top draft pick in 2012, was called up to make a spot-start Saturday. He allowed two runs on five hits and three walks while striking out four and left the game with the lead. The 22-year-old experienced some growing pains in his first three major league starts earlier this year, but he was been outstanding at Triple-A Memphis, with a 2.65 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP over 85 innings. One thing Wacha tried to correct at Memphis was pitching down more in the strike zone, which should benefit him greatly moving forward with the parent club. Wacha is being moved to the pen for now with St. Louis. He figures to work in a middle-relief or setup role, but could be an option if the Cardinals need a long man or spot starter. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (much higher in keeper leagues).

Covered last week - Jon Niese, Mets – Niese, sidelined since June 20 with a partially torn rotator cuff, pitched four scoreless innings for Low-A St. Lucie on Thursday. He is expected to start for Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League on Tuesday, after which he probably will be activated and start for the Mets next week. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (upped early injury return spec bid).

Injury activation/news – Yovani Gallardo, Brewers – out since July 30 with a strained left hamstring, he should be activated from the disabled list on August 16 against the Reds. (just an FYI as still should be owned in all leagues, but of waived due to slump, go 2/7); - Jon Niese, Mets – Niese, sidelined since June 20 with a partially torn rotator cuff, made his last rehab start for Double-A Binghamton on Tuesday. He will be activated to start Sunday against Arizona with the Mets reverting back to a six-man rotation. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (upped bid).

Relief Pitchers:

Rafael Betancourt, Rockies – Betancourt, who had appendectomy surgery on July 20, is scheduled to throw a simulated game Monday. After getting through his third bullpen session this week without incident, Betancourt received clearance to face live hitters. It seems he's close to fully healthy, regaining most of the nearly eight pounds he lost following appendix surgery. His return -- which could happen next weekend -- will add needed stability to a bullpen that posted a 6.75 ERA through the first seven games of August. However, he may not get his closer role back with Rex Brothers nicely filling in for him again. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early injury spec return bid).

Jonathan Broxton, Reds – Broxton, sidelined since mid-June with a strained right elbow joint, was activated off the disabled list Wednesday. Now that he has returned, Broxton slides back into his role of Aroldis Chapman’s primary set-up man. Mixed: $1: NL: $4.

Jeff Francis/Sam Freeman/Cesar Jimenez/Eduardo Sanchez – This week’s middle reliever call ups/acquisitions were in Colorado, St. Louis, Philadelphia and Chicago. None have any major value. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Jason Grilli, Pirates – A little more than two weeks after suffering what appeared to be a severe injury, Grilli, who is sidelined with a strained right forearm, started a throwing program this weekend. It's obviously great news for the Pirates, and while the team hasn't outlined a clear timetable for return, Grilli could be back on the active roster by the end of the month. Prior to getting hurt on July 22, Grilli had 30 saves, a 2.34 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, and 66:10 K:BB ratio over 42.1 innings this season. He has been more than ably replaced by Mark Melancon, who could continue to close when Grilli returns, though it’s likely that Grilli does regain his closer role if he makes through a short rehab stint with no setbacks. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early injury return speculation, in case he was waived when he was first sidelined. Up substantially if believe he returns in two weeks and closes).

LaTroy Hawkins, Mets – Hawkins, who was profiled last week and last closed in 2009 for Houston, gets another mention as he notched his second save Thursday against Colorado, tossing a clean ninth on just 11 pitches. He followed that up by throwing a scoreless ninth Saturday to pick up his third save. Hawkins has given up just four earned runs in 26 innings since June 8. It looks like Hawkins is "the guy" for now, as long as Bobby Parnell is out, but you have to figure the leash on the 39-year-old righty will be short if he struggles to close out a couple. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

J.J. Putz, Diamondbacks – Since blowing a save on July 1 and working in lower-leverage situations, Putz has been solid in the Arizona pen, giving up just one run on eight hits and five with eight strikeouts in 11.1 innings pitched. Brad Ziegler has done a good job since taking over as the team’s closer, but if Putz continues to have success, he could pick up some holds in the desert. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Catchers:

Ryan Hanigan, Reds – A sprained left wrist cost Hanigan a month of action, but he returned to action Friday. He leaves a lot to be desired, offensively, with a .190 average and just two home runs this season, but he knows how to handle a pitching staff. In his absence, Devin Mesoraco showed signs of being the offensive catcher Cincinnati hoped he was, so there is no guarantee that Hanigan sees consistent playing time moving forward if his offensive struggles continue. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Koyie Hill, Marlins – Hill had his contract selected by the Marlins on Friday. It's not like the 34-year-old swung his way to the majors -- he hit just .237/.291/.326 with one home run in 60 games with Triple-A New Orleans -- but it seems the Marlins simply want Rob Brantly to play every day down in the minors. Jeff Mathis likely will see most of the time behind the plate in Miami, but he is nothing to write home about either. Hill owns a .210 career average through 313 big-league games. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Gerald Laird, Braves – Laird will return to the Braves on Sunday. Despite having to go under the knife to have a kidney stone removed, Laird missed just beyond the minimum of 15 days while on the DL. The Braves have played with three catchers for most of the year, and it seems likely that they will continue to do so when Laird is deemed fully healthy. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Miguel Montero, Diamondbacks – Montero began throwing again Friday and could take some swings this weekend, which is good news. On the advice of a doctor, he had been resting his back in hopes that the lower back inflammation would go down. Montero has been on the DL since July 29 with the back inflammation, which plagued him for a while before he was shut down. He was having a poor year before he was sidelined and Wil Nieves has done a good job filling in for him, but when Montero is ready to return, he likely will get his starting job back. However, there is no set date for that, but early-September looks realistic. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early injury return speculation, in case he was waived due to struggles and injury).

First Basemen:

Darin Ruf, Phillies – Ruf figures to see regular at-bats for the rest of the season after the Phillies designated Delmon Young for assignment Friday. Ruf has hit .289/.394/.588 with six home runs in 97 at-bats since being recalled from Triple-A. He is currently learning to play right field with the Phillies reluctant to move Domonic Brown over from left. Last year, Ruf crushed 38 homers at the Double-A level and slashed .333/.351/.727 in 37 plate appearances with the Phillies earlier this year, but had a disappointing year (.266/.344/.408) at the Triple-A level. All that has changed since his promotion July 6, so if you missed the train early and have a chance to get on, do it now, especially since he likely will have dual eligibility next year as well (17 games at first, 12 in the outfield to date). Mixed: $22; NL: should be owned.

Second Base:

Ronny Cedeno, Padres – Cedeno signed a minor league contract with the Padres last Saturday and quickly ascended to the big leagues. With Everth Cabrera essentially suspended for the rest of the season, Cedeno provides a veteran presence at shortstop and will share time with Alexi Amarista (profiled last week) and Logan Forsythe. Cedeno is dependable with the glove and not much of a threat with the bat. He is likely a platoon candidate as he has hit .298 this season off left-handers and just .167 against righties. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Scooter Gennett, Brewers – Gennett was sent down to Nashville following Tuesday's game, but he's back with the Brewers after Rickie Weeks landed on the 15-day DL with a groin injury Thursday. Gennett owns a .231/.286/.404 slash line with the Crew this season, and figures to see quite a bit of playing time at second base as Weeks will miss the rest of the season. His numbers with Triple-A Nashville -- .280/.327/.371 slash line with four homers and 10 stolen bases in 349 plate appearances -- indicate that he will likely continue to struggle against major league pitching for the rest of the season. But he has been hot his first two games since getting called back up and should see consistent playing time the balance of the season. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Shortstops:

Dee Gordon, Dodgers – Gordon was recalled from Triple-A Albuquerque on Monday. With Hanley Ramirez (shoulder) out of the lineup, the team brought up Gordon to provide some insurance and depth in the middle infield. In 19 major league games earlier this season, Gordon hit just .175 with five RBI and 16 strikeouts. Nick Punto will also see time at SS for as long as Hanley is out. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Didi Gregorius/Chris Owings, Diamondbacks – Gregorius has been seeing increased time at shortstop with Cliff Pennington sidelined with an injured foot. The X-rays taken on Pennington’s left foot did not show a major injury and he was able to return to action Saturday against the Mets. If he has a setback, Gregorius, despite his massive slump at the plate, could get decent run at the position. That said, the D-Backs could finally call up Chris Owings and give him a shot at manning the position. Owings continues to show off a nice blend of speed and power as evidenced by his 12 home runs and 16 stolen bases this season. His walk rate is still sub par but he makes strong contact, which is helping to keep both his average and on-base percentage at high levels. He'll easily warrant a call-up once rosters expand in September, and that promotion could be escalated if Pennington hits the DL. Gregorius - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Owings – Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid and more upside than Gregorius).

Third Basemen:

Wilmer Flores, Mets – Flores was promoted this week to help fill the void at third base while David Wright is on the disabled list for around the next month, though he could miss the rest of the season. He was impressive with the bat at Triple-A this season, hitting .322/.358/.532 with 15 home runs and 86 RBI in 106 games. It just seems that Flores has been a Met forever, having signed with the team as a 16-year-old international free agent in August 2007. Flores steadily progressed up the ladder, with little questions about his bat. However, due to his lack of foot speed and range, defense has been a challenge, as he signed as a shortstop, moved to third, then over to second and first. For now, he will play the hot corner in NY. Mixed: $6; NL: $17 (up slightly if believe Wright will not return this year).

Aramis Ramirez, Brewers – Ramirez, out since July 7 with a sore left knee, will likely be activated Tuesday. The plan now is for Ramirez to serve as DH in his return to the lineup in Texas on Tuesday, with a return to third base on tap for Wednesday. When A-Ram is healthy, you know the numbers he can put up, but so far, this season has been a wash with just five home runs and 26 RBI in 181 at-bats over 54 games. Despite Milwaukee going nowhere and the team bereft of offensive, Ramirez still should see solid playing time the last six weeks of the season, and if healthy, post solid numbers. Mixed: $9; NL: $25 (if waived due to poor season and injury).

Logan Watkins, Cubs – Watkins was promoted from Triple-A Iowa last Sunday to give the Cubs another infield body while Luis Valbuena is sidelined with a right oblique strain. He is behind Cody Ransom and Donnie Murphy on the depth chart at third base, receiving spot duty. Watkins was batting .243/.333/.379 over 412 at-bats at Iowa. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Outfielders:

Charlie Blackmon/Corey Dickerson, Rockies – With Carlos Gonzalez (finger) finally landing on the disabled list, Blackmon and Dickerson each have a chance for more regular at-bats. Manager Walt Weiss most likely will just ride the hot bat on most nights. In addition, Weiss could deploy Michael Cuddyer at first, opening both corner outfield spots to be filled by Blackmon and Dickerson. Neither player has stood out, but Dickerson seems to have a better set of skills, so he could be first in the pecking order. Blackmon - Mixed - $1; NL: $4; Dickerson – Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Kyle Blanks, Padres – Achilles tendinitis pushed Blanks to the DL on July 12, and while he remains without a timetable for return, the 26-year-old should have a better idea of where he stands in his recovery after testing the ailment with some running early this week. It’s possible that Blanks could be back in action in early-September, if he has no further setbacks. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early injury spec bids).

Brian Bogusevic, Cubs – Bogusevic, out since July 18 with a strained left hamstring, began his rehab assignment Friday with the Cubs' Arizona League squad. Bogusevic will probably remain in Arizona through the weekend before moving up the organizational ladder as he progresses in his recovery. Though he received regular starts in center field before suffering the hamstring injury, David DeJesus has since returned from the DL, leaving only reserve duty for Bogusevic by the time he's activated. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Jaff Decker, Padres – Decker was promoted from Triple-A Tucson on Friday to replace Carlos Quentin (knee) on the Padres' active roster. In addition to swinging a hot bat recently, Decker is benefiting from the fact that Cameron Maybin (knee) is not quite ready for activation as he continues a rehab assignment at Tucson. Decker is hitting .365 with a .439 OBP during the second half of the season at Triple-A. He could see some action in the outfield until Maybin is ready to return. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Adam Eaton, Diamondbacks – Eaton made his fourth consecutive start Saturday. After a rough start following his return from injury, Eaton is finally finding his swing. In August, he's now hitting .350 in 20 at-bats. He's yet to record a steal in his 71 at-bats, but that will change quickly as long as he continues to get on base. Expect him to continue to start for the near future and be a safe play for potential steals, runs and a solid batting average. Mixed: $7; NL: $18 (upped bids due to strong potential for steals).

Ryan Ludwick, Reds – Ludwick, who tore cartilage and dislocated his right shoulder sliding headfirst into third base in the first game of the season, will be activated off the disabled list Monday, when his 20-day rehab stint is over. This news comes straight from the mouth of manager Dusty Baker, who added that Ludwick will likely be in the six-hole in the batting order for Monday's opener against the Cubs. It's been a struggle for Ludwick throughout his rehab assignment (.136 average in 13 games), but he should see close to everyday time in left field right off the bat, ending the shuttle service the Reds have used at the position while he was sidelined. Mixed: $7; NL: $18.

Darnell McDonald, Cubs – The Cubs called up McDonald on Saturday. McDonald appeared in 42 major-league games last season between the Red Sox and Yankees, but he's been stuck down at the Triple-A level this season, slashing an uninspiring .236/.307/.346 in 92 games to this point. The 34-year-old outfielder will be up to fill the reserve role recently vacated by Thomas Neal (shoulder). Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Angel Pagan, Giants – Pagan is dealing with a damaged tendon in his left hamstring, and he underwent surgery back on June 25. He's currently in Arizona at the team's spring camp and has been running, hitting and participating in other baseball activities. The organization has not set a date for a potential rehab stint, and they're likely to allow him to take his time in recovering. That said there is some speculation that Pagan could be back by September 1. That would be right in the heart of the 10-12 week estimate that was given when he was first sidelined. When/if Pagan, who was hitting.262/.314/.374 with three homers, 24 RBI and 30 runs at the time of his injury, does return, he will send Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres to the bench. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec return bid).

Casper Wells, Phillies - The Phillies claimed Wells off waivers on Thursday. The Mariners cut ties with Wells after spring training, and the Blue Jays, A's and White Sox have all followed suit since. Apparently, the 28-year-old's .155/.211/.169 slash line in 71 at-bats this season didn't scare the Phillies off, but it's hard to imagine his tenure in Philadelphia will be any different than his other stops this season. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Injury activation – Jordan Schafer, Braves – (stress fracture in his right foot, sustained after he fouled a ball of his ankle in late June, was activated Saturday. Schafer batted just 2-for-32 in nine rehab games at Triple-A Gwinnett, including 0-for-9 on Friday and Saturday, but he at least seems to be moving around well enough in the outfield for the Braves to bring him back. He'll function as a pinch-runner and defensive replacement now that the Braves' starting outfield is fully healthy. (Mixed: $0; NL: $2).