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FAAB Factor - NL: When the Mujica Stops

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 - 9/22/13

This is the final column of the season. Thanks to all who read, provided suggestions and comments during the year. Please provide any further suggestions, comments or if you want anyone else covered to the blog or to jan.levine@gmail.com.

Starting Pitching:

Brandon Beachy, Braves - Beachy, who has been sidelined with right elbow inflammation since Aug. 20, has still not been cleared to begin throwing off a mound. The Braves could have Beachy pitch in instructional league to get a few more innings in before spring training after his recovery from Tommy John surgery hit numerous hiccups this season. Beachy is a pretty solid candidate to open 2014 in the Braves' rotation. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (keeper leagues only).

Archie Bradley, Diamondbacks - Bradley, profiled a few times this season, will not be called up the last week of the season, but is still a major candidate to have a rotation spot in 2014. He split the season between High-A Visalia and Double-A Mobile, dominating in both locations. The only negatives were the spikes in his walk rate, going from 3.19 to 4.31, and drop in his K rate, going from 13.72 to 8.70, at Mobile but the future is still bright for Bradley. He has all the tools to be a top-of-the-rotation starter for the D-Backs, throwing 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 and subsequently, keeps the ball in the park. Keep Bradley on your radar because he is a special talent that could make an immediate impact to your fantasy team. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (keeper leagues only).

Johnny Cueto, Reds - Cueto, profiled last week and on the DL since June 29 with a strained muscle behind his right shoulder, was activated to start Tuesday in place of the injured Tony Cingrani. He picked up the win, allowing five hits while fanning five over five shutout innings in throwing just 82 pitches. The Reds are giving Cueto two extra days rest, which should make him available for a slightly heavier workload Monday, and this move lines Cueto up to make two crucial starts over the final week of the season. Mixed: $45; NL: $85.

Collin McHugh, Rockies - McHugh had not appeared in a game out of the bullpen since his recall in early September but was called on to make a spot start Monday for the third time this season. He pitched well Monday, holding the Cardinals to just one run in five innings of work. McHugh reverted back to form, allowing six runs on 11 hits in five innings Saturday against the Diamondbacks. In 20 minor league starts this season in the Mets' and Rockies' systems, he posted a 3.42 ERA with 100 strikeouts in 113 innings. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Zach Miner, Phillies - Miner took the place of the injured Kyle Kendrick on Wednesday as the Phillies' starter. He had been working in middle relief for the Phillies since being recalled, posting a 3.72 ERA over 13 appearances. Miner made 12 starts with Triple-A Lehigh Valley earlier in the season, but since that was over a month ago, he was on a shorter pitch count, lasting just three innings against Miami, giving up two hits, no runs, and striking out two in 61 pitches. The Phillies announced Friday that Kendrick has been shut down for the rest of the year due to tendinitis in his shoulder, meaning Miner will get two more starts. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Wily Peralta, Brewers - Peralta pitched well in a winning effort Monday, allowing just an unearned run over six innings of work. He has now fired four straight quality starts, over which span he is averaging 6.5 strikeouts per game. After a slow start, Peralta has really turned his season around and should be locked into a 2014 rotation spot for the Brewers. Mixed: $15; NL: owned (value in keeper leagues).

Drew Pomeranz, Rockies - Pomeranz pitched a scoreless inning in relief Monday in his return to action. He induced a double play in what amounted to a low-leverage outing, marking his first appearance with since July 22. Though Pomeranz is now ostensibly healthy, it seems the Rockies are content to only use him out of the bullpen the rest of the way, evidenced by him tossing two scoreless innings out of the bullpen Thursday. His value is up in the air, but he likely will get another chance to be a starter in 2014. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Edinson Volquez, Dodgers - Volquez gave up two runs (one earned) on five hits and four walks with six strikeouts over 6.1 innings against the Padres on Friday. While the four walks were the most he had allowed since coming over to the Dodgers, Volquez pitched himself a decent game here despite ending up on the losing end of the decision and falling to 9-12 on the year. He's had a solid K:BB over his four starts for LA and will be on the road against the Giants for his final start of the regular season. Volquez will be a free agent this winter, and depending on where he lands, he could be an effective starter, seen is his FIP, which is 1.25 runs less than his ERA. Mixed: $1; NL: $5

Relief Pitchers:

John Axford/Kevin Siegrist/Trevor Rosenthal, Cardinals - Edward Mujica will be relieved of closing duties for at least the next few days, and perhaps longer. Things have been slowly trending this way for a few weeks now, because as good as Mujica has been this season, he's been struggling lately and the Cardinals just can not afford to let him work things out while in the ninth-inning role. Over his last eight appearances, Mujica has given up 15 hits and seven runs, so he'll likely work in low-leverage situations for now. Axford closed in Milwaukee, but lost his job to K-Rod and Jim Henderson. He has been solid in St. Louis. Siegrist, a southpaw, lowered his ERA to 0.48 Saturday and has a 50:18 K:BB ratio in 37.1 innings over 40 games since his promotion. Rosenthal has been the Cards' main eighth-inning pitcher this season, though he has struggled a bit lately, allowing runs in two of his last four outings after going a month without allowing one. The pecking order is likely Rosenthal, Sigrist and Axford, but I wouldn't be shocked if Siegrist got the first call. Axford - Mixed: $0; NL: $2. Siegrist - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Rosenthal - Mixed: $7; NL: $18 (value spike).

Jake Dunning/Heath Hembree, Giants - The Giants will use Dunning and Hembree in higher-pressure situations the last week of the season. The club wants to get a better look at both pitchers as the season winds down in order to see if they can deal with a full-time role in the bullpen next year. Dunning has been up and down between the majors and the minors this year, but he has excelled when called upon, posting a 2.82 ERA and 1.16 WHIP through 22.1 innings with the Giants. Hembree tossed another scoreless inning Friday, giving him five with a 7:2 K:BB ratio since his promotion. He posted a 4.07 ERA, allowing 25 earned runs and seven homers in 55.1 innings for Triple-A Fresno. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Jason Grilli, Pirates - Grilli served as the Pirates' closer Saturday against Cincinnati, notching the save, but manager Clint Hurdle said in regards to the closer's role that the team will play it "one day at a time." Mark Melancon has struggled lately while Grilli, who had allowed runs in three straight appearances, was coming off back-to-back solid efforts to get another shot. He picked up his 31st save of the year Saturday and ERA on the season now stands at 2.79 to go along with 74 strikeouts and just 12 walks. Mixed: $11; NL: $35 (in case he is available).

Pedro Strop, Cubs - Strop, who was profiled last week, earned his first save of the season Saturday. A day after Kevin Gregg lashed out against GM Theo Epstein and manager Dale Sveum for a perceived lack of faith in him, the team turned to Strop to nail down a 3-1 win over Atlanta. Strop's overall numbers on the year don't look great, but he's posted a 2.70 ERA with a 40:10 K:BB ratio in 33.1 innings since joining the Cubs in late June and has the kind of swing-and-miss stuff that's valued in late-inning situations. With Gregg out of the role and not expected to be back with the Cubs next year, Strop has the inside track in filling the team's closer role. Mixed: $5; NL: $14 (value spikes in keeper leagues).

Brian Wilson, Dodgers - Wilson recorded his second hold of the season with a perfect inning during the Dodgers' 7-6 win at Arizona on Thursday. He has gained some trust in the Dodgers bullpen, as he was called upon to protect a one-run lead in the eighth inning. Wilson has posted a 0.79 ERA with a 10:3 K:BB ratio in 11.1 innings over 15 games since his return to the majors. He could be a sneaky source of holds over the final week of the season for those that need help in that category. Moving forward, he could get a shot to close somewhere now that he is show he is fully healthy and throwing in the 94 mph range. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Catchers:
 
Yasmani Grandal, Padres - Grandal is optimistic that he'll be ready to play during spring training. Grandal's season was bookended by suspension and injury, but if he can get right ahead of the 2014 campaign, he figures to open the year as the Padres' top option behind the dish. However, the 24-year-old is just six weeks removed from a full reconstruction of his ACL, which took place on August 6, and given the demands of the catcher position, there's reason for skepticism in regard to Grandal's statement. Mixed: $1; NL: $4. (keeper leagues only).

Dioner Navarro, Cubs - Navarro had started just three games the first half of September, as Welington Castillo had been a more prominent part of the catching rotation. Castillo suffered a partial meniscus tear Thursday, opening the door for Navarro to see more time backed up by Jean Boscan. On the season, Navarro is hitting an impressive .299 with 13 homers and 33 RBI. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Jean Boscan/Tuffy Gosewisch - Continuing the parade of back up and third catchers promoted due to the rosters expansion, the Cubs called up Boscan to supply depth behind Welington Castillo and Dioner Navarro while Gosewisch will be the third catcher behind Miguel Montero and Wil Nieves in Arizona for the remainder of the season. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

First Basemen:

Sean Halton, Brewers - With the Brewers out of it and looking to the future, the team is playing lots of young players to evaluate their possible usefulness for down the road, One of those players is Halton, who hit a grand slam Wednesday. That home run was Halton's fourth of the season, but more importantly, it was the rookie's third in his last six games. He struggled his first go-around in the majors, but has hit well since his promotion earlier this month. Halton is seeing regular time against righties, and could be a cheap source of power down the stretch. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Corey Hart, Brewers - Hart, an impending free agent, said Thursday that he would be open to remaining with the Brewers, even at a discounted rate. Hart lost the 2013 season thanks to a recovery from knee surgery that didn't go quite as planned, but he is nearly healthy now, which is good timing with free agency approaching quickly. It's not clear what kind of deal Hart would be looking for to stay in Milwaukee, but with him coming off the knee injury, and expressing a desire to stay, the Brewers should be able to work out an affordable compromise if they wish to retain Hart's services. Whether or not they actually want to remains to be seen, but he should land somewhere as a starter. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (value in keeper leagues only)

Brock Peterson, Cardinals - Matt Adams was able to come back from his elbow injury, but if he is sidelined and with Allen Craig out for the year, Peterson could be the Cardinals' first baseman down the stretch. Peterson posted a .296/.364/.531 triple-slash with 25 home runs at Triple-A Memphis this year; his fifth year at Triple-A. He has seen minimal action in the majors, and the Cardinals could also turn to Matt Carpenter at first and play Kolten Wong at second, so don't expect much. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
 
Second Base:
 
Tony Abreu/Nick Noonan, Giants - Marco Scutaro is sidelined with an injury to his ring finger, not the pinkie that he's been dealing with since June. His injury is being considered day-to-day right now, but there are rumors that he may simply be shut down for the rest of the season with the Giants having nothing left to play for. If that ends up being the case, Abreu would likely see the lion's share of starts at second base for the remainder of the season supported by Noonan. Both - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Charlie Culbertson, Rockies - The Rockies remain fond of Culberson's bat, but his lack of polish as an outfielder has led manager Walt Weiss to give Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson the majority of the at-bats in left and center field with Carlos Gonzalez and Dexter Fowler sidelined with injuries the last few weeks. However, with Michael Cuddyer also banged up, Culbertson has started the past three games, going 7-for-14 with three runs scored. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Shortstops:
 
Omar Quintanilla/Wilfredo Tovar, Mets - Quintanilla lost his job when Ruben Tejada was called back up from the minors. With Tejada lost for the season due to the fractured right fibula that occurred when he collided with Andrew Brown on Wednesday, Quintanilla gets his job back and will be backed up by Tovar. Quintanilla struggled mightily the past few months as he wore down at the plate and in the field, so don't expect much. Quintanilla - Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Tovar - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Third Basemen:

Matt Davidson, Diamondbacks - Davidson has seen sporadic duty since getting called up on September 3, but he has made the most of the playing time he has received lately. Davidson had a three-run home run on Saturday, his second in the past week. For Davidson to be successful, he needs consistent playing because his swing has a timing mechanism that has a leg kick that touches the ground just as his hands begin to drive toward the ball. That swing produced a .280/.350/.481 slash line with 17 home runs at Triple-A Reno, after hitting 23 last year, and he is likely viewed as the third baseman of the future in Arizona. Mixed: $2; NL: $9 (value mainly in keeper leagues)

Makiel Franco, Phillies - The Phillies named Franco their 2013 Paul Owens Award winner on offense. The award is given to the team's Minor League Player of the Year. Franco was a lock for the award. The 21-year-old hit .320 with 36 doubles, 31 home runs and 103 RBI in 134 games with High-A Clearwater and Double-A Reading. Franco led all minor leaguers with 308 total bases. He also finished tied for second in the minors in extra-base hits (70), ranked fourth in hits (173), tied for seventh in homers and tied for eighth in RBI. During the offseason, he is expected to play winter ball in the Dominican Republic, where he could see time at first and third base and is believed to compete for a spot sometime in 2014. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (value solely in keeper leagues)

David Wright, Mets - Wright, profiled last week and who landed on the disabled list on August 3 with a strained right hamstring, is covered again as he was activated off the DL on Friday. Wright homered in his first at-bat Friday and added another one Saturday. Prior to being sidelined, Wright was having an outstanding campaign, posting a .309/.391/.512 line with 16 homers, 17 steals, 54 RBI, and 60 runs through 105 games. The 30-year-old had been adamant about wanting to return this season, and he got his wish Friday. If available and believe he plays the last week, go the max.

Outfielders:

Charlie Blackmon, Rockies - Blackmon went 2-for-5 with a home run, one RBI and two runs scored against the Diamondbacks on Friday and followed that up by going 3-for-5 Saturday. Blackmon has now hit safely in his last seven games, going 17-for-34 with the one home run, four RBI and five runs scored. He's certainly been making the most of the regular playing time he's seen here in September and has been a nice late-season pick-up for fantasy owners in need of outfield help with Carlos Gonzalez sidelined. He projects to be a fourth outfielder in 2014, but could get a shot at a starting spot if Michael Cuddyer moves to first base to replace Todd Helton. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Khris Davis, Brewers - A wrist ailment limited Davis to just two starts since Sept. 6, but the 25-year-old's pain subsided enough to where he gave it a go Saturday, going 1-fror-4 with two RBI. Davis, who took over on left after Ryan Braun was suspended, has been a nice surprise for the Brewers, posting a .282/.361/.615 line with 10 homers, 23 RBI, and 25 runs through 51 games. He likely will try and play through the remainder of the season with the ailment. For 2014, Davis' ability to capitalize on his strong performance may depend on the Brewers creating room since right now Braun-Gomez-Aoki are penciled in across the outfield. Mixed: $11; NL: owned (a name to keep in mind in keeper leagues).

Caleb Gindl, Brewers - In part-time duty this season, Gindl has hit .252 with 14 RBI and two steals to go with his five home runs. Gindl has seen most of his action sidelined lately with Khris Davis dealing with a wrist injury, but with Davis back, his playing time will suffer. If Davis has an issue with that wrist the last week of the season, Gindl should be the primary beneficiary. He could earn a bench spot in Milwaukee next season. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Billy Hamilton, Reds - Hamilton, profiled when he was first promoted, gets another mention, as he already has 10 stolen bases despite seeing minimal action in the field. He showed what he could do when given the opportunity, going 3-for-4 while reaching base five times, driving in a run and stealing four bases Wednesday. Hamilton gets another start Sunday with Cincinnati close to locking up a playoff spot but battling for a division crown. He hit .256/.308/.343 with 75 steals in 123 games for Triple-A Louisville through Thursday,  but was been much better since the All-Star break to raise his profile. Hamilton took a little while to get going, but once he adapted to the league and learned the pitchers and their pick-off moves, he was off running with abandon and carried that into the majors. There is no clear spot for him in the Cincy outfield in 2014, as it may be dependent on Shin-Soo Choo re-upping, but if a position does open, his ability to steal would substantially up his value. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (up substantially in keeper leagues).

Jason Heyward, Braves - Heyward, who was profiled last week and whose jaw was fractured by Mets left-hander Jon Niese's fastball on Aug. 21, was activated and returned to action Friday. Heyward made rapid progress the past few weeks and returned to the Braves' lineup a few days earlier than expected. He probably won't play daily the last week of the year, as Atlanta is obvious more concerned with having him ready for the playoffs. Mixed: $25; NL: $50 (in case he was waived due to injury).

Angel Pagan, Giants - Pagan, profiled when he was activated at the end of June when he returned from a damaged tendon in his left hamstring, gets another mention as he has been on fire since coming back to action. He was hitting.262/.314/.374 with three homers, 24 RBI and 30 runs at the time of his injury, but since his return, he 23-for-71 with 12 runs scored, a home run, four RBI and three stolen bases. Pagan is the clear starter in center field and has three years remaining on the four-year, $40 million deal he signed last December. Mixed: $22; NL: $55.

Gregory Polanco, Pirates - Polanco's status in the Pirates' system skyrocketed in 2013, and he earned the promotion to Triple-A Indianapolis at the end of August after showing a good eye at Double-A Altoona (a 36:36 BB:K ratio in 286 plate appearances). He feasted on Florida State League pitching to the tune of a .312/.364/.472 batting line, stealing 24 bags and adding six home runs to earn the promotion from High-A Bradenton to Altoona in mid-June. Polanco played at Indianapolis through their playoff run in preparation for a longer stay there next year before he hits Pittsburgh sometime in 2014. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (value solely in keeper leagues).

Injury news - Matt Kemp, Dodgers - Out since July 21 with an ankle injury and then sidelined by tightness in his right hamstring, was activated Monday. With Andre Ethier nursing a sprained ankle and the Dodgers clinching the division, manager Don Mattingly has been able to rest him and play Kemp nearly every day. (Mixed: $17; NL: $55, in case he is still available).