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FAAB Factor-NL: Happy Returns?

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 - 5/18/14

Starting Pitching:

Jacob deGrom, Mets - This is what I wrote in the RotoWire preseason outlook on deGrom: "deGrom throws strikes consistently, using a low-90s fastball, average breaking pitch and solid changeup. He underwent Tommy John surgery, missing all of the 2011 season, but has been a fast riser since returning to action." That rise continued this season at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he had a 2.58 ERA and 29:10 K:BB ratio in 39.1 innings (seven starts) with Las Vegas to earn a call up with Gonzalez Germen landing on the 15-day disabled list. The original Mets plan was to use him in the pen, however Dillon Gee landed on the DL with a strained lat muscle, so deGrom, who improved his slider this season, was inserted in his stead in the rotation. DeGrom held the Yankees on Thursday to just one run on four hits with two walks and six strikeouts over seven innings in a tough luck loss. He should stay in the rotation while Gee is out and then it remains to be seen where he will be utilized, though it's that deGrom and not Rafael Montero sticks as the fifth starter. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (go slightly higher if think he sticks over Montero in the rotation).

Anthony DeSclafani, Marlins - DeSclafani, a sixth-round pick by the Blue Jays in the 2011 draft, was promoted from Double-A Jacksonville to start Wednesday against the Dodgers in place of the injured Jose Fernandez. He didn't look out of place, allowing two runs on seven hits and a walk while striking out seven in six innings to earn the win. In the minors, DeSclafani posted a 3.66 ERA and a 7.6 K/9 in 21 starts for Double-A Jacksonville over the past two seasons. This year, he struggled a bit, notching a 4.19 ERA and 1.28 WHIP with a 8.0 K/9 and 2.1 BB to earn the call up. It's unclear if he sticks in the rotation with Miami signing Randy Wolf this past week and Andrew Heaney looming. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Mike Fiers, Brewers - Fiers continues to dominate at Triple-A Nashville, posting a 2.01 ERA, 0.92 WHIP and 72:7 K:BB ratio in 49.1 innings over eight starts. After a solid 2012 season, during which he posted a 3.74 ERA with 135K in 127.2 innings, Fiers suffered through an injury-plagued and ineffective 2013 campaign. Milwaukee does not need a starter right now, but Fiers or Jimmy Nelson, who is also dominating at Triple-A Nashville, would be next in line if there were an opening. Mixed: $0; NL: $3 (early spec bid).

Andrew Heaney, Marlins - I profiled Heaney a month ago but the season-ending injury to Jose Fernandez could escalate his ascension to the majors. He continues to dominate Double-A, posting a 2.35 ERA and a 44:12 K:BB ratio in 46 innings at Jacksonville. Miami called up Anthony DeSclafani and signed Randy Wolf this week. In addition, Kevin Slowey or Brad Hand could start as well, but it seems as if it's only a matter of time before Heaney gets the call. Heaney mixes a 93 mph heater with a slider and curveball, and once he is up he will be the ace of the staff until Fernandez is back sometime next season. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (very early spec bid).

Taylor Jordan, Nationals - Jordan struggled to start the season, posting an 0-3 record with a 5.61 ERA and 18:7 K:BB in five starts 25.2 innings, to earn a demotion to Triple-A Syracuse. That change may have been the best thing that happened to him, as he has used the time in the minors to re-align his mechanics and 94 mph with his fastball during his start Thursday. There is strong speculation that Gio Gonzalez, who was hit hard Saturday, is nursing a shoulder injury though he denies it. If that proves to be the case, and it appears that it is as Gonzalez was placed on the DL on Sunday, Jordan looks to be the most likely candidate to be called up. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Rafael Montero, Mets - Montero, profiled last week, gets another mention as he was called up to start Wednesday in place of Jenrry Mejia, against the Yankees. Montero pitched well, allowing three earned runs on five hits and two walks with three strikeouts in six innings. Montero has a low-90s fastball, along with a low-80s slider and changeup, and he can paint the black with each of those three pitches. That command is what sets him apart, though it wasn't fully on display at Triple-A Las Vegas, where he went 4-1 over eight starts, posting a 3.67 ERA and 41:18 K:BB ratio over 41.2 innings pitched. For now Montero and Jacob deGrom, who replaced the injured Dillon Gee, will remain in the rotation, but when Gee returns after one of two more turns, it remains to be seen if Montero or deGrom is the odd-man out. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (up slightly if think he sticks over deGrom in rotation).

Donn Roach, Padres - Roach, who has been working out of the pen, mainly in long relief for San Diego, will make a spot start in place of the injured Andrew Cashner on Sunday at Coors Field. Roach will be limited to about 60 pitches and there is no guarantee he will make another start though that is the role he had in 2012 and 2013 in the minors for the Padres. However with Matt Wisler struggling since his promotion to Triple-A and Casey Kelly just making his third rehab start - first at Double-A - Roach could stay in the rotation until one of them are ready. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Randy Wolf, Marlins - Wolf signed a one-year deal worth $1 million plus incentives with the Marlins on Wednesday and saw immediate action out of the bullpen that evening. He made six starts for the Diamondbacks' Triple-A Reno squad, posting a 5-1 record, 4.50 ERA, 1.706 WHIP, and 35:18 K:BB in 34 innings and exercised the opt-out clause in his contract to sign with Miami. Wolf could slot in to the rotation in place of the injured Jose Fernandez, though Anthony DeSclafani is getting the first shot at filling that vacancy with Andrew Heaney a possible option down the road.Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Injury activation/updates:

Tony Cingrani, Reds - Cingrani landed on the DL at the beginning of May with shoulder tendinits, but he will make it back in just over the minimum amount of time required by his stint. Prior to being sidelined, he was 2-2 with a 3.34 ERA and 32:17 K:BB ratio in six starts over 32.1 innings. Just an FYI as still should be owned in all leagues.

Jaime Garcia, Cardinals - Garcia, profiled last week, gets another mention, as he will be called up to make his season-debut in a start against the Braves on Sunday. He made just nine starts last season before it was cut short due to a partial tear in his pitching (left) shoulder that required surgery after making just 20 starts in 2012 due to shoulder issues. Garcia's return was slowed by shoulder inflammation and he has made just two rehab starts, his first lasting only two innings after he was hit by a pitch. His second outing was much better, as he threw 74 pitches in a five-inning Triple-A rehab start on Monday, paving the way for his call up.There is some question as to whether Garcia is better served to be a starter or reliever and if he can ever regain the form he showed in 2010 and 2011, when he went 26-15 with 288K in 358 innings. Either way, for now, he will replace Tyler Lyons (shoulder) in the Cardinals rotation, where he will look to use his sinker to generate lots of groundballs. But as Jeff Erickson pointed out last week, it remains to be seen how having Jhonny Peralta at shortstop will impact him. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (upped bid now that he is confirmed as Sunday's starter).

Mat Latos, Reds - Latos finally seems to be in the road to recovery from the strained flexor mass in his pitching arm. He threw all of his pitches, fastball, sliders and change-ups, in a 26-pitch bullpen session last Sunday and tossed another session Wednesday. Assuming he gets through one more without incident, the plan was for him to pitch a simulated game and then begin a rehab assignment. If that goes well, Latos could be back by the end of month or more likely, early-June.Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (early spec bid, up if he remains healthy and as he inches closer to a return).

Wandy Rodriguez, Pirates - Rodriguez, who missed nearly a month with right knee inflammation, was activated off the disabled list and started Thursday in Milwaukee. He allowed two runs on four hits and a walk with four strikeouts in five innings with his fastball up two ticks from what he showed before he was sidelined, when he sat at just 87.1 mph. Rodriguez indicated after the start that his knee is still not 100 percent, but said he is still able to pitch and run. Unless the swelling in the knee returns, Rodriguez should remain in the Pittsburgh rotation. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Relief Pitchers:

David Carpenter, Braves - I profiled Carpenter a few weeks ago when Craig Kimbrel was dealing with a sore shoulder. Kimbrel is fine but Carpenter is still worth a look due to his fine numbers. He has posted a 23:5 K:BB ratio and 2.65 ERA over 17 innings while serving as a set-up man alongside Jordan Walden. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Josh Edgin/David Huff/Kevin Quackenbush - This week's middle reliever call ups/activations were in New York, San Francisco and San Diego. None of them have any significant fantasy value All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Jenrry Mejia, Mets - When you listen to manager Terry Collins talk lately, it becomes fairly clear that he wants Mejia to be the Mets' closer. The only thing holding Mejia back from Collins formally appointing him as such is demonstrating the ability to pitch on consecutive days as a reliever now that he has transitioned back from starting. Until that happens, the Mets will not name him their full-time closer and designate someone each day from a group that includes Mejia, Jeurys Familia, Jose Valverde and Daisuke Matsuzaka. Mejia notched the save Saturday and once he shows he can pitch on back-to-back days, the full-time closer role should be his. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Jose Veras, Cubs - Veras pitched last year for Houston and Detroit, serving as he closer for the Astros and set-up man for the Tigers. He is a two-pitch, pitcher, mixing a sinking fastball that hovers in the mid-90s and a so-so curve. Veras saw his strikeout rate plummet a K per game but reduced his walks, which aided his overall numbers. He signed a one-year, $4 million deal this off-season for the Cubs with an option of $5.5 million for 2015. Veras struggled this spring and brought that forward to the regular season, during which he posted a 15.88 ERA before landing on the DL with a strained oblique. He seemed to right the ship during his rehab assignment for Double-A Tennessee, as he allowed zero runs on one hit and two walks with three strikeouts in 4.2 innings. No one has fully stepped up to assume the closer role while Veras was sidelined, though Hector Rondon has been solid in his stead, but it wouldn't be shocking to see him close again. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (spec bid if he closes).

Injury activation/updates:

Jason Grilli, Pirates - Grilli, profiled last week and out since April 25 with a strained oblique muscle, inches closer to returning. He threw all of his pitches during a 24-pitch simulated game Wednesday and then tossed a simulated game Saturday at Yankee Stadium. The plan is for Grilli to show manager Clint Hurdle he can pitch on back-to-back days, after which he should be activated. but no word has been given when he will be activated. As Jeff Erickson wrote last week, Mark Melancon has handled the job with aplomb, but blew the save Thursday, which looks like it has opened the door to Grilli to close when he returns. Mixed: $8; NL: owned (slightly upped bid due to him getting closer to returning and Melancon bobble).

Jason Motte, Cardinals - Motte is working his way back from Tommy John surgery after missing all of the 2013 season. He saved 42 games in 2012 before suffering the injury last spring and looks to be on the verge of returning. Motte recently threw on back-to-back days and tossed two innings Thursday for Triple-A Memphis with his fastball ranging from 94-to-96 mph. When he does return, Trevor Rosenthal looks pretty locked in at the Cardinals' closer, so Motte could act as a set-up man, notching holds and strikeouts and close if Rosenthal is unavailable or struggles. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.


Juan Centeno/Anthony Recker, Mets - Travis d'Arnaud landed on the 7-day DL with concussion symptoms, prompting the call up of Centeno, who was batting .273 with one home run in 21 games for Triple-A Las Vegas. While d'Arnaud is sidelined, look for Recker, who has shown some power in the past, to see most of the action behind the plate, with Centeno the back up. In addition, d'Arnaud may have been on the verge of losing playing time even before he was hurt, as he was in a 6-for-38 slump with 11K over his 11 games dropping his OPS to .558, so Recker could see more time even when d'Arnaud returns. Centeno - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Recker - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Devin Mesoraco, Reds - Mesoraco, profiled last week, gets another mention as he was activated off the disabled list after being sidelined with a strained left hamstring. In 13 games entering Friday, he was batting .468/.509/.787 with three home runs and 13 RBIs after he began the season on the DL because of a left oblique strain. Mesoraco wasted no time finding his grove at the plate, blasting a three-run home run in his first at-bat. With Jay Bruce on the DL and Joey Votto out, and possibly landing on the DL as well, look for Mesoraco to bat in a prime RBi spot in the lineup. Mixed: $13; NL: owned (slightly upped bid from last week with Votto now out as well).

Brayan Pena, Reds - Pena saw time behind the plate while Devin Mesoraco, who was one of the hottest hitters in the league, was sidelined with a strained left hamstring that landed him on the DL. Mesoraco is now back but Joey Votto is sidelined with a strained quad muscle. In his stead, manager Bryan Price opted to start Pena and now Neftali Soto at first base Friday. The switch-hitting Pena was batting .282/.313/.462 through 78 at-bats, whereas Soto was just 2-for-17, which likely factored into the decision. Votto is due back in a few days, but if the injury lingers, it will be interesting to see who Price plays at first. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/updates:

A.J. Ellis, Dodgers (Ellis was slated to miss 4-to-6-weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus April 8. He comes back right in the middle of that, as he was activated off the DL on Wednesday. Ellis may not play daily initially but look for him to assume the bulk of the playing time behind the plate shortly). Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Russell Martin, Pirates (Martin, sidelined since April 27 with a strained left hamstring, could return as soon as Wednesday, provided he continues to progress with his running, strength and agility drills. The team wants Martin to go out on a short rehab assignment to prove he is healthy, while he just wants to rejoin the team. Either was, look for him to be back, assuming no setbacks, sometime this week). Mixed: $4; NL: owned.

First Basemen:

Yonder Alonso, Padres - After a tremendously slow start, Alonso seems to have righted the ship, posting five multi-hit games in his last seven to finally rise above the Mendoza line. He has been hurt by a very weak .215 BABIP, so if someone cut bait on him when he struggled, you could be the beneficiary of Alonzo's expected continued turnaround. In addition, the trade of Kyle Blanks leaves little competition for him at first base. That said, don't expect much from him power-wise. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Greg Dobbs, Nationals - Dobbs, waived last week by the Marlins, signed a minor league deal with the Nationals on Monday and was promoted Friday. He provides infield depth with Adam LaRoche (quad) out until at least May 25. Dobbs was just 1-for-12 this season in limited action and hit just .228/.303/.300 in 114 games last year, so don't expect him to see much action. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Neftali Soto, Reds - Soto started Saturday against the Philles with Joey Votto sidelined with quad strain. There is no definite word as to how long Votto will be out, but Soto will share first base with Brayan Pena, who started Friday, while Votto is out. Soto was originally at first baseman and hit 31 home runs in Double-A in 2011 before getting move across the diamond with Votto blocking him. His inability to make consistent contact has dimmed his prospect status, but he does have some power potential. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Second Base:

Cesar Hernandez, Phillies - Hernandez was called up from Double-A Reading to take the roster spot of Jayson Nix, who was designated for assignment on Monday. Hernandez had been seeing time at third and shortstop in the minors to increase his versatility, but recent reviews on his defense indicated he still had more work to do. Initially, Hernandez may see some time at third for the Phillies with Cody Asche inconsistent, though having a solid May, along with giving Chase Utley the occasional breather at second. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Tyler Pastornicky, Braves - Pastornicky has started six of the past seven games in place of Dan Uggla and it looks like he will get a chance to prove he can hold the job. Of course, Pastornicky is nothing to write home about and he could lose the job to Ramiro Pena, who manager Fredi Gonzalez would rather use off the bench and as a pinch-hitter. But for now, it looks like Pastornicky is the Braves' starter at the keystone. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Kolten Wong, Cardinals - Wong, profiled last week, gets another mention this one, as he was promoted. After getting off to a slow start, batting just .225/.276/.268 in 20 games, Wong was sent to Triple-A Memphis but made the most of his time there, hitting .344/.382/.484 in 15 games in the minors. Following the promotion, Wong, a lefty-hitter, should be on the plus side of a platoon with Mark Ellis at the keystone. If he gets hot, that split could widen towards Wong, who projects to be a 12-12, 15-15 hitter down the road. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (upped bid from last week).


Cliff Pennington, Diamondbacks - Pennington got the start Saturday with Aaron Hill nursing a sore shoulder. There has been no indication that the injury is serious, but of Hill is forced to miss a few days, Pennington should start in his stead at second base. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Third Basemen:

Maikel Franco, Phillies - Franco got off to a horrific start at Triple-A Lehigh Valley, batting .153 with no home runs and 17K in 72 at-bats as of April 24. He has righted the ship the past several weeks and is now up to .248 with three home runs and just 11 Ks in his last 83 at-bats. Cody Asche has been inconsistent both at the plate and in the field, though he has been much better in May, and if he struggles moving forward while Franco remains hot, a shift could occur sooner rather than later. Coming into the season, there was some thought that Franco could move across the diamond if Ryan Howard continued to regress and break down, though Howard has gotten off to a decent start. However, it's only a matter of time before Franco, who projects to hit 30+ HR annually while keeping his strikeouts in check, is called up and starting at either corner spot, likely at third. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (stash candidate, higher bid in keeper leagues).


Elian Herrera, Brewers - Herrera, who was up earlier this year, was called up back Tuesday when Caleb Gindl was optioned to Triple-A Nashville. Herrera, who hit .359/.383/.513 with six RBI and four steals over 22 games in the minors, will see some time at third along with Jeff Bianchi and Mark Reynolds while Aramis Ramirez is on the disabled list and could also get action in the outfield. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Reed Johnson, Marlins - Johnson has been hot of late and it has earned him playing time at the expense of Marcell Ozuna. Johnson has nine hits, including six for extra-base hits, in his last 25 at-bats, while Ozuna is just 7-for-50 this month, landing on the bench five times in the last seventh games, including three in a row earlier this week. Ozuna should regain his starting job back, but for now, manager Mike Redmond seems willing to roll with the hot hand in Johnson to get his offense going. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/update:

Michael Cuddyer, Rockies - Cuddyer, on the disabled list since April 17 with a strained left hamstring, should be activated Tuesday when Colorado opens a series at home against the Giants. Prior to being sidelined, Cuddyer was hitting .317 (19-for-60) with three homers and 10 RBI in 16 games this season. He should be the everyday starter in right field once he is activated. Just an FYI as still should be owned in all formats despite length of absence.

Justin Ruggiano, Cubs - Ruggiano, sidelined with a Grade 2 strained left hamstring since April 23, is on the verge of starting a rehab assignment. He played just 14 games until he was hurt and no has really stepped up to take over his spot in his absence. Ruggiano had a big spring, hitting .300 and has a power-speed combination, so with Ryan Sweeney still out, he could come closing to play daily when he returns. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early bid, up as he gets closer to returning).