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FAAB Factor-NL: Potential New Closer

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 - 6/15/14

Happy Fathers Day to all, including my dad, father-in-law and brothers-in-law.

Starting Pitching:

Chase Anderson, Diamondbacks - Anderson, despite a 0.69 ERA and 38:6 K:BB over 39 innings at Double-A Mobile, likely didn't get much love when he was promoted on May 11. Much of that likely was due to his so-so pedigree as compared to some of the other names in the Arizona farm system. Anderson is making us all look bad, posting a 3.14 ERA and 1.15 WHIP across 28.2 innings in his first five starts. He struggled a bit Friday, allowing two runs on four hits and four walks with four strikeouts over five innings against the Dodgers. If you are already on board, ride it out, if not, jump on but be ready to jump off since his FIP is 4.67 and BABIP is a low .263 in his first five starts, numbers that worsened Friday, which could forebode future struggles. Mixed: $6; NL: owned.

Jesse Hahn, Padres - Hahn was called up to make his second career MLB start Saturday for the Padres against the Mets with Tim Stauffer moving to the bullpen. In his first start, he allowed four earned runs on six hits, including two homers, over 3.2 innings. Hahn had a much better time of it Saturday, allowing just one hit while walking three and striking out seven over six shutout innings to notch his first win. He has a high-90s, four-seam fastball that can hit triple-digits, a two-seam fastball, a solid curveball and developing change but he is very inexperienced, pitching just 154 innings since the Rays drafted him in 2010. This season, in 11 appearances (eight starts) for Double-A San Antonio, Hahn has posted a 2.11 ERA, 1.25 WHIP and 7.7 K/9 but 3.31 BB/9. There is no guarantee he sticks in the rotation, as SD could also look at to Odrisamer Despaigne or Donn Roach to fill the open rotation spot, but Hahn has the most upside and should get a few more turns based on Saturday's outing. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Andrew Heaney, Marlins - I have profiled Heaney twice this year, the last time a month ago, but he deserves another mention. He dominated Double-A, posting a 2.35 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with 52 strikeouts and 13 walks in 53.2 innings at Jacksonville, to earn a promotion on May 21. Since getting to Triple-A New Orleans, Heaney has three quality outings in his four starts, striking out 27 with just two walks while posting a 2.74 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 23 innings. It's only a matter of time before Heaney, who mixes a 93 mph heater, with a slider and curveball, gets the call. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (upped early spec bid, to rise if he gets promoted).

Tyler Matzek, Rockies - I profiled Matzek last week when Colorado had another hole to fill in the rotation after Jordan Lyles broke his non-pitching hand on Wednesday and was placed on the disabled list. With Eddie Butler already replacing Franklin Morales, the Rockies decided to go with Christian Bergman, leaving Matzek in the minors. That did not last long, as Butler landed on the disabled list, prompting Matzek's call up. Matzek, selected 11th overall in 2009, struggled since getting selected after Colorado altered his mechanics before righting the ship last year. Matzek has a low-90s fastball but his secondary pitches are still a work-in-progress. Command and control have been issues for him in the past, as well as a propensity to give up home runs the last two seasons, though you couldn't tell that from his debut. He held Atlanta to two runs on five hits and no walks, striking out seven while throwing 60 of his 81 pitches for strikes over seven innings to earn his first career win. Matzek should get at least one more turn and possibly more in the Rockies rotation. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Jimmy Nelson, Brewers - A scuffling Marco Estrada got the dreaded vote of confidence, so it may only be a matter of time before Nelson is called up. Nelson, who pitched well in a spot start in the majors but was sent out right after it, continued his stellar pitching for Triple-A Nashville on Wednesday, allowing one run while striking out 10 batters over six innings. Nelson has allowed more than one earned run in just three of his 12 outings this year and improved at Triple-A this year, slicing his walk rate in half while still maintaining a strikeout-per inning pace. He has a 1.51 ERA and 0.89 WHIP for Nashville and is just waiting for the call to the majors, which should come soon. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early spec bid, up when he gets promoted).

Edinson Volquez, Pirates - The arrow has been trending upwards lately on Volquez. He threw seven scoreless innings against the Cubs on Thursday; scattering seven hits with five strikeouts to earn his fourth win of the year. That outing makes him 3-1 in his last five outings, during which he has surrendered eight earned runs in 29 innings with a 1.18 WHIP. The Pittsburgh coaching staff helped Francisco Liriano last year and it looks like they are having a similar affect on Volquez. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Vance Worley, Pirates - Worley, traded to the Pirates in March for cash considerations, will start for Pittsburgh on Sunday with Gerrit Cole (shoulder) and Francisco Liriano (oblique) on the disabled list. Worley made seven starts for Triple-A Indianapolis, posting a 3-2 record with an amazing 43:4 K:BB ratio and 4.30 ERA in 46 innings. He broke through with the Phillies in 2011 before regressing in 2012 and bottoming out with Twins in 2013. Worley should see handful of starts while Cole and Liriano are out. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Injury activation/updates:

Brett Anderson, Rockies - Anderson, who came over to the Rockies in December for Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen, broke his finger back in mid-April. He was originally expected to return in 4-6 weeks but just recently progressed to throw his first bullpen session Friday. Anderson will be reevaluated following Friday's session, at which point a clearer target return date will likely be available, though the All-Star break looks like a good bet. In three starts this season prior to the injury, Anderson surrendered six earned runs and 16 hits over 15 innings. Like Tyler Chatwood, with Colorado mixing-and-matching starters due to injury, Anderson could regain his rotation spot when he is activated, depending on how the kiddie corps there is doing. Mixed: $0; NL: $3 (very early return spec bid).

Tyler Chatwood, Rockies - Chatwood, out since April 29 with a strained flexor tendon and elbow inflammation, has progressed from throwing from 75 feet at the end of May to his first bullpen session Friday. Assuming he has no setbacks, Chatwood will need to throw several bullpen sessions and then progress to a rehab assignment, before coming back to the Rockies in late-June/early-July. In four starts for the Rockies this season, Chatwood went 1-0 with a 4.50 ERA in 24.0 innings. With Colorado mixing-and-matching starters due to injury, Chatwood could regain his rotation spot when he is activated. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early return spec bid).

Gio Gonzalez, Nationals - Gonzalez, out since May 17 with left shoulder inflammation, made his second rehab start Thursday. It went a lot better than the first, when he allowed eight runs on seven hits in 3.2 innings for High-A Potomac. This time, Gonzalez struck out seven but walked four batters over four innings of one-run ball. There is no set word if he will rejoin the Nationals, but Gonzalez will likely face the Astros on Wednesday, knocking Blake Treinen out of the rotation.

Mat Latos, Reds - Latos, profiled last week, gets another mention, as he was activated off the disabled list and started for the Reds on Saturday. Despite throwing only 81 pitches Monday as his start was cut short by rain, which came on the heels of him tossing67 pitches in his prior start due to a cramp in his calf, Cincinnati felt he was ready. Latos used all of his pitches - low-90s fastball, slider, curve and changeup - during his rehab starts and slides into the rotation for Tony Cingrani, who is moving to the bullpen. Latos hit the ground running, tossing six innings of two-hit, shutout ball in a no decision against the Brewers on Saturday. Mixed: $15; NL: $40 (upped bid, as he has now returned, and I could see going higher).

Relief Pitchers:

Vic Black/Jeurys Famila, Mets - If Jenrry Mejia's stiff back lands him on the disabled list, either Black or Familia will close for the Mets. Black, who had a 1.45 ERA and eight saves but an 18:17 K:BB ratio in Triple-A Las Vegas before he was promoted, is still dealing with some control. However, he has been better lately. After surrendering four walks over 4.1 innings in his first three appearances, he has allowed just two over six innings in his last six appearances. Familia may have the best “stuff” in the Mets' pen, striking out nearly a batter an innings while also having some closing experience for the team. He has a 1.86 ERA and 1.03 WHIP the past two months after allowing four earned runs his first five innings of the season and is likely first in the pecking order behind Mejia. Black - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Familia - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Blaine Boyer/Xavier Cedeno/Gonzalez Germen/Tom Gorzelanny/Will Harris/Stolmy Pimentel/J.J. Putz/Jordan Walden - This week's middle reliever call ups/activations were in San Diego, Cincinnati, New York, Milwaukee, Arizona, Pittsburgh and Arizona. Only Putz and Walden, who could possibly serve as set-up men for their respective teams, though Putz is behind Brad Ziegler and Walden is now behind Shae Simmons, has some value. All except for Putz and Walden - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Putz and Walden - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Justin de Fratus, Phillies - De Fratus, called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on May 25, could see more action in the seventh and eighth innings with Mike Adams now on the disabled list. De Fratus struggled when first up in the majors this season, but made a mechanical change when he was sent down, turning around his season. He excelled in the minors after that change and has carried that success over to the majors, as he has not allowed a run in eight appearances since being recalled. De Fratus also has a 9:1 K:BB ratio during that period and could be a source of holds in front of Jonathan Papelbon. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Neil Ramirez, Cubs -Ramirez, was profiled last week when he recorded his first save of the season Thursday with Hector Rondon unavailable. He gets a mention this week after adding his second save Friday with Hector Rondon dealing with an elbow injury and struggling recently. Ramirez has allowed just two runs on eight hits in 16 innings with a 26:5 K:BB. No changing of the guard has occurred yet, but Ramirez could get strong consideration to be the Cubs' closer. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Shae Simmons, Braves - Simmons notched another hold Tuesday and now has five holds in just seven appearances this season. David Carpenter is scuffling and Jordan Walden was just activated, opening the door for Simmons, who has kicked it in. Simmons used a high-90s heater, solid slider and consistent command to post a 0.78 ERA and 30:6 K:BB ratio across 23 innings for Double-A Mississippi to earn the promotion. He has carried those numbers over to the majors, allowing no runs with a 5:1 K:BB ratio in five innings over seven innings. Simmons looks pretty locked in as Craig Kimbrel's set-up man. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/update -

Santiago Casilla, Giants - Casilla, sidelined with a Grade 2 strained hamstring since May 21, struck out the side in one inning of relief in his first rehab appearance Thursday for High-A San Jose. He progressed through throwing bullpen sessions and taking fielding drills to that final step in his recovery. Assuming he has no setbacks, Casilla could be activated early this week, which will mean he missed about four weeks, in line with expectations. Casilla will once again serve as Sergio Romo's set up man when he returns. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Dan Hudson, Diamondbacks - Hudson, sidelined due to Tommy John surgery in both 2012 and 2013, threw 25-30 pitches in a bullpen session Tuesday. No timeframe has been set for the return of Hudson, who will pitch as a reliever when he does come back. The early bid is a spec based on him possibly progressing to starting in 2015. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Tyler Lyons, Cardinals - Lyons, out since May 13 with a strained shoulder, made the first of what should be several rehab starts Tuesday. That one, which was for Double-A Springfield on Tuesday, Lyons threw two innings - 24 pitches - and allowed a run on three hits while striking out three. With Jaime Garcia pitching well in the fifth rotation spot, Lyons will probably fill the much-needed long reliever role for the Cardinals. Unfortunately for him, his lengthy absence and recent return to action means he is likely not an option to fill in for the injured Adam Wainwright on Monday. Mixed: No; NL: $2.


Sandy Leon/Jose Lobaton, Nationals - Wilson Ramos was placed on the 15-day DL with a Grade 1 strained right hamstring that is expected to sideline him around the minimum time. This is the fifth time in three years and second time this season that Ramos has landed on the DL. In his absence, Lobaton, who started when Ramos was out after breaking his hamate bone on Opening Day, will step into the breach backed up Leon. Leon - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Lobaton - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Injury activation/update -

Welington Castillo, Cubs - Castillo, out since June 3 with rib cage inflammation, should be able to return before the end of the month. He took 25-30 dry swings and 15-20 swings off a tee Wednesday and should progress to batting practice followed by a rehab assignment before too long. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

A.J. Ellis, Dodgers - Ellis was slated to miss 4-to-6-weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a torn meniscus April 8 but came back right in the middle of that, as he was activated off the DL on May 14. He lasted less than two weeks before spraining his right ankle when he tripped over backup Drew Butera's discarded catching gear coming out to celebrate Josh Beckett's no-hitter. Ellis was activated off the DL on Friday, and despite his .170 batting average in 47 at-bats prior to the injury, he should play daily as the Dodgers pitchers benefit from having him behind the plate Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Jarrod Saltalamacchia, Marlins - Saltalamacchia sidelined with a concussion since May 31 when he was struck in the mask by a foul tip off the bat of Justin Upton, is getting closer to returning. The plan is Salty to play in a simulated game by the weekend and then report to High-A Jupiter for a few games. Assuming he has no setbacks, Saltalamacchia should be back with the Marlins by next weekend. Mixed: $8 (though should be owned); NL: owned.

First Basemen:

Jordan Pacheco, Diamondbacks - Pacheco, designated for assignment by Colorado on June 4, was claimed by Arizona on Thursday. Pacheco struggled this season, but does have the ability to play multiple positions, including behind the plate. He should fill that role out in the desert. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Injury activation/update:

Matt Adams, Cardinals - Adams, sidelined since May 28 with calf tightness, was activated off the disabled list Friday, the first day he was eligible. His activation resulted in Oscar Taveras getting demoted and Randall Grichuk taking a hit in playing time with Allen Craig moving back to the outfield. Prior to being sidelined, Adams hit just three home runs but had a .325/.337/.474 line before he was sidelined and has blasted a long-ball in each of the two games since he was activated. He should remain in the middle-third of the batting order for St. Louis, starting close to daily. Mixed: $22 (in case for some reason he was waived, as some owners thought Craig would play first, Taveras the outfield and Adams the odd-man out); NL: owned.

Brandon Belt, Giants - Belt, on the disabled list since May 9 with a fractured left thumb that required the insertion of two pins, had the cast removed last Friday. He took ground balls again before Friday night's game, and began taking two-handed swings after being limited to just one-handed ones prior to that. The expectation is that he'll need two weeks of full rehab, including a minor league rehab stint, before being activated from the disabled list, putting his return somewhere around June 20-23 and moving Mike Morse back to the outfield.

Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks - Trumbo, profiled the past two weeks and out since April 23 with a stress fracture to his third metatarsal in his left foot, gets another update mention this week, as his return date has now been firmed up. He will at least three weeks to return to full baseball activities, as he right now is still just taking batting practice, after which he'll likely need a week of rehab games. That puts Trumbo's return date at around the All-Star Break, assuming no setbacks.

Joey Votto, Reds - Votto, out since May 16 with a strained quad, was activated Tuesday following a short rehab stint. He may be at less than100 percent for the remainder of the season, but the time off seems to have woken u his bat, as he has gotten off to a hot start since returning to action.

Second Base:

Clint Barmes/Josh Harrison/Michael Martinez, Pirates - With Neil Walker landing on the disabled due to an appendectomy, it's a hodge-podge at second base. Barmes is seeing most of the time with Harrison dealing with an injured left ankle, while Martinez was promoted this week to provide some depth. Martinez, who was batting just .229/.279/.317 with one homer, 20 RBI and four steals in 218 at-bats for Triple-A Indianapolis, will likely be sent back to the minors Sunday, when the team recalls another starting pitcher due to Francisco Liriano's injury. Once Harrison, who is batting .303/.348/.492 in 132 plate appearances since May 3, is healthy, he likely will play at the keystone daily until Walker is recovered from the surgery. That run at the spot may have started Saturday, as Harrison handled second base after missing a few games due to the injury. Barmes - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Harrison - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Martinez: Mixed and NL: No.


Carlos Triunfel, Dodgers - Triunfel was promoted Saturday to take the place of the injured Chone Figgins on the LA roster. Triunfel saw action at second base, third base and shortstop in 50 games for Triple-A Albuquerque this season, which is a role he could fill for the Dodhers with Figgins and Juan Uribe out and Justin Turner dealing with a calf injury. Triunfel was hitting .212 with 14 RBI, 15 runs, one homer and one stolen base through 179 at-bats for the Isotopes when he was called up. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Injury activation/update:

Rafael Furcal, Marlins - Furcal who Furcal all of 2013 recovering from TJS, opened the year on the DL - big surprise - due to a hamstring injury and was expected to be back after using 20 days of an injury rehab stint. He had multiple setbacks but after five straight games at Double-A Jacksonville, he was finally activated off the disabled list Friday. With Derek Dietrich in the minors working on his defense, Furcal - health permitting - should start daily at second base, batting lead off and be a decent source of runs with some stolen bases. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Third Basemen:

Elian Herrera, Brewers - Herrera, who was up twice earlier this year, was called up back Saturday to replace Irving Falu. Herrera, who hit .333/.377/.455 with seven RBI and four steals over 28 games in the minors, will serve as a utility player, filling in at third and the outfield for Milwaukee. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Injury activation/update:

Nolan Arenado, Rockies - Arenado, who suffered a left mallet finger fracture on May 23, will have his status reevaluated when the Rockies return home from their six-game road trip June 19. He has been running, lifting, throwing, and also participating in agility and top-hand hitting drills. Arenado's is not having any pain in the finger, and if his X-ray next week shows sufficient healing in the digit, a minor league rehab assignment likely won't be far off. Once that occurs, Arenado likely will be about 7-10 days away from rejoining the Rockies, meaning he might be back by early-July. Just an FYI as still should be owned in all leagues (if not go 18/45 to be upped as he gets closer to returning).

Cody Asche, Phillies - Asche, out since May 23 with a hamstring injury, started his rehab assignment by playing the weekend for Low-A Lakewood and then will advance to Triple-A Lehigh Valley. He is expected to play 3-4 games there before rejoining the Phillies on Friday. Neither Reid Brignac nor Cesar Hernandez excelled when filling for Asche, while Maikel Franco has struggled the past few weeks, so Asche should easily slide back in to his starting job at the hot corner in Philly. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.


Tony Campana, Diamondbacks - Campana was called up on Friday to add depth to the Arizona outfield after Ender Inciarte was placed on the 7-day concussion DL on Friday. Campana could see some time in center field, allowing Gerlado Parra to play right field, but David Peralta is the biggest beneficiary of Inciarte's injury, as he should play daily in left field. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Gregory Polanco, Pirates - I profiled Polanco last week, when it wasn't a matter of if, but when he was to be called up. That promotion came Tuesday. Polanco tore up Triple-A while at Indianapolis, posting a 347/.405/.540 line in 274 plate appearances, with seven home runs and 15 stolen bases. Now that he is up, Jose Tabata and Travis Snider will see their playing time dwindle to a mere trickle for Polanco, who has a mixture of speed and power. The full-blown power will be the last to come, but the expectation is that will eventually blossom as he matures. Polanco is a five-tool player, whose presence will give Pittsburgh a tremendous defensive outfield as he plays right field alongside Andrew McCutchen and Starling Marte. He has hit second and leadoff since the call u and may get a shot to be the every day leadoff hitter. Mixed: $17; NL: $48 (upped bid from last week now that he is up in the majors).

Drew Stubbs, Rockies - Stubbs has benefitted from several injuries to the Rockies' outfield to see more than expected playing time. With both Carlos Gonzalez (finger) out five weeks and Michael Cuddyer (shoulder) out six-to-eight weeks on the disabled list, Stubbs will continue to see regular playing time in center field. His career splits, including this season, show that Stubbs is much better against lefties than righties, but with Charlie Blackmon and Corey Dickerson already starting at the corner spots and only Brandon Barnes available to fill in, Stubbs may get a run in center field until either one of CarGo or Cuddyer returns. Mixed: $8; NL: $21 (upped bid from the past due to extended playing time).

Injury activation/update:

Bryce Harper, Nationals - Harper tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his left thumb in a headfirst slide on April 25, requiring surgery to repair the injury. He will take light swings and play catch next week with batting practice the next step in his recovery. The hope is that Harper might be ready to return on July 1, but it would not be surprising of he was sidelined to the All-Star break. Just an FYI as should be owned in all leagues, but if not, go the max.

Ryan Sweeney, Cubs - Outfielder Ryan Sweeney, on the disabled list since May 3 with a right hamstring strain, started a short minor-league rehab assignment Monday with Low-A Kane County. He might have had a slightly longer stint in the minors but the Cubs activated him to take the place of Emilio Bonifacio, who was placed on the disabled list Friday with a strained rib cage. Sweeney should see a lot of playing time in center field, backed up by Justin Ruggiano, Junior Lake and maybe Chris Coghlan. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Eric Young, Jr., Mets - Young, out since May 25 with a strained hamstring, played his first rehab game for High-A St. Lucie on Thursday. He immediately moved up to Double-A Binghamton on Friday and could be back with the Mets shortly. With the Mets' outfield situation in a state of flux, Young could see fairly regular playing time in left field once he's back. Juan Lagares (side) is on the disabled list, and Curtis Granderson (calf) is considered day-to-day, making Bobby Abreu and a struggling Chris Young almost daily starters. The Mets cold use Young's speed and ability to make things happen, but be aware he only hit .220/.315/.305 before he was sidelined, so price him accordingly. Mixed: $6; NL: $17 (due to speed potential).