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FAAB Factor-NL: Buy the Belt

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 - 7/6/14

Starting Pitching:

Dallas Beeler, Cubs - Beeler was profiled last week after he was called up to make his major-league debut. He acquitted himself well, allowing just one unearned run on four hits and three walks, striking out six over six innings, Beeler, who had a 4.03 ERA and 6.4 K/9 in 10 starts with Triple-A Iowa, could stick in the Cubs' rotation following the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland on Friday night. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Chris Capuano, Rockies - Capuano opened the season red-hot for Boston but hit the skids before he was released last week. He did not allow a run his first 15 innings pitched of the year, but surrendered six his next 12.2 innings pitched and allowed 10 earned runs on 14 hits and four walks in four June innings to earn his release. Capuano signed a minor-league deal with a Colorado squad desperate for pitching. He will get stretched out as a starter at Triple-A Colorado Springs and likely will join the team by the end of July. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Brad Hand, Marlins - Hand, sidelined with a right ankle sprain on May 24, posted a 2.38 ERA and 2-0 record in six starts at High-A Jupiter and Triple-A New Orleans to earn a promotion to start Thursday against the Phillies with Tom Koehler on the paternity list. He worked five innings in Thursday's no-decision against the Phillies, allowing three earned runs on seven hits with five strikeouts. That outing was a step up from how he had pitched in the majors before he was injured, when he notched a 6.38 ERA and 1.79 WHIP in 16 games (two starts) It remains to be seen whether the Marlins will give Hand another start or shuffle him back to the bullpen, but there is a decent shot that Hand sticks in the rotation until the All-Star break. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Kyle Hendricks, Cubs - As you are reading, the trade of Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel to Oakland opened two spots in the Cubs' rotation that could be filled by a host of starters, with Hendricks one possible option. Hendricks came over to Chicago from Texas in the Ryan Dempster deal at the 2012 non-waiver trade deadline and has steadily advanced up the ladder. He was the Cubs' minor-league pitcher of the year last year after going 13-4 with a 2.00 ERA and 128:34 K:BB ratio in 166.1 innings between Double-A Tennessee and Triple-A Iowa. This year, Hendricks is 10-5 with a 3.58 ERA and 93:23 K:BB in 100.2 innings for Triple-A Iowa. He generates lots of groundballs, which is a big reason for his success, and as seen by his K:BB and K:9 ratios, he has good command and control. Hendricks is in the mix with Dan Straily, Dallas Beeler, Chris Rusin, and Tsuyoshi Wada to fill one of the two open spots in the Cubs' rotation. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Jair Jurrjens, Rockies - Jurrjens, recently acquired in a trade with the Reds, started Friday for the Rockies against the Dodgers. He allowed eight runs on 12 hits over 4.2 innings and dealt with breathing issues that puts his next start in jeopardy. In the minors, Jurrjens posted a 4.46 ERA, 7.1 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 over 34.1 innings with Triple-A Louisville before he dealt to Colorado, who is desperate for starting pitching. Jurrjens was an All-Star in 2011, but long bouts of ineffectiveness and knee injuries have made him a shell of what he once was. Maybe Jurrjens' strong groundball tendencies will make him effective at Coors Field, but I am very skeptical. Mixed: $0; NL: $0.

Dan Straily, Cubs - Straily is probably the least hyped and thought about member of the big trade that sent Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel from Chicago to the A's for Addison Russell, Billy McKinney and Straily. However, he is the one that has the biggest impact in the short-term of three coming to the National League. Straily went 10-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 27 starts for the A's last season and began this season in Oakland's rotation but was demoted to Triple-A Sacramento in May after posting a 4.93 ERA in seven starts. Following his demotion, Straily posted a 4.71 ERA and 1.270 WHIP with a 67:27 K:BB over 63 innings (10 starts) Sacramento. He has been sent to Triple-A Iowa but could be an option for the Cubs' rotation after the All-Star break. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Carlos Villanueva, Cubs - Villanueva stepped into the Cubs' starting rotation Saturday with less than stellar results following the trade of Jeff Samrdzija and Jason Hammel to the A's on Friday night. Villanueva lasted just two-plus innings against the Nationals, allowing four runs on five hits and a walk with a pair of strikeouts. He posted a 4.50 ERA in 90 innings as a starter last season, while only striking out 65, so it's not as if Villanueva is pitching from a position of strength. He likely will remain in the rotation in the short-term. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Tsuyoshi Wada, Cubs - Wada, who pitched nine years in Japan, before signing with the Orioles, never got a chance to pitch in the majors, as he needed Tommy John surgery in April 2012 and then was relegated to the minors. He signed with the Cubs this offseason and has proceeded to go 9-5 with a 2.66 ERA, 1.17 WHIP and 105:26 K:BB ratio in 101.2 innings in 17 starts for Triple-A Iowa. With Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel dealt to Oakland on Friday, Wada could end up a full-time member of Chicago's rotation the last two-plus months of the season. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Injury activation/updates:

Brett Anderson, Rockies - Anderson, who came over to the Rockies in December for Drew Pomeranz and Chris Jensen, broke his left (pitching) index finger back in mid-April. He was originally expected to return in 4-6 weeks but just recently progressed to throw make his first rehab start Wednesday with Triple-A Colorado Springs. Anderson threw 39 of his 59 pitches for strikes, tossing 3.2 scoreless innings, striking out four batters and walking one. He likely will need at least one rehab start, where he ups his pitch count to 70-75, before he possibly rejoins the Rockies, though that's more likely to occur just after the All-Star Game. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Eddie Butler, Rockies - Butler, who landed on the disabled list after his first major-league start June 6 due to rotator cuff inflammation in his pitching shoulder, threw 35 pitches in a simulated game Saturday and did not experience any pain. He has progressed from throwing at 70, 120 and 150 feet to bullpen sessions this past week and now to facing hitters. The next step, assuming no setbacks, will be at least one - but more likely 2-3 - rehab starts before he rejoins the Rockies rotation sometime after the All-Star break, likely late-July. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Andrew Cashner, Padres - Cashner, on the 15-day DL with right shoulder soreness, was cleared this week to play catch. Once he plays catch, the Padres can map out his rehab schedule, which should include bullpen sessions and a rehab start or two, though he is not close to throwing off a mound. Cashner, who was the DL earlier in the season due to an elbow injury, had made three solid starts, allowing just five earned runs over 19 innings and striking out 12, before he was shut down again. Look for San Diego to be cautious and for Cashner to be out until after the All-Star break.

Dillon Gee, Mets - Gee, out since May 11 with a strained right lat and pushed back after a setback in early-June, made his second rehab start for Brooklyn of the New York-Penn League on Friday. Those starts come on the heels of two outings for the Gulf Coast Mets and he went from 2.2 innings in his first start for the B-Mets to six innings on Friday. In that Friday start, he threw 52 of his 75 pitches for strikes, allowing one run on three hits and a walk while striking out 10. Gee, who was 3-1 with a 2.73 ERA, 1.06 WHIP and 33:15 K:BB ratio in 52.2 innings in eight starts before he was sidelined, will likely rejoin the Mets for his next turn in the rotation. When he does come back, look for Daisuke Matsuzaka to move back to the bullpen unless Jon Niese is placed on the disabled list, as is rumored after Niese was hit in the ribs in his Friday start. Mixed: $6; NL: $17.

Joe Kelly, Cardinals - Kelly, profiled last week and sidelined since April 17 with a torn hamstring, made his second rehab start for Triple-A Memphis on Tuesday, throwing four scoreless innings and 49 pitches, up from the 41 his first outing. The plan now is for Kelly to remain in the minors until after the All-Star break, giving him 1-2 more rehab starts to build up his pitch count. When Kelly does come back, with Michael Wacha still out with his injury and Jaime Garcia having season-ending surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome, he could slot into the rotation in place of Marco Gonzales. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Cliff Lee, Phillies - Lee, sidelined with a strained flexor tendon in his pitching elbow since May 19, will begin a rehab assignment with High-A Clearwater on Sunday. This outing comes on the heels of a pair of simulated games, including one Tuesday in which he threw 60 pitches. It's possible that Lee will rejoin the Phillies after that one start, but it's more likely he makes 1-2 more and comes back after the All-Star break. With Philadelphia free falling, Lee could be advertising his wares for various suitors if the Phillies decide to pull the plug.

Francisco Liriano, Pirates - Liriano, out since June 11 with a strained left oblique, is profiled again after throwing a four-inning simulated game Wednesday that will result in a start for Triple-A Indianapolis on Monday. He is slated to throw five innings and 85 pitches. After which, Pittsburgh will decide if he needs a second rehab start or he will come straight to the Pirates.. After going 16-8 with a 3.02 ERA last season, Liriano has been a major disappointment this year, going 1-6 with a 4.60 ERA and 1.45 ERA with a 77:36 K:BB ratio in 72.1 innings over 14 starts. It's possible that Liriano had been pitching through the injury for a while and the time off could restore his fantasy value. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Relief Pitchers:

Chad Bettis/Buddy Carlyle/David Carpenter/Eury de la Rosa/Dan Jennings/Boone Logan/Blake Parker/Chris Rusin- This week's middle reliever call ups/activations were in Colorado, New York, Arizona, Atlanta, Miami, Colorado and Chicago (2x). None have any substantial value, though Rusin might get a shot at starting for Chicago in the wake of the Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel trade. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Mike Dunn, Marlins - Following a rough April (6.75 ERA, 1.59 WHIP in 10.2 inning pitched), Dunn has really put things together, posting a 2.05 ERA with a 24:8 K:BB ratio in 22 innings since May 1. Dunn has 14 holds on the year, and if the Marlins deal Steve Cishek, Dunn could get a shot at closing initially. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Brad Ziegler, Diamondbacks - While Addison Reed got a vote of confidence after blowing his fourth save this week, Ziegler could get a shot at closing in Arizona, as he did last season. Reed is a fly-ball pitcher in a hitters park, who has been plagued by the home run ball, allowing 2.1/9IP while Ziegler has posted a tidy 2.34 ERA as a set-up man. Reed still does have solid 10.4 K/9 and 2.1 BB/9 ratios, but if he blows a few more saves and Ziegler continues to pitch well, a change at the back end of the Arizona bullpen could occur. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Catchers:

Travis d'Arnaud, Mets - D'Arnaud was profiled two weeks ago when he was called back up to the majors after making the most of his trip to minors. He hit .436 Triple-A Las Vegas and he was also able to work on the mental aspect of the game while in the minors. D'Arnaud has reached base in all 10 games - hitting safely in nine of them - since getting called back. He is 11-for-37 with three walks and 10 strikeouts while looking much calmer and confident at the plate, which likely is a carryover from his fine play in the minors. Look for d'Arnaud to start nearly every day for NY. Mixed: $11; NL: owned.

First Basemen:

Justin Bour, Marlins - Bour was profiled twice already this year when he was called up to give Garret Jones a solid back up at first base and Miami a pinch-hitter off the bench. He gets a third chance to fill a similar role after he promoted during this past week. That stint lasted just a few days before he was sent back down. Bour hit .320/.397/.553 with 20 doubles, 11 home runs and 43 RBI with Triple-A New Orleans to get another promotion. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Injury activation/update:

Brandon Belt, Giants - Belt, on the disabled list since May 9 with a fractured left thumb that required the insertion of two pins, was activated off the disabled list Friday. He went 13-for-25 in seven minor-league rehab games, including three doubles and three home runs. Before he was injured, Belt was hitting .264/.317/.504 with nine home runs and 18 RBI. His return moves Mike Morse back to the outfield full time and is a big boost to a Giants lineup also without Angel Pagan.

Mark Trumbo, Diamondbacks - Trumbo, out since April 23 with a stress fracture to his third metatarsal in his left foot, will take the next step in his rehab assignment by playing for Triple-A Reno on Sunday. He played for Arizona's rookie league team earlier in the week, progressing by just taking at-bats to playing the field. Trumbo hopes to be ready to return to the D-Backs after the All-Star break on July 17, which is in line to what was predicted the past few weeks.

Second Base:

Arismendy Alcantara, Cubs - Alcantara capped off a brilliant first half during which he hit .310/.350/.546 with 10 homers and 20 steals in 83 games for Triple-A Iowa by being named a Pacific Coast League All-Star. There is some speculation that Alcantara could be promoted after the PCL All-Star Game, but the question is what position will be play? All signs pointed to him sliding in at second base but now, it looks like he may be shifted to center field. Obviously, his fantasy value is higher at second base, so pay attention to his position eligibility in your league.Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/update:

Jedd Gyorko, Padres - Gyorko, out since June 6 with plantar fasciitis in his left foot, took the next step in his rehab, hitting in the cage Saturday for the first time since his injury. That hitting consisted of soft toss and tee work. Gyorko was able to finally do away with the boot on his foot this past week and will head to the team's minor league complex to further work on his strength and conditioning. Of course, given his past history - Gyorko landed back in a boot after making progress in June - look for the team to handle his rehab slowly to avoid any setbacks. Even though Gyorko struggled in his sophomore campaign before being sidelined, San Diego could use him as he is an upgrade over Alexi Amarista, Irving Falu, Jace Peterson and now Brooks Conrad, who have filled in for him at second base. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Marco Scutaro, Giants - Scutaro, profiled last week and who has remained sidelined by back problems all season, will move his rehab assignment to Triple-A Fresno on Sunday. He started an injury rehab assignment Tuesday with the rookie-league Arizona Giants and appears to be progressing quicker than expected. The rehab stint can only last 20 games, at which point, Scutaro will either be activated or return to the disabled list due to his back. The original plan was for Scutaro to be a bench option if he is able to come back, but with neither Joe Panik nor Brandon Hicks running with the job, the Giants may try and use Scutaro more than originally expected. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Kolten Wong, Cardinals - Wong, on the disabled list with a bruised shoulder since June 21, will be activated following a short rehab stint at Triple-A Memphis on Sunday. He will immediately slide back in to his starting role as the Cardinals' second baseman.

Shortstops:

Nick Ahmed, Diamondbacks - Ahmed was called up last Sunday to help fill in at shortstop with Chris Owings landing on the disabled list due to his bruised shoulder. The MRI on Owings' shoulder came back clean, meaning he should be back when 15 days have passed, though Arizona could give him a few more days and keep him out until after the All-Star break. Ahmed will split time with Didi Gregorius at shortstop while Owings is out. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Erisbel Arruebarrena, Dodgers - With Hanley Ramirez not expected to start daily until after the All-Star break due to his calf injury and Justin Turner still hurt, the Dodgers called up Arruebarrena, who was batting ,357 in 20 games for Triple-A Albuquerque. He gives LA a backup infielder that can fill in at short when Ramirez sits. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Brooks Conrad, Padres - The Padres purchased Conrad's contract from Triple-A El Paso on Wednesday. In the minors, Conrad was raking, posting a slash line of .275/.347/.526 with 18 homers and 57 RBI, but those numbers have to be taken with a grain of salt since they came in the Pacific Coast League. However, with Alexi Amarista and Irving Falu manning second base with Jedd Gyorko on the DL, San Diego could give the switch-hiiting Conrad a chance to take over the position. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Michael Martinez, Pirates - The Pirates called up the journeyman middle infielder Sunday when placing Clint Barmes on the DL with a groin injury. Martinez will primarily back up Jordy Mercer at shortstop, but there's precious little upside here - Martinez is 31 years old and had only a .624 OPS at Triple-A Indianapolis. Mixed: $0; NL: $0.

Injury activation/update:

Adeiny Hechavarria, Marlins - Hechavarria, who is eligible to return from his strained triceps, completed a one-game rehab assignment with High-A Jupiter and was activated Saturday afternoon. His overall numbers - .272/.299/.322 slash over 72 games - are not impressive, but he was heating up before he was sidelined, batting .342 (14-for-41) in 10 games prior to the injury. Now that Hechavarria is active, Ed Lucas or Donovan Solano will return to a bench role with the other stepping in for the injured Derek Dietrich. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Third Basemen:

Chris Johnson, Braves - Johnson got off to a rough start, posting just a .583 OPS in April, but ticked upward a bit in May and flat out raked in June. During last month, Johnson posted a.327/.345/.409 line with eight runs and RBI. Those numbers have to be taken with a mild grain of salt as they buoyed by a .427 BABIP, which will drop moving, plus it has come at the expense of power. However, that said, given where he was at the beginning of the year coupled with his ability to remain hot, as seen by his 2012 and 2013 numbers, if you jumped off the Johnson bandwagon when he struggled, inch back on now. Mixed: $7; NL: $19.

Injury activation/update:

Nolan Arenado, Rockies - Arenado, who suffered a left mallet finger fracture on May 23, was activated off the disabled list Thursday after completing a short rehab assignment. Prior to getting injured, Arenado was having a breakout season, batting .305/.333/.489 with six home runs. Colorado went just 10-26 without him, prompting his quick return following just 18 at-bats in the minors, so he could struggle initially at the plate, which he did Thursday went he went 0-for-4.

Outfielders:

Matt Kemp, Dodgers - Kemp isn't hitting home runs, but he still had 12 extra-base hits, 14 runs and 16 RBIs while batting .317/.375/.52in June. He has benefitted from consistent playing time with Carl Crawford out, Crawford may be back soon, but Kemp has earned the right to be in the lineup almost daily, which could come at Andre Ethier's expense. Mixed: $35 (in case he isn't owned, which is unlikely); NL: owned.

Justin Ruggiano, Cubs - Ruggiano has been red-hot lately and it has paid off in consistent playing time. He went deep in two straight games Wednesday and Friday, collecting seven RBI over that span while bringing his slugging percentage up to .466 on the year. With Junior Lake slumping, Ruggiano should be in center field almost daily while he remains hot. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Logan Schafer, Brewers - With Khris Davis nursing a shoulder injury, the Brewers called up Schafer to give the team some depth in the outfield. Schafer has some speed and can play all three-outfield spots, but don't expect much from him at the plate. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Grady Sizemore, Phillies - Sizemore could join the Phillies during their 10-game road trip. After an impressive spring training, Sizemore hit just .216/.288/.324 in 185 at-bats for the Red Sox and was released on June 18. The Phillies signed Sizemore less than a week later to a minor league deal and assigned him to Triple-A Lehigh Valley, where he has hit well. Sizemore reportedly has an out clause in his contract that will allow him to request his release if not in the majors by July 15, which may be driving the call up. When he is promoted, Sizemore will push Domonic Brown for the starting job in left. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Oscar Taveras, Cardinals - Taveras, up in June when Matt Adama's injured left calf landed him on the disabled list was promoted again this year, but this time, it looks like he might stick for the rest of the season. With Allen Craig struggling, Tavares should see fairly consistent playing time, likely in center with some action in right field, as manager Mike Matheny gets creative with his lineup to fit Taveras in. Taveras didn't excel his first stint in the majors, but had been hot at Triple-A Memphis, upping his average to .318 at the time of his call up. Mixed: $8; NL: $22.

B.J. Upton, Braves - Manager Fredi Gonzalez moved Upton into the leadoff spot on June 23 and all Upton has done has hit in 11 straight games. During this hit streak, Upton is 13-for-46 to up his average to .214 with a home run, four RBI, 10 runs scored and three stolen bases and two walks. The batting average during the streak isn't great but it's a marked improvement over where he was, plus, he is serving as a catalyst at the top of the Braves' batting order. While the hit streak will eventually end, unless Upton reverts back to his prior form, look for him to keep his spot at the top of the batting order. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Injury activation/update:

Carl Crawford, Dodgers - Crawford, out since May 28 with a sprained left ankle, finally began a rehab assignment with Triple-A Albuquerque on Saturday, going 1-for-2 in four innings of play. He looked to be on pace to return earlier but suffered a setback slowing his recovery.  Crawford could return before the All-Star break, but the Dodgers may just elect to keep him out until the second half of the season. When he does return, it once again creates a logjam in the LA outfield, with four players for three spots, so Crawford may share time with Andre Ethier sitting when Matt Kemp plays left field. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Carlos Gonzalez, Rockies - Gonzalez, who had a benign tumor removed from his left index finger on June 10, hopes to return before the All-Star break.  He last played on June 3, but took live batting practice Saturday and hopes to begin a rehab assignment early next week. If CarGo doesn't have any setbacks, then a return during the series against the Twins on July 11-13 is possible, which would be right at the five-week timeframe predicted when he first had the operation. That said, a more likely occurrence is Gonzalez playing after the All-Star break.