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NL FAAB Factor: Closer Roulette

Andrew Martinez

Andrew Martinez writes about baseball and football. He is a native Texan and roots for the Astros, Rockets, Texans, and Rice Owls.

Starting Pitchers:

Homer BaileyJohnny Cueto’s seven game suspension has opened the door for him to make a start on Sunday. It’s unknown at this time if this is a spot start or if Bailey will stick in the rotation once Cueto comes back, at the expense of the recently struggling Mike Leake. Bailey’s latest rehab start went very well as he pitched seven scoreless innings with nine strikeouts and no walks. In 50.2 innings this season with the Reds, he has a 5.51 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, and a 1.95 K/BB rate. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Nelson Figueroa – He was slated to take Wesley Wright’s spot in the Astros' rotation on Saturday, but that was before he came down with migraine-like symptoms. Figueroa is now scheduled to start Tuesday against the Mets. In 37.1 innings this season between the Phillies and Astros, he has a 3.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, and a 3.11 K/BB rate. Last season in 70.1 innings with the Mets, Figueroa had a 4.09 ERA, 1.48 WHIP, and a 2.46 K/BB rate. Mixed: $1; NL: $3.

Kyle Lohse – On Sunday, he’s scheduled to be activated and take the place of Jeff Suppan (groin) in the Cardinals’ rotation. Back in May, Lohse was diagnosed with exertional compartment syndrome in his forearm and underwent surgery. Last season he had two trips to the DL with similar forearm troubles. In his latest rehab start, Lohse pitched seven innings with one earned run, three hits, two walks, and nine strikeouts. With a performance like that, I’m cautiously optimistic that he’ll be able to come back and be effective. He had a 5.89 ERA, 1.71 WHIP, and 1.39 K/BB rate in 47.1 innings before his injury. Mixed: $5; NL: $16.

Yunesky Maya – The 28-year-old Cuban defector was signed by the Nationals last month and could be up in the majors by late August/early September. Maya reportedly throws six different pitches and has a fastball that sits in the 88-92 mph range. He pitched for Cuba in the World Baseball Classic in 2006 and 2009. Last season in the Cuban leagues, he won the equivalent of the Cy Young award for the Pinar Del Rio Vegueros. He’s seen as a polished, major league ready arm that projects as a No. 4 or No. 5 starter. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 - This is a speculative bid/notice to stash him.

Pat Misch – He made his season debut Saturday night against the Phillies and did all right. Misch gave up four runs (one earned) over six innings, in a loss with two walks, two strikeouts, and eight hits allowed. After the game, Mets manager Jerry Manuel indicated that he would stick in the rotation for the time being. In 150.2 innings this season at Triple-A, Misch had a 3.23 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and a 4.13 K/BB rate. In 2009 with the Mets, he pitched 59 innings with a 4.12 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, and a 1.21 K/BB rate. Don't expect any miracles out of the 28-year-old. Mixed: $1; NL: $3.

Esmil Rogers – To replace Aaron Cook, the Rockies opted not to call up Jhoulys Chacin and instead went with Mr. Rogers. In 61.0 innings at Triple-A this season, he had a 5.75 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, and a 2.79 K/BB rate. His first start back (he had 29.2 innings already in the majors) was decent. He pitched six innings with three earned runs, eight hits, three strikeouts, and one walk against the Pirates. In his second start, against the Brewers, he allowed four earned runs over 5.2 innings with nine hits, five strikeouts, and one walk. Even with Jeff Francis now on the DL (left shoulder tendinitis) and future starts a possibility, no magical trolley will turn Rogers into someone seriously worth adding to your roster. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Carlos Zambrano – Big Z made his return to the Cubs' rotation this week. In his first start, he pitched five innings and allowed two earned runs with four hits, three strikeouts, and seven walks (yikes!). In his second start, he pitched 5.2 innings and allowed two earned runs with seven hits, three strikeouts, and two walks. Once he gets stretched out, he should be able to pitch deeper into games. Owners should know what they're getting with Zambrano at this point: an ERA around 4.00, respectable strikeouts, poor control, and a short temper. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Relief Pitchers:

Sam Demel/Juan Gutierrez – Demel recorded the first save of his career this week for the D-Backs. Manager Kirk Gibson had been relying on Aaron Heilman lately, but he was unavailable after pitching in five games over six days. I don't like Heilman (the likely incumbent) because of his low strikeout to walk rate (1.82 K/BB), high home-run rate (1.19 HR/9), and high fly ball rate (45.7%). Conversely, I like Demel (the challenger) because of his high strikeout to walk rate (4.20 K/BB), low home-run rate (0.75 HR/9), and high ground ball rate (47.9%). Gutierrez (also-ran) is on pace to come off the DL (shoulder) on Wednesday. He had a 6.69 ERA, 1.49 WHIP, and 2.00 K/BB rate before going on the shelf. Gibson may turn to Gutierrez in late-inning situations again, but don't follow his lead. He is extremely homer prone (3.00 HR/9) with a high fly ball rate (55.0%) and middling command. I think Gibson will eventually realize that Demel is his best choice in the ninth inning (he allowed one hit in a scoreless ninth inning Saturday night) and make him his closer, but it could take a few blow ups by Heilman (and possibly Gutierrez) first and that may (or may not) take some time. Demel - Mixed: $3; NL: $9. Gutierrez - Mixed: $1; NL: $3.

Trevor Hoffman – With Hoffman near 600 career saves (597), the Brewers have decided he will share closing duties with John Axford. The team isn't brushing aside Axford's 2.88 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and 2.61 K/BB rate, but Hoffman's chase for 600 does sell tickets. Hoffman reminded the Brewers of what he's capable of on Monday, when he entered into the 10th inning of a tied game and gave up three earned runs. In his defense, Axford blew the save (a one-run lead) to allow the game to even go to extra innings. This week Axford got a five-out save and a vulture win (two scoreless innings). Moving forward, expect the Brewers to give Hoffman the occasional easy save chance (three-run leads) and for Axford to get everything else. Mixed: 1; NL: $3 - More if you are extremely desperate for saves and/or a glutton for punishment.

Hong-Chih Kuo/Octavio DotelJonathan Broxton has been temporarily removed from the closer role for the Dodgers, after he blew a save chance against the Phillies this week in stunning fashion. Over the last month, Broxton has an ERA of 9.00 and a 5:11 K:BB ratio with two saves, three blown saves, and four losses. Kuo has been called on to fill in for him, with Dotel there as backup. Kuo has been nearly flawless this season with a 0.88 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, and a 3.92 K/BB rate in 41 innings. If you own him in any leagues, be happy with any saves the he may collect (like Saturday night), but know that Joe Torre will probably reinstall Broxton as his closer, once he gets a few clean outings under his belt. Kuo - Mixed: $4; NL: $11. Dotel - Mixed: $1; NL: $3.

Brandon LyonMatt Lindstrom had been dealing with back spasms all month long and this week Astros manager Brad Mills decided to give him a few days off to recuperate. It's no coincidence that Lindstrom blew two saves in spectacular fashion, prior to his time off. Tests Friday showed that his back is "structurally sound" and he is currently on medication. On the season, he has a 3.77 ERA, 1.56 WHIP, and a 2.31 K/BB rate in 43 innings. In the interim, Lyon has stepped into the closer's role. He collected a save on Friday & Saturday night, but should go back to setting up, once Lindstrom is ready to comeback. Lyon has a 3.76 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, and a 1.42 K/BB rate in 55 innings this season for the 'Stro Show. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Hisanori Takahashi/Pedro Feliciano/Bobby ParnellFrancisco Rodriguez got himself into a bit of trouble this week, when he allegedly assaulted his father-in-law after a game. K-Rod was placed on the team's restricted list for two days without pay. He was later removed from said list on Friday night. The Mets got complete games from Johan Santana and R.A. Dickey, in Rodriguez's short absence, so the bullpen never got used and no roles ever changed hands. Moving forward, Takahashi may be sent down so he can be stretched out as a starter, while Rodriguez has consented to anger management counseling. In reality this was nothing more than an unwanted distraction for the Mets and K-Rod owners. Takahashi, Feliciano, & Parnell - Mixed: No; NL: $0.


Rod Barajas – Currently on the DL (oblique), the Hot Rod started a rehab assignment on Thursday and could be activated sometime early this coming week. Josh Thole owners will have to make other arrangements once Barajas is activated. Barajas was batting .228/.266/.419 on the season. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Wellington Castillo – The beef dish will see time with the Cubs, while Geovany Soto is on the DL (shoulder). He was hitting .251/.317/.507 in 227 at-bats at Triple-A this season. Castillo can hit for some power, as evidenced by his 24 combined homers the last two seasons in the minors. He'll see limited at-bats behind Koyie Hill for the North Siders. Mixed: $0; NL: $1.

Steve Hill – He’ll fill in for Jason LaRue, who is on the DL (ribs), for the Cardinals. Hill was hitting .280/.352/.543 with 22 homers at double-A this season. He isn’t exactly your typical catching prospect, in that he's 25 years old and can play a bit of first base and outfield too. Manager Tony LaRussa is quite fond of Yadier Molina, so don't be surprised if Hill doesn't see that many at-bats. Mixed: $No; NL: $0.

First Base:

Ryan Howard – Howard was expected to return from the DL Tuesday, but that was before he tested his ankle on Thursday and Friday. Howard has said that once the swelling goes down, he should be ready to come back. There’s no word on what day Howard is now targeting for his return, but we can probably expect a rehab assignment prior to his activation. I hesitate to recommend starting him in weekly leagues because he may only play a handful of games. Those in daily leagues should keep their eyes peeled for updates before starting the slugger. Howard was batting .292/.356/.528 this season, prior to his injury. Mixed/NL: He should be owned in all leagues.

Derrek Lee – Previously on the bereavement so that he could tend to his ailing grandfather, Lee was activated this week. He's batting .248/.333/.394 on the season, but .301/.347/.516 since the All-Star break. Mixed/NL: He should be owned in all leagues.

Second Base:

Darwin BarneyMike Fontenot’s departure left an open roster spot for Barney and the Cubs. In Triple-A this season, Barney hit .297/.331/.377 with 142 hits and 11 stolen bases in 478 at-bats. He’ll serve as a utility infielder for the club and is unlikely to see much playing time behind Starlin Castro and Blake DeWitt. Mixed: $No; NL: $0.
Mike Fontenot – Fontenot was traded from the Cubs to the Giants this week. In 169 at-bats this season, the former LSU Tiger has a .284/.332/.402 batting line. Freddy Sanchez has been in a slump lately (.216/.277/.265 after the All-Star break), so it wouldn’t be all that surprising to see the utility infielder get at-bats right away. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Martin Prado – He was expected to come off the DL (pinky finger) this coming Tuesday, but that was before he felt pain in the finger while batting indoors on Friday. After taking batting practice on Saturday though, he said the finger felt better. His return will most likely be pushed back a day or two. He probably shouldn’t be activated in weekly leagues just yet, but those in daily leagues should keep an eye on the situation. Prado was batting .315/.357/.484 before he was sidelined. Mixed/NL: He should be owned in all leagues.

Chase Utley – On the DL with a thumb injury, he was cleared to resume hitting on Wednesday, began a rehab assignment on Saturday, and could be activated as early as Tuesday. The Phillies originally estimated he’d return around September 1, so this would be almost two weeks ahead of schedule. Those in weekly and daily leagues will want to activate him immediately. The second baseman was batting .277/.383/.466 this season. Mixed/NL: He should be owned in all leagues.

Eric Young Jr. – With Jeff Francis on the DL (shoulder), EY Jr. is getting another look from the Rockies. Young was previously with the big league club, before he suffered a stress fracture in his right tibia. The speedster will backup Clint Barmes for now, but could be sent back down once the team figures out what to do with Francis' spot in the rotation. He was batting .252/.340/.333 with 10 stolen bases in 123 at-bats this season at Triple-A. Should he stick on the roster, he's a cheap source of speed. Mixed: $1; NL: $3.


Argenis DiazRonny Cedeno’s sore shoulder has opened up playing time for the former Red Sox's farm hand. Diaz is known more for his glove, as evidence by his .248/.302/.285 batting line in 274 at-bats at Triple-A this season. Cedeno’s injury isn’t thought to be serious, so Diaz' playing time may fade away as quickly as it appeared. Mixed: No; NL: $1.

Jamey Carroll/Juan CastroRafael Furcal was put on the DL (back) this week and so far, Carroll has filed in nicely. Carroll is hitting .284/.380/.327 on the season with eight stolen bases, two of which came since he starting playing everyday. He knows how to get on base, with six walks in his last eight games and a career .351 OBP. Castro, a career .230/.271/.332 hitter, is on the roster for his glove. He spent time with the Phillies earlier this season, when Jimmy Rollins was out and hit .198/.237/.238. Expect Carroll to see the bulk of at-bats until Furcal is ready to come back. Carroll - Mixed: $2; NL: $7. Castro - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Juan UribeEdgar Renteria’s stint on the DL (biceps) should provide Uribe with at-bats at shortstop for the Giants. Uribe is batting .260/.322/.444 this season with 15 homers and 65 RBI, but has battled hamstring and leg issues this season, so don’t expect him to be in there every day. Mixed: $8.

Third Base:

Brooks Conrad/Brandon Hicks – The Chipper Jones injury leaves a hole at third base for the Braves. Ideally they’d have Martin Prado at second and Omar Infante at third, but Prado has been slow to come off the DL. In Jones’ absence, Conrad (.231/.303/.500) has stepped in. Hicks was called up Friday and will serve the utility role that Conrad previously held. He's hit .216/.286/.341 in 255 at-bats this season at Triple-A. The Braves are in the market for an everyday third baseman and Prado should be back soon enough; don’t be surprised if Conrad’s everyday at-bats and Hicks’ roster spot are gone in the coming days. Conrad - Mixed: $1; NL: $3. Hicks - Mixed: No; NL: $0.


Chris Dickerson/Lorenzo Cain – Dickerson was traded to the Brewers for Jim Edmonds this week. He should see decent at-bats until Carlos Gomez (concussion) is ready to come off the DL. He had been on the DL, himself, with a wrist injury, prior to his trade. Expect the occasional steal with minimal power. He hit .205/.222/.273 with nine runs and three stolen bases in 44 at-bats, for the Reds this season. Cain was splitting at-bats with Edmonds before the trade. With Dickerson now in the mix, don’t expect much to change. He’s seen the ball well lately, with seven hits and two walks in his last eight games. This season at Triple-A he hit .299/.384/.425 in 87 at-bats. Dickerson - Mixed: $2; NL: $7. Cain - Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Jim Edmonds – Edmonds was the other half of the Dickerson trade with the Reds this week. He hit .286/.350/.493 while with the Brewers, but would need an injury (or two) to find significant playing time in the team’s congested outfield. He’ll most likely only see occasional at-bats when the Reds face a righty, due to his .282/.348/.481 batting line against them this season. Mixed: No; NL: $1.

Jay Gibbons – The release of Garret Anderson cleared a space for Gibbons on the Dodgers' roster. Gibbons hit .347/.375/.594 in Triple-A this season, but hasn’t played in the majors since 2007 with the Orioles. Joe Torre has been meddling with Matt Kemp’s playing time again, so Gibbons has seen more at-bats than expected recently. Once Kemp goes back to his everyday role, expect Gibbons to split pinch-hit/bench duties with Reed Johnson. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Jose Guillen – After being traded from Kansas City, Guillen is expected to take over everyday right field duties for the Giants. This will in turn mean that Aubrey Huff will go back to first base and Nate Schierholtz will see even less at-bats. If you’re in a league that uses defense, close your eyes and hope for the best. Guillen hit .251/.292/.383 with 12 home runs and 61 RBI while with the Royals, so don’t be afraid to add the veteran if you’re in need of some cheap power. Mixed: $5; NL: $16

Nyjer Morgan – On the DL with a hip injury that was thought to possibly need surgery to correct, Morgan is scheduled to be activated on Wednesday. The plan is for him to go on a three-game rehab assignment, before rejoining the Nationals. Weekly owners can keep him reserved as he won't start right away, but those in daily leagues will want to monitor the situation. If you're in need of speed and he's available, don't hesitate to spend some FAAB on the speedster, who was hitting .261/.322/.322 with 29 stolen bases before his injury. Mixed: $9 - Depends on your need for speed.

Nick Stavinoha – He’s back from the DL (shoulder), but shouldn’t see that many at-bats with the emergence of Jon Jay for the Cardinals. Expect him to go back to a pinch-hitting/bench role along side Allen Craig. Stavinoha was hitting just .258/.296/.344 in 93 at-bats, prior to his injury. Mixed: No; NL: $1.

Shane Victorino – The Flyin’ Hawaiian was activated from the DL (oblique) this week. In his first game back, he drew a pinch-hit walk and stole a base, so he seems to be fine. As a result, prospect Domonic Brown will see his playing time shrink, which means he might go back to the minors, so that he can see everyday at-bats. Victorino is batting .251/.312/.436 with 15 homers and 53 RBI. Mixed/NL: He should be owned in all leagues.