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NL FAAB Factor: Several Closer Situations in Flux

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.

Starting Pitchers:

Homer Bailey – I profiled Bailey two weeks ago, but with him on the verge of being activated from the DL, I am running his profile again. Bailey, on the disabled list with shoulder soreness, made his third minor league rehab start Saturday and could be activated this week. Bailey is out of options, so he likely will stick with the Reds even if it’s doesn't win a spot in the starting rotation. That said, since he will come off the DL before Johnny Cueto, he should replace Mike Leake or Travis Wood in the Reds’ rotation. However, if Sam LeCure continues to pitch well, the Reds may need to decide if Bailey heads to the bullpen when Cueto returns. Bailey demonstrated some improvement in 2010, raising his strikeout rate while maintaining decent walk and home run rates. His overall record looks a little worse than it could have been thanks to a 68 percent strand rate and a .321 BABIP against. As of now, the expectation is he will slot back into and remain as one of the five starting pitchers. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Zack Greinke – Greinke, who has been out with a fractured rib suffered when playing basketball in spring training, made his final rehab start for Triple-A Nashville on Friday. He'll make his debut with the Brewers on Wednesday, May 4. (just an FYI to activate him).

Aneury Rodriguez – Rodriguez will move into the rotation in place of Nelson Figueroa and start Tuesday against Cincinnati. Rodriguez was a Rule 5 pick from Tampa Bay in December and was in contention for the fifth starter’s spot late in the spring. He posted a 94:49 K:BB in 113.2 innings with Triple-A Durham last season and followed that campaign up with a nice showing in the Dominican Winter League. Rodriguez will need to pitch well to hold on to the spot and keep top prospect Jordan Lyles at bay. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Vance Worley – With Joe Blanton landing on the DL due to a medial impingement in his right elbow, the Phillies recalled Worley from Triple-A Lehigh Valley on Thursday and started him Friday against the Mets. Worley was off to a strong start at Triple-A, posting a 2.78 ERA with 25 strikeouts and six walks in 22.2 innings. He works in the low 90s with his fastball and also features a solid curveball and a decent changeup. Worley is still somewhat unseasoned with only has 12 Triple-A starts under his belt, but he has a fan in manager Charlie Manuel and justified that faith with six shutout innings to get the win Friday. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Chris Young – Young, who earned the fourth spot in the Mets’ rotation with a strong spring, made two good starts before being sidelined again with yet another arm injury. This time, fortunately it was biceps tendinitis and not shoulder woes that forced Young to the DL. Young returned to action Tuesday, giving up three runs – all solo home runs – in 4.2 innings while seeing his velocity drop as the outing wore on. The good news is that Young came out of the start with no issues and should be fine – especially at home – going forward. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (in case he was waived due to his injury history).

Relief Pitchers:

Antonio Bastardo/Ryan Madson/Michael Stutes – With Brad Lidge on the disabled list, the closer’s spot in Philadelphia was already a bit in flux before Jose Contreras landed himself on the DL with a Grade 1 strain of his right forearm that may sideline him a month. In Contreras’ absence, Madson, who was probably second in line to Contreras, becomes the main option for the nint-inning role, followed by Bastardo and Stutes. Madson picked up back-to-back saves last weekend and has been stellar to start the year with one earned run allowed and a 12:3 K:BB ratio in 10 innings. The only question with him is can he handle the role mentally after having success in the setup spot? Manager Charlie Manuel turned to Bastardo last Sunday, and he responded by closing out the game. However, Bastardo allowed a solo home run to Arizona’s Chris Young in the eighth inning Wednesday, snapping his 9.2 inning scoreless streak. Bastardo has an excellent 16:4 K:BB ratio in 10.3 innings thus far and has been proving he can get both lefties and righties out. Bastardo does have a history of arm problems, so he'll have to be managed carefully if the Phillies want to keep him healthy. At worse, he should be a decent source of holds and strikeouts. Stutes is the long shot of the trio. Last year, he finished 7-1 with a 3.42 ERA and a 79:44 K:BB ratio in 76.1 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Stutes had a strong spring and continued that fine work into the season, posting a 14:4 K:BB ratio with two runs allowed in 10 innings for Triple-A Lehigh Valley. Like Bastardo, Stutes should be a source of holds and strikeouts; and he could factor into the closer mix with in the short term if Madson and Bastardo struggle. Bastardo – Mixed: $3; NL: $11; Madson – Mixed: $12; NL: $38 (should already be owned but gets bump in value based on role change); Stutes – Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Sean Marshall - Marshall pitched a scoreless eighth inning Friday, allowing one hit and striking out two. Marshall has picked right up from where he left off last year – when he posted a 90:25 K:BB ratio in 74.2 IP, a 2.33 GB/FB ratio, only three homers allowed and an ERA of 2.65 – due to the sinking action on his low-90s fastball. He has a 12:1 K:BB ratio in 12 innings and has allowed just one earned run all year. Kerry Wood might be first in line to close if Carlos Marmol falters, but Marshall's the better pitcher right now. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Vicente Padilla/Hong-Chih Kuo/Mike MacDougal – With Jonathan Broxton struggling and now dealing with a mild elbow injury, Padilla worked a scoreless 10th inning to record the save – his first since 2000 - for the Dodgers on Wednesday. Manager Don Mattingly says that Broxton is still his closer, but we'll believe that when we see it. If Broxton is sidelined by the injury or temporarily removed from the role, Mattingly could turn to Padilla, Kuo (when he returns from his injury rehab stint) or MacDougal. Though Kuo notched 12 saves last year and may have the best overall stuff, his appearances need to be managed because of his injury history, which may preclude him from fully filling the closer role. Padilla is normally a starter, but a full Dodgers rotation forced him to the bullpen. If Padilla sees an uptick in velocity moving to the ‘pen, he could be an interesting option, especially if he pitches with the control he had last season. MacDougal has closed before, but he has also struggled mightily at times. This year, he has allowed just one run in nine innings, but it has come with a 6:5 K:BB ratio. If Kenley Jansen could find some consistency out of the bullpen and pitch like he did after his call-up last year, he could factor in the mix too. In order, I would go Kuo, Padilla, MacDougal and Jansen if Broxton falters and Kuo is healthy. Padilla – Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Kuo – Mixed: $5; NL: $14 (should already be owned but gets bump in value based on role change); MacDougal – Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Chris Resop – Resop notched his third hold in four days Friday, striking out the side to lower his ERA to 1.26 (two runs in 14.1 innings). With Evan Meek ineffective and apparently suffering from a shoulder injury, the Bucs have turned to Resop later in games. The hard-throwing righty has responded with excellent results. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Fernando Salas/Eduardo Sanchez/Jason Motte – The Cardinals closer situation got even murkier last week when three closers each picked up their first career save. First it was Mitchell Boggs, then Eduardo Sanchez got his turn, and Fernando Salas was last in line, notching the save Thursday. That doesn’t even include lefty specialist Trevor Miller notching the save Friday. Boggs looked to be locked into the role after converting three chances in a row, but he blew the save Tuesday then watched as Sanchez and Salas converted their chances. As a result, Boggs was used in the seventh inning Saturday. Andrew Martinez profiled Sanchez last week, but now that he notched a save, he gets a bit of a bump. Sanchez was shaky in his chance, giving up two runs, but he ultimately closed the door and has a 16:2 K:BB ratio in 10 innings. He may be the guy to target long term, especially if Jason Motte loses his status of “closer of the future.” However, keep in mind that Motte has been unscored on in his last eight outings after opening the year with two stinkers. For all we know, he could be next in line too. In addition, Salas’ save Thursday was the four-out variety when St. Louis tacked on a run in the ninth to turn a three-run lead into a four-run one, which might have prompted manager Tony La Russa to not make a change. However, La Russa did turn to Salas again Saturday and he notched another save, striking out two and walking one. Salas did close in the minors last year, but his stuff doesn’t necessarily profile for him to be a big-league closer. Still, given the uncertainty in the St. Louis pen, anything is feasible at this point. Salas - Mixed: $4; NL: $14; Sanchez – Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Motte – Mixed: $2; NL: $7.


Dioner Navarro – Navarro, who was sidelined with an oblique injury, was activated from the disabled list Monday. He will start once or twice a week behind Rod Barajas. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Ronny Paulino – Paulino, who was placed on the disabled list with anemia issues when his 50-game MLB suspension was completed, finished his rehab assignment Thursday and was activated Friday. Paulino will initially see most of his action against left-handed pitching with Jose Thole remaining the starter against righties. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Brian Schneider – Schneider will handle the bulk of the catching duties for the Phillies while Carlos Ruiz recuperates from a back injury. For now, Ruiz, who said after he was injured that he was worried because he never felt that much pain in his back before, is supposed to avoid going on the DL but will still be out several games. If Ruiz does land on the DL, the Phillies will likely call up Erik Kratz to back up Schneider. For now, are going with Dane Sardinha to fill that role. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

J.R. Towles – Towles had another shot to nail down the starting catcher position last season but failed to impress. He had just four extra-base hits in 47 at-bats and drew only two walks while striking out 12 times. Jason Castro was expected to be the starting catcher before tearing his ACL, which left the spot to Towles and Humberto Quintero. Towles has gotten off to a strong start and may be on the verge of earning the majority of time behind the plate for Houston. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

First Basemen:

Anthony Rizzo – With the continued struggles of Brad Hawpe, ESPN’s Buster Olney noted last week that there was speculation Rizzo could be on the verge of a promotion. Olney went on to add that it was much more likely -- if San Diego decides that Hawpe is not going to dig himself out of his early-season slump -- that the Padres would summon Kyle Blanks to play first rather than Rizzo. It's much more likely that Rizzo will be called up in the middle of the season. Rizzo, who came to SD in the Adrian Gonzalez deal, is showing that Triple-A pitching may be a bit too easy for him. Going into Sunday, Rizzo was hitting .400 with a 1.215 OPS and an eye-popping 30 RBI in 90 at-bats with Tucson. Rizzo was on the keeper radar before the season started and is about to pay off for those who invested. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (very early speculative bid for now).

Second Basemen:

Jeff Baker – Baker went 0-for-4 Saturday, but he is still hitting .364 (20-for-55) this season. Manager Mike Quade has the difficulty of trying to find room for Baker, who can play first, second and third,. With Darwin Barney and Aramis Ramirez hitting well, there appears to be no room at second or third. That leaves first base, which is in the hands of the ice-cold Carlos Pena. Quade has recently played Baker at first base against lefties, forcing Pena to the bench. Quade has no plans of giving up on Pena, but as long as he struggles, look for Baker to continue seeing action at first versus lefty starters. Though Baker may have a bit more value these days, keep an eye on the left shoulder soreness that forced him from Saturday’s game. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (mild upgrade in NL-only leagues with more PT).

Clint Barmes – Barmes was traded to Houston from Colorado this offseason. He opened the year on the DL after fracturing the fifth metacarpal bone in his left hand March 25 but was just activated Friday. He can hit lefties (.284/.332/.484 career splits) and possesses some pop (48.9 percent flyball rate), which suggests a platoon role would be ideal. However, Barmes is expected to be the everyday shortstop and could be aided by the short porch at Minute Maid Park. Angel Sanchez, who had been starting in Barmes’ absence, could move to second, which would move the disappointing Bill Hall to the bench. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Pete Orr – Orr could start seeing additional playing time at second base with Wilson Valdez struggling. Like Valdez, Orr is nothing special at the plate, but playing time is playing time. Mixed: No; NL: $3.

Chris Valaika – Valaika, who had a solid 2010 season and was off to a good start for Triple-A Louisville, was recalled Sunday to take the roster spot of the injured Scott Rolen. Valaika will fill a utility role for the Reds with Miguel Cairo starting at third base in Rolen’s absence. Mixed: No; NL: $0.


Emmanuel Burriss/Mike Fontenot – With Mark DeRosa (wrist) landing on the DL, the Giants recalled Burriss from Triple-A Fresno. Burriss will give the team some infield depth, but he could see some playing time with Miguel Tejada seeing action at third with Pablo Sandoval out a few weeks. The primary beneficiary of the injury will be Fontenot, who got the start Saturday and likely will be at shortstop nearly every day with Sandoval out. Burriss - Mixed: No; NL: $2; Fontenot – Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Jamey Carroll – Carroll gets another tick upward with Casey Blake landing on the DL with an infected elbow. Carroll, who started at second base in the early part of the season while Casey Blake was out and Juan Uribe played third, was starting at shortstop with Rafael Furcal sidelined 4-to-6 weeks with a broken thumb. Aaron Miles will play some third with Blake out, but the Dodgers could opt to start Uribe at either second or third, meaning Carroll is even more entrenched at shortstop in Furcal’s absence. When Furcal returns, Carroll could shift to third if Blake is not back yet. The Dodgers recalled Ivan DeJesus to take Furcal's roster spot, and Uribe can play a bit of short needed, but Carroll figures to be the regular shortstop in Furcal's absence. Carroll won’t provide any pop but should be a decent source of average, runs and some steals while filling in for Furcal. Mixed: $8.

Angel Sanchez – Sanchez's run as the starting shortstop ended Friday when Clint Barmes was activated from the disabled list. Sanchez is hitting an even .300 (30-for-100) after extending his hitting streak to six games Thursday. Given his questionable range, he's a more natural fit at second base than shortstop, which raises the question of whether Sanchez will start stealing at-bats from Bill Hall, as he did Saturday. Hall is hitting an icy .228/.282/.342 through his first 79 at-bats. If you own Sanchez, don’t bail just yet until seeing if Hall keeps the second base job. Mixed: $4.

Josh Wilson – The Diamondbacks recalled Wilson from Triple-A Reno on Monday to take the roster spot of Willie Bloomquist, who was placed on the DL with a sore hamstring. Wilson will serve as a utility infielder for Arizona. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Brandon Wood – Wood was profiled last week after Pittsburgh claimed him off waivers, but now that it looks as if he will see regular action, he deserves another mention. Wood didn’t do much when he was given a chance to play in Anaheim, but maybe Clint Hurdle can unlock the potential Wood showed years ago. Wood should see most of his action at shortstop but will spell Pedro Alvarez at third base against lefties and play occasionally at first. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Third Basemen:

Miguel Cairo – Cairo, who Andrew Martinez profiled while doing a great job filling in for me last week, gets a mild bump after Scott Rolen wound up on the DL due to his left shoulder injury. Rolen hopes to be ready to go when he first eligible to return May 6, though that is up in the air until Rolen tests the shoulder. With Juan Francisco also out, Cairo should see most of the playing time at the hot corner until Rolen returns. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Greg Dobbs – Dobbs is seeing consistent playing time at third, a trend that could continue since he has been producing at the plate (hitting .351 with seven RBI in 19 games) while Donnie Murphy's offense has been non-existent. In addition, Dobbs’ cause is also aided with Emilio Bonifacio seeing time in the outfield due to the injuries to Chris Coghlan and Logan Morrison. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Aaron Miles – Miles is functioning as the Dodgers' starting second baseman while Juan Uribe fills in at third for the injured Casey Blake. However, Miles is seeing some action at third as well and will continue seeing time there with Blake out. Blake may miss up to six weeks, so go ahead and pick Miles up in NL-only, as well as (very) deep mixed leagues, and hope he hits .280. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Russ Mitchell - The Dodgers recalled Mitchell from Triple-A Albuquerque on Friday to take Casey Blake’s roster spot. Mitchell broke out at Triple-A last season but is hitting just .214 in 2011 (though he does have three homers). Aaron Miles figures to get the first shot at the third base job while Blake is out, though Mitchell could get a chance at some point. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Ryan RohlingerPablo Sandoval has a fractured hamate bone in his hand and will likely miss 4-to-6 weeks. To replace him on the active roster, the Giants called up Rohlinger, who could become a part of the third-base picture for the team in the coming weeks. The 27-year-old has four homers in 72 at-bats with Triple-A Fresno, but he's hitting just .194 this season (.337 OBP, 14:9 BB:K) thanks to a .169 BABIP. Rohlinger has shown the ability to hit at Fresno the past several seasons but has struggled when promoted to the majors. He may get a chance to see extended playing time, but for now, it looks like San Fran will shift Miguel Tejada to third and play Mike Fontenot every day at shortstop. Mixed: No; NL: $2.


Alfredo Amezaga – The Rockies purchased Amezaga's contract from Triple-A Colorado Springs on Friday. Amezaga did not play in the majors last season after undergoing microfracture knee surgery. It's a difficult procedure to recover from, but Amezaga has looked strong at Triple-A this season, posting a .364/.408/.530 line in 66 at-bats. With a couple of Rockies nursing minor injuries, he'll provide a little extra depth; but don’t expect him to see much playing time. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Jason Bourgeois – Bourgeois escaped demotion when the Astros activated Clint Barmes (hand) from the disabled list. The team opted to remove Joe Inglett from the roster instead. With the news that Bourgeois will be staying with the team, one would expect he would be asked to play second more often, which is probably a more natural position for him given his anemic bat. If he does play second base, it would increase his value and enable him to build upon the seven steals he already has. Mixed: No; NL: $3.

Kyle Blanks – The Padres reinstated Blanks, who had Tommy John surgery last summer, from the 15-day disabled list Tuesday and optioned him to Double-A San Antonio. Blanks has been out of action since last summer, so some rust might be expected. Prior to last year, Blanks had shown the ability to hit for average and power in the minors, so if he can get off to a good start, there will be room for him in San Diego given the team’s lack of a regular first baseman. Blanks might even be able to steal playing time away from Brad Hawpe or Jorge Cantu in short order, and if he remains hot, he could shift to the outfield when the Padres decide to promote Anthony Rizzo. Mixed: $1; NL: $5 (purely speculative at this point).

Brian Bogusevic – Bogusevic will likely remain with the Astros for at least a month. The Astros have not released a timetable for Jason Michaels' recovery from a shoulder dislocation, but similar injuries take about a month of rehab. There is a chance that Michaels will require surgery, which would only extend Bogusevic's run with the Astros. Bogusevic will serve as a left-handed bat off the bench while getting the occasional start in left field. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Domonic Brown - Brown, who broke the hook of the hamate bone in his right hand on March 5, began a minor-league rehab stint with High-A Clearwater on Wednesday. Brown blew through Double-A Reading and Triple-A Lehigh Valley last year and earned a shot with the big club when Shane Victorino was sidelined. Brown did not capitalize on that opportunity and struggled in his 62 at-bat audition as major league pitchers exploited his long swing. Entering spring training, Brown was slated to battle Ben Francisco to start in right field; but that battle never really materialized after Brown was hurt early on. Given how well Francisco has played, Brown’s best chance for playing time may be in place of the struggling Raul Ibanez. Ibanez was given a long leash last year when he struggled and might receive one again, but Brown could force the issue by ripping the cover off the ball in the minors. Mixed: $3; NL: $11 (speculative bid since Brown could still end up at Triple-A).

Chris Coghlan – RotoWire’s outlook on Coghlan read, “The sophomore jinx hit Coghlan hard. His walk rate dropped, his strikeout rate shot up and then to cap it off he tore his MCL in July while delivering a shaving cream pie to Wes Helms' face following Helms' walk-off hit. On the bright side his BABIP and line-drive rate stayed strong, which points to better offensive days ahead.” So far, he has had those better days in making a successful transition from left to center field. After a slow start, Coghlan has hit .373 with 13 RBI and three homers over his past 13 games. He seems to have changed his hitting approach, increasing his flyball and swing percentages with a mild drop off in contact rate. While some regression may be in order, the bigger concern is Coghlan’s sore shoulder, which has bothered him since spring training and would likely need 6-to-8 weeks of complete rest to be fully healed. Coghlan is expected to play through the injury, but pay close attention to see if it impacts him at the plate and/or forces him to miss any time. Mixed: $18.

Allen Craig – The Cardinals are optimistic that Craig, who has been out with a strained left groin, will be activated from the DL when first eligible Monday. The St. Louis offense, especially the outfielders, has played well in Craig's absence, but he'll return to his role as fourth outfielder and occasional fill-in. Mixed: No; NL: $3.

Kosuke Fukudome – Fukudome continues to rake against right-handed pitching, batting .389 with 54 of his 60 at-bats against righties. In addition, he has a 12:9 BB:K ratio, giving him an unconscious .486 OBP. Fukudome has excelled battling leadoff and should remain in that spot when he is in the lineup. Don’t look for an exorbitant amount of power from Fukudome, and don’t expect him to see much action against lefties; but as long as he continues to get on base, he should remain a solid source of runs and average when in the lineup. Mixed: $12.

Jeremy Hermida – Hermida received his second start in left field in three days Friday and went 1-for-3 with a home run. Jonny Gomes has a .167 batting average against right-handed starters, and Dusty Baker may opt to use a platoon with Hermida going forward though Gomes started against righty Josh Johnson on Saturday. Hermida's .768 career OPS against righties is by no means fantastic, so his upside is limited. Plus, he may not even stick in the platoon role when Fred returns from a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Joe Mather – The Braves recalled Mather from Triple-A Gwinnett on Thursday. He'll be used in a utility role and he may not be in the majors for long. He was hitting .258/.347/.387 with a home run in 18 games at Triple-A. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

John MayberryRaul Ibanez's slump is giving Mayberry a chance to get in the lineup against lefties, and he has started four of the past five games. Manuel had tremendous patience with Ibanez last season when he slumped for almost the entire first half, so expectations of increased playing time for Mayberry should be tempered for now. In addition, Domonic Brown has started a rehab stint and could be promoted shortly. However, if Ibanez continues to slump and Philly management decide Brown needs more seasoning, Mayberry could continue to seeing increased action. Mixed: $0; NL: $4.

Laynce Nix – Nix got a start in left field Friday and went 2-for-3 with a two-run home run off Tim Lincecum. He's starting to eat into Mike Morse's playing time in left thanks to a .314/.333/.600 start at the plate that includes three home runs in 35 at-bats. If the situation becomes a full-on platoon, Nix could see a big jump in his fantasy value since he would face righties and get most of the starts. Mixed: $0; NL: $4.

Gerardo Parra – The injury to Willie Bloomquist has opened the door for Parra to see more playing time in left field. Ryan Roberts is also in the mix to see time in left, but Parra has started six of the last seven games. In addition, even if Bloomquist was still healthy, he was already starting to come back to Earth after his hot start. Parra won’t hit for much power and could sit against lefties, but he should be a good source of average and runs when he does play. Mixed: $4; NL: $13 (should be owned in NL-only leagues; gets bump due to increased PT).

Xavier Paul – Paul, who was designated for assignment by the Dodgers last week, was claimed by the Pirates on Tuesday. He hit .320/.380/.575 in 57 Triple-A games last year, but those numbers slid dramatically to .231/.277/.314 in 121 major league at-bats. The Pirates are hoping a change of scenery can revive him, but he hasn't shown much at the MLB level to this point. Look for Paul to see some time at both corner outfield spots. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Andres Torres – Torres, who has been out since April 9 with an Achilles injury, will likely be activated from the disabled list when the Giants return from their road trip May 6. San Francisco will welcome his return, which should provide a nice boost to their lineup. (FYI since he should already be owned).