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NL FAAB Factor: Return of Zito

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 - Stop me if you have heard this before, Bailey is coming off the disabled list to start for the Reds. In what has become a pattern this year, Bailey is once again returning from injury to take his spot in the Cincinnati rotation. I ran a profile on Bailey two weeks ago when he started rehab, but have added it again with his activation from the DL for Sunday's start. Bailey, out since spraining his shoulder during an at-bat May 26, made his third and final rehab start Monday had the Orioles in his first start back. 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. This year, Bailey built on the growth he showed last season, hitting the ground running when he returned in early May from shoulder soreness, so there is no reason to believe his return this time should be any different. Mixed: $5; NL: $14

Kyle Kendrick - Manager Charlie Manuel said Kendrick will most likely join the Phillies' rotation to fill in for the injured Roy Oswalt. Oswalt is expected to miss at least three starts due to the bulging disc in his back, but we'll have a clearer picture of how long he might be sidelined after Monday's MRI. Kendrick is 4-4 with a 3.23 ERA and a 19:15 K:BB ratio this season. Kendrick relies on his sinker to get outs and when the pitch is working for him he can be successful. If it isn't, he gets hit pretty hard as he doesn't have the stuff to put hitters away by missing bats, as seen by his weak strikeout rate. That said, he did win 11 games last year with a decent ERA and WHIP and has a solid offense behind him. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Cory Luebke - Luebke was moved from the bullpen into the rotation this week after Wade LeBlanc was optioned to Triple-A Tucson on Tuesday. Luebke, owner of a 43:15 K:BB ratio in 29 relief appearances, will start Sunday, following Tim Stauffer who pitched on Friday and Dustin Moseley on Saturday. Luebke possesses a fastball that sits in the low-90s, a slider, and a changeup, all of which he has confidence in. He moved rapidly up the ladder last year, changing roles between the rotation and bullpen a few times before finally getting his chance to start again this season. Look for a slight drop in his strikeout rate since he now needs to pace himself, but in Petco, his overall numbers should still be very solid. Mixed: $3; NL: $11

Barry Zito - I profiled Zito a few weeks after he made the first of his rehab starts. Now that he has completed those and was activated Saturday, another mention is warranted. Zito pitched brilliantly in the minors, but looked ticketed for bullpen duty before Jonathan Sanchez landed on the disabled list Saturday with biceps tendinitis. Zito will make his first start Tuesday and remain in the rotation until Sanchez returns. Last year, Zito reversed his normal trend by pitching well early and struggling down the stretch. Maybe the time off this year flips that and he pitches well the rest of the year, but even then, there is no guarantee he keeps the rotation spot. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Relief Pitchers:

Jose Ceda - The Marlins called up Ceda on Monday from Triple-A New Orleans. Ceda had a 0.89 ERA in 30.1 innings of relief for New Orleans. He totaled 19 saves with a 40:10 K:BB. Leo Nunez is, of course, entrenched as the Florida closer, but Ceda could be used in late-inning situations with Clay Hensley still out and Mike Dunn struggling. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Aroldis Chapman - We ran this profile on Chapman last week, but now that he has been activated off the DL and promoted, we decided to run it again. Chapman, who was out with shoulder inflammation for the past month, made his fifth and final appearance for Double-A Carolina on Tuesday. Chapman has regained the missing velocity on his fastball, aided by a healthy shoulder, after being bothered by it since the beginning of the year. In addition, Reds pitching coach Bryan Price was able to spot and presumably correct a flaw in Chapman's delivery (he was over-rotating his front shoulder), which has also helped him hit triple digits with his fastball again. Chapman's time rehabbing in the minors was mired with erratic pitching performances, but his two last appearances were perfect, prompting the Reds to activate him. Chapman will be used in a setup role from the bullpen, but should be a good source of strikeouts with a solid ERA and WHIP. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Matt Lindstrom - Huston Street was not available for Saturday's game due to soreness in his groin. He's considered day-to-day, but expect the Rockies to be cautious with him so this does not develop into a more serious issue. While Street is out, Lindstrom will likely serve as Colorado's closer. Mixed: $2, NL: $7 (bid in case Street is sidelined for a while)

Michael Stutes/Antonio Bastardo - Manager Charlie Manuel said Bastardo will be the primary closer while Ryan Madson is sidelined due to numbness in his hand but Michael Stutes will also be in the mix. Stutes allowed a two-run home run Saturday but prior to that, had a 2.28 ERA and a 24:14 K:BB in 23.2 innings since his recall earlier in the season. Bastardo has been even better, posting a 0.96 ERA, 0.860 WHIP and 33:13 K:BB ratio in 28 innings. Brad Lidge is not expected back until after the All-Star Game, so if Madson is forced to miss any more time, look for Bastardo and Stutes to get the call. Stutes - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Bastardo - Mixed: $2; NL: $7


Eric Fryer - The Pirates promoted Fryer to the majors Saturday, replacing Dustin Brown, who was designated for assignment. Fryer tore up Double-A this season with a .345 batting average, and though he was not as hot with Triple-A Indianapolis, he still posted an .823 OPS. Fryer figures to open in a reserve role behind Michael McKenry, but he could earn himself a few starts if he can provide some offense at a position that has been a revolving door for the Pirates this season. Mixed: $0; NL: $2

Dioner Navarro - The injury to Rod Barajas has opened the door for Navarro to see more playing time, and so far, he has made the most of it. Navarro was hitting just .156 when Barajas went down, and while the sample size is small, he has hits in each of his last three starts. Navarro will split time with A.J. Ellis, but he should see an uptick in action for the coming weeks. Mixed: $1; NL: $4

Hector Sanchez/Max Ramirez - With the Giants looking for a catcher with Buster Posey out and rotating Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart, Sanchez might end up being an option. Sanchez was recently promoted from High-A San Jose to Triple-A Reno after batting .301/.321/.511 with eight homer and 42 RBI. Those numbers are balanced by a 42:5 K:BB ratio and we should get a better sense as to how close he is with the jump over Double-A. San Francisco may be active in the trade market, but if Sanchez produces, he could get a shot. If Sanchez doesn't get the call, maybe Ramirez, who is now on his fourth organization this year after signing a minor league deal with the Giants this week, gets the nod. Ramirez has a paltry .606 OPS in 118 Triple-A at-bats, but could be a factor in the big league club's catching rotation later on if Whiteside or Stewart falter. Both - Mixed: $0; NL: $2 (speculative pick)

Brian Schneider - Schneider, out since May 11 with a Grade 2 strained left hamstring, was activated from the 15-day DL on Friday. He'll serve as the backup to Carlos Ruiz and likely start a game or two each week. Mixed: No; NL: $0

First Basemen:

Lucas Duda - Duda had a career day Saturday, going 4-for-5, with three doubles, four RBI and a run to raise his batting average 55 points to .228. He had been struggling mightily since his promotion from Triple-A Buffalo earlier this month, and his four RBI on Saturday nearly matched his season total coming into the game. Duda may have cemented himself as the Mets' starting first baseman with Ike Davis out, at least until David Wright (back) returns from the DL around the All-Star break, as Daniel Murphy can move to third base with Justin Turner sliding over to second, though he is nursing a bad thumb. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Mark Hamilton - The Cardinals called up Hamilton from Triple-A Memphis to replace Albert Pujols on the roster. Hamilton, who was up from mid-April to mid-May and from June 3-18, gets another shot to stick in St. Louis with Pujols likely out until August. Hamilton hit .115 in 26 at-bats in his two prior stints but had done much better at Triple-A this season, hitting .391 with two home runs and 22 RBI in 87 at-bats. Hamilton will provide some power off the bench for St. Louis, but he's unlikely to have a significant role even with Pujols out as Lance Berkman should see most of the action at first base. Mixed: No; NL: $0

James Loney - Loney has been rumored to lose his job nearly all season, yet, he still finds a way to hold onto the spot. Despite the overall poor numbers, Loney is having a very solid June, hitting in five straight and 11-of-12 to up his average from .241 to .274. The power numbers will likely never be there, but despite that, his 27 RBI are third on the Dodgers, which is probably more of an indictment of LA than a positive for Loney. Despite the hot stretch, Loney will likely sit against tough lefties with Casey Blake moving to first, but as long as he continues to hit, he should remain the starter at first base against righties. Mixed: $3; NL: $11 (likely owned in NL-only leagues, but gets a bump in value)

Second Basemen:

Darwin Barney - Barney, who went on the disabled list on June 15 with a mild ligament sprain, was medically cleared for all activities this week. He was fitted for a knee brace Thursday and left Saturday for a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Iowa. This keeps Barney on track for a return on his first eligible day, Wednesday, when the Cubs host San Francisco. Prior to getting hurt, Barney, who had gotten off to a terrific start, was in the midst of a slump that had lowered his average to from .345 on May 16 to .294 for the year. Despite that slide, he still should move back in as the starting second baseman when he comes off the DL. Mixed: $4; NL: $13

Matt Downs - Downs started at shortstop Saturday; only his second career start at the position with the first coming in September 2010. Downs has started seven games at third base, four at second base and one at first base this year, but he saw some time at shortstop in the spring and has been taking ground balls there during batting practice. The Astros have been trying to find playing time for him across the infield, given that he is one of the few guys actually hitting right now, though for the most part he's been limited to pinch-hit duty. Mixed: No; NL: $2

Mike Fontenot - Fontenot, who re-injured his groin June 10 at Triple-A Fresno, is about a week away from resuming his minor league rehab assignment. When Fontenot does return, look for him to work in a platoon with Bill Hall at second base. Even when he does return, don't expect an inordinate amount of production from him. Mixed: No; NL: $2

Martin Prado - Prado, out since June 8 with a staff infection in his right calf, hit off a tee Friday. He could be cleared to resume full workouts once his incision, that was made to clean out the infection, completely heals, which could be days away. Prado will likely need some sort of minor league rehab assignment before re-joining the Braves, but he could be back before the All-Star break. When that occurs, he should go back to see most of his action in left field with the occasional start at third base. (just an FYI as still should be owned in nearly all formats)


Chase D'Arnaud - The Pirates recalled d'Arnaud from Triple-A Indianapolis on Friday. He'll give the Bucs some added infield depth and likely see time at shortstop and third base, where he started his first two games in the big leagues. After solid campaigns in 2008 and 2009, d'Arnaud regressed last year, putting his prospect status in doubt. D'Arnaud got off to a slow start this season, but really turned it on in early May to hit .280/.347/.418 with four home runs, 33 RBI and 17 steals through 62 games for Indianapolis and had been used at third base the last couple weeks. It's also worth noting that he's hit lefties at a .358 clip (29-for-81), while going 38-for-158 (.241) against right-handed pitching. Pittsburgh expects to recall Josh Harrison in early July, per Pirates president Frank Connelly. When that happens, d'Arnaud's opportunities will become less clear. Mixed: $1; NL: $4

Rafael Furcal - Furcal, on the DL since May 4 with a strained oblique, could begin a minor league rehab assignment as soon as next week. Furcal fielded grounders and threw Monday; something that trainer Stan Conte called a significant step, given that Furcal was originally hurt doing just that. It's also worth noting that Furcal can sprint without any problems these days and can also hit pain-free from the right side. Furcal has been limited to just 17 games this year due to the oblique injury and broken thumb that sidelined him from early April for six weeks. This is the third time in four seasons that injuries have wreaked havoc with Furcal, but when healthy, he is still a productive shortstop, but that when is huge. In addition, LA will have to decide what to do with Dee Gordon, who has filled in lately for Furcal, but there has been some talk of playing Furcal at second base, which would hurt Jamey Carroll's value. Mixed: $11; NL: $28

Julio Lugo - Lugo, who signed a minor league deal with the Braves on May 23, was called up Tuesday. He replaced Diory Hernandez on the Atlanta roster and should serve as a utility infielder. Mixed: No; NL: $0

Third Basemen:

David Freese - I covered Freese three weeks ago when he took grounders for the first time since he fractured his hand May 1. Now that he appears to be on the verge of returning, another mention is warranted. Freese began a rehab assignment Tuesday and should be activated sometime next week. Prior to getting injured, Freese was off to a tremendous start to the year. With St. Louis seemingly using a cast of thousands to fill in for him at the hot corner, Freese will regain his starting position when he does return, which looks to be on the lower side of the 9-to-12 week estimate that was given when he was sidelined. Don't expect much power or speed, but Freese should be a solid source of batting average, RBI and runs in the middle of the St. Louis lineup, as he will be counted on to help replace some if the production lost with Albert Pujols out. Mixed: $10, NL: $27

David Wright - Wright, who has been out since May 17 with a stress fracture in his back, but had been dealing with the injury since mid-April after attempting to make a diving tag on Carlos Lee, finally got clearance to resume baseball activities Thursday. Wright will likely need 2-to-3 weeks before he is ready to return, which likely means he won't be back until after the All-Star break. (Unlikely to be available, but go the max if he's out there as he's still a good source of power, RBI and steals, albeit with a heavy dose of strikeouts)


Marlon Byrd - Byrd, who has been out since May 21 with facial fractures after getting hit by an Alfredo Aceves pitch, is expected to begin a rehab assignment Monday with Triple-A Iowa. Though beginning a rehab assignment indicates Byrd is nearing the end of his recovery, a recent report indicated that he could still be several weeks away from being activated. In early June, Byrd said he hoped to return in 4-to-6 weeks, which could mean he would be back any time from the beginning-to-mid July. That timeframe still looks accurate, but monitor to see if he ends up coming on short-or-long side of those dates. Whenever he does return, look for him to regain his starting center field spot. Mixed: $5; NL: $16

Chris Heisey - Heisey had a career day, going 3-for-5 with three home runs, five RBI and four runs scored in the Reds' win over the Yankees in Game 2 of their doubleheader Wednesday. Manager Dusty Baker listened to some of the calls for Heisey to get more playing time, rewarding him for that performance with starts and spots in the leadoff slot Friday and Saturday. With Drew Stubbs struggling and temporarily moved down in the order, Heisey could carve out significant playing time if he can string together a few solid games in a row, and for now, he could platoon with Fred Lewis during interleague play. Mixed: $3; NL: $9

Xavier Paul - Paul's start Wednesday was his eighth straight, and while he was on the bench Thursday-Saturday, it's clear he has carved out a solid role as the team's fourth outfielder. His solid June has upped his average to .270 and he has also chipped in nine steals. Paul who has the best arm in the Bucs' outfield, probably won't continue as an everyday starter, but should see enough time to be productive in many leagues. That said, an outfield spot could open up if the Pirates play Garrett Jones more at first base, with Lyle Overbay slumping, and less in right field. Mixed: $3; NL: $9