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NL FAAB Factor: Who's Providing the Relief?

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 Pitching

Barry Enright - Enright will be recalled from Triple-A Reno to start Tuesday for Arizona with Zach Duke moving to the bullpen. Enright struggled to a 6.49 ERA through six major league starts earlier this season, and his Triple-A numbers don't suggest he will be able to significantly improve on that mark in a second go-around. Enright was 8-2 in the minors with a 4.29 ERA and 1.16 WHIP, however he has been greatly aided by a below-average .251 BABIP and higher than usual .681 strand rate. His command is decent, but he doesn't strike many batters out and he gives up a lot of fly balls and home runs, so don't expect that much now that he is back in the majors. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Clay Hensley - The Marlins have been building up the pitch count for Hensley, who has been out with a right shoulder sprain since June 3, and he will join the rotation Monday against the Mets. This change was surprisingly announced last week, but it provides the Marlins with an internal option to take the place of Josh Johnson as he continues to try and work his way back onto the mound before the end of the season. Hensley threw 55 pitches July 9 for High-A Jupiter, striking out two over his four innings of work and then allowed one run on five hits and a walk while striking out seven in 4.1 innings for Double-A Jacksonville this past week. He was a starter before being converted to relieving, where he seemed to be best suited, but Florida needs someone to take Johnson's place and have turned to Hensley. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Juan Nicasio - Nicasio pitched seven innings of four-hit, shutout ball, striking out four while walking none, to beat the Brewers on Friday. He sports a high-90s heater, has made solid strides with his secondary pitches (curveball, slider and changeup), but Nicasio has had his ups and downs since joining the Rockies' rotation. In five home starts now, he is 4-0 with a 1.64 ERA and 23 strikeouts in 33 innings. He'll get the Braves, who beat him up in Atlanta on July 7, at home his next time out. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Ross Ohlendorf - Ohlendorf, who has been out since April 8 with a strained right shoulder, began a rehab assignment with Class-A Bradenton on Thursday. Ohlendorf tossed four shutout innings while allowing only two hits. He'll continue to work his way through the minors and if he keeps pitching like he did Thursday, he'll find himself back on the Pirates roster soon enough, possibly after three or four more outings. The question is which starter would he replace, with the likely answer being James McDonald. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Javier Vazquez - Vazquez allowed two runs (both earned) on six hits with no walks and four strikeouts over seven innings as the Marlins defeated the Astros, 6-3, Friday night. Vazquez got off to a horrible start this season, but has now turned in three consecutive quality starts, allowing just two earned runs, to help his ERA drop from a season-high 7.09 to it's current 5.42. The velocity and the strikeouts are still a tick below where he was in 2009, but maybe his last three stars will be the impetus he needs to fully turn around his season. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Vance Worley - Worley earned the win Friday to improve to 5-1 on the year, holding the Mets to one run in 5.1 innings despite four walks. While Worley has a 2.15 ERA, his FIP is 3.55, impacted by 3.98 BB/9 ratio. That said, with Joe Blanton and Roy Oswalt still out with injuries, Worley should remain in the rotation for at least the next few weeks and is worth a rotation spot in your league given the team he plays for, upside and current performance. Mixed: $6; NL: $16.

Relief Pitchers

Mike Adams/Luke Gregerson - With Francisco Rodriguez landing in Milwaukee, speculation centers on Heath Bell as the next closer to be traded by the July 31 deadline. While many feel that Adams may be next in line, the determination of who succeeds Bell could come down to arbitration eligibility as Gregerson will be entering his first arbitration year and has more room to grow while Adams will be in year three and would not see as big of a rise in salary based on closing part of the year. In terms of skill, both have been stellar the past several seasons, though Adams has posted better overall numbers. Adams - Mixed: $5; NL: $14; Gregerson - Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (speculative bump in value for each).

Pedro Beato/Jason Isringhausen/Bobby Parnell - The Mets trade of Francisco Rodriguez to Milwaukee leaves a hole at closer that will initially be filled by a three-headed monster. Manager Terry Collins said on Thursday that Beato, Izzy and Parnell would get chances while Tim Byrdak could get the occasional look if a lefty is needed. Beato closed for Double-A Bowie last year, and after a hot start followed by struggles in June, he has righted the ship. Izzy is seven saves shy of 300, and he will get the first crack at closing, but he is rumored to be on the block. Parnell has been dominant of late, mixing his high-90s fastball and slider, both of which he has had better control and command, and likely is the closer of the future. A comparison between Izzy's and Parnell's numbers - Isringhausen: 3.14 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 6.6 K/9. 4.1 BB/9, 1.3 HR/9, .221 BABIP. Parnell: 2.92 ERA, 1.34 WHIP, 11.0 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 0.73 HR/9, .357 BABIP - shows that Parnell's ability to miss bats makes him a more intriguing and longer-term option, particularly once Isringhausen is gone. Beato - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Isringhausen - Mixed: $4; NL: $11; Parnell - Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Randy Choate/Steve Cishek/Mike Dunn - Leo Nunez is the other big-name reliever, along with Heath Bell, who could be on the market. Florida doesn't have much reason to hold onto Nunez who will enter his third arbitration season next year and could earn more than $6 million. If the Marlins do deal Nunez, it would leave a big hole at the back end of the bullpen that likely would be filled by a committee. Choate would probably get the call is manager Jack McKeown needed to match up against a lefty, a role that Choate has more than ably filled this year, as lefties are just 5-for-51 against him. Cishek got a save when Nunez was unavailable with a sore back and has pitched well since getting called back up in May. Cishek has posted a 2.08 ERA, 1.020 WHIP. 1.83 GB:FB ratio and has struck out 21 batters in 21.2 innings to possibly move the head of the line if Nunez is dealt. Dunn struggled in May or June but seems to have righted the ship in July and has more of a track record than Cishek. If Dunn can display better control, which has been a big reason in his struggles this year and plagued him in the past, he could get a shot at closing. Clay Hensley would have been the next in line, but he has been shifted to the starting rotation. Choate - Mixed: $0; NL: $3; Cishek - Mixed: $3; NL: $9; Dunn - Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

Ryan Madson/Brad Lidge - Madson, who was hurt when he was struck on the palm of his hand back on May 20 in a game against the Rangers, pitched through the injury until it became more of a problem. A cortisone injection did not help to reduce the inflammation of the small muscles in his hand that were impairing his ability to grip the ball, requiring a DL stint. Madson completed a brief rehab assignment this week and was activated Friday. He should immediately reclaim the closers role from Antonio Bastardo, who was perfect in three opportunities filling in for Madson, though he saw seventh inning duty as a way to get his feet wet Friday. Brad Lidge is also quickly approaching a return, which should further muddle the bullpen and complicate manager Charlie Manuel's decision. Lidge, who has been out all season with a shoulder injury, had trouble controlling his fastball and slider in his rehab outing Thursday and departed after getting just two outs. On a positive note, Lidge said he felt good and his fastball was topping out around 89-90 mph. He is scheduled to make three more rehab appearances, pitching Saturday and Sunday for Double-A Reading and then Wednesday for Low-A Lakewood, putting him on track to return next Friday. At that time, it will need to be seen if he closes, though Madson will likely keep the job initially. Madson - Mixed: $7; NL: $18 (if he was waived and depending on if he keeps the role); Lidge - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Sean Marshall - Marmol, who blew his major-league leading seventh save Thursday, doesn't feel he "can throw [his] good slider." Marmol walked four without retiring a batter Thursday, and without his slider, he's not even an average pitcher. Manager Mike Quade went to him again Friday and he responded by allowing and then was pulled for Marshall, who notched the save. If Quade opts to make a change, Marshall, who has been the Cubs' best reliever this season, posting a 2.70 ERA, 1.140 ERA, 45K, 10 BB and 1.99 FIP in 43.1 IP, figures to inherit saves with Kerry Wood an outside possibility. Even if Marmol ends up regaining the job the job, Marshall's numbers are solid enough that he warrants a roster spot in many leagues. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (value upgrade on possibility of saves).


Eliezer Alfonzo - The Rockies purchased Alfonzo's contract from Triple-A Colorado Springs, replacing Matt Pagnozzi on the major league roster. Alfonso will serve as a backup behind the dish to Chris Iannetta. Alfonso won't receive much playing time, nor has he done much with the bat over the life of his career, which should tell all you need to know about his fantasy value. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Rod Barajas - It's time for what has become that weekly Barajas update, but hopefully, given the news, it's the last one. I profiled Barajas, who had been out since June 19 with a sprained right ankle, the past two weeks when it looked like could begin a minor league rehab assignment. He had been taking BP, throwing and participating in other baseball activities, but the key was how well he could crouch behind the plate and run on the ankle, which he started to do two weeks ago Friday. Unfortunately the ankle responded slower than expected but he finally started a start his rehab assignment on Thursday, July 7 with High-A Rancho Cucamonga. Barajas completed that assignment and was activated Friday, regaining his starting catching job. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Hector Sanchez - The Giants promoted Sanchez to the majors Friday. Sanchez was promoted from High-A San Jose to Triple-A Reno in late-June after batting .301/.321/.511 with eight homer and 42 RBI. Those numbers are balanced by a 42:5 K:BB ratio and it was thought that we would get a better sense as to how close he is with the jump over Double-A. Sanchez continued his fine hitting at Reno, posting a .305/.370/.366 line with 12 RBI and a 13:9 K:BB ratio 91 plate appearances (81 at-bats). Sanchez' role with the Giants is somewhat in question as the team has Eli Whiteside and Chris Stewart manning the backstop already. No doubt the team would like Sanchez to give their lineup more pop, being that he has a better bat than Whiteside and Stewart, but a three-man catching rotation is a luxury (or oddity). Pat Burrell (bone spur) was placed on the DL Friday to clear room on the 40-man roster. Sanchez' call-up may be in an effort to showcase him for a trade. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

First Basemen

Steven Pearce - Pearce, out since May 28 with a right calf injury, has moved his rehab assignment to Triple-A Indianapolis. He only racked up two hits in nine at bats during his three games at High-A Bradenton, but he homered in his first game in Triple-A. Manager Clint Hurdle said he wants Pearce to see time at first, third and in the outfield and be fully healed prior to a recall. If Pearce continues to swing the bat well, he should rejoin the Pirates at the end of the month and take some time away from Lyle Overbay. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Second Base

Michael Martinez - Martinez has been seeing some regular action of late as the Phillies deal with injuries to Placido Polanco and Shane Victorino. Polanco was placed on the DL due to his back injury but is expected back on Wednesday, but Martinez should see most of the action at third base until then. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Martin Prado - Prado, who has been out since June 8 with a staff infection in his right calf, is profiled again this year as he was activated of the disabled list and started at third base with Chipper Jones out Friday. He took batting practice and was cleared to begin full baseball activity in early-July as his incision, made to clean out the infection, was completely healed. Prado began a minor-league rehab assignment with Triple-A Gwinnett on July 7 and his activation comes right when expected. Prado will play third until Chipper returns from his knee surgery possibly July 25, which allows Jordan Schafer and Nate McLouth to remain in the lineup. When Jones is activated, Prado will move to left field, forcing Schafer or McLouth to the bench or minors. (Just an FYI as still should be owned in nearly all formats.)


Geoff Blum - Blum, out all season to date with a knee injury, was activated from the disabled list Thursday. He completed a rehab assignment by playing four games at Triple-A Reno and should have a limited bench role, possibly seeing action at each spot in the infield. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Ronny Cedeno - Cedeno, out since July 2 with a concussion, is travelling with the team beginning with Friday's game at Houston, though he has not yet been activated. Cedeno is eligible to return and is slated to begin what should be a brief rehab assignment Sunday at Triple-A Indianapolis. Chase d'Arnaud continues to start in his place, though he has struggled and Cedeno went 15-for-33 (.455) in his previous 11 games prior to getting injured, so he could slide back into the starting role when he is activated. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Logan Forsythe - The Padres recalled Forsythe from Triple-A Tucson on Saturday. Forsythe hit .326 with Tucson this season, but he hit just .167 in 22 games, including 11 starts, with the Padres earlier in the year. Though Forsythe struggled during that stint, he may steal some playing time from Orlando Hudson, who is just 8-for-40 in 11 games this month. Mixed: $1; NL: $3.

Jerry Hairston Jr. - Hairston was eligible to come off the 15-day disabled list during the All-Star break, but he is targeting a July 18 return in the series opener in Houston. Hairston, who fractured his right wrist when he was hit by a Dan Haren pitch June 29, took dry swings for the first time last Sunday after fielding ground balls and throwing from shortstop that Saturday. Hairston should move back into his utility role, but it's usually tough to come back strong from a wrist injury right away. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Josh Wilson - Wilson received a second straight start at shortstop Sunday against Colorado. Yuniesky Betancourt has just been too bad to play (.256 OBP), so the Brewers appear to be trying something else for now in Wilson, who at least has shown some power (.486 SLG) in his limited action this year. The Brewers are reportedly in the market for help at short and third, so Wilson's partial hold on the job may be short-lived. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Third Basemen

Emilio Bonifacio - Bonifacio has been a stalwart in the Marlins' lineup lately and made the most of that opportunity. He extended his hitting streak Saturday to 15 games, during which he has gone 23-for-58 with 14 runs, nine walks and nine steals over that stretch. The walks are a key as Bonifacio had been a free swinger in the past, but has made strides while also has improving his line drive rate. His overall stats are even more valuable when his defensive flexibility is taken into consideration -- he has appeared in the outfield, at third base, shortstop and second over the course of 2011. Since Jack McKeown took over as manager, Bonifacio has batted leadoff and been the every day starter at third base; a role he should keep until September when Matt Dominguez should be promoted. Mixed: $8.

James Darnell - Darnell was promoted to Triple-A Tucson on July 4. He was killing Double-A pitching in San Antonio, to the tune of a 1.038 OPS in 288 at-bats. The third baseman added 17 home runs and 62 RBI, while walking more than he struck out. He has continued that hot hitting at Tucson, going 8-for-22 with three home runs in his first five games there. Still just 24, Darnell has a chance to see San Diego this year, assuming he continues to hit, but it's unclear how the Padres would accommodate him with Chase Headley currently manning the hot corner, though there are rumors that Headley is on the block and he is currently dealing with a strained right calf that could force him to the DL. Darnell will need to show he can handle the position defensively, as he has struggled with his footwork and accuracy, plus hold off a hard charging Jedd Gyorko, who is hot on his heels at Double-A San Antonio. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early speculative bid).

Matt Downs - Astros' manager Brad Mills hinted Friday that he's ready to give Downs more consistent playing time at third. Downs made his 10th start of the season at third base while Chris Johnson rode the pine. Johnson is still struggling - sporting a disappointing .674 OPS on the season. He has shown some signs of breaking out of his season long slump over the past six weeks, so perhaps the friendly competition will bring out the best in him. Downs is hitting .260/.355/.519 on the season and also qualifies at second, which adds to his value. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Chipper Jones - Jones, who had surgery to fix a right knee meniscus tear, is targeting July 25. Jones said he needed 16 days with a similar surgery in 1996 and expects the same scenario now, though that may be a stretch as he was a bit younger when he had that operation. Jones, who has been riding a stationary bike, plans to begin light jogging and hitting off a tee Friday. He will build up to soft toss from there and hopes to take batting practice by early next week. Jones may work out with Triple-A Gwinnett while the Braves are in Colorado next week and possibly have a short minor league rehab stint with High-A Rome the weekend of July 22-24 before returning on the 25th. While he is out, the recently returning Martin Prado is manning third base and will move to left when Larry Wayne, who is hitting .259 with eight home runs and 46 RBI, returns. Mixed: $5, NL: $14 (in case he was waived when he landed on the DL).


Brandon Allen - Allen was called up from Triple-A Reno on Thursday. There was nothing left for him to prove at Triple-A, where he's hit .305/.426/.577 including 18 homers and 66 RBI in 83 games this season. As raw power goes, there's 30-homer upside in Allen's bat, but it remains to be seen if he'll make contact with enough regularity to hit for a decent average against big league pitching. Juan Miranda was outrighted to Triple-A and Willy Mo Pena was designated for assignment to make room for Allen, but Xavier Nady, who was in a platoon with Miranda at first base, could see some time against tough lefties. Allen has had three solid years in a row at Reno, posting a .900+ OPS in each season and had a .267/.393/.400 line in 45 at-bats with the D-Backs last year. With the strong OBP comes a lot of strikeouts, and it will be interesting to see if Arizona gives him a realistic shot at full-time plating time or they turn to Paul Goldschmidt if Allen struggles. Mixed: $2, NL: $7.

Jason Bourgeois - Bourgeois traveled to Florida this past week to continue his treatment for a strained right quadriceps that put him on the disabled list June 29. Bourgeois is spending three or four days with the GCL Astros before beginning a rehab assignment that should have him back in the majors next week. He is hitting .353 with 17 steals in 102 at-bats and the Astros have been a much better team with him in the lineup (9-10) than when he is out (21-52), so look for him to see solid playing time when he returns. Mixed: $5, NL: $14.

Chris Coghlan - Coghlan, who went on the disabled list June 20, continues to rehab his surgically repaired knee in the minors, joining Double-A Jacksonville this past week. It's unclear at this point how much more time he will require before his activation. However, the Marlins were looking to option him to Triple-A before the injury, so there is no guarantee Coghlan, who had struggled in the majors, partially due a deflated BABIP, will rejoin the major league team right away. Mixed: $1, NL: $4.

Dexter Fowler - With Carlos Gonzalez recovering from a deep bone bruise in his right wrist and the Rockies using Ty Wigginton in left field, Colorado needed a true centerfielder, prompting the promotion of Fowler. Ryan Spilborghs got the nod Thursday but the Rockies could turn to Fowler, as his speed would be a big asset in covering the wide expanse known as Coors' Field outfield. Fowler has hit .237 overall with Triple-A Colorado Springs after struggling mightily in the majors (66K in 210 AB and sub-75% contact rate), which led to his June 20 demotion. But he was hitting .385 over his last 10 games in Triple-A before the promotion. Fowler started Friday and Saturday, even though CarGo also played Saturday, and it will be interesting to watch how his new, shortened swing helps him on a consistent basis as the Rockies could use his game-breaking speed in the leadoff spot and move Carlos Gonzalez down to a more RBI-friendly spot in the order. Mixed: $2, NL: $7.

Juan Rivera - The Dodgers acquired Rivera on Tuesday for a player to be named later or cash considerations. Of course, the cash considerations or PTBNL will determine whether or not this makes any sense for the Dodgers, but the corresponding move to clear roster space was the designation of Marcus Thames for assignment Tuesday. Thames has struggled with injuries and poor production while Rivera, despite his struggles, had a .909 OPS against left-handed pitching compared to Thames' .537. Presumably Rivera, who was DFA's by Toronto on July 3, will handle the bulk of the left field duties while also playing some in right and at first base for the Dodgers during the second half of the season. Mixed: $3, NL: $9.

Shane Victorino - Victorino, who has been on the disabled list since July 4 with a sprained ligament in his right thumb, is hoping to return to the Phillies on or shortly after July 19. He is in the midst of a rehab assignment, and as long as he does not suffer a setback in the next day or so, look for him to be back atop the Philly order and in center field by Tuesday. (Just an FYI as should be owned in all formats.)