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FAAB Factor - NL: For Whom the Bell Tolls

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 - 7/15/12

Starting Pitching:

Miguel Batista - Batista may take Dillon Gee's (blood clot in shoulder) spot in the rotation either this Wednesday against Washington or July 21 against the Dodgers. Batista has started four games for the Mets, but he has mainly been used out of the bullpen. There has been no indication been given if Batista will make more than one start and it's feasible he could lose that start to Matt Harvey, especially because Batista struggled Friday in a relief appearance. Gee was supposed to start Friday, but the rest of the rotation is now moving up a day to fill that spot with Batista sliding in to the back end of the rotation, which is why he may not go until July 21 if the Mets skip the fifth spot in the rotation due to an off-day. Mixed: No; NL: $2 (only if he starts)

Matt Harvey - For the moment, the Mets do not appear ready to promote Harvey to fill the injured Dillon Gee's rotation slot. They like the way Harvey is progressing, but GM Sandy Alderson is determined not to rush any of his young pitching prospects. Harvey has made 18 starts for Triple-A Buffalo this season, going 7-3 with a 3.39 ERA. His manager in Buffalo, Wally Backman, said that Harvey has made significant strides with his fastball command in the last month to go with his major-league-ready curveball. Harvey still has work to do, including keeping his fastball down in the zone and more use and development of his changeup, so major league hitters cannot sit on the fastball, but he may get the chance to work on that in the majors. For now, Miguel Batista is slated to fill Gee's spot, but if he proves incapable of doing so, or if Gee is sidelined long-term and/or Harvey continues to pitch well in the minors, a promotion for Harvey could come sooner than expected. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early speculative bid).

Ted Lilly - Lilly, on the 60-day DL with shoulder inflammation, threw from a mound Sunday for the first time since he injured his shoulder. He's still probably about three weeks away from a return, as he'll surely need a minor league rehab assignment. Lilly, who was 5-1 with a 3.14 ERA and 1.130 WHIP when he was sidelined, will likely push Nathan Eovaldi to Triple-A when he returns. Mixed: $3; NL: should still be owned.

Joe Saunders - Saunders, sidelined with a strained left shoulder since June 17, makes a third straight appearance in this column. Saunders, who made a rehab start last Sunday, allowing three runs in 4.1 innings, was activated and started Saturday for Arizona, allowing four runs (three earned) on eight hits. Josh Collmenter had taken Saunders' rotation spot while he and Dan Hudson landed on the disabled list, and with Trevor Bauer now in the rotation, Collmenter will return to the bullpen now that Saunders is ready to return. Prior to being injured, Saunders had been having a fairly solid year, going 4-5 with an ERA of 3.44, 1,383 WHIP and 53 strikeouts in 81 innings on the heels of a rebound campaign last year. Mixed: $5; NL: should still be owned.

Ben Sheets - Sheets made his second rehab start for Double-A Mississippi on Monday, giving up an unearned run in six innings of work. He will be activated and start against the Mets on Sunday, his first start in the majors since 2010, when he went 4-9 with 84 strikeouts over 20 starts for the Athletics. An elbow injury ended his stint with the A's, and injuries plagued him in his major-league career, but he reportedly is healthy. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (slightly upped bid now that he is up in the majors).

Zack Wheeler - Wheeler tossed a complete-game shutout Saturday for Double-A Binghamton and several scouts believe he is more major-league ready right now than Matt Harvey. The plan, before the All-Star break, was to promote Wheeler to Triple-A Buffalo if he was dominant for a few starts. Given how well he pitched Saturday, the need for a fifth, and possibly fourth starter given the tenuous hold Chris Young has on the spot, and there are not several great options on the table, could result in the Mets promoting Wheeler all the way to the majors with a minimal or no Triple-A stop. Wheeler mixes a mid-90s fastball that tops out at 97 mph with a mid-70s nasty curveball and work-in-progress change-up that continues to make strides. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (very early speculative bid).

Relief Pitchers:

Randy Choate/Steve Cishek/Edward Mujica/ Juan Carlos Oviedo - On his weekly radio segment on "The Dan LeBatard Show," manager Ozzie Guillen said he plans to talk with Heath Bell in the next few days and that the Marlins will start off the second half closing by committee. Cishek should be the first option to close, which is what happened Saturday. The Marlins also will mix and match. Lefty specialist Choate could get the nod against left-handed hitters. Mujica (toe) is expected off the disabled list Sunday and could be in the mix, while Oviedo will be another option when his suspension ends July 23, assuming the injury that forced him out of Saturday's rehab stint does not set him back. Cishek finished last year as the Marlins' closer, posting excellent numbers, and has carried that forward to this season. Oviedo, who opened last year as closer, but lost his job and his falsification of his age and names resulted in an eight-week suspension, saw his K rate decline but has the history and pedigree as a closer, could be next in line. Mujica profiles more as a set-up man while Choate has been nearly unhittable this year but may be used by the organization as solely a LOOGY. Choate - Mixed: $0; NL: $2; Cishek - Mixed: $4; NL: $13; Mujica - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Oviedo - Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early speculative bid).

Josh Edgin/Michael Ekstrom/Joe Savery - This week's batch of middle relief promotions/activations took place in New York, Colorado and Philadelphia. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Tyler Thornburg - Thornburg was recalled from Triple-A Nashville this past week. Thornburg, who was recently placed on the 7-day DL with a sore wrist, was shelled in his only start for the Brewers this season, giving up four home runs and recording a 8.44 ERA in 5.1 innings pitched. However, Thornburg pitched very well at Double-A Huntsville, going 8-1 with a 3.00 ERA and a 71:24 K:BB ratio while holding hitters to a .212 average over 13 games to earn the promotion to make that spot start in the majors. General manager Doug Melvin said he expects Thornburg to be in the bullpen, however, if either Marco Estrada or Michael Fiers falters and Shaun Marcum is unable to return from his injury, Thornburg could get a look as a starter. Mixed: No; NL: $0 (up it if think he starts for Milwaukee)


Ramon Hernandez - Hernandez, on the disabled list since May 25 with a strained left hand, is profiled again as he was activated Friday after finishing a short rehab assignment with Triple-A Colorado Springs. Wilin Rosario will continue to collect the majority of the starts behind the plate for the Rockies despite Hernandez's return. Hernandez could draw some interest on the trade market, but the Rockies may elect to keep the 36-year-old catcher since he is signed through 2013 at a reasonable price. If a contender trades for Hernandez, he will probably just serve as a backup or platoon player. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Jonathan Lucroy - Lucroy, sidelined with a fractured fifth metacarpal in his right hand, took batting practice Saturday and could head out on a rehab assignment in the next few days. Lucroy hopes to be back in action by July 20, which appears to be a realistic possibility given the progress he has made recently. (just an early heads up as he should be owned in all leagues, if not, Mixed: $13; NL: $35).

First Basemen:

Jeff Baker - Baker has demonstrated a greater ability to churn out extra-base hits against left-handers, a trait that should earn him starts in most games in which the team faces lefties. He qualifies at first and is on the verge of qualifying in the outfield in most formats, while he might qualify at second and third in others. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Lance Berkman - Berkman, who had his torn meniscus surgically repaired on May 25 and was expected to miss 8-to-10 weeks, is profiled again this week as he was activated off the disabled list Saturday. Big Puma, who should regain his starting first baseman job, had a rebound campaign last year and was off to a solid spot before he got injured. Mixed: $17; NL: $40 (slight bid rise from prior weeks as he returns to the lineup).

Aubrey Huff - Huff, out since mid-June with a sprained knee, will continue his rehab this weekend and could be activated from the DL for next week's road trip. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Huff could be good to go by the time the team begins their upcoming road trip. That trip begins Tuesday in Atlanta. When he does return, given how poor Huff has hit the past two seasons, he should be nothing more than a platoon player at first and in the outfield. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Brett Wallace - The Astros had conversations about bringing up Wallace, who performed well in 11 games, batting .333 with two home runs, with the Astros earlier this year and is hitting .290 with 13 homers and 45 RBI as the first baseman at Triple-A Oklahoma City. However, for now, they have decided to go with Scott Moore/Matt Downs platoon at first base. It's been a good year for Wallace, who struggled to hit for average or power during his previous stints in the majors. It was believed Wallace would replace Carlos Lee at first when he was traded, but after dealing Lee to the Marlins on Wednesday, the Astros moved Chris Johnson to first base and called up Matt Dominguez -- one of two players acquired from the Marlins -- to start at third. Dominguez has been sent down, and even though Moore has hit well, it still makes sense for Houston to get a prolonged look at Wallace against big league pitching to see if he has any long-term value, which could happen in the near term. Mixed: $2; NL: $7. (speculative bid)

Second Base:

Matt Downs - Downs will form the right-handed half of a first base platoon for the Astros. Scott Moore, who is left-handed, will start against the righties. Interestingly enough, the Astros opted not to call up Brett Wallace when they traded Carlos Lee. For now, this means a bump in Downs's value -- but that could change if the team reverses its decision on Wallace. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.


Jeff Bianchi - Bianchi was called up by Milwaukee from Triple-A Nashville. Bianchi was hitting .305 with one home run and nine steals over 51 games at Nashville after beginning the season at Double-A Huntsville. He's an interesting case as a high draft pick that has been plagued by injuries throughout his minor league career. For now, he will take Taylor Green's spot on 25-man roster, and he potentially could take at-bats from Cesar Izturis at shortstop. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Brian Bixler/Marwin Gonzalez - Bixler replaced an injured Jed Lowrie at shortstop Saturday. It looked like Lowrie's injuies, which were to his right knee and ankle, could be significant. If that's the case, Bixler should play a lot in the short-term future while Gonzalez, who would be promoted if Lowrie ends up on the DL, could also be in the mix at shortstop. Both - Mixed: No; NL: $2

Paul Janish/Tyler Pastornicky - Janish was traded by the Reds to the Braves for Todd Redmond on Saturday. Janish will probably split time at shortstop with Pastornicky, who was called back up Saturday with Jack Wilson banged up, until Andrelton Simmons returns from the disabled list. He provides plus defense, but is a liability at the plate. With a career batting line of .221/.289/.302, it safe to say that Janish is not known for his offense. Although Pastornicky's offensive numbers improved upon his demotion (.268/.317/.399), the upside at the plate is very limited here. Janish and Pastronicky - Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Josh Rutledge - Rutledge was called up Friday and is in the lineup, playing shortstop and batting eighth. Todd Helton was put on the DL, making room for Rutledge to be called up. Rutledge slots in at shortstop with dealing with a twisted ankle and Troy Tulowitzki out another month following groin surgery. He's of immediate fantasy interest in NL-only and deeper mixers, as he's compiled a .306 average with 13 homers and 14 steals in 87 games, albeit with a poor K:BB ratio, as has been a problem in the past, with Double-A Tulsa this year. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Third Basemen:

Emilio Bonifacio - Bonifacio, sidelined since May 18 with a torn ligament left thumb that required surgery, gets another mention this week as he completed his rehab assignment and was activated Friday. As a result, Bonifacio will end up missing approximately 10 days more than previously suggested. Bonifacio led the majors in steals with 20 and was 19-for-63 in May when he was sidelined. When he does return, look for him to play everyday and be a spark plug for the Marlins. Mixed: $19; NL: $49 (upped bid due to SB potential in case he was waived when injured).

Scott Moore - Moore, profiled the past two weeks, gets another mention as he now with be the left-handed hitting half of a first base platoon for the Astros, seeing his action against righties, with Matt Downs the other half of the platoon. Moore was promoted a few weeks ago from Triple-A Oklahoma City, where he was hitting .318 with 10 homers and 54 RBI with the Redhawks. Even if the Astros decide to promote Brett Wallace, Moore who has seen time at first, second and third base as well as left field, should retain his super-utility role. For now, though, he gets a bump given that he should see additional playing time at first base Mixed: $3; NL: $9.


Jason Bay - Bay, who was profiled the past few weeks, gets a nod again as he began a rehab stint this past week at High-A St. Lucie. Bay, sidelined since June 15 with a concussion, played two games at St. Lucie, then headed to Triple-A Buffalo on Saturday for a few more rehab games before returning to the majors, possibly by Tuesday. Bay has had an injury-prone past two seasons with the Mets, suffering a concussion that last July that sidelined him for the year, a rib injury that kept him from April 23 to June 6 and now, this concussion. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Andre Ethier - Ethier (oblique) was activated from the 15-day disabled list on Friday. Ethier missed the minimum with the injury and joins Matt Kemp in returning to action on the same day. (just an FYI as still should be owned in all formats).

Matt Kemp - Kemp (hamstring) was activated at expected on July 13; the first game after the All-Star break. After completing his rehab assignments at High-A Rancho Cucamonga and Triple-A Albuquerque without any issue, Kemp returns to the Dodgers after his second DL stint of the season. (just an FYI as you don't need us to tell you what to do here).

Justin Maxwell - Maxwell, on the DL due to bone chips in his ankle, completed a short rehab stint and was activated for Friday's game in San Francisco. Maxwell, who has eight homers in only 121 at-bats for the Astros, was originally going to have surgery before doctors informed him the procedure was more invasive than previously thought and would require a two-month recovery. Maxwell should see most of his action in right field, as well as see the occasional start in left. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Laynce Nix - Nix, out since early-May with a calf injury, began a rehab assignment at High-A Clearwater on Thursday. Nix, who has been out since May 10 with a calf strain, is back on a rehab schedule after a brief setback in late June. He'll likely need to get a few games under his belt before the Phillies consider returning him to the 25-man roster. Nix will likely see some time in left field when he returns. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Alex Presley - Presley, on the 7-day DL with a concussion, began a short rehab stint Friday and should be activated from the DL on Tuesday. Since coming back from the minors, Presley has hit four of his six home runs, driven in six runs and upped his average from .220 to .242. Good, not stellar numbers, but a lot better than he had been playing when he was sent down to the minors. Even though Drew Sutton has played well in left field, look for Presley to regain his starting role. (Given his short absence, Presley still should be owned in all formats. If not, Mixed: $4; NL: $13).

Jason Pridie - Pridie was called up from Triple-A Lehigh Valley last Saturday. Pridie took Jim Thome's spot on the roster after Thome was sent to the Orioles. Pridie adds depth in the outfield, especially in center field, but doesn't figure to see meaningful playing time. In addition, he could be sent down when Laynce Nix comes off the DL. Mixed: No; NL: $2.