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FAAB Factor - NL: Cingrani and Rendon Debut

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 - 4/21/13

Starting Pitching:

Hiram Burgos, Brewers - Burgos is a finesse-type righty who shot up the organizational chart for the Brewers in 2012, going 10-4 with a 1.95 ERA in 28 games, including 27 starts, across three levels. He is not a big strikeout pitcher, but he averaged 8.1 K/9 last season and dropped his WHIP to a career-best 1.04. In three starts at Triple-A Nashville this season, Burgos has posted a 2.70 ERA and a 14:2 K:BB over 16.2 innings. His fastball tops out around 91 mph, but he mixes in a change, curve, slider and cutter to keep hitters off-balance. Maybe he does what Mike Fiers, the pitcher he replaces in the rotation, did last year. At a minimum, he should get a few starts to prove himself. Burgos got off on the right foot, allowing just one run on five hits while striking out one in five innings to notch the win in his debut Saturday against the Cubs. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Tony Cingrani, Reds - Cingrani, profiled the last two weeks, gets another mention as he was officially called up to replace Johnny Cueto (triceps), making his ML debut Thursday. All Cingrani did was allow just one run on five hits and three walks with eight strikeouts to get the win, though he needed 102 pitches to get through the five innings. He earned the call up off two stellar starts in the minors. To remain successful going forward, Cingrani, a third-round pick from Rice in 2011, needs to improve his breaking ball, as his superb command and excellent fastball alone won't allow him to have the same success as he did in the lower minors. The jury is also out as to how long Cingrani may stay in the majors, as it may be limited to how long Cueto is sidelined, unless Mike Leake struggles, though Leake pitched well in his last start. Mixed: $5; NL: $14 (upped bid).

Tyler Cloyd/Ethan Martin/Jonathan Pettibone, Phillies - GM Ruben Amaro Jr. said Cloyd, Ethan Martin and Jonathan Pettibone will be considered to take John Lannan's rotation spot. Lannan may miss two months with his quadriceps tendon injury, so this is huge opportunity for one of them in Philadelphia. Cloyd was named the MVP of the International League after going 12-1 with a 2.35 ERA for Triple-A Lehigh Valley last season. His success earned him a promotion to the majors late last year, where he joined the Phillies' rotation and made six starts. Cloyd had some mixed results in the majors before being shut down at the end of the year with a tired arm after throwing a career-high 200 innings. Cloyd isn't an overpowering pitcher. He complements his mid-to-high 80s fastball with a cutter and changeup to keep hitters off balance. Cloyd is the most likely of the three options to get the first look, as he is the only one with any MLB experience. However, he's 0-2 with a 7.07 ERA in three starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. Martin, acquired from the Dodgers in the Shane Victorino trade, went a combined 13-6 with a 3.48 ERA and a 147:79 K:BB ratio in 157.2 innings for his two Double-A clubs last season. The former first round pick made some strides in cutting back his walk rate, but more work is needed. Martin is 1-0 with a 4.82 ERA in two starts for Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. Pettitbone's surface numbers at Triple-A last year looked very good, but his walk rate jumped up from 2.08 BB/9IP at Double-A to 4.70 at Triple-A. Pettibone has been closer to a 2.0 BB/9IP over his minor league career, and he just turned 22 years old in the middle of last season, so there is time for him to make adjustments to bring his walk rate back down. He'll need to do that as he does not generate a lot of strikeouts with his low-90s fastball. Pettibone's best pitch is his change-up and he has been working on adding a cutter to his repertoire. He is off to an uninspiring start, going 0-1 with a 9.64 ERA in two starts at Triple-A Lehigh Valley this season. Cloyd - Mixed: $1; NL: $4; Martin and Pettitbone - Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Stephen Fife, Dodgers - The Dodgers recalled Fife from Triple-A Albuquerque on Sunday. Fife will make a start Sunday in place of Chad Billingsley, who was placed on the disabled list with elbow pain. Fife's minor league numbers (4.66 ERA, 1.49 WHIP) were far from impressive last year, but when needed for spot duty in Los Angeles, he delivered a 2.70 ERA in five starts. The 26-year-old averages just 89 mph with his fastball and his minor league walk rates are decent, but far from spectacular. Fife was nothing special in his three starts in the minors this year and may just be a placeholder until Billingsley or Chris Capuano is healthy. Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Jon Garland, Rockies - What I wrote in the first FAAB article of the season has so far been proven true, seen in the italicized section. “Garland pitched well in four Cactus League starts with the Mariners before he was granted his release, going 1-0 with a 2.25 ERA. He continued that solid pitching into his first spring start for the Rockies. A sinkerball pitcher with a career 1.31 GB:FB ratio, Garland profiles as the type of pitcher that may be able to find some semblance of success at Coors Field.” Garland has thrown two excellent starts for the Rockies, and while his K rate likely won't continue, the GB/FB ratio should, making him a decent back-end starter in most leagues. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Ted Lilly, Dodgers - Lilly, profiled last week, gets another mention now that his role has changed. As of last week, Lilly was deciding on whether to remain with the Dodgers as Chris Capuano received the start in place of the injured Zach Greinke. Now, it's Lilly replacing an injured pitcher, as Capuano landed on the DL with a strained left calf. Lilly, who last pitched in the majors on May 23 and has been rehabbing from his shoulder injury, is scheduled to make his season debut Wednesday against the Mets. Before getting hurt, Lilly had a 3.14 ERA, though given the regression in both his strikeout (5.7 K/9) and walk rates (3.5 BB/9) compared to 2011 (7.4 and 2.4 respectively), it's possible he was hurting before hitting the disabled list. He has posted an ERA under four the past four years and should benefit from once again pitching at Chavez Ravine, as he did last year before he was sidelined. If Lilly pitches well, he could keep the rotation spot even after Capuano returns or slide into the injured Chad Billingsley's spot. Mixed: $3; NL: $9

Francisco Liriano, Pirates - Liriano, rehabbing a broken right arm, is on pace to make his season debut May 5 at home against the Nationals. Liriano will make three additional rehab starts before progressing to the Pirates, including Saturday for Double-A Altoona. The lefty will throw four innings and about 65 pitches for the Curve. Liriano had a terrible beginning to last season (9.45 ERA) that had him demoted to the bullpen after six starts. He returned to the rotation in late May and had a 3.68 ERA and 79:29 K:BB ratio in 66 innings. It looked like Liriano had finally captured his pre-2010 form, but he then struggled with a 5.40 ERA and 32 walks in 56.2 innings after he was traded to the White Sox at the end of July - even losing his rotation spot with the White Sox. He signed a two-year deal this offseason with the Pirates, but has been sidelined with the injury. Liriano will get you strikeouts, albeit with a poor ERA and WHIP, though that might improve slightly with his move to the NL. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (early bid to rise slightly as his return gets closer).

Charlie Morton, Pirates - Morton (TJS) is on pace to join the Pirates on May 8, though he might join the squad to mid-May. He started for High-A Bradenton on Thursday, allowing two earned runs in three frames while starting his 30-day rehab clock. He threw 44 pitches, including 33 for strikes, and struck out two batters while throwing his fastball between 92-to-97 mph with good life on his sinker and changeup. Before getting last year, Morton registered a 4.65 ERA and 1.45 WHIP in 50.1 innings. When he's on top of his games, the right-hander utilizes a sinking fastball that seemingly coaxes groundballs at will. The problems are that he does not record a lot of strikeouts and he at times struggles with his command, leading to a high-walk total. Mixed: $0; NL: $3 (early bid to rise slightly as return gets closer).

Carlos Villanueva, Cubs - Villanueva's been a breath of fresh air for the Cubs so far this year, putting up three great starts in a row to open the season, including Thursday against the Rangers. Before the season started, the expectation was that Villanueva would be moved to the bullpen when either Matt Garza or Scott Baker returned. His hot start, driven largely by his improved GB:FB ratio,  likely gives him a bit more rope to hold on to the job when those pitchers return. That said, his history suggests that he'll return to mediocrity in time, but there's no reason not to ride him while he's hot. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Relief Pitchers:

Rex Brothers, Rockies - Brothers has been stellar in middle relief this year, allowing just one run in 9.1 innings while striking out eight. In addition, he has only walked three, including none recently, which was a major issue for him the past two years. Colorado is off to a strong start, which has halted the rumors that Rafael Betancourt will be dealt. If that does occur, Brothers is now back in the mix to potentially replace him, as he was a few years ago. Mixed: $1; NL: $5.

David Carpenter/Robert Carson/Jeurys Familia/Tom Koehler/Jean Machi/Josh Outman/Joe Savery/Josh Wall - This week's middle reliever call ups/acquisitions were in Atlanta, New York (2x), Miami, San Francisco, Colorado, Philadelphia and Los Angeles. None have major value though Familia could carve out a key role in the Mets' bullpen. All - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Carlos Marmol, Cubs - Marmol could return to the Cubs' closer role due to recent performances. Manager Dale Sveum is pondering the late-inning strategy following four consecutive scoreless outings, in which he tallied a 0.80 WHIP and 5:2 K:BB ratio over five innings. The placement of Kyuji Fujikawa (forearm) on the disabled list last week spurred the potential change, but James Russell and Shawn Camp also sharing the role currently. In addition, Fujikawa, who is sidelined with a strained forearm, threw from 75 feet and is expected to come off the DL when eligible, likely will return to closing when he returns. If Fujikawa has a setback and Marmol continues to pitch well, he could get another shot at closing. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (only if you have a strong constitution and lots of antacids).

Edward Mujica, Cardinals - Mujica, one of the league's more reliable setup men the last three years, looks to be next in line to fill Jason Motte's spot as the Cardinals' closer. Neither Mitchell Boggs nor Trevor Rosenthal have pitched well; open the door for Mujica, who notched a four-out save Thursday. Mujica relies on good control and groundballs rather than strikeouts to generate outs, which is not the usual success formula for a closer. Last year, Mujica earned a hold in 18 of his 29 appearances with the Cardinals, and his first 18 innings with his new team were sparkling: 17 IP, 10 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 13 K, 11 holds. A strong K:BB - including an amazing 72:6 in 2010 - has always been his calling card. With Motte out and Boggs and Rosenthal either not up or ready for the role, Mujica will get a decent leash to close in St. Louis. Mixed: $7; NL: $18.

Covered last week - Jim Henderson, Brewers (assumed closer role)


Wellington Castillo, Cubs - Castillo is off to a hot start, batting .386 to start the season. On the downside, he hasn't yet drawn a walk in 47 plate appearances this year while striking out nine times. That .471 BABIP is sure to take a dip back to normality soon, but Castillo's proving to be a quality hitter regardless, building on the mild success he had last season. Dioner Navvaro is backing Castillo up, but Castillo should see most of the time at catcher for the Cubs. Mixed: $3; NL: owned.

Devin Mesoraco/Corky Miler, Reds - Mesoraco started behind the plate Saturday, catching Bronson Arroyo for the first time since September 2011. This is a reflection of Ryan Hanigan's sore thumb, and the resulting offensive slump of Hanigan, as Mesoraco normally does not catch Arroyo, Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos. While Hanigan's thumb was the reported injury, he landed on the DL Sunday morning with a strained left oblique, which should mean that Mesoraco should get all the playing time he can handle in the short term. If Mesoraco can demonstrate the solid power numbers he displayed in the minors, he may be able to lock down the everyday gig even when Hanigan returns from the DL. Miller was promoted Sunday to take Hanigan's roster spot and will back up Mesoraco Mesoraco - Mixed: $2; NL: $7; Miller - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

First Basemen:

Freddie Freeman, Braves - Freeman, sidelined with a strained oblique, took groundballs and batting practice Thursday for Triple-A Gwinnett and will play Friday-Sunday with the team in Charlotte. Assuming he has no setbacks, he'll rejoin the Braves the first day he is eligible to come off the DL, which is Monday in Colorado. His return will push Juan Francisco and Chris Johnson, each of who have been hot, back into a platoon at third base. (just an FYI as should be owned in all leagues).

Covered last week - Joe Mahoney, Marlins (injury activation)

Second Base:

Freddy Galvis, Phillies - Galvis made his first ever outfield appearances, starting in left field, this week while Domonic Brown was sidelined with back soreness. Galvis saw some action in the outfield this spring, but had never played there in the regular season. Brown returned to action Saturday but Galvis started again in left with Brown playing right. This could end up giving Galvis a bit more playing time in the future as manager Charlie Manuel can use him in the outfield in addition to him backing up Chase Utley at second. Mixed: No; NL: $3.

Covered last week - Darwin Barney, Cubs (injury activation)


Didi Gregorius, Diamondbacks - Gregorius, who was the big piece acquired from the Reds as part of a three-team deal involving Trevor Bauer, was activated off the DL and surprisingly promoted to Arizona. Gregorius replaced an injured Aaron Hill, who is expected to miss 4-to-6 weeks with a broken hand, in the D-Backs lineup. The line on Gregorius remains the same - he has a fantastic glove that the scouts love, but it's up for debate whether his bat will be good enough to carry in a major league starting lineup. He was sidelined this spring after injuring his elbow while playing catch and the expectation was that he would begin the year in the minors. Gregorius will not start every day, which makes sense, considering GM Kevin Towers said the team would ease Gregorius back into action until his elbow is fully healthy. On days that Gregorius sits, Cliff Pennington will move back to short and Josh Wilson step in at second. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (mainly because of questions about his bat).

Dee Gordon, Dodgers - Gordon is batting .321/.379/.453 with nine stolen bases in 13 games for Triple-A Albuquerque. Meanwhile, Dodger shortstops are under the Mendoza line with one extra-base hit. Gordon probably needs more development time, but putting him at shortstop could be one solution to the team's recent woes, especially when coupled with the expected return of Hanley Ramirez to man third base. Gordon struggled mightily last year, but has a lot more upside than Luis Cruz, Justin Sellers, etc. Mixed: $1; NL: $4 (early spec bid).

Nick Green, Marlins - Green, who appeared in seven games with the Marlins last season, was called up to take the roster spot of Adeiny Hechavarria (elbow), who was placed on the disabled list. Green started at shortstop on Friday, going 3-for-4, and all three hits were singles, but any offense is good offense in Miami these days. He isn't assured of regular playing time, as Chris Valaika will also see some time, but if he can continue to get on base, the Marlins should find room for him on the lineup card. Mixed: $0; NL: $2.

Hanley Ramirez, Dodgers - Ramirez, who underwent successful surgery on his torn right thumb ligament on March 22, is hoping to be back in the lineup by April 30. Han-Ram has guaranteed he'd be back before the projected eight-week absence date given, and he may beat that by a wide margin. After looking like he was on a pace to Cooperstown, Ramirez struggled the past two seasons, though he did go 24-21 with 92 RBI last season, though with a .322 OPS. A healthy and happy Ramirez should post big numbers when he returns. Mixed: $22; NL: $55 (in case he is still available based on original projected return date).

Justin Turner, Mets - Turner started at shortstop Saturday and went 1-for-5 with two RBI while leading off. He filled in for Ruben Tejada, who sat after suffering an apparently minor foot/ankle injury Friday. Turner could see additional time at shortstop of Tejada's injury lingers or if he fielding and hitting woes force manager Terry Collins to make a change. Turner played at least 10 games at all four infield positions last year, so in some leagues he may qualify at all those spots. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Third Basemen:

Brandon Inge, Pirates - Manager Clint Hurdle said Inge will use the full 20 days of his rehab assignment, meaning he won't be activated until April 24. The rationale for this decision is that Inge was unable to participate in a full spring training after undergoing offseason shoulder surgery. Inge has struggled in the minors, but the important development to take from the assignment is that he's played both second and third base effectively, which could allow him spot starts for Pedro Alvarez as well as pinch-hit opportunities. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Ramiro Pena, Braves - Pena, profiled last week, gets another mention, as Dan Uggla is day-to-day with a strained left calf. Uggla believes he can play Monday, but of the injury lingers, look for Pena, who replaced Uggla on Saturday, to start in his place. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Cody Ransom, Cubs - Ransom opened the year with San Diego and was claimed by the Cubs this week off of waivers. The return of Chase Headley made Ransom expendable, and with Chicago still without Ian Stewart, they had an opening to be filled. When Stewart returns, Ransom will see time as a utility infielder. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Anthony Rendon, Nationals - Rendon, who was recalled by the Nationals on Saturday, will likely return to the minors when Ryan Zimmerman (left hamstring) comes off the DL. Manager Davey Johnson and GM Mike Rizzo both echoed the same sentiment; that Rendon will most likely return to the minors once Zimmerman is ready to play again. The highly-touted prospect will begin manning third base starting Sunday, but his first taste of major league action may be short-lived, since it seems the team wants to be sure he continues to develop with regular playing time rather than toiling on the bench upon Zimmerman's return. After barely playing in his pro debut due to an ankle injury, Rendon, who was selected sixth overall in 2011, tore apart the AFL and cleared up any confusion over who the best position prospect in the Nationals' system was. He was off to a good start this season down at Double-A Harrisburg, hitting .292/.462/.500 with two homers and seven RBI in 14 games, prior to the promotion. Mixed: $2; NL: $7 (much higher in keeper leagues).

Covered last week - Chase Headley, Padres (injury activation)


Kyle Blanks, Padres - Blanks, one of the last cuts this spring by the Padres, was recalled last Sunday. Blank, who hit 354/.436/.600 line with three homers,14 RBI and 17 runs over 65 at-bats this spring, is back in the big leagues for the first time in just over a year, as a shoulder injury sidelined him for nearly all of the 2012 campaign. He's shown some prodigious power in the minors and during his limited at-bats in San Diego, but low contact rates have undermined his overall hitting numbers. Keep in mind that he may get sent back down once Carlos Quentin's eight-game suspension for charging the mound is over this week. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Julio Borbon, Cubs - The Cubs claimed Borbon off waivers on Friday. Borbon spent nearly all of last season at the Rangers' Triple-A Round Rock affiliate, where he hit .304/.349/.433 with 10 homers and 20 steals with a 69:36 K:BB ratio over 584 AB 126 games. Texas bumped him from the 40-man roster earlier this month, and there was some speculation the Astros would put in a claim, but it's the Cubs who earned his rights. The 27-year-old outfielder is out of options, so he'll likely remain on the Cubs' 25-man roster for now and possibly see occasional starts at all three outfield spots. Mixed: $2; NL: $7

Lucas Duda, Mets - Duda was 2-for-3 with a walk and a pair of solo home runs against the Nationals on Friday and followed it up with two walks Saturday. Duda missed Thursday's game with a sore back, but he certainly looked healthy enough at the plate Friday. He is now hitting a solid .293 with a 1.198 OPS on the season and has five homers, but just eight RBI as many of his teammates have struggled at the plate. Duda entered the spring as a major question mark, but was penciled in as the starting left fielder. So far, he has more than earned that position with his hot start. Mixed: $8; NL: owned.

Alex Presley, Pirates - Presley was recalled by the Pirates this week. Presley, whose biggest problem has been plate discipline, had a strong spring training and has batted .357 in 28 at-bats with Triple-A Indianapolis. He'll likely come off the bench for the most part with an occasional outfield start for Pittsburgh. Mixed: No; NL: $2.