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FAAB Factor-NL: Big Z's New Stripes

David Regan

David Regan is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writers Association award winner, including the 2015 Baseball Article of the Year.

As I write this, there haven't been any exciting minor league promotions along the lines of a Zack Wheeler or Billy Hamilton, so don't look for a lot of guys who can make an immediate and significant impact this week.

Starting Pitching:

Carlos Zambrano (PHI) – Zambrano tossed two scoreless innings with five strikeouts in an extended spring outing on Saturday. He'd be an intriguing option as a late-inning reliever, but the Big Z will reportedly be stretched out as a starter. He threw just 44 pitches, so don't expect to see Zambrano any time soon, but he'll be an option at some point for the Phillies this season. Mixed - $0, NL - $1.

Brandon Beachy (ATL) – It's possible Beachy is sitting on the waiver wire in shallower leagues or in NL-only formats in which DL slots are unavailable (I'm in one). It's time to get him back on your radar however, as Beachy is about to head out on a Triple-A rehab assignment. We originally targeted him for a late-June / early-July return from Tommy John surgery, but he's already throwing in the 92-93 mph range, so I'd probably move that timeline up to mid-June, if not sooner. Beachy's return would seem to be bad news for Julio Teheran. Mixed - $4, NL - $12.

Matt Garza (CHC) – Garza will make his return from the DL on Tuesday, and while he's likely taken in most NL-only formats, he's probably available in a lot of mixed leagues. Garza made just 18 starts last year due to a stress reaction in his elbow, but he had four consecutive seasons of 30+ starts prior to 2013. He'll replace Carlos Villanueva in the rotation, and given his decent 3.84 career ERA, Garza is worth a look in all but the shallowest of formats. Mixed - $15, NL - $30.

John Gast (STL) – Gast was recalled from Triple-A Memphis this week to fill in for the injured Jake Westbrook (elbow). Gast had a 1.38 ERA in six starts for Triple-A Memphis a year after posting a 5.10 mark at the same level. His fastball barely touches the upper-80s, and his minor league strikeout rates have been rather modest, so there's probably very little upside here. Michael Wacha is really the next big name to watch in this system, though Gast could have some (very) short-term value in deeper formats. Mixed - $0, NL - $1.

Tyler Chatwood (COL) – Chatwood got the call Saturday to face the Giants with Jeff Francis dealing with a groin injury. Chatwood delivered, allowing a run on seven hits over 5.2 innings. His 4:4 K:BB wasn't exactly inspiring, but Chatwood now has a 2.55 ERA in three starts covering 17.2 innings, this despite a so-so 12:7 K:BB. That said. The Rockies aren't exactly loaded with top-flight starters, so there may be an opportunity for Chatwood here. Mixed - $1, NL - $4.

Jeff Karstens (PIT) – Karstens will reportedly make three rehab starts before returning on or around June 7 from a shoulder injury. Karstens isn't the most exciting fantasy pitcher to roster, but he's posted sub-2.0 BB/9s the past three years while increasing his K/9 rate in each of the last four seasons to last year's 6.6. Karstens is no lock to return to the rotation immediately, but it seems likely he'll be starting games for the team in the near term. Mixed - $0, NL - $1.

Michael Wacha (STL) – We alluded to Wacha above, but the news Saturday that Jaime Garcia was headed to the DL with a shoulder injury could open the door for Wacha's debut. The news on Garcia could mean that John Gast sticks in the rotation with another solid start, but the Cards may also look towards Wacha as more of a long-term solution. Wacha is just 21, but in eight Triple-A starts, his ERA sits at 1.89 with a 0.91 WHIP. We'd like see him missing more bats certainly (6.1 K/9), but the 2012 first-rounder is moving quickly the big leagues could be right around the corner. Mixed - $2, NL - $7.

Zach Duke (WAS) – Duke will get the start on Monday in place of the injured Ross Detwiler (back). Duke has an 8.40 ERA in relief, and in his last two appearances, he's surrendered seven runs in 3.2 innings with just one strikeout. The Nationals will be in San Francisco for Duke's start, so expecting him to help as a streamer this upcoming week is wishful thinking. This looks to be a one-start gig for Duke, as Detwiler's injury does not appear to be significant. Mixed – No, NL - $0.


Francisco Rodriguez (MIL) – Rodriguez made his return this week, tossing a perfect inning in a blowout against the Pirates. His fastball averaged just 90 mph, so at this career, the stuff clearly isn't what it was when he was one of baseball's dominant closers. That said, the Brewers are desperate for a bridge to closer Jim Henderson, so it's not out of the realm of possibility that we could see K-Rod in the eighth inning before long. Then of course he's just one step away from seeing his fantasy value skyrocket. Mixed - $2, NL - $5.

Greg Burke (NYM) – Burke got the call back up on Sunday after the Mets' bullpen became over-taxed thanks to a couple poor starts by Jon Niese and Shaun Marcum. Burke averages a paltry 86.6 mph with his fastball, so as a reliever, it's tough to see him working his way into the later innings. Leave him and his 5.40 ERA out there on your waiver wire in most formats. Mixed - $0, NL - $1.

Mitchell Boggs (STL) – Edward Mujica is locked in as the Cardinals' closer, but Boggs is at least back in the setup mix after being recalled from Triple-A Memphis on Saturday. Boggs returns after opening the season as the team's closer, only to post a 12.66 ERA and find himself in Memphis by early May. While there, Boggs allowed three runs in 5.1 innings with four walks, so he'll probably find himself pitching on long relief and/or garbage time with the Cardinals. Boggs still features a 93-96 mph fastball, so given time, it's possible we'll see him work his way back into the late innings, but it may be awhile. Mixed – No. NL - $0.


Jeff Mathis (MIA) – Mathis was activated off the DL on Tuesday and will function as the primary backup to Rob Brantly. Mathis of course went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts in his only start since his return, and given his career average (.197) has yet to cross the Mendoza line, he's probably best left to other desperate owners in your league. Mixed - $0, NL - $0.

Yasmani Grandal (SD) – Grandal is eligible to return from his PED suspension on May 28, so it's probably time to get him on your radars. Nick Hundley got off to a hot start in April, but he's now just 2-for-36 in May to lower his slash line to .243/.296/.400. Hundley is also fanning in 29.4% of his plate appearances, giving a clear path to Grandal once he returns and gets his legs under him. It's very possible the Padres could choose to start Grandal in Triple-A, but despite the suspension, he's still considered the team's catcher of the future, though Austin Hedges may eventually have something to say about that. Mixed - $4, NL - $10.

Kurt Suzuki (WAS) – Wilson Ramos was placed on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury this week, with June 2 as the targeted return date. In the interim, Suzuki should be expected to function as the primary catcher, and though his .746 OPS entering Saturday's action is nothing special, Suzuki could be a decent fill-in as your #2 catcher for the next week or two. We should also note that Ramos himself also has a .746 OPS, so if Suzuki hits well over the next couple weeks, he could overcome Ramos' superior defense and gain more of a share of the catching at-bats. Mixed - $2, NL - $5.

First Base:

Casey Kotchman (MIA) – Kotchman has been sidelined for most of the year by a hamstring injury, but he's about to go out on a rehab assignment with a return date as early as June 3. After a comeback .800 OPS season in 2011, Kotchman hit just .229/.280/.333 for the Indians last year, somehow accumulating 500 plate appearances in the process. Kotchman is scheduled return right around the same time as Logan Morrison (knee), so it will be interesting to see how things shake out. The team could put Kotchman at first, Morrison in left field, and Juan Pierre in center to replace the struggling Justin Ruggiano, but that remains to be determined. Mixed - $1, NL - $4.

Neftali Soto (CIN) – Soto got the call from Triple-A Louisville on Saturday to provide depth at the corner infield positions. We'll go out on a limb and say that Soto isn't going to steal at-bats from Joey Votto, but Todd Frazier hasn't hit in weeks, so the Reds could try Soto some at third base in place of Frazier and Jack Hannahan. More likely, Soto will be a pinch hitter with one or two starts before he's sent back down. Soto smashed 31 homes in the minors back in 2011, but issues with plate discipline would seem to make his becoming a big league regular a long shot. Mixed - $0, NL - $1.

Second Base:

Alexi Amarista (2B/OF – SD) –Amarista profiles as a utility man, but he's been anything but recently, going 5-for-15 with two doubles and two homers in his last five starts. Amarista qualifies at second base, but his playing time recently has come in center field with Cameron Maybin dealing with a wrist injury and a 3-for-33 batting mark so far this season. Amarista homered just once every 60 at-bats for the Padres last year, but he already has three long balls in 89 at-bats for the Padres in 2013. Don't expect this level of power to continue, but he'll steal the occasional base, and given some playing time, there's some NL-only value here. Mixed - $1, NL - $3.


Jordy Mercer (PIT) – Although Mercer had just one home run in 109 Triple-A at-bats, his .333/.404/.448 slash line makes him at least somewhat intriguing. Mercer was recalled from Triple-A this week with John McDonald landing on the 15-day DL. Clint Barmes is presumably the primary shortstop, but despite a trifecta of two-hit games earlier in the week, Barmes' OPS still sits at a paltry .588. Mercer meanwhile has the potential for double-digit HR and SB numbers given the opportunity, and with Barmes not hitting, perhaps he will get that opportunity. Mixed - $1, NL - $4.


Rick Ankiel (NYM) – The Mets' outfield is in a sad start right now, thus the signing of Ankiel after the Astros of all teams cut Ankiel loose earlier in the week. Not only did the Mets immediately put Ankiel on the 25-man roster, they also put him in the starting lineup in center field. He will reportedly be on the good side of a lefty/righty platoon, and considering he does have six homers in just 78 at-bats, there may be some value to be had here. Personally, I'd love to see the Mets try and convert him back to a pitcher, but that is clearly unlikely. Go ahead and grab him if you need the pop. Mixed - $1, NL - $3.

John Mayberry (PHI) – With Ben Revere struggling to the tune of a .237/.286/.263 slash line (yes, TWO XBH's), Mayberry is getting a look in center field. Entering Saturday's action, Mayberry had gone 6-for-12 with three RBI in three starts, though Mayberry's OPS remains modest at .729. That said, 44% of Mayberry's hits have gone for extra bases, and with Revere possessing zero power and carrying a sub-.300 OBP, the opportunity is there for playing time. The Phillies traded a couple solid prospects for Revere, so they aren't likely to write him completely off anytime soon, but Mayberry should at least be owned in NL-only and deeper mixed league formats. Mixed - $2, NL - $7.