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FAAB Factor-NL: NL Closer Chaos

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 - 4/6/14
Starting Pitching:

Jordan Lyles, Rockies - Lyles, who lost out to Tyler Chatwood in the battle to be the Rockies' fifth starter, was called up to start Wednesday with Chatwood landing on the DL with a hamstring injury. Lyles allowed four runs on five hits and a walk with five strikeouts in five innings while earning the victory against the Marlins. He struggled in his three seasons in Houston, never posting an ERA below 5.00, but got a new start in Colorado, coming over in the Dexter Fowler deal. Lyles should start against Monday against the White Sox and then it all depends on how well he pitches and how long Chatwood is out. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Injury activation/update - Mat Latos, Reds - Latos, who had surgery on February 14 surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his knee and bone chips were removed from the elbow in October, made his first rehab start Thursday for Double-A Pensacola. He threw 75 pitches over four innings, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits with three walks and three strikeouts. Latos will make another rehab start Tuesday and could be activated thereafter. Just an FYI as should be owned in all formats ... Mike Minor, Braves made his first rehab start for Double-A Mississippi on Thursday. He allowed three earned runs on four over 39-pitches in two innings of work. Minor, who is sidelined due some left shoulder discomfort, has felt better for nearly a month and could be activated in about two more weeks. Just an FYI as should be owned in all formats...Ervin Santana, Braves could start April 9 against the Mets, though his rehab start for Triple-A Gwinnett did not go particularly well. Santana got off to a late start this spring, not signing until March 12, inking a one-year, $12 million deal with the Braves, who were beset with injuries. Last season, Santana posted a 3.24 ERA with a 161:51 K:BB over 211 innings in 32 starts for the Royals, while also improving his metrics and ratios across the board. Now in the NL East, he could see another spike in his K-rate. Mixed: $6; NL: $17.

Relief Pitchers:
Pedro Beato/Kyle Farnsworth/Kevin Slowey- This week's middle reliever call ups/acquisitions were in Atlanta, New York and Miami. Only Farnsworth for now could have some fantasy value, as he may set up Jose Valverde, who is closing with Bobby Parnell sidelined. Farnsworth - Mixed: No; NL: $0.

Jonathan Broxton, Reds - Broxton, who underwent surgery to repair a torn flexor mass in his right forearm in August, will be activated off the DL on Tuesday and immediately move into the closer's role until Aroldis Chapman (face) returns. Broxton signed a $21 million deal with the Reds in November 2012 after he finished the prior season with the team but was relegated to a set-up role when the team opted to put Chapman back as the closer. J.J. Hoover was closing, and while he may have better stuff, Broxton has 111 career saves and that may have factored into the decision. If you own Hoover, don't dump him just yet, but be prepared that Broxton could step into the closer role at any moment. Mixed: $4; NL: $11 (up if think he keeps job and Chapman is sidelined a while).

Francisco Rodriguez, Brewers - Manager Ron Roenicke is going with Rodriguez as his closer due to Jim Henderson's diminished velocity and lack of command this spring. If Henderson is able to regain those mph on his fastball and pitches well for a few outings, Roenicke will likely turn back to him, so K-Rod may only hold the job for a short span of time. Rodriguez pitched well in Milwaukee last year, serving as the closer for a bit, before getting dealt to Baltimore, where he struggled a bit. His fastball still sits around 91mph, but he is successfully relying more on his curveball and changeup, making him a better than he was a few years ago. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Pedro Strop, Cubs - I wrote this last season when profiling Strop and it still applies: "... if (Jose) Veras continues to struggle, as long as Strop can continue to limit base-on-balls, like he did after he came over to the Cubs from the Orioles when he posted a 42:11 K:BB ratio in 35 innings, he should be next in line." Strop got that first chance Thursday after Veras needed 38 pitches in a blown-save Wednesday against the Pirates. Strop tossed a scoreless ninth to get the save, giving him three scoreless appearances to start the season. The closer role hasn't yet changed in Chicago, but Strop may be knocking on the door sooner rather than later. Mixed: $3; NL: $9 (up if thinks he gets the closer role right away).

Jose Valverde. Mets - Valverde was profiled last week, as he had some value in Bobby Parnell was not 100 percent. That has proven to be the case, though it wasn't due to the herniated disc in Parnell's neck but a slightly torn UCL in his pitching elbow. Parnell will decide in the next 2-to-6 weeks if he will have Tommy John surgery, but for now Valverde, who came into the year with 286 career saves, will close. Valverde threw 1.1 scoreless innings in his Mets debut, striking out three while his fastball sat at 92mph, and had a shaky save Friday, in which he allowed a hit and a walk but closed the door. There are no other great options for the Mets, with Jeurys Familia, Jeff Walters, etc. not ready, so Valverde has a decent leash on the job. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.
Sandy Leon/Jose Lobaton, Nationals - Leon was promoted to take the spot of Wilson Ramos, who needed surgery to remove the hamate bone from his wrist and will miss four-to-eight weeks. The main beneficiary of the injury is Lobaton, who had a career-best year with the Rays last year, hitting .249 with a .714 OPS, seven home runs and 32 RBI in 277 at-bats. Lobaton was made expendable when the Rays added Ryan Hanigan and he was dealt to Washington in February. Leon - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Lobaton - Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Devin Mesoraco, Reds -Mesoraco, sidelined with an oblique injury, will be activated from the DL either Monday or Tuesday. With Ryan Hanigan now in Tampa, Mesoraco should be the starting catcher in Cincinnati. He had that chance last year when Hanigan was hurt, but he failed to produce, but now he gets another chance in the role. Mixed: $1; NL: $4
First Basemen:
Lucas Duda, Mets - It looks like it will be o-da-Duda-day at Citi Field for a little while. After playing Ike Davis, Josh Satin and Duda each in the three-game set against the Nationals, Manager Terry Collins has opted to give Duda the first job for at least the next little while. Duda put his stamp on getting the job with a pair of home runs Friday, the day after receiving the nod, as he tries to recapture the form he showed in 2011 when he posted a .292/.370/.482 line with 10HR and 50RBI in 347AB. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Second Base:
Emilio Bonifacio, Cubs - Bonifacio, who was profiled last week, gets another mention due to his hot start and usage by the Cubs. It looks like he will be used at second, short, third and the outfield while filling the role of leadoff hitter for Chicago. He has stolen at least 28 bases the past three seasons, and with the Cubs needing his speed, he should at least approach that number, if not far exceed it. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Danny Espinosa, Nationals - If Ryan Zimmerman's right shoulder injury sidelines him for any length of time, Espinosa figures to be the primary beneficiary. Anthony Rendon would move from second to third opening up the keystone position for Espinosa. Zimmerman had surgery on the same shoulder after the 2012 season, playing through the year with the injury, so there is no guarantee he will be out, though a DL stint would not be surprising. Espinosa is a switch-hitter with power and speed, whose plate discipline has left a lot to be desired. It's unclear if his free swinging approach or injuries (right wrist/left rotator cuff) were the cause of his nightmarish 2013 campaign, but he may get a short stint to regain some of his value if Zimmerman is out for any length of time. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Brandon Hicks, Giants - Hicks, included in the mix of backup middle infielders last week, gets his own mention this week. He started Friday, going 2-for-4 with a pair of doubles, two runs and an RBI. Speculation is that Hicks could begin seeing starts at second against southpaws against lefties until Marco Scutaro (back) returns from the DL. Brandon Crawford, the starter at shortstop, has historically struggled against lefties, so manager Bruce Bochy would move Joaquin Arias, who is starting at short over second, and play Hicks at short against lefties. Mixed: No; NL: $2.
Third Basemen:

Casey McGehee, Marlins - McGehee, profiled last week, deserves another mention, as he has been on fire his first week back in the U.S. after playing 2013 in Japan. McGehee has 10 RBI, three doubles and a triple along with five walks his first six games with the Marlins. He eventually will cool, but batting behind Gioncarlo Stanton should net him a solid amount of RBI opportunities. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.


Charlie Blackmon, Rockies - Blackmon was lumped in with all the other candidates for the Rockies center field job when I profiled the murky situation last week. That may have cleared up a bit, as a 6-for-6 day at the plate including a home run, three doubles, four runs scored and five RBI has a tendency to do that. Overall, he has got off to a red-hot start, aided by his effort Friday, but that may be enough for manager Walt Weiss to stick with him over Brandon Barnes, Corey Dickerson and Drew Stubbs. Mixed: $3; NL: $9.

Andrew Brown, Mets - Brown got the start Opening Day with Chris Young dealing with a quad injury and Eric Young, Jr. playing second base with Daniel Murphy out for the birth of his child, and he promptly hit a three-run home run off of Stephen Strasburg. With Young landing on the DL with the ailment, Brown will see some spot starts in the outfield, especially against left-handed starters. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Juan Lagares, Mets - I profiled Lagares last week but his hot play early on coupled with the injury to Chris Young warrants another mention. Lagares went 5-for-11 with a home run and walk in the three-game sweep at the hands of the Nationals. He hit leadoff against Gio Gonzalez and his home run came on an inside, high fastball in which he was able to get hands through the hitting zone and power the ball over the left field fence. With Young out, Lagares should be in the lineup at least the next two weeks, and if he remains hot, like he did from June to August last year, coupled with his stellar defense, he may be next to impossible to get out of the lineup. Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Cody Ross, Diamondbacks - Ross, recovering from a hip injury, suffered some back stiffness in spring training that pushed his return date back. He is at Triple-A Reno on a rehab assignment until April 10, and as long as he doesn't have any setbacks, he should join Arizona then. When Ross does come back, he likely will see most of his time in right and at DH, now with Mark Trumbo in left, with most of his playing time initially coming against lefties, hurting his value. Mixed: $2; NL: $7.

Injury activation/update - Matt Kemp, Dodgers - Kemp was activated off the DL on Friday after missing the first few games with an ankle injury. Kemp had his second straight injury-plagues and shortened season in 2013, playing just 73 games. When healthy, he is a 40-40 candidate, which occurred in 2011, but his history and with LA rotating four outfielders for three spots, his value gets depressed a bit. Mixed: $8; NL: $22, go higher if believe he starts and Andre Ethier sits.