Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Don't Go Too Far For Profar

Sunday, May 19, 2013


Ian Kinsler (ribs) was placed on the disabled list Sunday, making Jurickson Profar the Rangers' second baseman for the next couple of weeks. Profar was hitting .278/.370/.438 with four homers and six steals in 166 at-bats for Triple-A Round Rock, and he'll be worth playing in all formats while Kinsler is out. The bigger question is whether he'll stick around once Kinsler comes back. The Rangers haven't gotten much from their left or center fielders this year, and if Profar hits, it'd make sense to give him a crash course in the outfield and see what he can do. Given his athleticism, one imagines he'd make a quick adjustment. Still, he's never played outfield at any level, and if the Rangers were actually interested in trying him in the outfield, they could have stuck him out there in Triple-A at any time within the last few weeks.

 

My thinking is that Profar will have hit better in the majors than he did in Triple-A to force the Rangers to keep him. He wasn't part of the plan for the first part of this season and maybe not for 2013 at all. He's such a terrific talent that he can change that plan, but he's also just 20 years old and he hasn't dominated in the minors yet. While he's up, he should do a little bit of everything for fantasy owners, but maybe only that little bit. Stardom is at least a year away.

 

AL Notes (Rotoworld MLB news - Rotoworld on twitter - Matthew Pouliot on twitter)

 

- David Price's triceps strain will get Jake Odorizzi into the Rays rotation for at least two or three weeks. I would have rather have seen Chris Archer get the call, but he's had a couple of rough outings for Triple-A Durham recently and the Rays don't want to turn to him until they have a permanent opening. Archer is currently 4-2 with a 4.38 ERA and a 40/19 K/BB ratio in 39 innings for Durham. My guess is that he'd have a better ERA than that 4.38 mark were he pitching in the majors. He's been generating a bunch of grounders, and the Rays infield defense is much better equipped to handle those than is Durham's (the Bulls lost their best infielder last month when shortstop Hak-Ju Lee went down).

 

Odorizzi doesn't have Archer's ceiling, but he'll be worth picking up in AL-only leagues. The former Royals prospect was 4-0 with a 3.83 ERA and a 47/15 K/BB ratio in 44 2/3 innings for the Bulls. It's interesting that all seven homers he's given up have been to right-handed hitters. Left-handers have hit .210 and slugged just .247 against him.

 

- Fernando Rodney rebounded from Thursday's awful showing to pitch a perfect frame for a save Sunday. Fastball command has often eluded him this year, forcing him to go more and more to his devastating changeup. It's led to extra strikeouts, but it's not for the best. I think the Rays did the right thing backing off him for a couple of days. Rodney seems to have gotten a bit too cocky after his brilliant 2012, and maybe these recent struggles will help him out in the long run. The Rays can always go to Joel Peralta to close if they have to, but they'd much, much prefer to keep him in the eighth inning and let Rodney work through his control problems in the ninth.

 

- With Curtis Granderson rejoining the Yankees lineup, Ichiro Suzuki picked an awful time to go into another slump. His five-game hitless streak last week matched the longest of his career. In fact, he's had just six such four-game streaks in his career and two have come this season. I'll never understand why the Yankees chose to re-sign Ichiro and then bat him sixth and seventh. He'll probably sit against a bunch of righties while the rest of the Yankees' outfield is healthy, leaving him with no short-term value in mixed leagues.

 

- Following his acquisition from the Rockies, Reid Brignac figures to be the Yankees' shortstop against right-handers, at least until Eduardo Nunez returns. If he performs, he should keep the job afterwards. Of course, this is a guy who has hit .195 with two homers and an 81/14 K/BB ratio in 319 at-bats since the beginning of 2011, so it'll take some more of that Yankee magic to turn him around.

 

- I wanted to see what left-hander Vidal Nuno could do as a starter, but the Yankees opted to skip him in the rotation after Sunday's rainout. With Ivan Nova (triceps) on a rehab assignment and Andy Pettitte (trapezius) unlikely to miss too much time, Nuno isn't long for the rotation, if he even makes a start at all. The Yankees have Thursday off, and they could bring Nova back next week.

 

- It's beginning to look like the Yankees could get Mark Teixeira (wrist) back before Kevin Youkilis (back). Teixeira is aiming to come off the DL by June 1, though it could be a few days later.

 

- It was an awful break for Jarrod Dyson and the Royals alike that the center fielder suffered a badly sprained ankle so soon after getting a look as a starter against right-handers. Rather than default back to Jeff Francoeur in right, it looks like Ned Yost will give David Lough an opportunity instead. The 27-year-old Lough was hitting .340/.393/.477 with three homers and five steals for Triple-A Omaha, but it's his fourth year at the level and he didn't impress in his major league stint last year. He'll have a little fantasy value in AL-only leagues if he can keep Francoeur on the bench against righties, but his upside is quite limited.

 

- 11 days after pitching a four-hit shutout against Toledo, Twins prospect Kyle Gibson took a no-hitter into the eighth inning against Lehigh Valley in his outing for Triple-A Rochester on Sunday. His overall numbers aren't so spectacular -- he has a 3.25 ERA and a 46/14 ratio in 52 2/3 innings -- but he would seem to be about due for his first major league stint. The complicating factor there is that Samuel Deduno, who probably would have been the Twins' fifth starter had he not gotten hurt at the end of the spring, has posted a 2.70 ERA in his first three starts for Rochester and is close to earning an opportunity as well. Pedro Hernandez figures to be dropped to make room for one of the two. The Twins would have to bump Vance Worley or Mike Pelfrey to create a spot for the other, and they probably won't go that route just yet, though a temporary bullpen demotion for Worley seems warranted. Worley, who was picked up from the Phillies in the Ben Revere deal, has a 6.20 ERA and a 22/13 K/BB ratio in 45 innings.

 

- Jair Jurrjens, already the 10th starter used by the Orioles this season, didn't impress Saturday against the Rays, and his chances of lasting in the rotation could hinge on Freddy Garcia's performance Monday. The Orioles are getting Miguel Gonzalez (blister) back on Tuesday, and they have Thursday off, so no fifth starter will be needed this week.

 

- The Orioles placed Nolan Reimold on the DL Saturday with a hamstring injury that apparently has been bothering him since the spring. Danny Valencia was called up and will get a look in the DH spot after hitting eight homers in 15 games for Triple-A Norfolk this month. I'm not a big believer in his power, but he's worth picking up in AL-only leagues. He was hitting .306/.339/.600 with 11 homers and 35 RBI in 160 at-bats overall for Norfolk.

 

- The Red Sox will activate Andrew Bailey (biceps) prior to Monday's game, and it sounds like he'll be inserted into the closer's role immediately. Those who picked up Junichi Tazawa may want to hold on to him just in case. That said, I still wouldn't be surprised if Koji Uehara usurps his place as the fallback to Bailey.

 

-Seattle's Franklin Gutierrez (hamstring) went 3-for-12 in the first three games of his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tacoma. He'll likely return early this week, so he's worth activating in AL-only leagues. I only like him in mixed leagues if he's hitting at or near the top of the Mariners lineup, and I'm guessing that's not going to happen again right away. Gutierrez was leading off before he got hurt, but Michael Saunders has moved into that role.

 

- Felix Hernandez's balky back probably had something to do with his poor performance Sunday in which he gave up five earned runs in five innings against the Indians, but so did some poor defense. It doesn't sound like there's much chance of Hernandez taking some time off.

 

- I'm not sure how much longer the Mariners can stick with Jesus Montero when he looks so poor offensively and defensively. However, for all of Montero's struggles throwing out basestealers, the Mariners have pitched quite a bit better with him behind the plate than with Kelly Shoppach. Their ERA with Montero playing is 3.32, compared to 4.84 for Shoppach. Much of that is Felix -- Shoppach has caught just two of his starts -- but even taking Hernandez out of the mix, the ERAs are 3.95 for Montero and 4.93 for Shoppach. Mike Zunino is still struggling in Triple-A -- he's hitting .222 with a 17/0 K/BB ratio in 45 at-bats this month -- so it doesn't look like a change is coming any time soon.

 

- The White Sox are looking at getting both John Danks (shoulder) and Gordon Beckham (hand) back for their weekend series against the Marlins. Danks, though, wasn't very good in what was expected to be his final rehab start Saturday, walking four in 4 2/3 innings and throwing just 51 of his 95 pitches for strikes. One more minor league start might be for the best, and it'd give the White Sox more time to decide between Hector Santiago and Dylan Axelrod for a rotation spot. I favor Santiago, but he's struggled his last two times out.

 

- Brett Myers (elbow) turned in a successful first rehab start Friday, throwing three scoreless innings. The Indians shouldn't be in any hurry to bring him back, but one imagines he'll get another look in the rotation after a couple of more minor league outings. Corey Kluber is the likely choice to get bumped, assuming that everyone ahead of him is still healthy when Myers is ready.  

 

- Hiroyuki Nakajima, signed over the winter to serve as Oakland's starting shortstop, is batting just .237/.295/.316 in 38 at-bats for Triple-A Sacramento since beginning his rehab assignment earlier this month. Because of his poor spring performance, he was expected to open the season in the minors before hurting his hamstring at the end of March. Odds are he'll be officially optioned to Sacramento soon. The A's have started going more with Adam Rosales at shortstop and Jed Lowrie at second after initially using Lowrie at shortstop and Eric Sogard at second. Second baseman Jemile Weeks, who is hitting .280/.396/.373 with eight steals for Sacramento, figures to earn a look before Nakajima does.

 

-Detroit's Austin Jackson will have to sit out another week with his hamstring injury, but he expects to be ready as soon as his 15 days are up. Incredibly, Don Kelly has had more at-bats than Avisail Garcia since Garcia replaced Jackson on the roster.

 

- A.J. Pierzynski will rejoin the Rangers on Tuesday after missing 15 days with a strained oblique. Robinson Chirinos figures to be sent down.

 

NL Notes (Rotoworld MLB news - Rotoworld on twitter - Matthew Pouliot on twitter)

 

- Those hoping Michael Wacha would get a rotation spot after Jaime Garcia's shoulder injury were left disappointed Sunday after the Cardinals announced Tyler Lyons would be the choice. It came as no surprise, though. Perhaps if Jake Westbrook (elbow) weren't due back early next month, the Cardinals would have tried Wacha. As is, they intend for John Gast to be their fifth starter following Westbrook's return.

 

Lyons was 2-1 with a 4.47 ERA and a 38/9 K/BB ratio in 46 1/3 innings for Memphis. The 25-year-old lefty doesn't have a whole lot going for him besides very good command, and he'll probably prove too vulnerable to right-handed hitters to survive as a starter. NL-only leaguers should pass. Wacha is the one to wait for, and since there's serious doubt about whether Garcia is coming back. Wacha's chances of getting a look next month seem better than ever. He'd be nice to have stashed away. Gast is worth playing in NL-only leagues for however long he lasts.

 

- Barring any rainouts, Yasmani Grandal's 50-game PED suspension will conclude on May 27, allowing him to rejoin the Padres. In preparation, he began a minor league stint with Triple-A Tucson on Saturday. After a terrific April in which he posted a .901 OPS, Nick Hundley has gone 2-for-36 in May, so it seems Grandal will get the opportunity to take over as a starter. It'll certainly be interesting to see how he performs. He greatly exceeded my expectations while hitting .297/.394/.469 with eight homers and 36 RBI in 60 games last year, but, of course, he had some extra assistance. My preseason projections called for a .257/.352/.402 line and nine homers in 261 at-bats this year.

 

- So, Aroldis Chapman gave up homers to Erik Kratz and Freddy Galvis in losing Sunday's game against the Phillies, with his only out coming when he picked off pinch-runner Cliff Lee. That's not a sentence I expected to write this season. The blown save was Chapman's second in as many outings, though his first was a cheap one (he allowed an inherited runner to score, preserved the tie from there and went on to get the win). Chapman has 30 strikeouts in 19 innings, but the truth is that he's not getting as many missed swings as usual. His velocity is down a bit, but still great. His walk rate is up a bit, but still below his career mark. Prior to Sunday, he had allowed just one homer and 12 hits, so that's fine. All in all, I don't see any reason to be worried, except for the long-term concern that dominant relievers often have shelf-lives. We may have already seen the best Chapman and Craig Kimbrel have to offer.

 

- Ben Revere was making his first start in a week when he went 3-for-4 with a double and a steal Sunday, and that's simply crazy. And stupid. Revere is a singles hitter, and the only problem with him so far is that he just isn't getting as many as usual. To which I say "so what?" The fact that Revere hit .200 instead of .300 in April doesn't make him any less likely to hit .300 the rest of the way. In fact, he opened May 10-for-28, which is a .357 average, before Charlie Manuel decided to give him no at-bats six days running. Revere doesn't need to outhit Delmon Young, John Mayberry Jr. and Domonic Brown to be one of the Phillies' top three outfielders. He doesn't even need to come particularly close given how vastly superior he is defensively. Ideally, Sunday's game will get him back into the lineup on a regular basis.   

 

- Cubs starter Matt Garza (shoulder, lat) will make his season debut Tuesday against the Pirates, and NL-only leaguers will definitely want him active this week. Mixed leaguers could choose to be cautious, particularly since he'll have a more difficult assignment Sunday in Cincinnati. He'll be worth playing most weeks, though.

 

- It probably didn't matter, but once Carlos Villanueva gave up seven runs in five innings Tuesday against the Rockies, the decision to send him to the bullpen became a whole lot more obvious. He'll surely get another look as a starter later and he could well pick up some wins in relief, so NL-only leaguers should hold on to him.

 

- The Mets reiterated over the weekend that they have no plans to send Ike Davis down, even though a 1-for-30 slump has left him with a pathetic .156/.238/.259 line through 135 at-bats. They're really hurting in the middle of the order right now with Lucas Duda hitting .148 and John Buck coming in at .206 in May. It'd make Davis' struggles easier to take if those two were still coming through, but as is, I don't see how much longer they can hold out. It also doesn't help that Duda is such a liability in left field and would surely be more valuable playing first base. If the Mets do make a switch, it could be for Josh Satin. The Mets probably wouldn't move Duda to first when the hope would be that Davis could turn it around and return to the majors after a few weeks.

 

- Even though Josh Beckett (groin) became the latest Dodgers pitcher to land on the DL, manager Don Mattingly is talking about bringing Ted Lilly (ribs) back from the DL as a reliever. Obviously, those two don't have the best of relationships right now. Matt Magill has been adequate at best in compiling a 5.00 ERA and a 1.67 WHIP in four starts, but there's not much upside there, and even if he were pitching better, Lilly would still make a whole lot more sense in the fifth starter's spot. For one thing, he takes so long to get ready that he'd be pretty useless as a reliever in close games. I think Lilly is going to end up having some fantasy value this year, but it might happen for a team other than the Dodgers.

 

- Mattingly also seems to be protesting Ramon Hernandez's continued presence on the Dodgers' roster. Given access to a third catcher, he used Tim Federowicz over Hernandez for the 11 days that he had him, starting him twice. Federowicz, though, was sent back down to Triple-A on Sunday. Hernandez has appeared in just one game all month, that coming on May 7. It doesn't matter much for fantasy purposes, but it suggests that Hernandez could end up elsewhere sometime soon.

 

- Scott Van Slyke is going to be picked up in a bunch of leagues this week after his two-homer game Friday, but the Dodgers aren't going to sit Carl Crawford, Matt Kemp or Andre Ethier to make room for him against right-handers. Unless someone gets hurt, he's going to be limited to starting versus lefties for the most part and he shouldn't have any long-term fantasy value.

 

- And then there's the Dodgers bullpen. Mattingly asked Kenley Jansen to bail the team out of a jam in the seventh inning Sunday, and Jansen succeeded to maintain the 2-1 lead over the Braves. Jensen then gave up a single and a walk to start the eighth, causing Mattingly to turn to Brandon League for six outs in a one-run game with the tying run on second. And if it wasn't a difficult enough situation then, Juan Uribe botched the sac bunt afterwards, giving the Braves bases loaded with no outs. What happened next was inevitable; a single tied it and a sac fly gave the Braves the lead. Another single and a squeeze followed, making it 5-2 before League finally got out of it.

 

League is shouldering the blame for the Dodgers' bullpen woes, and while he deserves a good portion of it, it's not as though the team would be better off if Jansen had been in the closer's role since Opening Day. Actually, the team would probably be worse off, since Jansen would have pitched less and League would have inherited more crucial seventh- and eighth-inning chances. It still solves nothing for the Dodgers to change closers, though Mattingly has to be getting desperate and might go that route anyway. One problem there: Jansen may be wearing down already. He's made 23 appearances in 42 games, putting him on pace for 89 appearances. His career high is 65.

 

- Even though Edward Mujica continues to do excellent work as the Cardinals' closer, I'd be holding on to Trevor Rosenthal wherever I can. That said, I am getting concerned about the burnout factor for the 22-year-old. When Rosenthal pitched his latest scoreless inning Sunday, he was working for the third straight day and fifth time in seven days. The only relievers throwing more pitches than Rosenthal this year are long guys, and they're getting more time between outings. Among setup men or closers, he's tops with 405 pitches thrown. Toronto's Steve Delabar is right there with him at 403, but after him, the next setup men are at 371 (Jansen in Los Angeles, Carter Capps in Seattle). Most of the big-name relievers are in the 250-330 range right now.

 

- Rather than trust Steve Cishek to escape the jam, Marlins manager Mike Redmond turned to Mike Dunn with two outs in the ninth on Sunday and Dunn picked up his first save. Cishek simply hadn't done anything to each much faith while amassing a 5.09 ERA in his first 17 appearances. He's 5-for-6 in save chances, but he's already taken four losses. That has to be doubly annoying for the Marlins, since they were probably leaning towards cashing Cishek in this summer before he hit arbitration. Cishek should prove to be just fine; the league is hitting a modest .234/.329/.375 against him. He'll never be as good against lefties as he is against righties, but he can hold his own against them while throwing 91-94 mph.

 

- After 13 games DHing on his rehab assignment, Adam Eaton (elbow) resumed playing center field on Friday. The Diamondbacks probably won't be in a hurry to activate him this week, though, as he's hit just .182/.270/.236 in 55 at-bats on the farm. A.J. Pollock is struggling of late, so it seems likely that he'll be sent down when Eaton is ready. Gerardo Parra, on the other hand, is hotter than ever and deserves to keep playing regularly after Eaton returns. Cody Ross should lose at-bats.

 

- Johnny Cueto will make his return Monday after missing five weeks with a strained lat, so get him active. It seems like the Reds did the rest of the NL Central a favor by bumping Tony Cingrani from the rotation to make room, but that became the smart play the moment that he complained of shoulder soreness. Assuming that it turns out to be nothing serious, he'll get another shot before too long and he should have more value in mixed leagues when it happens.

 

- Michael Cuddyer (neck) expects to be activated Friday when eligible, so those in NL-only leagues could risk activating him and hoping for three starts. Charlie Blackmon hasn't had much of a chance to establish himself in Cuddyer's absence, so he'll probably be returned to Triple-A.

 

- Logan Morrison (knee) will finally begin his rehab assignment on Monday. Since he didn't have any sort of spring training, one imagines he'll need a good three weeks in the minors. However, since the Marlins are so desperate for offense, they won't wait too long to get him if he finds his swing quickly.

 

- Giancarlo Stanton (hamstring) likewise appears to be at least two weeks away. It's probably too early to start thinking about how the Marlins will handle Marcell Ozuna when Stanton returns, but I don't believe Ozuna is up for good. That said, it's not like Juan Pierre should be much of an obstacle in left field.

 

- It doesn't sound as though Andrew McCutchen's sore knee will cost him more than a day or two.



Matthew Pouliot is the Executive Editor of RotoWorld.com and has been doing the site's baseball projections for the last 10 years. Follow him on Twitter at matthewpouliot.
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