Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Dodgers' Bullpen Blues

Sunday, June 16, 2013

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


- My thinking is that the Cardinals just don't want it to be too easy. After all, if they clinch the NL's best record by Sept. 1, they may not be sharp for the postseason. So, yeah, go ahead and send Michael Wacha down and stick with Tyler Lyons. Let the NL's other clubs pretend they have a chance. Wacha will have a bit easier go of it in the minors and can have his innings managed, making him more likely to be of use come October. We should hear more from him before then anyway.


- Brandon Beachy's setback in his return from Tommy John surgery has saved the Braves from a tough rotation decision, at least for a little while. It doesn't sound like Beachy will be shut down for long, but now he'll most likely make at least two more minor league rehab starts before he's activated, pushing his return back until early July, if not u7ntil after the All-Star break. Kris Medlen owners can breathe easier for now. With Beachy unavailable for Tuesday's doubleheader, it sounds like reliever Alex Wood will get the nod against the Mets.


- That B.J. Upton has finally found his stroke (.250/.388/.575 with four homers and an 11/9 K/BB ratio in June) is bad news for Evan Gattis, who might be limited to about two starts per week until someone ahead of him gets hurt. At the moment, Gattis has just two hits in June. Of course, they've both been homers.


- The Dodgers felt the need Sunday to say that Yasiel Puig would likely remain in the majors after Matt Kemp and Carl Crawford return from their hamstring injuries, but since neither is coming back this week, Mattingly doesn't have to decide how he's going to divvy up playing time just yet. One thing is obvious: Andre Ethier could really use a hot streak right about now. He did have a pretty good week, going 10-for-23 with a homer.


- Hanley Ramirez's attempts to play through his latest hamstring injury haven't gone very well, and if the Dodgers had it to do all over again, they probably would have placed him on the DL last week. He's an iffy play in mixed leagues this week.


- The Brewers are hoping Ryan Braun won't miss more than the minimum 15 days with his thumb injury. In the meantime, Logan Schafer is a worthy option in NL-only and deeper mixed leagues. The Brewers will also need Caleb Gindl in the outfield this week, since it sounds like Norichika Aoki will miss time on paternity leave. Those in mixed leagues may want to take the initiative and reserve Aoki for the week.


- Even though he made it sound like he wouldn't, Ron Roenicke rushed Jim Henderson right back into the closer's role off the DL and the reliever took a blown save and a loss in his second appearance back. For better or worse, it's going to be Henderson's job going forward. However, it really should have remained Francisco Rodriguez's gig last week.


- I'm not even sure that was Roenicke's biggest blunder of the week, though. His handling of Rickie Weeks has shown incredible stubbornness at the expense of the Brewers' chances of winning. Weeks played every day for two months while performing terribly, and now that he's finally found his stroke, Roenicke let him sit four straight days last week. Weeks is hitting .417 with two homers in 24 at-bats this month, yet he got just one plate appearance from Wednesday-Saturday (Thursday was an off day). I suppose I can't put it all on Roenicke -- he must have the front office's backing -- but even if the Brewers have decided they're done with Weeks, they need to play him while he's hot and let him try to rebuild his trade value.


- The Diamondbacks have J.J. Putz (elbow) and Aaron Hill (hand) beginning rehab assignments. Putz will likely get a chance to regain his closer's role from Heath Bell if he shows he's healthy, but there's still good reason for skepticism there. Frankly, I think he's a long shot to contribute. That said, if the was dropped in your league, he isn't a bad flier. Hill could come off the DL on Friday. Martin Prado will resume playing third base primarily, and Josh Wilson will be dropped from the roster to make room.


- Johnny Cueto again bumped Tony Cingrani from the rotation Sunday, but the Reds have decided to keep the left-hander as a reliever this time. We'll see how long that lasts. Manager Dusty Baker had the perfect opportunity to get Cingrani some work in relief of Cueto on Sunday, but instead it was Alfredo Simon who pitched the final three innings in a 5-1 victory.


- Roy Oswalt concluded his stint in Double-A Tulsa's rotation with 8 1/3 scoreless innings Friday, making him 3-2 with a 2.16 ERA and a 25/7 K/BB ratio in 33 1/3 innings over five starts. Now he's coming up to join the Rockies and face the Blue Jays on Wednesday. I expect that he'll be a decent enough NL-only pitcher, though he'll probably have a couple of painful outings in Coors Field along the way. He may give up too many homers to be useful in mixed leagues.


- Rafael Betancourt (groin) is at least another week away, so Rex Brothers should be in line for another couple of save chances.


- Not only is Josh Rutledge back in the Rockies' lineup as a result of Troy Tulowitzki's unfortunate rib injury, but he's hit first or second all three games since he returned from Triple-A. As Colorado's everyday shortstop for the moment, he's worth playing in all formats.


- With David DeJesus on the DL due to a shoulder strain, it'd make sense for the Cubs to give Julio Borbon a two-week look in center field. However, Ryan Sweeney is playing too well to allow that to happen. Both are left-handed hitters, so there's no platoon to be set up. It looks like it'll be Sweeney's job for the most part, giving him value in NL-only leagues. DeJesus is an obvious candidate to be traded next month. Ideally, Brett Jackson would be ready to take his spot then, but he's been a huge disappointment with his .228/.308/.381 line in Triple-A.


- As big as Kyle Blanks is, he still probably can't fill in for both Yonder Alonso (hand) and Carlos Quentin (shoulder) at the same time, which is a problem since Quentin appears likely to join Alonso on the DL. The Padres could recall Jaff Decker and let him contend with Chris Denorfia, Will Venable, Alexi Amarista and Mark Kotsay for OF at-bats for a little while. If so, he might have a little value in NL-only leagues.


- The bigger loss for the Padres would be shortstop Everth Cabrera, who injured a hamstring Sunday. Gregorio Petit figures to be called up if Cabrera lands on the DL, with the newly acquired Pedro Ciriaco getting most of the starts at shortstop. Mixed leaguers should sit Cabrera this week just to be safe. Ciriaco should have some short-term value in NL-only leagues if Cabrera goes on the DL.


- Three saves in six days suggests Steve Cishek is back as the Marlins' primary closer. Of course, there's a real chance he'll never get three save chances in six days again this season. As for the talk that the Marlins won't consider trading Cishek next month, I wouldn't put any stock in it. They'll want something substantial for him and they'll certainly hold on to him if they don't get any offers they like, but they're not making any relievers untouchable. My guess is that he'll stay, simply because he hasn't pitched well enough this year to command a big return.


- Carlos Zambrano isn't ready just yet, but he does have a 1.27 ERA in four minor league starts as he climbs through the Phillies farm system. In his first Triple-A outing Thursday, he allowed two runs in five innings, walking four in the process. He could join Philadelphia's rotation around July 1 if Jonathan Pettibone continues to struggle.


- Chase Utley (oblique) might come off the DL on Friday, though it's probably not a good enough bet to make him worth activating in NL-only leagues.


- Stephen Strasburg was a bit rusty in his return Sunday, throwing just 44 of his 82 pitches for strikes, but he was still effective in limiting the Indians to one run in five innings. That's the good news for the Nationals. The bad is that Bryce Harper (knee) seems like a long shot to return this week.


- The Giants still might get Angel Pagan (hamstring) back before the end of the month, but it doesn't look like it will happen this week. Andres Torres will keep on filling in.


-Pittsburgh's Starling Marte (ribs) was out of the starting lineup for a fourth straight day Sunday, but he did come in to get two at-bats off the bench. He can be kept active in all leagues this week.


- Brandon Cumpton's major league debut Saturday against the Dodgers was a modest success, but with Wandy Rodriguez (forearm) hopefully back by the end of the month, his time in the Pirates rotation should be short. He wouldn't be a very good bet for lasting success anyway.

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