Matthew Pouliot

Strike Zone

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Manny Won't Be Manny

Sunday, July 07, 2013

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


- Ricky Nolasco gets a bit of a value boost as a result of the move from Miami to Los Angeles. It's a worse ballpark for him, but having a major league offense for support should more than make up for that difference. Nolasco has allowed three or fewer runs 13 times this year, yet his record stands at 5-8. I still view him as a matchup guy at best in mixed leagues. He's too hittable to be trusted against quality offenses.


- Nolasco's arrival will push Chris Capuano and his 5.19 ERA out of the rotation, as the Dodgers have opted to stick with Stephen Fife for now. They could give Ted Lilly (neck) another shot following the All-Star break, but he'll have to pitch better on his rehab to earn it.


- As for the Marlins' return, it really wasn't much. Josh Wall has a slight chance of breaking through and turning into a closer-type reliever, but I think it's more likely that he and Steven Ames prove to be middle men if they stick in the majors at all. Angel Sanchez is a raw 23-year-old with a decent arm but lacking any track record of success. The Marlins could have gotten more had they eaten some of Nolasco's salary, but good ol' Jeffrey Loria wasn't willing to go that route.


- With Nolasco gone, the Marlins can bring back Tom Koehler as a fifth starter after the All-Star break or return Kevin Slowey to the role. Slowey will get the first crack since Koehler's 10-day stint in the minors isn't up yet, making him ineligible to replace Nolasco until the end of the week. I think it's worth going back to Slowey anyway; his ERA was a perfectly respectable 4.10 before he was sent to the bullpen last month. He'd also be the better bet of the two in NL-only leagues.


- Feldman's departure leaves Matt Garza and Kevin Gregg next in line for trades out of Chicago. My guess is that Garza gets moved at the All-Star break, if not before; his value has pretty much peaked and the Cubs won't want to risk him getting hurt again. Gregg isn't as much of a sure thing to be moved, since it's no lock that anyone will make a decent offer. The Cubs have no one else to close, so unless they get a legitimate prospect back, they might as well keep him. If Gregg is moved, Blake Parker, James Russell and Strop are all candidates for saves. Besides wild man Henry Rodriguez, Strop has far and away the most upside in the pen, and he's pitched well in his first three appearances since arriving from Baltimore. He's a big-time sleeper.


- The Cubs moved Carlos Villanueva back into the rotation to replace Feldman, making him a solid play in NL-only leagues once again. Arrieta will probably take over Garza's spot later this month, though it's possible the Garza trade will bring back a major league-ready starter. I'd take Strop first in an NL-only league, but Arrieta could have some value the final two months, too.


- Darin Ruf should get regular playing time at first base for the Phillies while Ryan Howard rests his knee for at least the next couple of weeks. He's a fine play in NL-only leagues, and he might turn into a mixed-league asset if Howard ends up undergoing surgery. Ruf was a disappointment in Triple-A this year, hitting .266/.344/.408 with seven homers in 304 at-bats, but he has ample power and won't lack for RBI opportunities.


- Domonic Brown's fantasy value also increases with Howard out, since he no longer has to hit behind the plodding slugger in Philadelphia's lineup. He's in the cleanup spot now, and if manager Charlie Manuel can overlook the salary differences, Brown should keep the spot if Howard comes back.


- The Howard injury could make it more likely that the Phillies will trade Chase Utley, with the Tigers, Blue Jays, Royals and A's among the potential suitors. I guess the Dodgers can't be ruled out, either, but they do have a decent enough second baseman in Mark Ellis. The Rockies could use Utley, too, but it's not like them to spend the money. Michael Young should also be up for grabs in the Phillies infield if they decide they're sellers. The team has (mediocre) replacements for both in Freddy Galvis and Cesar Hernandez.


-Colorado could get both Troy Tulowitzki (rib) and Dexter Fowler (wrist) back on Thursday. Josh Rutledge has disappointed in Tulo's absence, so he'll probably head back to Triple-A to open up a spot. D.J. LeMahieu will remain the primary second baseman.


- Adding pitching will probably be Colorado's priority before the deadline, but the Rockies could also use a better alternative to Todd Helton than the struggling Jordan Pacheco. Ideally, Tyler Colvin would step up and claim those duties, but he's been awful and he might return to Triple-A to make room for Fowler.


- The Brewers have held back Francisco Rodriguez for their last two save chances, and he managed to improve to 8-for-8 on Saturday despite giving up a solo homer in the ninth. Jim Henderson is also perfect in his ninth-inning save chances this year (10-for-10), though since he's come off the DL, he's taken three blown saves in the eighth inning. It still seems like a given that the Brewers will deal either K-Rod or John Axford, if not both, and letting Rodriguez continue to get save chance may help his trade value. So, Henderson could get the closer's job back soon. Alternatively, the Brewers could bypass him and go back to Axford in the event of a Rodriguez trade. The run Axford gave up Saturday was his first in 24 appearances.


- If Ryan Braun (hand) declares himself ready to go, the Brewers aren't going to have him waste much time in the minors. Barring a setback, he figures to be activated on Thursday or Friday. That will return Logan Schafer to a reserve role and send Sean Halton back to Triple-A.


- Yovani Gallardo will make his final start of the first half against a Diamondbacks team that's rumored to be interested in trading for him. Unfortunately, this isn't the same Gallardo of 2011 and '12. His fastball hasn't picked up any velocity as the season has gone on, and he's also not getting as many swings and misses with his slider. It's not worth giving up top prospects for him at this point, and the Diamondbacks might just be better off sticking with Tyler Skaggs in the rotation.


- Pete Kozma's long slump got him sent to the bench for a few days before he rejoined the Cardinals' lineup on Sunday. Management doesn't seem sold on Daniel Descalso as a full-time shortstop, which has worked to Kozma's advantage so far. However, Ryan Jackson is probably Kozma's match defensively and is hitting .306/.384/.408 in 333 at-bats for Triple-A Memphis. The Cardinals could have those two switch places if Kozma doesn't pick it up this week.


- The Dodgers are hoping to have Matt Kemp back on Monday after his minor shoulder setback, which came just as he seemed to be finding his swing. Now that Carl Crawford is healthy as well, the long-awaited four-outfielders-for-three-spots scenario is finally coming to fruition. Against left-handers, it's a no-brainer that Andre Ethier will sit. Versus righties, the four outfielders could share time pretty evenly. Kemp could use a day off once per week to aid his shoulder, and Crawford should rest once or twice per week to protect his legs. Yasiel Puig might be in line for the most playing time of the bunch, but don't discount the injury possibility there, too. As hard-nosed and reckless as he plays the game, it's a good guess that last week's hip bruise won't be his last malady of the year.


-'s Andrew Baggarly speculated that the Giants could send Pablo Sandoval to the minors for a brief spell due to big-time struggles since coming off the DL. Sandoval snapped a 1-for-29 skid by going 2-for-8 in the first two games against the Dodgers, but he's swinging at everything and still hasn't driven in a run in 11 games since returning. Mixed leaguers may want to sit him down for the final week before the break.


- Marlins prospect Christian Yelich is on the way back after missing a month with an abdominal strain; he's homered twice in four rehab appearances with Single-A Jupiter and he's about to rejoin Double-A Jacksonville's lineup. The Marlins could trade Justin Ruggiano later this month to open up room in the outfield for the 21-year-old.

- Ike Davis collected three hits, two RBI and four walks in his first two games back in the majors before taking a seat Sunday against a lefty. The Mets say he'll play against most southpaws, so he's well worth trying in mixed leagues. Josh Satin should be in line for some outfield time now, but Kirk Nieuwenhuis's sudden surge may make that more difficult to come by. The Mets will likely open up more outfield at-bats later by trading Marlon Byrd, though a lot of those will go to Lucas Duda. I am pretty skeptical that Nieuwenhuis has suddenly learned to hit.


- Gerrit Cole survived A.J. Burnett's return to the Pirates rotation on Sunday, and since there's no sign that Wandy Rodriguez (forearm) will be ready anytime soon, it looks like Cole and Charlie Morton both will continue to start for the foreseeable future.


- Meanwhile, Jose Tabata is getting an opportunity to secure Travis Snider's right field job with fine results so far; he's 7-for-17 since coming off the disabled list. He needs to be picked up in NL-only leagues.


- The Nationals' Dan Haren (shoulder) is making a quick return from the DL to start Monday against the Phillies. With Ross Detwiler (back) replacing him on the DL, Taylor Jordan will remain in the rotation through the All-Star break. Haren isn't worth using in mixed leagues right now, and NL-only leaguers with quality alternatives would be smart to play it safe and keep him reserved this week.


- Wilson Ramos had eight RBI in his first two games back from the DL. Kurt Suzuki hasn't had more than eight RBI in any single month this season. Hopefully, the youngster gets a look as the Nationals' starting catcher now. The Nats like Suzuki's leadership, but Ramos is the better player.


- Yasmani Grandal's unfortunate knee injury will put Nick Hundley back behind the plate for the Padres for at least two months and probably the rest of the season. The Padres could make a move for a backup catcher later this month (Miguel Olivo is out there in free agency), but it's unlikely that they'll add a starter.


- Robbie Erlin's brutal outing Sunday against the Nationals could get him booted back to Triple-A, with Tim Stauffer perhaps taking his place in the rotation. Tyson Ross may have blown his opportunity by struggling out of the pen of late. I still like Erlin, but he can't afford the walks. He's issued seven in 7 2/3 innings while giving up 13 runs in his last two starts.


- The one bit of good news for the Padres is that Chase Headley came through with six hits, including a homer, in the three games against the Nationals. It's the best series he's had in months, if not the whole season.

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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