Matthew Pouliot

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Notes: Hope For Halladay?

Monday, August 26, 2013

Against my better judgment, I'll be doing a set of September rankings next week. I usually stop with August for two reasons: anything can happen in one month (my thought has always been that it takes two months for numbers to begin to stabilize) and most fantasy leaguers can't make trades in September. But I'm going to give it a whirl anyway and hopefully identify some September callups that can help teams.


In the meantime, here are the weekly notes:


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


- Jose Bautista might return from his bruised hip in a couple of weeks, but Maicer Izturis is done for the season with his sprained ankle and Melky Cabrera isn't expected back from his knee strain. With Colby Rasmus (oblique) also sidelined, the Blue Jays are playing backups at four positions right now. Besides steal specialist Rajai Davis, I'm not fond of any of the Jays' outfield replacements. Kevin Pillar might be a decent reserve someday, but he looks overmatched as a regular right now. Anthony Gose couldn't hit or steal bases in Triple-A this year. Moises Sierra doesn't have the power to make up for his dreadful plate discipline. Gose has the most fantasy upside in the group, but he's still a borderline play in AL-only leagues. Second base will come down to Munenori Kawasaki and Ryan Goins with Izturis out and Emilio Bonifacio gone. Playing the youngster would seem to be the better strategy, but Goins hit just .257/.311/.369 with three steals in eight attempts in Triple-A this year. Kawasaki is dreadful offensively, too, but at least he provides a much needed jolt of energy when he's in the lineup. Neither looks like a very good play in AL-only leagues.


- It's the right move for the Tigers, but Victor Martinez owners shouldn't be jumping for joy that the 34-year-old is back catching on a part-time basis, mostly because it drastically increases the chances that he'll get hurt. Also, it's happening too late for him to get the 20 games he'll need to be catcher eligible to begin next year, though if he remains a part-time catcher next year, he'll regain that eligibility soon enough.


- Derek Jeter's return from a calf strain is set for Monday and the plan appears to be for him to play mostly shortstop, though that could change quickly depending on how much his legs trouble him. The Yankees would prefer to keep Jeter and Alex Rodriguez in the field, allowing them to rotate Curtis Granderson and Alfonso Soriano in the DH spot. That means less time for Eduardo Nunez. He has been pretty productive as the regular shortstop of late, hitting .288 with four steals in four attempts in 80 at-bats this month.


- After weighing having him finish the season out as a reliever, the A's are now leaning towards activating Brett Anderson from the disabled list to start Tuesday's game against the Tigers. Fantasy leaguers won't want him active for that one, but he could be useful in mixed leagues in September. Obviously, he's more of a wild card than anything else; don't go dropping someone useful for him.


- Josh Reddick is iffy for this week with a wrist injury and may land on the disabled list. Chris Young and Seth Smith will divvy up his at-bats while he's out. It still doesn't sound like the A's are ready to give Michael Choice a look.


- Coming off five straight poor outings, the Orioles' Jim Johnson was nonetheless held back for the ninth inning in Friday's game against the A's and pitched a perfect frame for his 40th save. It was his first one-two-three inning in nine tries this month. The closer's role isn't necessarily back in Johnson's possession just yet, but that manager Buck Showalter was so quick to go back to him bodes well for his chances of racking up another 8-10 saves this year.


- The newly acquired David DeJesus figures to take at-bats away from Kelly Johnson and Sam Fuld in Tampa Bay. He should be a solid play in AL-only leagues the rest of the way, though he may lose some playing time after Luke Scott returns from his back spasms next month. Johnson, who has been way too streaky this year, isn't worth using in mixed leagues any longer.


- When Delmon Young comes up and rejoins the Rays next month, he'll probably be limited to starting against left-handed pitchers. That's not going to give him much value in AL-only leagues.


- Four straight scoreless appearances were good enough to get Ernesto Frieri another crack at the closer's role in Anaheim, and he picked up a save with another scoreless inning Friday. The Angels still have Dane De La Rosa as the fallback, but they'd certainly prefer to see Frieri finish out the year as the closer.


- There wasn't any word whether Jason Vargas or Erick Aybar were claimed after being placed on waivers by the Angels last week. Vargas, a free agent at season's end, would seem to be the one of the two with a realistic chance of being traded this week. Atlanta and St. Louis might be the two most likely destinations for him.


- The Mariners might still have a chance to trade guys like Michael Morse, Raul Ibanez, Joe Saunders and Oliver Perez this week. Aaron Harang, too, if anyone happens to want him. Morse seems like an obvious option as a power bat for some team's bench or maybe as a primary DH in Cleveland. Ibanez seems more likely to stay for sentimental reasons.


- If Bonifacio can convince the Royals to leave him at second base, he has a chance to lead the league in steals the rest of the way. One problem there is that his infield defense has been pretty rough all year long. He hasn't exactly overwhelmed offensively, either, though it's been a really nice surprise that he's managed seven walks while going 9-for-35 for Kansas City. He's also 7-for-7 stealing bases in 11 games. He rarely misses an opportunity to run when he gets on base.


- The Royals still haven't made any announcements pertaining to Wade Davis, even though it's more obvious than ever that he should be booted from the rotation. He's allowed 11 runs over 9 2/3 innings in his last two starts, pushing his ERA back up to 5.67. If Davis does go, then Danny Duffy should step in. He'd be worth trying in AL-only leagues.


- Astros right-hander Chia-Jen Lo gave up his first run and took his first loss Wednesday, but he bounced back with his second save Saturday. It looks like he'll be the clear favorite for saves over Josh Fields for at least the next couple of weeks and perhaps for as long as he can stay healthy. The 27-year-old Lo has topped 30 innings in a season just once since signing with Houston, throwing 64 innings in 2009. Perhaps he'll do it again this year: he's at 26 2/3 innings right now.


- 26-year-old David Martinez is a candidate to replace Erik Bedard in Houston's rotation after going 14-2 with a 2.02 ERA and an 86/20 K/BB ratio in 129 1/3 innings for Double-A Corpus Christi this year. He also had a 4.50 ERA in two Triple-A starts. Realistically, he's a middle reliever at best going forward. AL-only leaguers should pass.


- The Twins have ruled Joe Mauer (concussion) out for at least the first half of the week, and there's a good chance now that he'll be sidelined into September, leaving Ryan Doumit and Chris Herrmann to share catching duties. Herrmann is worth picking up in AL-only leagues in which he remains available.


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


- Roy Halladay defeated the Diamondbacks in his return from shoulder surgery, but he was facing a lineup with one All-Star in Paul Goldschmidt and not a whole heck of a lot else. His velocity was unimpressive -- if he touched 90 mph, it wasn't more than a couple of times -- and he wasn't getting a lot of diving movement on his sinker. Now, he could and should get better the further removed he is from his procedure. But my guess is that a rested, healthy Diamondbacks lineup would have hit him a lot harder Sunday. I wouldn't play him in mixed leagues right now, even with the tasty matchup against the Cubs upcoming.


- Jake Westbrook is gone from the Cardinals rotation a week too late, due to what the team is calling a back strain. The disappointing news is that Tyler Lyons was picked over Carlos Martinez and Michael Wacha to assume the vacancy. Lyons has already had his chance this year and gone 2-4 with a 5.09 ERA in seven starts and one relief appearances. He also had a big of a rough go of it in his last two starts for Triple-A Memphis, giving up eight earned runs in 11 1/3 innings. Since he's a Cardinals starter, he's worth using in NL-only leagues anyway. Martinez would have been a lot more interesting, though. He'll join Wacha in middle relief.


- Edward Mujica's achy shoulder didn't prevent him from picking up a one-out save on Saturday. It's a situation well worth watching -- and Trevor Rosenthal shouldn't be left unowned in any leagues right now -- but the Cardinals intend to let him pitch through it.


- It's uncertain whether Cincinnati left-hander Tony Cingrani will make any additional starts after he went on the DL over the weekend with a lower back strain. If he beats Johnny Cueto (oblique) back from the DL, as seems likely, then the Reds could put him back in the rotation for a bit longer. The plan, though, was to shift him back to the pen once Cueto returned, and the Reds might want to get a head start on that, given that the Jonathan Broxton injury adds to the team's relief needs. Since Cingrani's injury is considered pretty minor, it's probably worth holding on to him in mixed leagues in the hopes of more starts.


- Rafael Betancourt is most likely done for the year, making Rex Brothers the Rockies' closer the rest of the way. It should be Brothers' job next year, too.


- Troy Tulowitzki missed Sunday's game with an oblique injury. Those are never good, but since he's expecting to return to the lineup early in the week, he has to be left active in mixed leagues. It looks like Carlos Gonzalez (finger) will come off the DL right around Sept. 1.


- Brandon Beachy's setback solved the Braves' rotation crunch, though not for the better. It's likely that Kris Medlen would have been sent to the bullpen to make room for the returning Paul Maholm if not for Beachy's DL stint. The Braves are fine with a rotation of Mike Minor, Julio Teheran, Medlen, Maholm and Alex Wood now, but they might yet be in the market for a starter such as Dan Haren, Tim Lincecum or Jason Vargas.


- Jason Heyward's broken jaw means two from the group of B.J. Upton, Jordan Schafer, Evan Gattis and Joey Terdoslavich will be included in Atlanta's lineup each day. Given the Braves' huge lead, this would seem to be the perfect opportunity to show some confidence in Upton and reinstate him to a starting job, but he's been in the lineup for only two of the four games since the injury and he was double-switched out of one of his starts. Personally, I think Fredi Gonzalez needs to mix and match less and just pick two to stick with, even if Upton isn't one of them. Most hitters don't fare well playing every other day. Schafer arguably has the most fantasy value of the group right now; he's become the leadoff man against right-handers. Gattis seemed like a much better bet with Heyward down, but he hasn't started any of the last three games.


- Dan Uggla will come off the DL and make his return from LASIK surgery on Wednesday.


- Khris Davis didn't distinguish himself while hitting .255/.349/.473 with 13 homers in 243 at-bats in the PCL this year, but he's making a whole lot of noise in left field for the Brewers, batting .333/.409/.716 with eight homers in 81 at-bats. I'm not really buying it, but he's likely already earned himself a starting job for the rest of this year. If you do pick him up in a mixed league, be prepared to bail out quickly.


- Brett Jackson hasn't gotten it together in Double-A, so it looks like the main reinforcement to the Cubs' David DeJesus-less outfield in September will be Ryan Sweeney, who is set to return from a fractured rib on Sept. 1 or maybe a couple of days before. Junior Lake is likely entrenched in one spot, so Sweeney and Brian Bogusevic will battle for time in left against right-handed pitchers. Bogusevic would seem to be the better choice in NL-only leagues. Cole Gillespie and Darnell McDonald will play against lefties.


- There's been nothing to suggest a Kevin Gregg trade is coming, but it also can't be ruled out. I still favor Pedro Strop on the off chance that it does happen. Blake Parker would be the other saves candidate.


- Mets closer Bobby Parnell appears to be aiming for a mid-September return from a herniated disc in his neck, but it seems at least 50-50 that he'll miss the rest of the season. Sunday's blowup notwithstanding, LaTroy Hawkins has been just fine in the closer's role in Parnell's place, converting five of his six save chances.


- Lucas Duda was called up Saturday, but for some reason, he didn't start against right-handers either of his first two days back with the Mets. Eric Young Jr. might be a pretty nifty outfielder for fantasy purposes, what with his 29 steals in 403 at-bats, but he's a pretty lousy regular in real life. There's no point to having Duda on the roster if he's not going to start over Young against righties.


- Rafael Soriano has allowed runs in five of his last seven appearances, giving up a total of eight runs and 13 hits in 6 1/3 innings during the span. The slump suggests an injury of some sort, given his history, though the Nationals have indicated he's fine. In truth, he hasn't been the Soriano of old at any point this season, even though he was a fine fantasy closer for four months. He's currently at 6.8 K/9 IP, down from 9.2 last year. He's never finished under 8.2 since moving to the pen in 2003. Instead of mixing in sliders, he's typically throwing cutter after cutter, and he no longer seems to be able to hit 94-95 mph on the gun at will. I imagine he'll bounce back and finish out the year in decent enough fashion, but it's a good thing the Nats didn't have to guarantee him three or four years last winter.


- The Diamondbacks will activate Miguel Montero on Monday and Eric Chavez back from the DL a few days later. Tuffy Gosewisch and Matt Davidson will likely be sent down, if only until the minor league season ends. Montero figures to play a little less than usual, at least initially, so mixed leaguers will probably be able to do better.


- The Giants' plan is to activate Angel Pagan (hamstring) from the DL on Sept. 1. He probably won't be an everyday player down the stretch, but he'll start most games in center. The Giants want to go younger in the outfield during the final month, so expect more at-bats for Roger Kieschnick and Francisco Peguero and fewer for Gregor Blanco. It's possible the left-handed-hitting Kieschnick and right-handed Peguero could platoon, but Peguero needs to play against more than just left-handers. What we still don't know is whether the Giants will promote Gary Brown for the final month. The former first-round pick had a couple of nice games last week, but he's still hitting just .218 since the All-Star break and .235/.290/.387 overall for Triple-A Fresno. He hasn't earned the callup.


- Ryan Vogelsong has been impressive in quieting the Red Sox and Pirates in back-to-back starts and is worth another look in mixed leagues.


- Chris Coghlan is hitting just .182 in eight games on his rehab assignment with Single-A Jupiter. The Marlins are trying him at third base with the idea of giving him an audition there next month. He doesn't have a lot of upside for fantasy purposes, but he can't help but be an upgrade over Ed Lucas for Miami.

- Current guesses for the Padres outfielders: Kyle Blanks (Achilles) returns on Sept. 1, Carlos Quentin (knee) makes it back around Sept. 10 and Cameron Maybin (knee) misses the rest of the season. If his leg can handle it, Blanks could play quite a bit of outfield after making it back, potentially giving him a little value in mixed leagues again.


- The Padres haven't announced who from the group of Tim Stauffer, Burch Smith and Robbie Erlin will replace Edinson Volquez in the rotation. The pitcher chosen will be worth trying in NL-only leagues. I prefer Stauffer and Erlin. Smith has upside, but he'd be more likely to help in the pen than in the rotation for the short term.


- Filling in for the injured Starling Marte (hand), Pirates outfielder Andrew Lambo makes sense as at least a one-week pickup in NL-only leagues. Marte is due back on Sept. 3.

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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