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FAAB Factor-AL: Back In the Saddle?

Andrew Martinez

Andrew Martinez writes about baseball and football. He is a native Texan and roots for the Astros, Rockets, Texans, and Rice Owls.

Starting Pitchers:

Matt Harrison, Rangers - Harrison is set to make his return to the Rangers rotation this Sunday against the Mariners, as he overcomes shoulder and back injuries that caused him to miss almost the entire 2013 season and the start to this season. The last time we really saw him healthy was in 2012, when he posted a 3.29 ERA (4.13 xFIP) with 133 strikeouts and 59 walks over 213.1 innings. His three rehab starts at Double-A Frisco went fairly well and he was able to pitch eight innings with no earned runs allowed in his finale there, so there's no reason to think he'll be limited in his workload. He should face the Angels on the road this coming week. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.

Dallas Keuchel, Astros - Hopefully this is the last time I write about Keuchel in this space, as he should be owned in all AL only leagues and most mixed leagues by now. Saturday he had his fourth consecutive quality start this season with six strikeouts and two walks over 6.1 innings against the A's. Earlier in the week, he struck out eight Mariners batters with only one walk over six innings for his second win. On the season he has a 3.56 ERA (2.83 xFIP) with 30 strikeouts to eight walks over 30.1 innings. He's sporting a 64.0 percent ground ball rate and a .333 BABIP, so it's not as if he's been very lucky. He's on the Astros, so he might come at a discounted price in your mixed league. This week he gets the Mariners again, this time at home. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.

Collin McHugh, Astros - More like Colin McWho, am I right? This week the unknown pitcher struck out 12 Mariners batters with no walks and only three hits allowed, as he tossed 6.2 scoreless innings for his first win ever in the majors. He was called up earlier this week, when Scott Feldman was placed on the DL with biceps tendinitis. Before that, McHugh was in Triple-A Oklahoma City doing nothing that would lead anyone to believe he had this sort of performance within him. Last season between the Mets and the Rockies, he had a 10.04 ERA with 11 strikeouts and five walks over 26 innings. McHugh will face the Mariners again this week, where many more will be taking note of him, even if they've still never heard of him before. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

David Phelps, Yankees - Phelps will reportedly rejoin the Yankees rotation for a spot start this week against the Mariners while Michael Pineda serves his suspension. It wouldn't surprise me to see him pitch effectively and possibly last a little while longer in the rotation, considering how poorly Vidal Nuno (6.59 ERA) has pitched this season. Phelps had a 4.93 ERA (4.19 xFIP) as a starter for the Yankees last season with 53 strikeouts and 24 walks over 12 starts. In AL only formats, he's worth dropping Nuno for even if he doesn't stick in the rotation. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Andre Rienzo, White Sox - With Chris Sale landing on the DL this week, Rienzo was forced into the rotation for the Pale Hose and he understandably got hit around by the Tigers, as he gave up four earned runs over 6.1 innings with three strikeouts and two walks. This week he gets two starts, one against the Rays at home and the other against the Indians on the road. Last season he made 10 starts, towards the end of the season, where he had a 4.82 ERA (4.76 xFIP) with 38 strikeouts and 28 walks over 56 innings. He had somewhat better numbers in the minors, but not enough to make you think that he should be a long-term starter in the majors, in particular because of his control. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Marcus Stroman, Blue Jays - This week Stroman is having his start moved back, so that it is aligned to match that of Dustin McGowan's, in the event the team decides to promote Stroman to the majors to take his spot in the rotation. This comes on the heels of Jays assistant GM stating this week that Stroman's "time is coming soon." For those who are unfamiliar with Stroman, he's the top prospect in the Jays organization and had a 3.30 ERA and 1.13 WHIP with 129 strikeouts and 27 walks over 111.2 innings at Double-A New Hampshire last season. He features a low to mid-90s fastball with a slider that is sure to miss bats. He should be up sooner rather than later. Mixed: $4; AL: $16.

Chris Young, Mariners - Young gets two starts this week, both on the road, one against the Yankees and the other against the Astros, making him a low-end option in mixed leagues this week. He has had eight strikeouts to 11 walks in his three starts this season for the M's. He'll likely be the first man sent packing, once Taijuan Walker, James Paxton or Hisashi Iwakuma are ready to rejoin the rotation. The last time we saw Young pitch for an extended period of time was in 2012 with the Mets, where he had a 4.15 ERA with 80 strikeouts and 36 walks over 115 innings. Only the desperate should turn to him this week. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Relief Pitchers:

Jim Johnson, A's - After making five scoreless appearances, it appears Johnson is back in manager Bob Melvin's good graces, as the skipper mentioned that Johnson could be back in the mix for saves opportunities with Luke Gregerson and Sean Doolittle. Considering that Gregerson has blown two of his last three save opportunities, Melvin's comments aren't all that surprising. If you're in a league where he's been dropped, it's likely time to add him back, though you may have to buy a bottle of TUMS to stomach the ups-and-downs that come with owning him. Mixed: $5; AL: $16.

David Robertson, Yankees - Robertson came off the DL this week to reclaim his role as the Yankees closer, after dealing with a groin injury. He nailed down a save Saturday against the Angels with two strikeouts and one hit allowed in a scoreless appearance, showing he's back in the saddle. If you owned Shawn Kelley, you probably want to hold onto him, considering how erratic closers have been this season, but it's safe to say he likely won't be seeing many more save opportunities in the short-term. If Robertson was dropped in any of your leagues, add him back with haste. Mixed & AL: Owned.

Joe Smith, Angels - Ernesto Frieri was removed from his role as the Angels closer this week, after blowing a save against the Nationals, where he gave up four earned runs and got only one out. With a 9.35 ERA and 1.96 WHIP, at the time of his demotion, Frieri doesn't figure to be max in the mix for saves any time soon. The new closer is now Smith, who has a 3.60 ERA and 1.10 WHIP with 11 strikeouts and three walks over 10 innings this season. He's a RHP with weak velocity that can induce a fair amount of ground balls. He's had an ERA under 3.00 the last three seasons, but doesn't have the best command for a reliever or closer for that matter. Still, if he's able to keep the ball in the yard and avoid major blowups, he should hold the job. It's not as if there are many other options for the team to turn to. I wouldn't be surprised to see Smith hold the job all season long, just don't expect many strikeouts. Mixed: $10; AL: $25 much more if you're desperate for saves.


Ryan Hanigan, Rays - Hanigan hit two doubles on Saturday to highlight his recent power surge this season that includes four doubles and three home runs. If you're an owner in a deep mixed league looking for a replacement to Devin Mesoraco, Hanigan, his old teammate, is not a terrible option. Hanigan has never hit for this much power before, but he's at least worth adding in the short-term to see if it continues. Last season with the Reds he hit .198/.306/.261 with two home runs over 260 PA. The batting average shouldn't be that bad, but there are some warts that come along with Hanigan. Mixed: $2; AL: Owned.

John Ryan Murphy, Yankees - Murphy hit his first home run in the majors on Saturday off of Hector Santiago. He is now 4-for-13 on the season since coming up last week to replace Francisco Cervelli. In AL only formats that use two catchers, he's worth a look. Last season between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre he hit .269/.347/.426 with 12 home runs over 468 PA. He won't see much playing time, behind Brian McCann, so don't expect the counting stats to pile up. Mixed: No; AL: $2.

Dioner Navarro, Blue Jays - Navarro had two three-hit games this week to raise his batting line to .309/.333/.395 on the early season. Seeing him hit for such a high average should perhaps not be all that surprising, considering he hit .300/.365/.492 last season over 266 PA, which also included 13 home runs. While it's doubtful he hits for that much power again this season, the move from the Cubs last season to the Blue Jays should help. He has only 87 PA on the season, but he's raised his contact rate to 91.4 percent, which is a good sign. In deeper mixed leagues he shouldn't be forgotten about as a second catcher. Mixed: $3; AL: Owned.

Corner Infielders:

Juan Francisco, Blue Jays - Francisco hit a home run on Friday and Saturday night this week to give him three extra base hits since he came up from the minors to take the roster spot of the injured Adam Lind (back). He should continue to see time at first base and DH, until Lind is ready to return, which should be at least one more week. Last season between the Braves and the Brewers, he hit .227/.296/.422 with 18 homers over 385 PA. He has power, but not much else, which limits him to AL-only formats, until we see where he goes once Lind is back. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.

Will Middlebrooks, Red Sox - Middlebrooks was activated from the DL this week, after he dealt with a calf injury. He wasted no time announcing his return, as he went 2-for-4 with a double on Friday and 1-for-4 with a home run on Saturday. The power is nothing new, as he hit 17 homers last season over 374 PA. The question for Middlebrooks, and those that choose to roster him, is will he hit for a passable average? Striking out in over a quarter of his at-bats in the majors so far, the answer is no. But he's still only 25-years old, so there's still time for him to experience growth in his skills. He needs to be owned in all AL only formats and most mixed leagues. Mixed: $10; AL: Owned.

Marcus Semien, White Sox - With Gordon Beckham back at second base for the White Sox, it was looking like Semien might be the odd man out for playing time, but that was before Conor Gillaspie hit the DL with a bruised left hand. His injury now allows for Semien to slide over to the hot corner and get everyday at-bats there, something the 23-year old needs to continue his development. On the season he has three home runs with two stolen bases and a very shaky .219 batting average. He doesn't have the bat to ball skills that make you think he's going to turn that around, but the power/speed he offers should be enough to keep him relevant in deeper mixed leagues and certainly in AL only formats. Mixed: $5; AL: Owned.

Jonathan Singleton, Astros - Singleton hit another home run this week at Triple-A Oklahoma City, giving him eight on the season, to go with six doubles and a .314/.417/.686 batting line over 103 PA. It's really only a matter of time until the Astros call him up, considering Astros first basemen are hitting a collective .155/.226/.299 on the season with six extra base hits. It wouldn't shock me to see him up, as soon as this week, as the team is last in the AL in runs. He's the most highly touted first base prospect in the minors because of his power and seems to have shaken off his suspension last season that led, in part, to a failed 2013. Mixed: $4; AL: $16.

Ian Stewart, Angels - Stewart went 2-for-5 on Friday night with his second home run of the season, as he further asserts himself as a mainstay at third base for the Angels. David Freese has hit .149/.213/.209 to start the season and has gotten more playing time lately, but not the lion's share, at least not yet. Neither Stewart nor Freese has shown a selective eye at the plate this season, which isn't helping matters either. For Stewart, he has more power and is showing it now, which makes him relevant in AL only formats until his free-swinging ways catch up with him. Mixed: $3; AL: $10.

Middle Infielders:

Gordon Beckham, White Sox - Finally over his oblique injury, Beckham was activated from the DL this week. He went 2-for-3 with a double Saturday, showing he's ready to start contributing, after going 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in his season debut on Thursday. Beckham raised his contract rate to a career hit 85.3 percent last season and cut down on his strikeouts, both encouraging signs that showed in his career high .267 batting average last season. If he can carry that over to this season and start to hit for more power, he might be of real use in mixed leagues. Until that happens though, he's a guy left best left for AL only owners to plug in at middle-infield. Mixed: $4; AL: $16.

Mookie Betts, Red Sox - Normally I wouldn't be writing up a player that has only 88 PA above High-A, but this Mookie just won't stop hitting and is making enough noise down in the minors that he warrants a look in AL formats where you can stash minor leaguers for later this season. He plays second base, so he's blocked by Dustin Pedroia, but that doesn't mean the organization might not try him at other spots defensively (shortstop and center field) if he keeps on raking. Right now at Double-A Portland he's hitting .418/.455/.658 with eight doubles, one triple, three homers, and eight stolen bases over 88 PA. He's a fairly highly touted prospect within the Red Sox organization, so don't be surprised to see his name start to surface when other players are called up in June. Mixed: No; AL: $2 Only bid if you can stash him.

Eduardo Nunez, Twins - Nunez is currently dealing with a strained oblique down at Triple-A Rochester, but he's expected to be over that within the next week, and once that happens, he should be promoted back to the majors. Considering Pedro Florimon has hit a paltry .115/.193/.173 this season over 59 PA, you can see where this is going and how Nunez might find himself the new short stop for the Twins fairly soon. Last season with the Yankees he hit .260/.307/.372 with three homers and 10 stolen bases over 336 PA. He has shown more speed than that in the past (22 stolen bases over 338 PA in 2011), so keep an eye on him, if you're in search of middle infield help in an AL only format. Mixed: $2; AL: $8.

Andrew Romine, Tigers - Since Alex Gonzalez was sent packing almost 10 days ago, Romine has become the Tiger's starting shortstop on an everyday basis. He hasn't done much with his bat yet and that may not change moving forward, but he has stolen three bases thus far, which should help owners looking for cheap speed. He stole 23 bases at Triple-A Salt Lake back in 2012 and 62 bases back at Low-A Cedar Rapids back in 2008, so he knows how to swipe a base. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

Jemile Weeks, Orioles - Weeks was brought up from Triple-A Norfolk on Saturday and hit leadoff against the Royals, going 2-for-4 with a triple and run scored out of the DH spot. It's surprising to see him hit leadoff in his debut, but the team will likely do some juggling of their lineup, now that Chris Davis is on the DL with an oblique injury. If Nick Markakis is going to continue to play first base and hit third in the lineup, as he did Saturday and Sunday, then Weeks' spot atop the lineup might be safe in the short-term. Last season at Triple-A Sacramento with the A's organization he hit .271/.376/.369 with four homers and 17 stolen bases over 614 PA. He has plenty of speed, to where he's played center field in the past, in addition to second base, like his brother Rickie. Pick him up if you're looking for speed, hitting leadoff should lead to plenty of runs atop the Orioles lineup. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.


Oswaldo Arcia, Twins - Arcia is close to returning from the DL, after going 3-for-3 in his first rehab game on Saturday at Triple-A Rochester. He's coming back from a wrist injury that slowed his start to the season and ailed him for parts of last season as well. He has power, as he showed last season, when he hit 10 homers over 155 PA at Rochester and another 14 homers over 378 PA in the majors with the Twins. His batting average might leave a little to be desired, but the power should make up for it in AL only formats. Expect to see him back with the team later this coming week. Mixed: $9; AL: Owned.

Michael Choice, Rangers - With Shin-Soo Choo dealing with an ankle injury that might land him on the DL, Choice has not only gotten his playing time, but also his spot in the lineup, hitting leadoff. It's a great spot to hit, especially considering who he has behind him to drive him in. Last season at Triple-A Sacramento he hit .302/.390/.445 with 14 homers and one stolen base over 600 PA. Only 24 years old, he has power and a little bit of speed, he just needs an opportunity to show what he can do. On the season he's off to a 9-for-42 start with one homer, but he's done well to take seven walks, as compared to his 11 strikeouts. If Choo does indeed land on the DL, expect Choice to be a hot commodity in AL only formats and deeper mixed leagues. Mixed: $2; AL: $9.

Sam Fuld, Twins - Claimed off waivers by the Twins this week, Fuld wasted no time announcing his presence, going 8-for-17 with four doubles, one stolen base and two runs scored. Those who have played in AL only formats for the last couple of seasons aren't new to Fuld, who caught on with the Rays back in 2011, after stalling out with the Cubs previous to that. He offers some speed and that's about it offensively, as he's a career .238/.316/.342 hitter with seven home runs over 859 PA. The team has to do something about Aaron Hicks (.188/.321/.275), until Arcia and Willingham are back in the lineup, so expect Fuld to have some short-term value in AL only formats. Mixed: $1; AL: $5.

J.D. Martinez, Tigers - Martinez was brought up from Triple-A Toledo this week to help give the Tigers some depth in their outfield. So far he has played in place of Rajai Davis twice, but that doesn't figure to be a harbinger of things to come, so it's tough to see where Martinez fits in, other than as a bench bat. He did go 1-for-4 with a run scored and a walk in each of the games he started, so there's that. In the first half of last season, when he was with the Astros, he hit seven home runs over 268 PA, but he slumped badly in the second half, before being let go. If an injury happens he'll see more playing time, but even then, he's a shaky bet to do much with it. Mixed: No; AL: $3.

Alex Presley, Astros - Presley got nine hits this week, as he raised his batting line to a pedestrian .246/.254/.377. The Astros offense has been awful this season, but his .246 batting average is tops in their outfield right now, so he figures to continue to see playing time. He doesn't have much power or speed, so he has value only as a fifth outfield in AL only leagues. If he keeps on hitting though, he might value in very deep mixed leagues, but it's doubtful. Mixed: $1; AL: $4.

Note: If you have anyone else you'd like me to discuss, just drop a line in the comments section.