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FAAB Factor-NL: Worth Remembering

Jan Levine

Levine covers baseball, basketball and hockey for RotoWire. In addition to his column writing, he's the master of the MLB and NHL cheatsheets. In his spare time, he roots for the Mets.


National League - FAAB - 9/21/14

This is the final column of the year, so any suggestions/comments/criticism/praise; please email jan.levine@gmail.com or support@rotowire.com.

Starting Pitching:

Eddie Butler, Rockies - Butler's second major league start Saturday went a lot better than his first, which was nearly three months ago. In that first start, he allowed six runs in 5.1 innings against LA, after which he was sidelined by shoulder inflammation and then optioned to the minors. Butler allowed one run on five hits with a walk and one strikeout over six innings Saturday against Arizona to get his first MLB win. There is a good chance he opens 2015 with the Rockies, after making 20 starts between Double- and Triple-A this season. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Andrew Chafin, Diamondbacks - Chafin made his second start of the season for Arizona, allowing two runs on three with four walks and three strikeouts against the Giants on Wednesday. His two outings in the majors have gone a lot better than those at Triple-A Reno, where he posted a 5.34 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP. Chafin began the season at Double-A Mobile, where he had a 1.96 ERA with 41 strikeouts in 55 innings over nine starts to earn the promotion to Reno. He'll make another start for Arizona on Tuesday at Minnesota, which should be his final appearance of 2014. Mixed: $0; NL: $3.

Robbie Erlin, San Diego - Erlin, making his first big league start since May 17, allowed one run on five hits and no walks with four strikeouts over six innings on Thursday while making a spot start for Tyson Ross, who was resting his sore right arm. Erlin may remain in the rotation if San Diego opts to sit Ross the rest of the way. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Andrew Heaney, Marlins - Heaney blazed through Double-A Jacksonville and made four starts for the Marlins earlier this year before getting sent down to Triple-A New Orleans for more seasoning. He pitched well for the Zephyrs, going 5-4 with a 3.84 ERA, 1.18 WHIP and 86:21 K:BB ratio in 77.1 innings over 14 starts. Heaney, who has a low-90s fastball, slider and changeup, was called up when the rosters expanded but has only pitched 1.2 innings out of the bullpen. Miami is just limiting his usage, as Heaney already threw 131 innings, 36 more than last season, but look for him to compete for a rotation spot next spring. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/updates:

Jose Fernandez/Matt Harvey - Simple Minds sang "Don't You Forget About Me" in the 80's, a song that figured prominently in The Breakfast Club and Pitch Perfect and applies to fantasy owners with Fernandez and Harvey, each of whom are working their way back from Tommy John surgery. Fernandez, who had surgery on May 16, was cleared Friday to begin throwing Oct. 1. The original projection date for Fernandez following surgery was during the second half of the 2015 season. If he gets cleared and has no setbacks, it's feasible he could be back earlier than that. The timeframe for Harvey is a lot clearer. This past Monday, Harvey threw from the mound at Citi Field. He was free and easy in his delivery, hitting 95 mph with his fastball and breaking off nasty curveballs. Harvey should be able to pitch in spring training, and while he may not be fully ready to go right when the season begins, it shouldn't be much beyond that for him to pitch in a regular season or without restrictions.

Relief Pitchers:

Evan Marshall, Diamondbacks -Addison Reed has struggled his first year in the desert and if that happens again next season, Marshall could be next in line to close for Arizona. Marshall has a 2.80 ERA and 51:15 K:BB in 45 innings; numbers that look even better when you consider he has a .372 BABIP and a GB/FB ratio over 4.0. He reduced his walk rate by over a-third and is a name to keep in mind for the future. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/updates:

Joaquin Benoit, Padres - Benoit, who has appeared in just two games since Aug. 14 because of a sore right shoulder, came off the disabled list Friday. He is being "eased back into closing," with Kevin Quackenbush having filled in nicely while Benoit was sidelined. Benoit, who is 4-2 with a 1.58 ERA in 51.1 inning overall, converted eight of nine saves without allowing an earned run in 10.2 innings after San Diego traded Huston Street to the Angels. He is in the first year of a two-year, $16 million deal and there is speculation he could be dealt this offseason, but if that proves not to be the case, Benoit should open 2015 as the Padres' closer.Mixed: $4; NL: $11.

Catchers:

Russell Martin, Pirates -Martin extended his hit streak to 11 Saturday and now is hitting .296/.409/.443 with 11 home runs and 66 runs batted in on the year. He had 15 home runs and 53 runs batted in with his usual poor batting average but was solid behind the plate last year for the Pirates. Martin will be a free agent after the season, but look for Pittsburgh to do all they can to re-sign, unlike what the Yankees did after the 2012 campaign, which has proven to be a huge mistake. Mixed: $15; NL: owned.

Injury activation/update:

Evan Gattis, Braves - Gattis, who has been out since he was diagnosed with strep throat Sept. 8 and then passed a kidney stone, pinch-hit Saturday. With Atlanta all but eliminated from the playoffs, the team may choose to be judicious in how they use their power-hitting catcher.

First Basemen:

Justin Bour, Marlins - Bour, who hit .306/.372/.517 with 18 home runs and 72 RBI in 103 games with Triple-A New Orleans, rebounding from a poor 2013 campaign, has fared fairly well during his stints with Miami. Depending on what the Marlins do this off-season, Bour could get a shot at opening 2015 as the team's starting first baseman. The incumbent Garret Jones is signed through next year, but he has slumped mightily since the All-Star break and may be better served to be a reserve. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/update:

Brandon Belt, Giants - Belt, who was sidelined with a concussion but returned on August 2, landed back on the disabled list with post-concussion symptoms on August 7. Friday, he took the field for the Giants for the first time since he was sidelined. Mixed: $5; NL: $14.

Joey Votto, Reds - Votto took infield batting practice Tuesday for the first time since going on the disabled list with a distal strain of his left quadriceps on July 8. Votto took 21 cuts -- three sessions of five swings and the final with six. He ran sprints around the infield exterior before and after batting, then finished pregame practice fielding roughly 25 grounders. The progress is a significant step in his return from the 60-day disabled list. Thought possibly gone for the season after a surplus of setbacks as recent as Sept. 5, Votto began taking flips in the batting cage on Sunday. Manager Bryan Price said the Reds haven't "written anything in stone as far as where [Votto] needs to be by a certain date," but Votto has expressed hope to return within the final two weeks of the season. "If we're able to get to the point where he can play in a game before season's end, I don't know that yet," Price said two hours before Votto took BP Tuesday. "This would be a step in the right direction." The Reds' current, three-city, 10-day road trip is Votto's first since going on the disabled list. The former National League MVP is batting .255/.390/.409 with six home runs and 23 RBIs over 62 games, having spent a separate stint on the DL from May 21 to June 10 with the same injury.

Second Base:

Phil Gosselin, Braves - If Atlanta does not acquire a second baseman this offseason, Gosselin will likely enter spring training as the favorite over Tommy La Stella to begin 2015 as the team's second sacker. However, that job may be short-lived with Jose Peranza expected to get the role sometime during the year. Gosselin is batting .295/.317/.333 in 108 plate appearances, but those are pretty empty numbers given the lack of counting stats, so don't expect that much from him if he holds the job. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Shortstops:

Wilmer Flores, Mets - Flores went through a 1-for-21 stretch but has turned it around recently. He is 11-for-28 with 10 runs batted in and four extra-base hits his last seven games. Flores has an outside shot at opening 2015 as the Mets' starting shortstop, as there is some speculation that New York may pursue a left fielder first and shortstop second. Flores has six home runs and 28 RBI over 71 games for the year, but five and 15 of those respectively have come in the past month. Mixed: $8; NL: owned.

Ruben Tejada, Mets - Dilson Herrera left Saturday's game with a strained right quad. If the injury keeps him out for any length of time, Tejada should start at shortstop for the Mets with Wilmer Flores playing second. The other option would be to move David Murphy back to second and start Eric Campbell at third, but that is the backup option. Mixed: No; NL: $2.

Third Basemen:

Charlie Culbertson/Rafael Ynoa, Rockies - Culbertson and Ynoa are seeing time at third base for Colorado with Nolan Arenado dealing with early-onset pneumonia and uncertain to return this season. Neither one have a substantial amount of upside, but of targeting one, go for Ynoa, who is much better hitter than Culbertson, evidenced by his .400 batting average in a short sample of at-bats on the majors. Culbertson - Mixed: No; NL: $0; Ynoa - Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Injury activation/update:

Ryan Zimmerman, Nationals - Zimmerman, who strained his right hamstring back on July 22, joined the Nationals in Miami and was activated Saturday. This activation comes after he played five innings in a simulated game Wednesday, served as the DH Thursday and played seven innings Friday in the instructional league. Zimmerman won't be 100 percent until after the season, but will play a good portion of the games the rest of the way at first and third base as well as left field. Mixed: $7; NL: $17.

Outfielders:

Randall Grichuk, Cardinals - Grichuk may not have the name recognition of Oscar Taveras, but he also has a shot at a prominent role with St. Louis next year. Grichuk, who came over from the Angels to the Cardinals with Peter Bourjos this offseason, posted big numbers at Triple-A Memphis, and depending on where Taveras plays and what the Cardinals do with Jon Jay and Peter Bourjos, Grichuk could see solid time in center or right field with Matt Holiday locked into left. This season, Grichuk is 10-for-28 against southpaws since his promotion and should continue to see action against them the last week of the season into the playoffs. Mixed: $1; NL: $4.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis, Mets - Nieuwenhuis, who passed a kidney stone Thursday and was out of the lineup Friday and Saturday, has been seeing time in center field, as Juan Lagares left Tuesday's game with a hyperextended elbow. Niewenhuis is batting .242/.342/.455 in 117 plate appearances but has just three home runs, 13 RBI and four steals. He is battling to keep a fourth/fifth outfielder job next season and if Lagares is sidelined the rest of the way, Nieuwenhuis will get another week of action to help build his case.Mixed: $1; NL: $4.