Friday, July 22, 2011

Gearing Up: A.L. Week 17, July 25-31

Rising Up
David Huff (0% owned last week; 2% this week)
Huff had a solid start against the Twins in his 2011 MLB debut. He's more of a back of the rotation guy at best and a Quad-A guy at worst. Huff throws strikes but has never dominated, not even in the minors. He gets the White Sox tomorrow. He might stick in the bigs over Mitch Talbot, but he's a match-up play in A.L.-only at best.

Possible Waiver Claims
Hunter seems to have settled in as a middleman in the Rangers bullpen. The Rangers seem committed to sticking with him in this role the rest of the way, making his value marginal.

McCoy soldiers on as the last guy on the Blue Jays bench. He's far more useful to the Jays for his versatility than he is to Rotisserie owners.

Mike Wuertz
Typically, I'd throw in my usual 50-or-so words here about Wuertz being a serviceable middle reliever. However, I've seen Andrew Bailey pop up in more than a few trade rumors (most often with the Rangers, interestingly enough). If Bailey goes, Wuertz could get a few save opportunities if the A's don't go back to Brian Fuentes. Pick Wuertz up if you're in a very deep league and have room; you have nothing to lose.

Back from the Minors/DL
Jason Kipnis (minors)
There's a lot to like about Kipnis as a prospect. He's a solid all-around player, and is one of those prospects that might not have one specific superstar tool but has plenty of above average ones. I dig the fact that his power and on-base percentage pretty much held up in the transition from the low minors to high minors. This makes me think that it's possible that Kipnis' adjustment to the bigs might go relatively smoothly. It's somewhat curious that Kipnis was promoted coming off of his worst month by far of 2011, though multiple reports said that it was Kipnis' defense at second base holding him back and not his bat. If the slump at AAA doesn't carry over, Kipnis should be a productive regular in the short-term and could be a 20/20 guy in the long term if everything goes his way.

Carmona came off of the DL on Monday and put together a solid start against the Twins. His 4.04 xFIP would indicate that better days are ahead. However, his HR/FB% has typically been above league average throughout his career. This isn't surprising for a pitcher who lives and dies by the sinking fastball. Ball sinks, pitcher is effective. Ball doesn't sink, watch it fly far. His low K rate makes him a back end Roto starter at best right now, and I'm not completely sold on a second half turnaround. He might be somewhat better, but could still put up a 4.5 ERA as opposed to a 4.

I've written Chatwood up about half a dozen times this year. At this point, he's a pitcher best left to the teams playing for next year, even if you're desperate for wins.

Carl Crawford (hamstring)
Crawford's one of those players that you just have to keep putting out there in nearly every format and simply hope that he turns it around. He had a good series in Baltimore this week, so perhaps that's the start of something good if you're a Crawford owner. It's difficult to paint his inaugural season with the Red Sox as anything less than a major disappointment thus far.

John Danks (oblique)
Danks was sharp in his return from the DL, tossing seven shutout frames in his return against the Royals. Danks is a fairly consistent pitcher, though he's an object lesson in seasonal context in Roto. Last year's 3.99 xFIP ranked 50th among MLB qualifying pitchers, this year's 3.89 xFIP is 66th. Danks might be "as good as he was last year," but there are more pitchers ahead of him who are better due to context.

Wade Davis (forearm strain)
Even if I were desperate for wins, I'd stay far away from Davis. His K/9 rate is terrible, his fastball velocity is down from where it was last year, and he's secondary pitches haven't been all that effective. The forearm strain that landed Davis on the DL was his second strain in two years (last year it was his shoulder). I don't know if these strains are due to conditioning, mechanics or something else, but I do know that I'm not interested in using my fantasy squad as a laboratory to find out.

Danny Duffy (minors)
I've seen a couple of articles over the last few days exploring the idea that Duffy has turned a corner in his last few starts. Sure enough, his xFIP has been under three in four of Duffy's last five starts and the ERA has been solid in three of those starts as well. If you're contending, Duffy is still a risky play; he's 22 years old and had all of 39 2/3 IP at AA or higher entering 2011. However, there's a high ceiling here and if you need to roll the dice to shoot for first place, this is the kind of guy you do it with.

Casey Janssen (forearm)
Janssen returns to his middle relief role for the Blue Jays. He might be as good or better than any other reliever in the Jays pen, but I don't envision him getting saves in the short term.

Kubel returns to a crowded outfield/DH scenario in Minnesota, though Michael Cuddyer could play 2B again pushing Alexi Casilla to the bench. It's also possible that the Twins make a trade, though most recent rumors have them pursuing a middle reliever, not selling off key components. Whatever happens, Kubel should receive a healthy amount of at bats if he stays in Minnesota, though the logjam makes it more likely he'll sit against tougher left-handers.

The sample size is small, but Moscoso might be the luckiest pitcher in Major League Baseball this year. He has the largest ERA/xFIP differential of any pitcher with 50+ innings, and there seems to be a consensus that there isn't anything in the numbers that points to Moscoso sustaining this level of performance. Play match-ups if you feel lucky. I don't.

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