Friday, August 19, 2011

Gearing Up: A.L. Week 21 August 22-28

Rising Up
Ryan Lavarnway (3% owned last week; 7% this week)
A sixth round pick out of Yale in 2008, Lavarnway has crushed pitching at every level of the minor leagues. His defense is what has kept him from being promoted sooner. John Sickels says that Lavarnway has made great strides with his defense this year, and while Lavarnway is probably never going to be an in-his-prime Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate, he has improved enough where he might be able to hold down a Major League job. Lavarnway might only be up in 2011 as a short-term fill-in while David Ortiz sits this weekend due to a minor injury. However, Lavarnway is a must grab in A.L.-only formats. He's a better gamble than most of the second catchers currently rostered in A.L.-only leagues, and if he does nothing for you, waiving Landon Powell for him is not a great loss. If you're playing for next year, Lavarnway makes for an interesting speculative pick. Will he be worth keeping at $10 next year? I don't know, but I'd throw a few FAAB bucks his way to find out.

Possible Waiver Claims
Cervelli might be a slightly useful play the last two weeks of the regular season, when the Yankees start cycling in their bench players once they've clinched a play-off spot. Right now, though, Cervelli is barely playing. He's exactly the kind of guy who can feel free to drop for Lavarnway.

Francis is one of those pitchers who will always put up a better xFIP than ERA where it doesn't indicate any kind of trend. He's a soft-tosser who stays around the plate. He doesn't walk a lot of guys, but the soft stuff makes him pretty hittable. He gets the Blue Jays in Toronto next week. This isn't a match-up that warrants a spot start.

The Legend of Sam Fuld T-shirts, bumper stickers, bobbleheads and other knick-knacks have been placed into storage. The ticker tape parade has been canceled. The novelization of Fuld's life has been scrapped in favor of a front-and-back pamphlet. Fuld's 15 minutes were fun for everyone, but hopefully he's still not in your line-up. Fuld is good for the odd steal now and again. He has actually put up better numbers as a part-timer, but the part-time label is the rub. He needs an injury to regain Roto relevance.

There has been a lot of wailing and gnashing of the teeth when it comes to Gregg's performance this month. However, nearly all of the bad numbers came from one terrible outing against the Tigers on August 14. In his other five August outings, Gregg has allowed zero runs, one hit, and one walk. Yes, the peripherals are nothing to write home about, but then with Gregg they never are. He's a low-end closer, but he's still a closer (he's under contract through 2012) and should be owned in all leagues, unless you're in a wacky situation where you're locked in in saves but your ERA/WHIP are extremely volatile.

Holland continues to rack up the solid ERA/WHIP/K in middle relief. He should be owned in all A.L.-only formats. The K/9 has dipped a little bit this August. This could be a sign of fatigue, but could also be small sample size noise.

A look at Pineiro's overall numbers make it appear that his entire 2011 has been a disaster. The reality is that he was sitting on a 3.90 ERA after his July 9 start vs. Seattle before the wheels came off. There's no indication of diminished velocity, but the horizontal movement on his fastball has fallen back to his pre-2009 levels. A flat, 87-88 MPH fastball in the zone is going to get pounded. Sure enough, Pineiro's ground ball rate is down to pre-2009 levels and his LD% is high. The K/9 is the final piece of the puzzle that tells me to simply avoid Pineiro. The Angels have two off-days next week, so Pineiro might be skipped, but if he isn't he'll get the Rangers in Texas next week. Avoid. Please. My stomach hurts just thinking about Pineiro on your active roster.

Alfredo Simon @MIN, vs. NYY
The wheels are starting to come off for Simon. He has a 7.48 ERA, 5.37 xFIP and a 2.17 WHIP over his last three starts. I wouldn't even play match-ups with Simon right now, but the start against the Yankees makes Simon a definite no-no this coming week.

Up from the Minors
Luke Hughes (minors)
Hughes returns to provide bench depth for the Twins. He'll play 1-2 days a week, offer a little power, and is free agent fodder only.

Brian Matusz (minors) vs. NYY
Matusz is back from AAA after a couple of strong efforts down there. His first big league start back in the Majors at Oakland was subpar, and reports are that his velocity still wasn't up where it was at last year. A cursory look at the Orioles remaining schedule is all you need to see to know that Matusz probably isn't a good play for the rest of 2011.

Ryan Perry (minors)
Perry is back up to serve in a middle relief role for the Tigers. David Pauley and Joaquin Benoit are in front of Perry in the pecking order for saves. Feel free to leave Perry in the free agent pool.

Rene Tosoni (minors)
Tosoni is playing every day while Michael Cuddyer is day-to-day with a neck injury. If Cuddyer winds up on the DL, Tosoni is a logical free agent pick-up - albeit a low-end one - in A.L.-only.

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