Friday, August 26, 2011

Gearing Up: A.L. Week 22, August 29 - September 4

If you play in leagues with benches or daily moves, Hurricane Irene will have an impact on you next week if the worse case scenarios play out on the East Coast. Here are the games in the Northeast on Monday and Tuesday that could be impacted:

Florida@Mets: Monday (2)/Tuesday
Yankees@Baltimore: Monday
Toronto@Baltimore: Tuesday
Yankees@Boston: Tuesday

Rising Up
Jerome Williams (0% owned last week; 5% this week) @SEA, vs. MIN
On the surface, Williams looks like a guy you should avoid: a 29-year-old ex-prospect who had not pitched in the Majors since 2007, was in Taiwan in 2010 and started out 2011 in an independent league. But the reports of his first Major League start in 2011 weren't just positive but hinted at developments that make Williams worth watching. The biggest change seems to be a new cutter that Williams didn't have in his arsenal back in '07 and earlier. This pitch gave the Orioles fits in Williams' last outing, and if it represents a real change in Williams' repertoire he could become one of those pitchers who has a nice run his first time through the league if nothing else. He's a potential two-start pitcher, with potentially good match-ups at Safeco and home against the light-hitting Twins. Even though the Mariners have some hot bats and trounced the Indians the last two days, I'm still recommending Williams if you need to make a wins play this week.

Luis Perez (0% owned last week; 3% this week) @BAL
Perez just turned in a brilliant start against the A's and it looks like he'll stick in the Jays rotation for a little while. He's a non-prospect whose future probably lies in relief, but he's generating a lot of ground balls and if he can keep the ball down might be OK. I'd leave him on reserve for next week's match-up, though if you're desperate at this point Perez is probably one of the better options in a typical A.L.-only free agent pool.

Possible Waiver Claims
Oliver is the antithesis of the pitchers listed above: a guy who you should claim or FAAB if you're attempting to protect your ERA and WHIP and don't care so much about wins. Keep in mind that this strategy doesn't always work this late in the season; one bad outing pretty much negates the benefit of the steady drip.

Reimold has had a hot week with the bat, and with the demotion of Felix Pie it looks like the Orioles are going to give Reimold a long look the rest of the season to see if he fits into their 2012 plans and beyond. Reimold brings power potential to your team; his upside is 20-25 HR across a full season. If you have a dead spot or part-timer in your OF at this point, you could do worse than Reimold.

Zach Stewart vs. MIN
After a bad start against the Angels, there is a lot of negativity surrounding Stewart right now. However, he's a 24-year-old who isn't that far removed from top prospect status. Stewart also has been yanked around between starting and relieving for his entire professional career; a little consistency in role might help him out. I suspect that Stewart's future is in the bullpen long-term if he can't improve his secondary offerings, but keep in mind that pitchers sometimes take longer to jell than hitters. If you are playing for this year, I'd avoid Stewart, but if you're rebuilding he's not a bad guy to take a flier on for 2012.

Back from the Minors
Angle returns to provide outfield depth for the Orioles. He has stolen a lot of bases the last two years in the minors, but he's not playing for a team or a manager that's going to send Angle out there to steal a bushel of bases as a pinch runner.

It seems like Fox is just up to provide bench depth for the O's. It's a shame, because it seems like Mark Reynolds at third and Fox at first is a better alignment for the Orioles than Reynolds at first and Robert Andino at third. If Fox plays, he has intriguing power and catcher eligibility, but since he'll probably mostly pinch hit he's barely worth an add. I suppose in A.L.-only he's better than some of the second catcher drek.

When O'Day came back, the Rangers must have been thinking that they already have a George. O'Day's a great object lesson in relievers and small sample sizes. His ERA this year is awful despite the fact that his xFIP is pretty consistent with years past.

Jason Kipnis' injury opens up a small window for Phelps. Phelps should get most of the playing time for Kipnis in the next week or two and is thus worth owning. He didn't do much in the Majors in his first go 'round, but certainly has the potential to put up stats at a 15/15 pace.

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