Jake Odorizzi $10. Other bids: $6, $4, $4.
This is a future play. Odorizzi has already tossed 145 1/3 innings and probably won't go that many more before the Royals close the curtain on 2012. My thoughts on him haven't changed much since late May. Odorizzi profiles as a middle-of-the-rotation guy long term, and could even be a #2 if everything breaks right. With the back of the Royals rotation rather thin, Odorizzi could definitely get a shot to open the season in the Majors in 2013. I do think that $10 is a tough keeper price for him.
Matt Thornton $8. Other bid $1.
Nothing has formally been announced in Chicago, but Addison Reed has been terrible this past month while Thornton has been solid. Thornton came in on Saturday to clean up the mess that Reed made and picked up his third save of the season. As far as late season saves spec plays go, this is about as good as it's going to get. If you own Reed in A.L.-only, you'll definitely want to handcuff in the extremely unlikely event Thornton is somehow still available.
Ramirez is a control artist who is a borderline prospect because he throws strikes and has three quality pitches that he uses well. His long-term ceiling is probably that of a #4 or #5, not as an ace. He gets the Orioles at home this week, which probably is a better ERA/WHIP play than a K/W play. I think Ramirez is OK going forward, but I'm not as excited about him as some are.
David Huff $1
Every year, it seems, Huff puts up at least one decent outing down the stretch for the Indians. Every year, this results in some team putting a low FAAB bid in on him hoping to catch lightning in a bottle. Every year, Huff pitches about as well as you could expect a fringe 5th starter in the Major Leagues to pitch. Sometimes the results are OK, and sometimes they are very bad. Huff is a two-start pitcher this week, with the Twins at home and the Royals on the road. Those seem like OK match-ups, but I think there's more risk than reward with Huff. I'd only start him if I were truly desperate in a freedom's-just-another-word-for-nothing-left-to-lose sort of way.
Darren O'Day $1. Other bid $1.
O'Day soldiers on as a solid middle relief option for the Orioles. His days of vulturing wins seem to be behind him (most of his wins came earlier this year), but with the Orioles in contention he's still a good option if you need to gamble on wins but don't want to destroy your rate stats in A.L.-only.
Nate Jones $1
I don't like Jones' walk rate, but otherwise he has been reliable out of the pen for the White Sox. He's another relatively safe "vulture" candidate if you're hoping to luck into wins but can't afford to take a risk on the starting pitcher detritus in the free agent pool in A.L.-only.
Elliot Johnson. Claimed by 12th and 1st place teams.
Johnson had a big game this week but will mostly sit now that the Rays are healthy. He's only worth adding in A.L.-only if you absolutely must gamble on speed and have a dead spot at MI.
Jose Quintana. Claimed by 11th, 8th, 6th and 2nd place teams.
On the surface, it looks the wheels came off and Quintana regressed to the mean in a big way. The reality is that two lousy outings have made Quintana's fall from grace look worse than it actually has been; outside of two awful outings against the Orioles and the Twins, Quintana has been quality in four of his last seven starts. Still, there's no denying that Quintana isn't quite as alluring as he would have been 4-6 weeks ago. He's a two-start pitcher this week, but the match-ups are poor; he has the Tigers at home and the Angels on the road. Any White Sox pitcher is a solid wins candidate, but the pedestrian K/9 and the declining numbers elsewhere make Quintana an A.L.-only play at this point and nothing else.
Rick Porcello. Claimed by 8th and 6th place teams.
It hasn't quite been a tale of two seasons for Porcello, but after putting up a 5.21 ERA in his first 10 starts this year, he has a 4.26 ERA since with a moderately improved whiff rate. This doesn't make Porcello a terrific play, but a passable one in A.L.-only, and a more than decent one this week since he gets the Twins at home. It's easy to forget that Porcello is only 23 years old. His numbers show steady improvement for the last two years. That doesn't help you much if you're playing for this year, but it's worth making a mental note in non-keeper leagues. Porcello could be that stealthy $4-6 pitcher in A.L.--only that turns into a sneaky buy in 2013.
Carlos Pena. Claimed by 6th place team.
Pena was once considered a triumph of Andrew Friedman's ability to think outside of the box and provide the extra 2% and all that jazz, but this year Pena has been a massive disappointment in real life, slugging an unacceptable .344 while hitting under .200. The 17 HR, 66 runs, and 51 RBI mean that he's not a Roto zero, but even the Rays finally decided Pena wasn't quite a full timer and have been resting him now and again. He's an OK add if you really need to gamble on power and don't mind the average hit, but I hope it hasn't come to that if you're contending.
Alexi Casilla. Claimed by 4th place team.
Casilla barely plays, but even while barely playing stole two bases last week. That's the play here. If you're in a tight steals race in A.L.-only, Casilla's not a terrible gamble.