Saturday, September 01, 2012

Gearing Up: September 4-10

I'm going to devote two separate posts to the September call-ups next week: one for the American League and one for the National League. So no Jurickson Profar today, but he will be profiled next week.

Got the Call
Casey Kelly ARI
Kelly is a viable add in N.L.-only and deeper mixed league formats; in standard mixed he is a stash/wait-and-see kind of guy. Kelly had a strong debut against the Braves at home; he baffled them for six innings with his fastball/curve combo. John Sickels offers a good assessment of Kelly here. Eno Saris at Fangraphs breaks down Kelly's start here. I agree with Sickels and think that Kelly is a mid-tier starter long term. Keep in mind that some are much higher on Kelly and see him as a #2 or even a sub-ace type, so if you're playing for this year you'll have to bid fairly aggressively.

Rising Up
Ricky Nolasco (40% owned last week; 44% owned this week) MIL, @WAS
I haven't written about Nolasco once this year. Come to think of it, I don't even think I've been asked about Nolasco in this space or on Twitter. For the last few years, Nolasco was the darling of the xFIP/SIERA/"he's going to get much better any second!" crowd, but Nolasco has now thrown over 1,000 Major League innings and it's starting to become painfully apparent that what you see is what you get. Nolasco's peripherals have slipped even further this year, and he's practically not worthy of owning even in N.L.-only.... yet is owned in 44% of CBS leagues. Hats off for a terrific start in a tough match-up against the Nationals last time out, but I wouldn't touch him.

Brandon League (19%/23%)
League was traded over from the Mariners at the deadline to set-up Kenley Jansen so owners started slowly but surely dropping him in mixed formats and even in a handful of only leagues. Now Jansen is out indefinitely due to a heart condition, so League has a shot at some saves. Ronald Belisario might get the first crack at closing, but League is a good spec pick-up in deeper mixed or any format where you can reserve active Major Leaguers. I suspect League gets 2-3 saves before the year is out even if Belisario does hang on to the job.

Tyler Cloyd (0%/2%) @CIN, COL
Considered a sleeper prospect by some heading into 2012, Cloyd delivered on this promise, posting a terrific ERA at both Double-A and Triple-A before getting the call to replace Cole Hamels in a spot start on Sunday. Vance Worley is out for the year after elbow surgery, so the Phillies might leave Cloyd in the rotation to give him a look. Cloyd's fastball is underwhelming, but he changes speeds, throws strikes, and keeps hitters off balance. He might have some success the first time through the league, and even though the Reds match-up is tough, I'm not averse to making the two-start recommendation this week.

Andrew Werner (0%/2%) @LAD, ARI
Werner is a lovely success story. A high school star that nevertheless went undrafted - both after high school and after college - Werner caught the Padres eye and they signed him out of an independent league in 2011. Some have described his stuff as unimpressive, but all Werner has done as a professional is rack up some pretty solid numbers - with the exception of four starts in the Pacific Coast League, where almost no pitcher racks up good numbers. It's hard to recommend a pitcher with such a lack of pedigree, but Werner - wait for it - pitches for the Padres, so you have to at least consider him for match ups at home. I still don't like him.

In the Minors
Colin McHugh @STL, ATL
This is kind of a cheat, as the Mets have announced that McHugh will be called up to start against the Cardinals next week. McHugh has average stuff, but works the zone well, throws three or four pitches for strikes (depending on how you classify his fastball) and keeps the ball down in the zone. He is already 25 years old, but has progressed enough in the last two years that he's definitely still a prospect. McHugh isn't a bad play down the stretch if you need to gamble.

Darin Ruf
At 26, Ruf is old for Double-A. But old or no, the guy has to be given his due for an incredible season. Thirty-eight home runs and a 321/413/632 slash line is awesome...and the Eastern League is a pitchers' league where home runs aren't easy to come by. Ruf isn't on the 40-man, but Charlie Manuel says that the Phillies might call Ruf up anyway to give him a look this month. Ruf's problem is that he's blocked by Ryan Howard at first base and his range doesn't play the outfield, not even in left (I leave it to you, dear readers, to make the cruel Raul Ibanez jokes). The other problem is that Ruf isn't realistically a 35-40 HR hitter in the Majors. Think 20-25 HR with a .250 average and that's probably a more realistic expectation. Is that Major League caliber? Certainly, but if Ruf is limited to first base then he's not an obvious starter but instead a guy who may or may not get an opportunity. I'd add him as a potential keeper in N.L.-only if he does get the call, but despite the gaudy numbers, Ruf is far from a sure thing.

Rising Up
Mauro Gomez (0% owned last week; 5% owned this week)
The acquisition of James Loney combined with the activation off of the DL of David Ortiz made Gomez look expendable, but the reemergence of Ortiz's issues probably give Gomez a chance the rest of the way the show if he has enough in the tank to provide value to a Major League team. He has profiled more as minor league journeyman in the past than as a potential Major League starter, but Gomez is stinging the ball in a small sample size for the Red Sox and could stick in 2013 and beyond if he shows a little something in September. He's a must pick-up if you're competing (he's an obvious play if you lost Papi to the DL) and are only concerned about the here and now.

In the Minors
Dylan Bundy
There was some chatter about Bundy getting called up to the bigs on August 31 so he could be eligible for the postseason if the Orioles made it, but now it sounds like he won't see the Majors in 2012. If you were saving some FAAB for Bundy in leagues that don't allow you to pick up minor leaguers, then adjust your expectations accordingly.

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