Is everyone ready for another round of Biogenesis reveals?
ESPN’s T.J. Quinn reported last week that there are previously unnamed MLB players set to be outed as Anthony Bosch clients and presumably suspended, though the timeframe isn’t clear at the moment. The suspensions could have an effect on pennant races and fantasy leagues if they come down within the next few weeks. I’m assuming the big names have already been nabbed. I’m not sure why Bosch would have held back any names at all while cooperating with MLB’s investigation, but I don’t think he left any big fish in the pond.
Worth remembering in the Biogenesis fallout is that the players suspended almost exclusively fell into two camps. They either had strong Miami ties (Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun, Yasmani Grandal) or they were clients of ACES (Melky Cabrera, Nelson Cruz, Jhonny Peralta, Everth Cabrera, Antonio Bastardo, etc.). Gio Gonzalez belonged to both groups, though he wasn’t suspended after reportedly procuring legal substances from Biogenesis. All of the ACES clients suspended were Latin American, and it’s assumed that all were introduced to Biogenesis by a consultant named Juan Carlos Nunez (also the guy who helped Melky set up his fake website).
It’s a pretty good bet that if there are more names lurking in Bosch’s files, they fall into one of those two camps. So, here are three lists of active players from which I’d expect any additional Bosch clients to come from. I don’t want to suggest any of these players were/are dirty, but these are the pools from which Bosch was drawing his clients.
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- When Joe Nathan blew a save Saturday, it briefly reignited the closer controversy in Detroit. But that lasted all of about 10 minutes until Joakim Soria left the game with an oblique strain. He was put on the DL on Sunday and will likely miss more than the minimum 15 days, leaving Nathan’s position secure. Nathan was going to keep his job regardless, considering that he entered Saturday’s game on a streak of seven straight scoreless innings (with nine strikeouts).
- Anibal Sanchez’s pectoral strain will probably keep him out until rosters expand, giving Robbie Ray another chance in Detroit’s rotation. Ray was struggling in Triple-A, posting a 4.82 ERA and a 38/28 K/BB ratio over 56 innings in his previous 10 stats, and had Duane Below been healthy, he might have been the choice instead. Ray is worth trying in AL-only leagues anyway, but mixed leaguers can do better.
- The Red Sox just had a really nice run through their reworked rotation, with only Brandon Workman failing to record a quality start. Joe Kelly excelled against his former team in St. Louis, and Allen Webster, Clay Buchholz and Rubby De La Rosa all gave the Red Sox strong outings in Anaheim. Since Buchholz’s presence in the rotation would seem to be a requirement for however long he’s healthy, I’d say Boston’s next move is to replace Workman with Anthony Ranaudo as they try to figure out which of their youngsters should be in the picture for next year. Workman isn’t hopeless as a starter, but the Red Sox already have a better idea about him than they do alternatives like Ranaudo, Matt Barnes and Edwin Escobar. I think Workman probably fits best as a reliever anyway. As for the current group, I don’t think any pitcher is an every-week play in mixed leagues. Kelly and De La Rosa are probably the best options as spot starters.
- I liked Carlos Carrasco as an AL-only sleeper this year, but he was given a quick hook from the Indians rotation after racking up a 6.95 ERA and losing three of his first four starts. That wasn’t entirely fair; he had a 23/9 K/BB ratio and just two homers allowed over 22 innings in those four outings, giving him a 3.73 FIP. Reinstalled to the rotation last week, he shut out the Yankees for five innings Sunday in his first start in 3 1/2 months. Carrasco is still a really difficult guy to trust -- his stuff has always been considerably better than his results -- but he could be a nice AL-only starter the rest of the way and maybe even a factor in deeper mixed leagues.
- The Yankees are expected to put Michael Pineda back in their rotation Wednesday against the Orioles after just two minor league starts totaling 7 2/3 innings. It sounds like he’s throwing just as well now as he did before hurting his shoulder, but since he’ll probably be limited to 90 pitches or so his first time out and he’s going up against a strong opponent, fantasy leaguers will probably want to keep him reserved this week. It’s possible Pineda will be a factor in mixed leagues down the stretch, but he remains quite an injury risk.
- With Steve Pearce having hit the wall, Delmon Young already has more at-bats this month (26) than he did in all of July (24). He’s batting .357 since the All-Star break, and the Orioles figure to continue to ride him while he’s hot, giving him some short-term value in mixed leagues.
- The Astros will get Dexter Fowler (intercostal) back during the middle of the week. They’re not so sure about George Springer (quad). Springer was supposed to return before Fowler, but he had a setback last week. Domingo Santana, who doesn’t have a single at-bat since being recalled on Aug. 3, will almost certainly be sent down to make room for Fowler. It’s bizarre that the Astros called up the top prospect and then refused to play him.
- Tyler Skaggs is done for the year after opting for Tommy John surgery, so barring a trade, it looks like Matt Shoemaker and Hector Santiago will both finish the season in the rotation. That’s not such a bad thing with the way both are pitching; over the last 30 days, Shoemaker has a 2.70 ERA in 26 2/3 innings, while Santiago has a 1.77 ERA in 20 1/3 innings. I’m still not a believer in Shoemaker as a mixed-league starter, but his splitter has more than made up for a below average fastball thus far.
- The Twins will get Joe Mauer (oblique) back on Monday, forcing the Twins into a tough roster decision. Dropping the slumping Eduardo Nunez seems like the best choice, unless Oswaldo Arcia needs a DL stint because of his back woes. It looks like Kennys Vargas will get to stick around after a nice first 10 days in the majors and serve as the primary DH.
- Jordan Schafer is getting to play in the Minnesota outfield and swiping bases at every opportunity, which makes him an option for steal-needy mixed leaguers.
- Trevor May’s first major league start was a disaster, as he walked seven in two innings against the A’s. It makes one wonder why his promotion was timed with an A’s series in the first place. Alex Meyer is still the prize callup there, but the Twins bypassed him to promote Tommy Milone after trading Kevin Correia to the Dodgers. Milone has some value in AL-only leagues, but he isn’t the option in mixed leagues that he was as an A’s pitcher. May, too, can be used in AL-only leagues, though if he’s nearly as wild again next time out, he’ll be in line for a quick demotion back to Triple-A. More likely, he’ll bounce back and prove to be a decent, though not spectacular, starter the rest of the year. Meyer’s chance should come at some point within the next few weeks, probably in Yohan Pino’s spot. He’ll be the one worth trying in mixed leagues.
- Avisail Garcia’s return from a shoulder injury is rapidly approaching, as he’s back playing some outfield in the minors. He’s hit .433/.469/.600 over eight games on his rehab assignment. The White Sox could try to find a taker for Alejandro De Aza (Detroit? Atlanta? San Francisco?) to make room for Garcia in the outfield, though that’s less of an issue now with Adam Eaton (oblique) hurt again.
- Placing Carlos Gonzalez back on the DL seemed like an obvious move for the Rockies, with him proving to be a liability while trying to play at nothing close to 100 percent. It’ll mean more time for Drew Stubbs and Brandon Barnes in the outfield. I imagine the plan will be for Gonzalez to aim for a Sept. 1 return, with the possibility of a shutdown coming if he’s still struggling with his knee in the final week of August.
The Rockies will also get Michael Cuddyer (shoulder) back at some point, though he’s yet to play any outfield through four games in his rehab assignment. Don’t expect him to be activated this week.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear at all likely that Troy Tulowitzki’s hip will allow him to return within the next couple of weeks.
- I still think Kris Bryant was more ready for the majors than Javier Baez, but the Cubs made their pick last week, throwing my August rankings into chaos by installing Baez as their everyday second baseman. He’s made for great entertainment already, with three homers in six games, but it’s come with 12 strikeouts, no walks and a couple of errors at his new position. Baez’s power is very much for real, and he should be capable of aiding mixed leaguers he rest of the way, even though he’s not ready to hit for average just yet. As for Bryant, the Cubs have made it pretty clear that he’ll get his full season in the minors, whether he needs it or not.
- The Mets shuffled the deck, calling up Matt den Dekker to replace Chris Young in left field and giving Wilmer Flores the starting job at shortstop over Ruben Tejada. I’m not convinced either of those moves qualifies as an upgrade, but given the Mets’ position in the standings, it is worth taking the rest of the year to figure out how den Dekker and Flores should fit into their plans for 2015. Den Dekker was on the run of his life in Triple-A, hitting .402/.487/.665 in 45 games since being sent down in mid-June. Of course, those are Las Vegas numbers, and den Dekker wasn’t impressive in either the majors or minors beforehand. I see den Dekker as a future reserve at best. He should be picked up in NL-only leagues while he’s starting, but he’s not a mixed-league outfielder.
As for Flores, he might actually the better pick to play left field for the Mets. He’s not a future shortstop, and third base is cut off to him. Maybe he could last at second base for a couple of years if Daniel Murphy gets traded, but Murphy has again been one of the Mets’ best players. That would seem to leave left field as the most obvious home for him in 2015. For now, though, just getting him at-bats is the important thing. He’s been worse offensively than Tejada in his 208 major league at-bats to date, but he possesses the ability to hit for average and deliver 15-20 homers per year down the line.
- After blowing his fourth save Sunday, Jenrry Mejia admitted to pitching with a hernia, which explains his recent struggles. The blown save was his first in a month, but he’s allowed two hits in six straight appearances, a pretty terrible run for a one-inning guy. Mejia intends to keep pitching through the hernia, but he may well be done as an effective reliever this year. Jeurys Familia is worth grabbing in all formats.
- With their outfield banged up, the Nationals promoted 23-year-old Michael Taylor to make his major debut Sunday night. The move came after just four Triple-A games, though he was 5-for-13 with four extra-base hits and four walks in those games. He previously hit .313/.396/.539 with 22 homers and 34 steals for Double-A Harrisburg, but that came with a whopping 130 strikeouts in 384 at-bats. Taylor has always been heavy on tools (and strikeouts), but this is the first time his home run power has really materialized. I don’t think he’s ready to hit home runs in the majors, but with his speed, he’d be mixed-league material if he were going to play every day. Of course, that probably won’t be the case. Jayson Werth seems set to play through his shoulder problems, leaving Taylor fighting for scraps. Under the circumstances, he’s just an NL-only play.
- New Diamondbacks third baseman Jake Lamb was another guy jumped to the majors after less than a week in Triple-A. He played in five games at Reno, going 9-for-18 with a homer and four doubles. He also hit .318/.399/.551 with 14 homers in 374 at-bats at Double-A Mobile. Lamb’s line-drive swing is promising, though he’s been overly aggressive at the plate while going 3-for-14 in his first four major league games. The 23-year-old will probably play regularly the rest of the way, making him useful in NL-only leagues. My guess is that he shows he’s not quite ready and that he heads back to Triple-A to open next year.
- Hanley Ramirez’s first DL stint of the year (it doesn’t seem like the first) was the result of a strained oblique. When it comes to obliques, so many times we hear early on that it’s only a minor pull or a mild strain, yet the player always seems to miss at least a month anyway. We’ll see if Ramirez defies that. Miguel Rojas will function as the Dodgers’ primary shortstop for now.
- Feeling that they don’t have any minor leaguers ready to step up, the Dodgers acquired Roberto Hernandez from the Phillies and Correia from the Twins to fill the gap in the rotation created by Josh Beckett’s hip problem, which could end his season. Hernandez is the better bet of the two, and he should get a value boost in NL-only leagues, assuming that he remains in the rotation over Correia. Correia has little to offer at this point; he was striking out just 4.2 batters per nine innings in the AL and he doesn’t have the groundball rate to make up for it. Ideally, he’ll be nothing more than Paul Maholm’s replacement in middle relief and a mop-up role.
- The Phillies claimed Jerome Williams off waivers from the Rangers to serve as Hernandez’s replacement. There shouldn’t be any fantasy value there.
- Pedro Alvarez appears finished as a starting third baseman for the rest of the year, which is good news for Josh Harrison but bad for Ike Davis. Alvarez isn’t necessarily going to be an upgrade over Davis as a first baseman against right-handers, but he figures to be handed the job anyway, once he does sufficient work on the side to get comfortable at the position. At least there’s always the chance that, freed from his nightmare defensive season at the hot corner, Alvarez will start delivering better at-bats.
- It sounds like Neil Walker (back) will go on the disabled list for the Pirates, but that Andrew McCutchen (rib) will remain on the active roster and perhaps return to the starting lineup in the second half of the week. Mixed leaguers with quality alternatives will probably want to keep McCutchen reserved anyway. Jayson Nix and Michael Martinez are filling in for Walker at second base.
- Brad Penny had a successful return with the Marlins on Saturday, but it came with his velocity down a few miles per hour from his last major league rotation stint in 2011. I wouldn’t expect him to prove useful in NL-only leagues.
- The Cardinals’ Shelby Miller is back looking like a legitimate mixed-league starter anyway, but those debating whether to pick him up should note that he’ll get the Marlins on the road and the Padres at home this week, making him a great play.
- I figured the Padres wouldn’t get much from either Yonder Alonso or Tommy Medica if they tried to alternate them. Well, right now, Alonso is hitting .400 in 35 at-bats since coming off the DL on July 26, while Medica is at .396 with three homers in 48 at-bats since the All-Star break. The Padres have the option of using both more frequently as long as they continue to hit, but doing so hurts the pitching staff, as a Medica-Will Venable-Seth Smith outfield is terribly lacking in range. As is, neither Alonso nor Medica has much fantasy value.
- Working against additional outfield time for Medica is the promotion of 23-year-old Rymer Liriano, who will join the team Monday. Liriano was viewed as the Padres’ No. 1 prospect before requiring Tommy John surgery and missing all of last year. He’s spent most of this year in Double-A, hitting an unremarkable .264/.335/.442 with 14 homers, 17 steals and a 102/35 K/BB ratio in 371 at-bats. However, after a July promotion to Triple-A, he came in at .467/.536/.683 in 60 at-bats. Liriano is primarily a corner outfielder (he’s played 55 games in left, 42 in center and 15 in right this year). Since he’s a right-handed hitter, having him replace Jeff Francoeur on the roster is an obvious move. He should be the primary starter in right, with Smith spending more time in left. Grab him in NL-only leagues, but take a wait-and-see approach in mixed leagues.
- Brandon Belt’s unfortunate concussion setback got Adam Duvall back to the majors with the Giants. As hard up as they are for offense, the Giants need to stick with Duvall this time and give him steady playing time until Belt comes back. They certainly shouldn’t have Travis Ishikawa pinch-hit for him, which is a real thing that happened Sunday.