Some thoughts on September callups this week. Let’s jump right in.
American League Notes
- Mark Teixeira just can’t seem to overcome the bone bruise in his right shin that’s limited him to three at-bats since Aug. 18. We’ve now reached that time of year at which there’s no point for teams to use the 15-day disabled list, meaning injured players often have to be flat-out cut from fantasy teams. We might be at that point with Teixeira. It’d be risky to make the move now, but those in leagues without bench spots have little alternative. Those who can stash him on the bench should wait one more week and see what happens. Greg Bird hasn’t been particularly impressive of late, but he’ll continue to get most of the starts at first base.
- The Royals say Alex Gordon won’t be an everyday guy after returning from his groin injury on Tuesday. If he plays 4-5 times per week, as Ned Yost stated, he won’t be a very strong mixed-league play, at least in his first couple of weeks back. With Gordon’s return, Ben Zobrist will start at second base most of the time and finally send Omar Infante to the bench.
- It sounds like Matt Moore will join the Rays’ rotation next month, but that top prospect Blake Snell is more likely to be reserved for bullpen duties. I’d really like to see what Snell could do in the rotation, but it’s understandable that the Rays would want to manage his innings. Unclear is who will be bumped to make room for Moore. None of the team’s starters are really thriving of late; Erasmo Ramirez has the best August ERA at 3.90, yet he’s still very much a possibility to get replaced. Having Drew Smyly hang it up and try to get ready for 2016 would seem to be another option. Moore’s Triple-A performances were encouraging (3.30 ERA, 43/8 K/BB in 30 IP), but I’d still struggle to trust him in mixed leagues. The Rays have an awfully harsh September schedule anyway.
- There was no blown save, but walking four straight batters Friday against the Mets was enough to get Junichi Tazawa yanked from the closer’s role in Boston. It certainly was an uncharacteristic performance from a right-hander who had walked nine in 54 innings all year long, and it’ll probably cement the perception that he wasn’t made to handle the ninth inning (though this blowup happened in the 10th). Jean Machi will get his crack at the job now.
- Josh Hamilton (knee) will come off the disabled list on Tuesday, but it will probably be in a bit role initially, since he’s not currently capable of running without pain. Since he’s definitely a ways off from returning to the outfield -- and since he’s probably not a better DH option than the Mitch Moreland-Mike Napoli platoon -- he’s not going to have any fantasy value right away.
- George Springer (wrist) is due back with the Astros sometime this week, if not on Tuesday. That should lead to a Colby Rasmus-Jake Marisnick platoon in left field the rest of the way. Preston Tucker, who is expected to be recalled on Sept. 1, probably won’t factor in much unless Rasmus slumps.
- As expected, the Mariners did have Roenis Elias replace Vidal Nuno in the rotation last week. However, after another disastrous Mike Montgomery outing, Nuno will get a spot back right away (technically Monday in Felix Hernandez’s place, since Hernandez is being pushed back). Montgomery was sent down over the weekend, and while he’ll be recalled following the roster expansion, it should be as a reliever. Nuno deserves a chance to audition for the 2016 rotation. He could have some value in deeper mixed leagues the rest of the way.
- The decision to send down Mike Zunino on Aug. 28 was just mean. Of course, he’s had a terrible season. Of course, he’s been one of the league’s worst players. That would have been good reason to send him down in June or July, but the front office opened the season without an alternative to Zunino and then traded away the one it picked up later in Welington Castillo. Sending him down a few days before rosters expand merely embarrasses him without doing anyone any good. The Mariners do need to go get themselves a starter-caliber catcher this winter, probably with Zunino logging some real Triple-A time next April. He’s still just 24, and he’s not hopeless as a long-term regular. For this week, the Mariners will go with John Hicks and Jesus Sucre as their catchers. Neither will hit. Zunino will be back as at least a part-timer after that.
- Jose Berrios had another dominant outing in Triple-A on Wednesday, but the Twins still held off on calling him up, even though their pitching could use the lift. He’ll start once more in Triple-A on Monday before the Twins make the call on whether to add him to their rotation. If it happens, he’d be worth trying in mixed leagues. The 21-year-old has a 2.78 ERA and a 73/13 K/BB ratio in 64 2/3 innings since moving up to Rochester.
- I don’t understand why the Orioles picked Henry Urrutia over Dariel Alvarez a couple of weeks ago and then suddenly reversed course and went to Alvarez on Friday, other than maybe pure desperation. The team had some hopes for Alvarez going into the year, but he hit just .276/.307/.425 in Triple-A, with most of his success coming back in June. He was hitting .263/.315/.384 in August, which is practically the same line Urrutia had in 34 major league at-bats (.265/.306/.382) before he was sent back to Triple-A. The Orioles are just hoping someone gets hot. I don’t think either player is worth looking at as a major league regular for 2016, but Alvarez should offer some AL-only value in September.
- It doesn’t sound like the Astros will try A.J. Reed at first base in September, even though he’s hit .355/.421/.609 in 44 games since moving up to Double-A. The 22-year-old is the minor league home run leader this year, with 33 bombs in 487 at-bats. The Yankees also have no plans to call up Aaron Judge. That would seem to leave Joey Gallo as the big power bat joining the AL next month, but even he might not have fantasy value in mixed leagues as an occasional left fielder and backup to Adrian Beltre at third base. It doesn’t help his case that he’s hit just .194 (albeit with 14 homers) in 196 at-bats since getting returned to Triple-A two months ago. Richie Shaffer will also rejoin the Rays, but then, he never should have been sent back down in the first place. I don’t know whether he’ll do more than play against lefties.
- Allen Craig did perk up ever so slightly in August, hitting .286/.356/.371 for Boston’s Triple-A club. He’ll probably be up to start versus some southpaws in September, but it shouldn’t lead to any fantasy value.
- With Tom Wilhelmsen unavailable, Carson Smith got a chance for a five-out save in a one-run game on Sunday and would have converted it if not for a Brad Miller error. It still was a fourth straight fine outing for him, and he should be in line for more save chances this month. He’s worth picking up in any leagues in which he was dropped.
National League Notes
- Javier Baez has hit .316/.369/.507 with five homers in 32 games since rejoining Triple-A Iowa’s lineup after recovering a fractured finger, and now he’s expected to be a Sept. 1 callup for the Cubs. When he initially returned at the end of July, it looked like the Cubs were positioning him as an alternative to Starlin Castro at shortstop. Now that Addison Russell has settled in there, Baez has been a utilityman of late, starting three games at second, three games at third and three at short in his last nine games. The Cubs will probably give him a chance to win the second-base job, making him a worthwhile pickup in mixed leagues. He seems to be in much better shape to succeed this time than he was following last year’s callup.
- Stephen Strasburg’s new round of back problems has him in doubt for the week. The Nationals were already considering starting Tanner Roark in Joe Ross’s place because Ross is up against his innings limit. If Strasburg needs to miss some time, it’d be interesting to see whether the Nats would go back to Doug Fister or if they’d give A.J. Cole a shot. The 23-year-old Cole has allowed a total of four earned runs over his last five Triple-A starts, so he could be worth a September flier in mixed leagues.
- Justin Morneau, trying to pull off a return following his latest concussion, opened a rehab assignment by going 2-for-5 with a homer in Double-A on Friday and Saturday. If he shows he’s healthy, he’ll get significant time at first base for the Rockies in September. It could lead to neither he nor Ben Paulsen having any fantasy value down the stretch.
- Chris Heston is back in the Giants rotation place of Matt Cain, who probably won’t be trusted to start another meaningful game this season. The Giants are also set to activate Tim Hudson, who could go into Ryan Vogelsong’s rotation spot. Heston struggled against the Cardinals on Sunday, but he should be worth using in mixed leagues the rest of the way, assuming that the Giants don’t jerk him around again. Hudson probably won’t be worth using.
- With Yasiel Puig on the DL due to another hamstring injury, Carl Crawford is back looking like a decent play in mixed leagues. He’ll sit against lefties, but he’s been effective since coming off the disabled list, hitting .311 with four steals in 45 at-bats in August.
- The Dodgers haven’t committed to calling up Corey Seager. My guess is that they do, but that it happens after the Triple-A season ends, not on Sept. 1. Seager has been on a power binge lately, hitting four homers since Aug. 21, but he still hasn’t quite torn it up in Triple-A, hitting .276/.328/.451 in 399 at-bats. It’s a strong line for a 21-year-old, but it suggests the Dodgers have been right to leave him down there all year. He’ll be a backup if he is recalled, and he shouldn’t have fantasy value outside of NL-only leagues.
- Hector Olivera has hit .222/.263/.278 in his first nine games for Triple-A Gwinnett since coming back from a hamstring injury. Still, the Braves are planning on calling him up Tuesday and installing him at third base. It doesn’t really look like he’ll be a mixed-league asset right away. Adonis Garcia will head to the bench.
- The Braves are ready to let Christian Bethancourt sink of swim, which could lead to an A.J. Pierzynski trade on Monday. It doesn’t have huge fantasy ramifications, but those still using Pierzynski as a No. 2 catcher in mixed leagues will probably want to move on. Bethancourt can’t really hit and also isn’t a particularly good catcher apart from his very strong arm. The Braves definitely needed to let him play, but I don’t think they’re going to make him their starting catcher next year.
- Steven Matz will make his final rehab start on Monday and come off the disabled list the following day, presumably giving the Mets a six-man rotation. They’ve already ruled out using Matz as a reliever. Matz should be worth playing in mixed leagues whenever his starts come. It sounds like he’ll probably pitch Saturday, with Noah Syndergaard getting pushed back (and potentially not pitching at all this week).
- The Padres have been giving Travis Jankowski plenty of time of late, but Rymer Liriano figures to cut into that quite a bit upon joining the team. After all, neither Matt Kemp nor Justin Upton is going to sit more than once per week. Wil Myers might also factor into the mix after the minor league season if his wrist feels up to it. Liriano has hit .309/.385/.464 for Triple-A El Paso in August and .291/.375/.430 overall. How Jankowski and Liriano look next month will probably determine whether the Padres go get a veteran center fielder this winter. They will have Melvin Upton Jr. back next year, so they could just let all three battle it out. Jankowski offers more range defensively than Liriano, but Liriano has more offensive upside. He should have some NL-only value next month.
- Perhaps in part because A.J. Burnett (elbow) is expected back in mid-September, the Pirates seem to have ruled out Tyler Glasnow joining their rotation. He would have made for an interesting mixed-league addition if given a spot. The 21-year-old has a 1.95 ERA and a 127/38 K/BB ratio in 101 2/3 innings in the minors this year, including an 0.81 ERA in six Triple-A starts.