With the news on Wednesday that Desmond Jennings will be out until mid August, Butler moves from an enticing AL-only option and deeper league play to a mixed-league relevant asset. The 29-year-old Butler has been serving as the Rays primary DH option over the past month, but was in danger of losing time when Jennings returned to the field, which threatened to move him into a platoon situation with David DeJesus, or to see him end up in the minors if Brandon Guyer was moved from left field to the primary DH role. After spending the last four years buried at the Triple-A level with the Rangers and Cardinals organizations, Butler is getting the first extended opportunity of his career at the big-league level and he’s running with it, posting a .324/.354/.519 line in 113 plate appearances with four home runs and three steals in four attempts. Butler’s .873 OPS mark this season isn’t out of line with the .871 career number that he’s posted at the Triple-A level, although almost all of his Triple-A plate appearances took place in the various bandboxes of the Pacific Coast League.
Billy Burns, OF, Oakland A’s
Lost in the news of the A’s callup of “amphibious” pitcher Pat Venditte was another part of the transaction—the transfer of Coco Crisp to the 60-day DL, which should fully secure the starting center field job for Burns in Oakland for the next couple of months. Burns has been getting regular at-bats since joining the big-league squad on May 2nd, and his ability to make a fantasy impact has always centered on him getting on base enough to use his speed. Burns stole 57 bases across three levels last season and has already swiped 10 in the majors (in 35 games) to go with his five in Triple-A this season. More notably, Burns is hitting .306, getting on base at a .346 clip and showing enough pop for a 119 wRC+ line. He needs to bump up his walk rate, which is currently just under four percent, but if he keeps hitting close to .300 and keeps running, he’ll provide plenty of value in mixed leagues now that he’s not in danger of losing playing time.
It seems like Montgomery has been around forever (he actually has in dynasty leagues) but in reality he’ll turn 26 next month, and finally has his first shot at a rotation opening at the big-league level. Montgomery has averaged just over 91 MPH on his fastball in his two major-league starts, giving up three runs in 13 innings and striking out seven while facing the Rays and Yankees at home. Montgomery had a 3.27 FIP in nine starts in the Pacific Coast League this season before getting the call to Seattle, striking out 47 batters in 53 innings with Tacoma, so I think there’s still a bit of upside left in his arm. With the injury to James Paxton’s finger that will likely keep him sidelined for another month, there’s enough time for Montgomery to establish himself as a rotation option if Taijuan Walker or Roenis Elias struggles during Paxton’s absence.
A 4.43 ERA in April and a 5.52 ERA in the month of May didn’t inspire much confidence going forward for the Twins righty, but he’s turned things around in two June starts, allowing one earned run in 13 innings. A closer look at May’s peripherals indicates that the 25-year-old has taken a step forward this year. May’s 4.16 ERA doesn’t look impressive, but his 3.44 DRA squeezes him right between Matt Harvey and Jake Arrieta on the leaderboard (min. 40 IP). The biggest reason why is that he’s cut his walk rate from just over 10 percent last season to under five percent this year. May’s cFIP of 79 puts him in even better company, right behind Gerrit Cole at no. 12 overall for starting pitchers. May is owned in less than 10 percent of ESPN leagues and that number should be much higher.
After spending last year with the Blue Jays and Diamondbacks, Reimold signed a minor-league contract with an invitation to Orioles spring training back in February. Reimold had a great spring but was unable to crack the Opening Day roster and began the year in Triple-A Norfolk. After hitting .286 with a .359 OBP over 46 games, Reimold was recalled by the Orioles on Tuesday, rejoining the team with which he spent his first five big-league seasons. The Orioles are trying to find the right fit for their OF right now, and Reimold could be given an extended look. Reimold has proven he can hit at the big-league level, but has just not been able to stay healthy. The seven-year veteran was given the start on Tuesday, which means AL-only players should monitor his playing time the rest of the week and adjust your bids accordingly.
I wrote about Velasquez in Wednesday’s Deep League Report prior to the 23-year-old’s big-league debut later that evening against the White Sox. The former second-round pick in 2010 followed fellow highly touted Astros arms Lance McCullers and Michael Feliz to the majors this year and did not disappoint in his first major-league start. Despite some issues with his command at times, Velasquez flashed the raw stuff that made him BP’s no. 3 prospect in the Astros organization heading into 2015. In the end, the young righty was saddled with a no-decision, after being pulled with 90 pitches through five scoreless innings, in which he allowed three hits and four free passes while striking out five. Even though Velasquez’s resume is limited, jumping to the majors from Double-A (and only five starts there), I share the same opinion as Mike Gianella from the perspective that his raw stuff could make him a serviceable SP in the short term before the league has a chance to adjust to his arsenal. With Scott Feldman still on the shelf and Roberto Hernandez moved to the bullpen, the Astros could give Velasquez an extended look in the rotation. In the CBS AL-only Expert League, where we have daily moves and a $100 budget, I FAAB’ed Velasquez for $5 on Tuesday in anticipation of an impressive performance in his debut. For more on Velasquez, be sure to check out Craig Goldstein’s and Mike Gianella’s respective analyses of Velasquez in Tuesday’s The Call-Up article on the BP site.
Other AL-Only FAAB options: Giovanny Urshela, 3B, Cleveland Indians; Kirk Nieuwenhuis, OF, Los Angeles Angels; Shane Robinson, OF, Minnesota Twins; Josh Wilson, IF, Detroit Tigers; Mikie Mahtook, OF, Tampa Bay Rays; Chasen Shreve, RP, New York Yankees; Steve Geltz, RP, Tampa Bay Rays; Alex Wilson, RP, Detroit Tigers; Tom Wilhelmsen, RP, Seattle Mariners; Kyle Ryan, SP, Detroit Tigers; Charlie Furbush, RP, Seattle Mariners
I also wrote about DeJesus in Wednesday’s Deep League Report, and his FAAB value could also be impacted based on the events this week. While I took little notice when the journeyman infielder was called up by the Reds last week, I did take notice when he got the start in left field for the Reds on Monday night and not because he went 2-for-4 with a double and home run. Monday night was DeJesus’ first big-league start in the OF, and it was also just the fourth in his professional career, one that spans over 1,000 career games, in which he trotted out to the outfield with his glove rather than to his customary infield spot. With the Marlon Byrd injury, I thought DeJesus could be a fill-in flier option based on the Reds other OF options. However, Brandon Phillips has missed two games with a groin injury and Billy Hamilton has missed three games with a wrist injury; as such, DeJesus could be the beneficiary of additional playing time t multiple positions. DeJesus homered for the second time in three days on Wednesday, and while you should not expect this power to continue, DeJesus has the potential to secure regular playing time and to help with the counting stats. The Reds recalled Suarez from Triple-A on Thursday after the news that Zack Cozart will be done for the season after injuring his knee in Wednesday’s game against the Phillies. It would seem that Suarez would get the bulk of playing time at SS for the Reds, which gives him immediate value in NL-only leagues. Traded from the Tigers to the Reds this offseason in the Alfredo Simon trade, Suarez has some pop: He hit 10 home runs between Single-A and Double-A ball in 2013, 14 more long flies last year across stops at Double-A, Triple-A and the Tigers, and eight more in just 57 games this season in Triple-A. Suarez’s power could play well in his new home park, and combined with the potential playing time, Suarez makes for a must-add in NL-only formats and is worthy of an aggressive bid.
The former 12th-overall pick in the 2011 MLB Draft was called up to make his major-league debut on Tuesday night to face the Pirates in PNC Park, and Jungmann delivered an impressive performance, going seven strong innings and surrendering just one run on three hits to pick up his first big-league victory. Jungmann was not putting up impressive stats at the time of his call up, toting a 6.37 ERA and 1.517 WHIP over 59 1/3 innings at Triple-A Colorado Springs, and he has struggled with his command throughout parts of four seasons in the minors, so expectations should be tempered. I watched his start Tuesday night, and besides the fact that I cannot recall a SP in recent memory who throws across his body as severely as Jungmann does, I did not see these control issues as he walked just one batter (and one HBP) through his seven innings. He attacked the Pirates lineup and other than a second-inning home run by Starling Marte, was in complete control. I am not sold that Jungmann will parlay this start into an extended look in the Brewers rotation, but he is scheduled to get his second start against the Nationals on Sunday, which will provide a slightly bigger sample size. If the 6-foot-6 righty can post back-to back quality starts, then be prepared to open up the FAAB wallet Sunday night if you are in the market for a SP.
Other NL-Only FAAB options: Jose Tabata OF, Pittsburgh Pirates; Chris Stewart, C, Pittsburgh Pirates; Corey Knebel, RP, Milwaukee Brewers; David Hale, SP, Colorado Rockies; Dale Thayer, RP, San Diego Padres; Luis Avilan, RP, Atlanta Braves; Sam Dyson, RP, Miami Marlins; Aaron Barrett, RP, Washington Nationals; Kevin Correia, SP, Philadelphia Phillies
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