The Graduates: Oscar Taveras (2), Tyler Skaggs (3), Corey Hart (10), Jeremy Hellickson (HM)
This is what happens when Allen Craig has a .657 OPS. Of course, Taveras is hitting far worse right now, but his 11 strikeouts in 60 plate appearances suggest that he’s not being overmatched. If he’s given time to work through his initial struggles, look for Taveras to start hitting for more average in the second half—even if the power takes a little longer to come. Skaggs looked fantastic in his return from the hamstring injury, going into the eighth inning and allowing only two runs on the road in a tough hitters’ park. Hart returned on Friday and hasn’t done a whole lot with his at bats thus far. He’ll be OK, but not the pre-injury version. The fact that Hellickson went less than five innings in his 2014 debut, but it still can be considered a success (only one run allowed), shows how low expectations probably are for the disappointing right-hander.
The Departed: Jaime Garcia (23)
And in the span of a week, we’ve gone from wondering whether Garcia will be back on the mound in July to wondering if we’ve seen the last of him in a Cardinals’ uniform. In fact, it’s fair to wonder if we’ll ever see Garcia start another game in the majors again, as the surgery he will have to try and fix his thoracic outlet syndrome is the second major procedure he's had on that left shoulder of his.
And the ones who are still left waiting:
Turns out that Wednesday is now the day for Gee, who will finally make his return from the lat injury that sidelined him for two months. Unfortunately for Mets fans, it comes this week because Jonathan Niese went and got himself hurt (though is too owned to qualify for the list). He may not be fully stretched out, but he was dominant in his last rehab start, striking out 10 in six innings. Gee should be owned in all formats that don’t have a K/9 component.
The Orioles have a date on Friday with the Yankees to kick off an important divisional series before the break. So naturally, instead of throwing their best starter on regular rest, they demote him to Triple-A and are likely going to start Miguel Gonzalez for this game. Yes, the bullpen is shot and Gausman has options, but Jonathan Schoop has options too (along with a 64 OPS+ and a capable backup in Ryan Flaherty). Gausman would be a clear number one on this list if I trusted the Orioles to play their best talent in the second half.
Alcantara is now up to .308/.354/.538 with 10 homers and 21 steals on the season in Triple-A, and is very likely to be the first of the Cubs “big” prospects to be promoted to the big leagues. In fact, there’s probably going to be a spot opening for him soon, as Darwin Barney continues to be the subject of trade talks (though not that he should get in the way of Alcantara anyway).
It was a disappointing first run for Heaney in the majors, but despite the inflated ERA, there were certainly positives to take away from his performance. The strong walk rate from the minors carried forward, and he matched it with an above-average ground ball rate (47 percent). Obviously, he’s going to have to miss more bats and give up fewer homers, but those are pretty standard problems for rookie pitchers.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of talking about how great Nelson has been in the PCL and how there’s just not a rotation spot for him right now.
We’re getting to the point of the season, where it may be more likely that Pederson earns his 2014 fantasy value in a non-Dodgers’ uniform. Though even with Carl Crawford nearing a return, he could soon find himself invaluable to the major league team (health is not Crawford’s strong suit). A platoon of him and Scott Van Slyke in a corner spot would be a well above-average position for the team.
Salazar’s run of decent Triple-A starts continued this week, but he’s still not pitching like someone who can be counted on for anything other than strikeouts at the major league level. And even if that doesn’t change at all over the rest of 2014, he’ll still be valuable as a likely contributor to the Indians’ rotation in the second half.
Owings avoided a potentially more serious injury, as his malady ended up just being a shoulder sprain that should see him back shortly after the All-Star Break. While he hasn’t set the world on fire or anything, he’s still on a .275-15-15 pace while maintaining that lovely shortstop eligibility. This is a low point for his ownership, so if you need second half help in the middle infield, Owings is capable of providing that.
For now, Meyer is replacing his injured teammate Trevor May on the Futures Game roster. But beyond that, a Ricky Nolasco elbow injury may be just the thing to get Meyer to Target Field on a more permanent basis. His performance has been good overall, but inconsistent—and that’s exactly what we should be expecting at the major league level as well.
Still very little news on the Holland front, other than that the team won’t rush him back. Of course, that’s easy to say before he’s started a rehab assignment—especially when you’re running Phil Irwin, Nick Tepesch and Miles Mikolas as three-fifths of your starting rotation.
11) Noah Syndergaard, RHP, New York Mets (Previous Rank: 9)
There’s plenty of talk about Syndergaard lately and what he isn’t doing, and frankly I’m a bit tired of it. He remains one of the best pitching prospects in baseball and he’s on the cusp on the majors despite what his stat line in Las Vegas might say. It’s quite early to start thinking that we won’t see Syndergaard in Queens this season.
12) Archie Bradley, RHP, Arizona Diamondbacks (Previous Rank: 13)
13) Kris Bryant, 3B/OF, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 14)
14) Javier Baez, SS, Chicago Cubs (Previous Rank: 11)
At some point, this Odrisamer Despaigne magic is going to run out.
When the Pirates have needed a short-term arm (including this week with Gerrit Cole returning to the DL), they’ve gone to Brandon Cumpton, but if there were a long-term vacancy in the rotation during the second half, the big right-hander will be a strong candidate for that assignment. If it happens, expect pretty good ratios, but not quite enough strikeouts to make him relevant in shallow mixed leagues.
He’s ready and he’ll be good to use immediately in most leagues, however he’s well down this list for two reasons you already know about. He isn’t trustworthy enough to start when pitching in Coors, which is a problem seeing as though he pitches for the Rockies, and who knows how long he’ll actually stay healthy for. He moves well up the list in leagues with large benches, as he should be a good start in all road matchups.
19) Dylan Bundy, RHP, Baltimore Orioles (Previous Rank: 21)
If the treatment of Kevin Gausman is any indication of what the Orioles might do with Bundy, it’s probably wise not to take on the headache for the 2014 season. Orioles not withstanding, he’s looked very sharp in rehab and could be a valuable commodity down the stretch if they let him.
20) Jedd Gyorko, 2B, San Diego Padres (Previous Rank: NR)
The good news: Gyorko had his walking boot removed. The bad news: this isn’t the first time this has happened. He may have been a trendy preseason pick, but he’s dealing with a very tough injury (plantar fascitis is no joke) and he’s also been horrible when healthy. There’s always a chance, but I don’t think the odds of Gyorko paying off are particularly high at this point.
22) Jonathan Gray, RHP, Colorado Rockies (Previous Rank: 19)
The Anyone But Gray approach to starting pitching in Colorado has been working out swimmingly, so it appears they’ll continue to do it.
23) Joe Kelly, RHP, St Louis Cardinals (Previous Rank: HM)
Friday will be the day Kelly makes his return to the Cardinals’ rotation, but considering he’s all the way down here means expectations shouldn’t be too high. However, with Garcia done for the season and Marco Gonzales failing in his opportunity, Kelly should remain in the rotation until the Cardinals trade for someone better. The bad news for Kelly is that this appears to be a near certainty, whether it’s David Price, Jake Peavy or someone else.
24) Joey Gallo, 3B, Texas Rangers (Previous Rank: 25)
In the time it took for you to read this sentence, Gallo just hit three more bombs against Double-A pitching. Also, Gallo got his first professional start at first base on Monday night, which just so happens to be the point of need for the Rangers. I still think the odds are awfully slight, but this raises an eyebrow.
25) Nick Franklin, 2B/OF, Seattle Mariners (Previous Rank: 20)
Is Franklin still a Mariner? OK, see you next week.