PLAYING TIME: Downs returns from DL; is he back in the saves mix?

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Downs activated, but is he still in the mix for saves?

LAA has activated Scott Downs (LHP, LAA) from the 15-day DL after missing the minimum amount of time with a left shoulder strain. In a prior update, Baseball HQ.com's Brian Rudd surmised that Ernesto Frieri (RHP, LAA), who had been in a timeshare for save opportunities with Downs in July, would run away with the role during his absence. However, the Angels' August struggles (5-11 thus far) have limited Frieri's opportunities, and he hit a few bumps when he did pitch (5 IP, 4 ER, 1 BS). As such, there has been no official "anointing" of Frieri as the lone stopper, and Downs' domination of lefties (.193 BAA) suggests he could still siphon a few chances during the remainder of the year.

The Angels may soon receive additional bullpen help in the form of former closer Jordan Walden (RHP, LAA), who has been out with a strained bicep since July 15. Walden's wildness (5.8 Ctl) predicated his demise from the closer's role earlier this year and has since been relegated to low-leverage situations. However, the LAA bullpen has been a collective mess with both he and Downs out, compiling a 6.35 ERA since the All-Star break. Manager Mike Scioscia has been forced to rely on a hodgepodge of middle relievers like LaTroy Hawkins (RHP, LAA), Hisanori Takahashi (LHP LAA) and David Carpenter (RHP, LAA) in the later innings, and their relative failures could open to the door for Walden to return to a higher-leverage role. Walden's always had gas (11.3 Dom), and if he's able to tame his Ctl closer to last year's 3.9, he could at the very least place himself in scenarios to vulture some W's. 

Getz done for the year, Giavotella gets the call

Chris Getz's (2B, KC) thumb was on the receiving end of a Chris Sale (LHP, CHW) fastball during a bunt attempt on Friday, and he'll miss the remainder of the year after breaking the bone. Prior to the injury, Getz had been enjoying his best year statistically at the plate, posting a .275 BA/.288 xBA thanks to a career high 91% ct% and a likely unsustainable 29% LD%. However, his bat continues to lack pop, as evidenced by his third straight season without a home run, and his Spd score dropped to 119 after spiking to 146 in 2011.  

KC recalled Johnny Giavotella (2B, KC) from Triple-A Omaha to take Getz's roster spot, and he'll slide into an everyday role at 2B now that the recently released Yuniesky Betancourt is no longer a threat to his playing time. The Royals gave Giavotella an extended look in 2011, but he proved to be overmatched by major league pitching, batting just .247 with a 3% bb% and 0.19 Eye in 178 ABs. His only taste of the majors in 2012 came earlier this year when he again was called upon to replace Getz after he suffered a leg injury, and he again struggled, batting just .217 in 69 ABs. However, there we seeds of growth, as both his bb% (5%) and Eye (0.33) increased. Given his gaudy minor league numbers (.323/.404/.472, 10 HRs, 71 RBI, 7 SB) there's a reasonable chance he can continue build upon his earlier call-up and perhaps become a sneaky-good addition during the stretch run. 

Innings limit behind Doubront's DL stint?

Felix Doubront (LHP, BOS), who missed his latest start because of a right knee contusion, was placed on the 15-day DL retroactive to August 10. Doubront wasn't cleared after tossing a 45-pitch bullpen session Friday, although it's likely he'll return to the rotation next weekend. 

BOS may also be taking extra precaution with Doubront to keep him fresh, as his current 123 IP has already far eclipsed the 87.2 he pitched between the minors and the big leagues last season. With a 4.70 ERA, Doubront has neither been overwhelmingly good or bad in his first full year in the majors, but there are some definite bright spots in his BPIs, including an 8.7 Dom/43% GB% combo and a 3.90 xERA. His only real downfall are the walks (3.8 Ctl), which are a concern given his 3.5 Ctl during his two seasons in Triple-A.

In addition, the move will allow impressive swingman Franklin Morales (LHP, BOS) to remain in the rotation for at least one more start, as he'll look to rebound from a rough outing against NYY on August 17 (5.1 IP, 5 ER, 4 HR). As detailed by BaseballHQ.com's Matthew Cederholm a most recent Market Pulse, Morales' success should not be considered a fluke, as his 3.67 ERA/3.75 xERA attest. He also sports an 8.9 Dom and has lowered his FB% from a dangerous 54% in 2011 to a more manageable 42% this year.

BOS recalled Mauro Gomez (1B, BOS) from Triple-A Pawtucket as a corresponding move to Doubront's DL placement, but he's unlikely to see enough regular at-bats to make an impact before Doubront returns next week. 

AL short take

SEA has activated Charlie Furbush from the 15-day DL and optioned Shawn Kelley (RHP, SEA) to Triple-A Tacoma. After struggling in the DET rotation in 2011, Furbush has found his niche as a reliever, recording an 11.3 Dom, 2.7 Ctl and 4.3 Cmd in 37 IP with a 2.17 ERA/2.51 xERA. He'll return to a setup role behind closer Tom Wilhelmsen, but with Brandon League (RHP, LA) now out of the picture, Furbush is someone to keep an eye on should Wilhelmsen falter or suffer an injury ... 

 

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Ohlendorf sent down, Cashner's rehab begins

SD has ended the suffering of Ross Ohlendorf, demoting the seemingly overmatched starter to Triple-A Tucson after a disastrous August in which he posted a 14.54 ERA with a 9/9 K/BB in 13 IP. The highlight of Ohlendorf's season came when he produced three straight PQS-5s between July 17 through July 28, which belied his fly-ball tendencies (47% FB%) and questionable control (4.4 Ctl). It's unlikely we'll see Ohlendorf again this year.

While a corresponding move has yet to be made, whoever fills the rotation slot may just be placeholding for Andrew Cashner (RHP, SD), who has been out since straining his lat muscle during his second turn in the starting rotation on July 4. Cashner pitched a simulated game on Friday and will begin his rehab assignment with Triple-A Tucson on Tuesday. A late-August return isn't out of the question, and given the potential he's flashed—11.0 Dom, 51% GB%, 2.4 Cmd in 37 IP—he should be grabbed and stashed now if he's still available in your league.

NL short take

COL placed Carlos Gonazlez (OF, COL) on the bereavement list Friday due to a death in the family. CarGo must miss at least three games, as per bereavement list guidelines, although manager Jim Tracy is uncertain if he'll return for the team's four-game series at NYM next week. Charlie Blackmon (OF, COL) was called up from Triple-A Colorado Springs to fill the void, and will likely serve as additional outfield depth with Eric Young Jr. (OF, COL). Blackmon hit .303 with 5 HRs and 10 SBs in 228 ABs with the minor league club and displayed an impressive 92% ct% in a 100-AB cup of tea in 2011 ...


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