PLAYING TIME: Holland returns to TEX rotation; Stanton out 4-6 weeks


Holland returns to TEX rotation, Grimm sent down

TEX has activated Derek Holland (LHP, TEX) from the disabled list, and he was thrust into action on Saturday against MIN. Holland had missed the past month with shoulder and elbow ailments, as well as an undisclosed illness that left him 15 pounds lighter. 

His current 5.10 ERA suggests he may have been trying to pitch through the injuries, although a 65% S% also points to a bit of bad luck that his 4.05 xERA says should correct itself soon. Holland's skills look to have remained relatively intact from last year's impressive growth season, the only blip being a dip in GB% from 46% to 38%, with a corresponding rise in FB% from 34% to 41%. Given how unforgiving Rangers Ballpark is toward pitchers (+31% LHB HR, +23% RHB HR), his ERA may continue to be susceptible to fluctuation if he's unable to reverse this trend.  

To make room for Holland, TEX optioned Justin Grimm (RHP, TEX) to Double-A Frisco. Grimm made minor waves after tossing a PQS-5 in his first start against HOU on  June 16, but he was unable to escape the first inning in his next start against DET and pitched just once thereafter in a relief role. His future remains bright if he can maintain the inspiring 4.8 Cmd he displayed prior to his call-up, but it now appears his path back to the show will be blocked by more-heralded prospect Martin Perez (LHP, TEX), who's posted two PQS-3s since being called up from Triple-A in late June.

BOS OF rehab assignments take separate paths

There never seems to be a dull moment in BOS outfield news of late, as Carl Crawford (OF, BOS) was pulled from his rehab assignment at Double-A Portland with a mild left groin strain, resetting his 20-day rehab clock. He was expected to return to the majors shortly after the All-Star break, but it appears this most recent setback will delay his arrival until later in the month. Crawford admitted that despite the progress his elbow is still not 100 percent healthy, suggesting that even when he does return fantasy owners may not be getting the pre-2011 version of Crawford they hoped would re-emerge after last year's down season. 

Jacoby Ellsbury (OF, BOS), on the other hand, is making progress toward his highly anticipated return, moving his rehab assignment to Triple-A Pawtucket on Saturday. In five rehab games between the GCL Red Sox and Double-A Portland, Ellsbury is batting .210 with one home run, and barring any setbacks is set to return shortly following the All-Star break. With Ellsbury, the lingering question on everyone's mind is whether or not last year's unexpected 139 PX—and 32 HRs—was real or a mirage. The fact that he's never flashed power anywhere near that level in previous seasons (combined with an inflated 17% hr/f%) suggests the latter, but at the very least he'll provide valuable speed and runs atop a BOS lineup that figures to be far more intimidating in the second half. 

Both players' imminent returns, combined with Ryan Sweeney's (OF, BOS) recent activation from a toe injury, means owners can safely drop placeholders Daniel Nava (OF, BOS) and Ryan Kalish (OF, BOS). Nava made the most of his second audition with the big league club, flashing a .285/.383/.449 line with an 80% ct%, 0.81 Eye and a 127 PX/43% FB% combo which suggests more home runs could be brewing. He's been linked to trade rumors of late and could be worth a second look if he latches on elsewhere. As for Kalish's, clubhouse attendants were seen packing his bags at the conclusion of Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader with NYY, implying that a bus ride back to Triple-A Pawtucket isn't far off. With a -40 BPV in 56 ABs, Kalish looked overmatched and will need to work on his approach (3% bb%, 75% ct%) if he plans to stick in the future.

AL short take

CLE optioned Nick Hagadone (LHP, CLE) to Triple-A Columbus after a horrendous June in which he allowed 12 ER in 7 IP, with a 10 K/5 BB ratio. As is common with relievers, Hagadone's luck turned on him quickly in June (53% H%, 47% S%) following a fortunate May (17% H%, 82% S%), forcing CLE's hand despite a promising 9.2 Dom on the season. Hagadone had been in the CLE closer discussion back in May prior to Chris Perez (RHP, CLE) experiencing a skills revival (129 BPV, 24 saves) and locking down that job for the time being ...  


Stanton to undergo surgery, Ruggiano the beneficiary

Just when fantasy owners thought it was safe to put Giancarlo Stanton's (OF, MIA) knee issues behind them, Stanton was lifted after just two innings against STL on Saturday and has decided to go ahead with arthroscopic surgery on to remove a "loose body" from his ailing right knee, sidelining him for the next four to six weeks. 

While the loss of Stanton's mammoth power (186 PX) is surely a bad break, his absence will extend the window for 30-year-old Justin Ruggiano (OF, MIA) to prove he's not merely a Sam Fuld-esque flash in the pan. He went 2-for-4 with another home run on Saturday, giving him six in just 77 ABs, and now's the time to pounce on him before regression hits; specifically, the 46% h% and 23% hr/f%.

Ruggiano has also never displayed anywhere near the level of plate discipline he's shown thus far (80% ct%, 13% bb%, 0.73 Eye), which, besides extreme good fortune, can only be justified by some drastic tweak in his swing or approach. We've seen similar out-of-nowhere of hot streaks before, some of which have lasted for the balance of the season (think: Fuld, Andres Torres (OF, NYM), John Mayberry (OF, PHI), to name a few). So it's possible for Ruggiano, who will likely remain in the lineup even when Emilio Bonifacio (OF, MIA) returns from injury next week. But just know that there's considerable risk involved if you roster him.

NL short take

Juan Carlos Oviedo (RHP, MIA), the artist formerly known as Leo Nunez, was cleared to begin his minor league rehab assignment Monday at High-A Jupiter, and is eligible to return to the big league roster on July 23. He had missed the previous eight weeks due to an MLB-imposed suspension for age and identity fraud. Oviedo recorded 36 saves for MIA in 2011, albeit with a 50% FB% and 2.9 Ctl that resulted in a fair amount of erratic outings. Oviedo will initially join Steve Cishek (RHP, MIA), Randy Choate (LHP, MIA) and Mike Dunn (LHP, MIA) as one of MIA's primary setup men, although given his closing experience he may find himself atop the pecking order should Health Bell (RHP, MIA) finally fall through the thin ice he's been on all year ...

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