PLAYING TIME: White Sox acquire Myers, Mets DL Santana

AMERICAN LEAGUE

Myers traded to White Sox

A welcome arm has arrived in Chicago’s South Side as the White Sox acquired veteran Brett Myers (RHP, CWS) from the Astros for a pair of minor-league pitching prospects.   Myers had been Houston's closer (19 saves) in 2012 after logging 30+ starts in three of the last four years for the Astros and Phillies.  Chicago general manager Kenny Williams said that Myers was acquired for late-inning work, but it would be left to manager Robin Ventura how Myers would be utilized.

Myers joins a recently shaky bullpen that has seen current rookie closer Addison Reed (RHP, CWS) give up 3 ER in his last 4+ IP and sometimes-closer Matt Thornton (LHP, CWS)  surrender 5 ER in his last two appearances.  Throw out a few meltdowns in June (2.04 WHIP) and Myers’ line is better than career norms in some cases: 3.52 ERA (3.67 xERA), 1.8 Ctl, and 3.3 Cmd.  It remains to be seen how Reed performs in late-inning situations during a pennant race, while Myers closed for the NL East-winning 2007 Phillies.  It’s reasonable to expect a dip in Myers’ fantasy value initially, but he provides excellent insurance under these circumstances. 

Richards in, Williams out of LAA rotation

In a move anticipated for some time, the Angels have officially moved Jerome Williams (RHP, LAA) to the bullpen and elevated Garrett Richards (RHP, LAA) to the fifth starter’s role.  The Williams/Richards quandary presented itself in May when Richards replaced the convalescing Jered Weaver (RHP, LAA), but when Weaver returned, Williams went out for a month with a asthma and anxiety symptoms.  Almost back to full strength with Dan Haren’s (RHP, LAA) expected return from his own DL stint to start on Sunday, the LAA starting rotation has taken final form—at least for now.

Williams is 0-5 with a 7.53 in his last five starts dating back to June 6, and his previous two starts have been particularly brutal—12 ER in 10 IP.  His ground-ball repertoire isn’t yielding the desired results and when balls are hit in the air, they are leaving the yard with alarming frequency (22% hr/f).  Never considered a workhorse, his stamina is more in question since his respiratory episode, and a move to the bullpen and shorter, situational outings might increase his effectiveness.

Richards is no sure thing.  His last start was his best—7 IP, 1 ER, 8 K against Detroit.  The strikeouts have been what’s missing (6.2 Dom); his low-minors knockout punch hasn’t accompanied him up the organization ladder.  On the other hand, he appears to have tamed the gopheritis that plagued him in 2011.  Richards’ big-league career consists of 57 innings and he’s still learning the league, so both the Angels and fantasy owners will have to endure the inevitable Jekyll-Hyde results for a while.

AL short takes

Since his recall in mid-June, Casper Wells (OF, SEA) has been capitalizing on full-time duty in the Seattle OF.  His June 0.40/75% Eye/ct% led to a 41% H% and increased PT.  While his July performance has become more normalized, Wells’ line-drive rate is on an upward trend (13% in 2011, 21% in 2012), which can foretell an improvement in BA.  With the lack of attractive alternatives in the Seattle outfield, manager Eric Wedge will continue to roll the dice with Wells’ name in the three-hole…

After grounding out in Friday’s game, Nick Swisher (OF, NYY) exited the dugout and was later diagnosed as having a left hip flexor strain.  Listed as day-to-day, Swisher is having a typical statistical year—a middling BA (.258) with some sock and run production (14 HR, 54 RBI).  The Yankees can ill afford another injury of any duration; they also announced that Brett Gardner (OF, NYY), on the DL since April 18 and targeting a late July return, now faces season-ending arthroscopic surgery on his right elbow…

Luke Scott’s (DH, TAM) .288/.315/.577 July slash line has displaced the awful flashbacks of his earlier 0-for-41 sinkhole, and now his luck has turned sour again with a trip to the 15-day DL (mild oblique strain). Hidecki Matsui (DH, TAM) and his low-wattage .156 BA/.233 Slg figures to inherit the bulk of the DH at bats—the same scenario that played out in mid-June when Scott first hit the DL with back issues…

NATIONAL LEAGUE

Santana lands on DL

It’s been pretty much all downhill for Johan Santana (LHP, NYM) since his no-hitter on June 1—he's laden with a 6.54 ERA since then, with PQS-0 starts in two of his last three.  In Friday’s effort against the Dodgers, Santana came out after 3 innings, the third consecutive game in which he allowed six or more earned runs.  He’s coughed up six homers in his last 12+ IP.

Not coincidentally, Santana threw a career-high 134 pitches in his no-no. While manager Terry Collins initially insisted that Santana wasn’t injured (saying that Santana needs “some energy back in his arm”), he has been placed on the 15-day DL with a sore ankle that has led to arm fatigue. 

If he is out for the minimum 15 days, Santana will miss two starts.  Jeremy Hefner (RHP, NYM) has been recalled from AAA-Buffalo and is tentatively scheduled to take the mound on Wednesday.  Hefner has appeared in 11 games for the Mets, starting three.  His skills are more reflective of his 3.86 xERA than his 5.64 ERA (no thanks to a 57% strand rate and 36% H%)—and his 0.6 Ctl and 8.5 Cmd sparkle.  Matt Harvey (RHP, MYM), a top-of-the-rotation prospect also in Triple-A, will be monitored during his Saturday start, so he could be summoned to New York to make his debut sometime during Santana’s absence.  Harvey was recently profiled here by BaseballHQ.com analyst Colby Garrapy.

Wheeler’s mission: Occupy Arizona (3B)

After enduring a total of 10 HR from incumbents Ryan Roberts (3B, ARI) and major-league vagabonds like Cody Ransom and Josh Bell, the Diamondbacks have called up Ryan Wheeler (3B, ARI) in the hopes of making the Arizona “hot corner” an oxymoron no more.  Wheeler’s 90 RBI lead the Pacific Coast League and .351 BA/.951 OPS were in the top seven.  Even when viewed through the PCL prism, Wheeler looks to be a position upgrade for ARI, at least offensively.  An assessment of Wheeler’s skills can be found in the Daily Call-ups column. 

Wheeler was immediately inserted into Friday’s starting lineup against the Astros, batting eighth.  Manager Kirk Gibson said that he would weave Wheeler into the 3B rotation, not wanting to “overwhelming” him.  The left-handed batter figures to see most action against right-handers, at least initially, and his successes will dictate how he is folded in against southpaws.  Wheeler only hit 2 of his 15 Triple-A homers against the latter, but he did have a .302/.357/.488 slash line against them in 86 at-bats.

Roberts looks to be the obvious casualty of playing time.  As advanced in this space several weeks ago, some of Roberts’ 3B time has already been usurped by Willie Bloomquist (ARI, SS) upon Stephen Drew’s (SS, ARI) return from the DL.  Roberts’ near 20-20 campaign in 2011 dwarfs his projected 11-8 (before this playing time hit), and his 2011 bb%/Eye (12%/0.67) have eroded to 7%/0.43 this season.  Bloomquist’s BA continues to hover close to .300, albeit without much run production (13 RBI) or, atypically for him, much speed (7 SB). 

Geoff Blum, who missed two and a half months with a strained oblique, was released to accommodate the Wheeler promotion.  Elsewhere on the ARI farm, Matt Davidson, a power 3B prospect generally more regarded than Wheeler, continues to hone his game in AA-Mobile (.257 BA, 18 HR, 93 K in 354 AB).

NL short takes

With the Astros’ closer position suddenly vacated, Francisco Cordero (RHP, HOU) finds himself first in line for HOU endgame duties.  As BHQ analyst Tom Kephart reported here yesterday, the just-acquired Cordero lost his closer role early on in TOR, and his 1.75 WHIP and 16% hr/f won’t yield better results in cozy Minute Maid Park, either.  Wilton Lopez (RHP, HOU) has the most closer-worthy arsenal in the bullpen- a 7.1 Dom and a sensational 7.0 Cmd—neon lights to fantasy owners…

Wilin Rosario (C, COL) was forced to exit Friday’s game against the Padres when he appeared to turn his right ankle while attempting to block an errant pitch.  The Rockies have labeled the injury a low-grade left ankle strain and have listed him as day-to-day.  Rosario is leading NL rookies in HR and RBI (15 and 39) and will be replaced in the lineup by Ramon Hernandez (C, COL), who was recently reinstated from his own six-week stint on the DL…

The Brewers were encouraged when Jonathan Lucroy (C, MIL) got a couple of hits during his first rehab game on Thursday night.  Out since May 28 after undergoing hand surgery, he is scheduled to play several more Single- and Triple-A games before his planned activation by the end of July.   Lucroy, hitting an out-of-the-blue .345 with a .969 OPS, may not have to cede much playing time to his replacement, Martin Maldonado (C, MIL), but the latter may have elevated himself to the top of #2 fantasy catcher lists with his own surprising .273/319.409 slash line… 


Click here to subscribe

  For more information about the terms used in this article, see our Glossary Primer.